Do clichés have – meaning?

push yourself

Clichés are sayings that suffer overuse and then lose meaning to the listener.  You may encounter them if you play sports, train for something, are being coached, pursuing a personal, career, or other goal.  People cannot resist a handy cliché.  Such as the oft used, “push yourself”.


The nucleus of push yourself is the idea that motivation is the impetus, and there is never a shortage of clichés when the situation arises.  Such as, “I had to push myself to win this race, our team pushed hard to win, my opponent really pushed me”.  If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times (old one), you’ve got to push yourself.  Therein however lies the conundrum with clichés.  By their very nature, clichés are sayings that are overused to the point of becoming stale, and subsequently, meaningless.


But not this one.  No, push yourself in its underlying message means that there is an intrinsic motivation to keep going, to persevere, to achieve.  To win.  Pushing yourself is overcoming a barrier, is not giving up, and is necessary to success.  Everyone has ups and downs.  The ups are easy, the downs require pushing through, or facing inevitable deterioration.


Why push yourself?  Top five reasons:

  • The trigger event in a person’s usage of this cliché usually stems from that gratification of winning and most often manifested in an interview after the championship moment.  We have the power to be blissful and feel good about ourselves.
  • The result of pushing yourself produces wins which in turn beget confidence.  Confidence is the prized power to overcome.
  • Self-esteem. No matter the size of the win obtained from pushing yourself, even if no one but you knows you endured to achieve a tiny goal, you feel good about yourself.  Self-esteem and elation connect with each other.
  • Pushing yourself leads to success.  Success fulfills you.  Fulfilment is the personal aspect of being.  And, of satisfaction.
  • The ultimate human desire is to be all that you can be.


Understand then, that the pushing yourself cliché is a manifestation of that motivation to get better, to reach your full potential.  The upside in motivation is tremendous and ultimately, leads to our life’s goals.  Stop procrastinating and start pushing yourself – breakthrough and move on to your next goal.  Push yourself to do the little things that lead to being the best that you can be.  Accomplish, then replicate.

© 2015 Neal Huffman all rights reserved

push yourself

Ronda Rousey illustrates three aspiring personal characteristics


If you are needing some inspiration in your job hunt, your career, or life in general, then soak up some inspiration from the best female and number one pound-for-pound female mixed martial arts (“MMA”) fighter in the world – Ronda Rousey.  Yet, aside from pure and outstanding athletic prowess and performance, Ronda owns mental expertise that you can see in her fights.  The mental part, outside the octagon, provides even more inspiration because in witnessing the mental characteristics, one can emulate the same for one’s own success.


Most, if not all, of Rousey’s fights last only seconds and end in a submission.  And, most of them are online.  Insofar as the fighting, she is highly skilled having won an Olympic medal in judo.  She also trains very hard.  Watching her bouts, it becomes apparent that she is a determined fighter.  She overwhelms her opponents in the first few seconds of the opening round.  Resolute, she meets her opponent head on and immediately consumes her foe.  She either spots an opening or lets her opponent make a mistake and she steps in, envelops her, grapples to an arm bar (with strikes and occasional knees along the way) and the fight is over.  Studying her fight films, while typically only seconds in length, the visual cues provide strikingly obvious conclusions regarding her mental mastery.




First, the ground floor in Ronda’s success is prodigious preparation, and that is an understatement.  At first, one of her trainers did not notice her in the gymnasium.  Over time, he noticed that she was the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave every single, sweat-soaked, combative, aching day.  This is inspiration one – the ability to prepare oneself in the highest levels for performance.  Competition is fierce everywhere.  Image yourself seeking new opportunity in your career.  Over preparation breeds confidence and rockets you to dominate the competition.  A deep and powerful commitment to preparation positions the front-runner.




Second, the absolute, unrestrained, and dominant determination Rousey brings to her matches wills her to victory.  Outside the octagon, she is an actress and fun loving, even playful interviewee.  But when it comes to business, watch her as she walks to the octagon and study her face as she readies to overpower her adversary.  The focused, direct, sheer determination is clearly obvious in her.  Not the slightest hint of doubt is anywhere in her vicinity.  If determination propels winning, Rousey has it in spades.  Once prepared, mental determination is power.  The grasp of this power is further impelled by resolute endurance.




And finally the third mental mastery – fortitude.  Fortitude:  “mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously” (, 2015).  The unrelenting and straightforward pursuit of the goal – leading to supremacy.  This trait is strikingly apparent in Ronda’s demeanor.  Perhaps the most important of these three traits, it is easy to recognize how a strong mental and emotional state leads to the ultimate attainment of any goal.


Master these mental qualities.  Spend more time preparing and no time procrastinating.  Focus on determination and lean out wasteful actions.  Practice fortitude and be strong, never giving up on your objective.



©  Neal Huffman 2015 all rights reserved.

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Three critical aspects to forming your paralegal career


If you are considering embarking on a paralegal career, then there are numerous decisions to make which affect your career.  This article lays out but three of the areas which are common to all paralegals and for which your actions can have a significant influence on your career.  These pillars are: education, experience, and development.

Learning about the law and studying paralegalism is part one in your excursion into a paralegal career.  Education is generally available in three ways.  The first is a baccalaureate program in paralegal studies which yields a traditional four year degree.  The second is an associates program, generally a two year commitment, less time commitment than the traditional college degree.  And, the third is an accelerated program consisting of intensive immersion similar to a technical college.  A program of this nature may be completed in less than a year’s time.

Online or distance learning is being offered by some education providers.  The differentiator in paralegal schools is the coveted American Bar Association approval, known as, an ABA-approved program.  In order for a school to be able to provide a curriculum and program of study marketed as ABA-approved, it must meet requirements set by the ABA and continually achieve those specifications and standards to maintain the approval.  The current standards set by the ABA significantly limit online classes as the traditional classroom setting is preferred.  Carefully learn about these programs to determine which is fit for your educational needs.  Successful completion of a program earns the degree or paralegal certificate.

Newly minted, the next stage is experience.  While an externship or internship may help, an interesting phenomenon in a legal career is the catch 22 (paradox) of needing legal experience to snare a legal job, while most often the paralegal graduate has little, if any, legal experience.  This can be agonizing to a fresh job candidate, thus plan to overcome this paradox with strategic thinking.

While planning on school for this career, add the extra-curricular effort in obtaining experience.  One way to achieve some hands on experience is through volunteering.  The legal industry is replete with organizations, community outreach, and pro-bono services.  Volunteer for the clinics or events such as elder law, helping the homeless, and intake and advice clinics where lawyers provide free legal consultation to the public.  Explore temporary, entry level, and part-time jobs that a student can engage in on a limited and very entry basis.  Every bit counts in highlighting experience and keywords in your media and resume with which to then market for full time positions.

Entering the field upon obtaining a full time, career role may give cause to pause some of your efforts on education and experience.  After all, now your efforts are concentrated on practicing paralegal roles in law firms, corporations, and the public sector.  A career in the law, however, is saturated with development opportunities.

Governing paralegal organizations, such as National Association of Legal Assistants and National Federation of Paralegal Associations, provide certification tracks in further education.  Satisfying certain requirements like years of experience and other basics, a practicing paralegal can study for a certification and sit for an exam.  Passing these comprehensive exams will enable the organization to provide a designation such as Core Registered Paralegal and Certified Paralegal among others.  In addition, there are tracks for specialty areas of practice and Advanced Paralegal Certification.  Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) are typically short one hour, half-day, or day long seminars on specific topics which attorneys are required to fulfill in their continuing practice of law.  Paralegals also take CLE and certifications require a certain amount of CLE credits to maintain the designation.  For the ambitious, a legal certification coupled with another certification, as in project management or e-discovery, can enhance your marketability.  There are many other educational opportunities, for example, obtaining a master degree.  Many paralegals have gone on at some point to law school and became lawyers.

In addition to CLE and certifications, most career relevant jobs have prospects for on the job development.  A management system or human resources program may offer and sometimes require development of employees in the workplace.  Depending on the availability, take advantage of all the opportunity available.  And, do not forget to volunteer.  Volunteering in the workspace for special projects, team leadership, or initiatives provides additional breadth to your career path.

Essential to career development is partnering with a mentor.  We all teach and learn from each other, yet a mentor is skilled or experienced in ways that give you the chance to seek more knowledge.  Attorneys are in the practice of law.  A very great deal of your on the job training comes from interacting with lawyers and legal teams that have more knowledge or the experience to feed to you as you develop.  Seek out instances where mentors can provide added guidance and expertise.  Mentors also provide priceless practice tips on things such as ethics, client relations, negotiation, strategy, and other capacities stemming from wisdom.

Thought of strategically, these three facets – education, experience, and development – provide the essential elements to a long, successful, and satisfying career in the legal field.  The more thought, effort, and repetition put into these actions will provide the bedrock necessary for these achievements.





© 2015 Neal Huffman all rights reserved



knowledge to learn

knowledge to learn

Knowledge Management

There are shelves, and shelves, and bookstores and online book businesses with seemingly never ending selections of books written about business.  Anything you see can be bought and sold.  People seem to be at least as interested in books with business topics as any other genre available.  Some business books even achieve best seller status.  Given many people’s preoccupation with subjects related to business, why is it that everyone is writing a business book and many people are reading them?  One of the answers may be that the “age” in which we find ourselves is rapidly transforming into a new era characterized by information.  We are, and are increasingly becoming, an “Information Society”.  We are bombarded with information daily.  The availability of information in terms of access, speed, and proliferation is growing almost exponentially.

In terms of business, information can be considered as an advantage or as a detriment.  Information is obviously an advantage when it serves the business.  For example, if a business is shopping for credit, it may almost instantaneously determine the cost of a loan from several competing sources.  On the other hand, those wishing to purchase something of value from a business, likewise may tap into vast sources of information about each particular company with which a transaction may be considered, as well as, perhaps price.  For example, consumers can shop for home mortgages online and obtain financing and interest rate quotes from competing banks.  Banks that choose not to compete in such manner in real-time, may be losing market share and revenue to online companies.

Given that we now find ourselves in an “Information Age” and a “New Economy” that is based on the information and its ubiquitous nature and its relationship to knowledge workers, does a company gain competitive advantage in the market if it has an organized and efficient means to manage its knowledge?  “Knowledge has been recognized as one of the main assets of organizations” (Drucker, 1993).  Other researchers go so far as to call knowledge management a core competency.  “We live in a knowledge society where application, creation, recycling, sharing and storing of knowledge are considered crucial to growth and development” (Lewin et al., 1999; Christensen, 2000).

Key conclusions in some research also points to the efficacy and value of the uniqueness of the information a company may have at its disposal.  As Clark Eustace summarized in the Journal of Intellectual Capital in 2003, “The empirical evidence suggests that successful players in competitive markets are those that have access to a corpus of unique – or at least difficult-to-replicate – capabilities and competencies.

While it is not arguable that knowledge is valuable, the question really becomes whether it is valuable to have certain types of knowledge.  Moreover, to the extent the knowledge you possess is unique or offers information that is not easily replicated, then such knowledge may be considered as a competitive advantage or a niche that other competitors do not have.  Peter Murray (2002) describes it as “knowledge management’s most important use would be making an organization competitive and profitable…high-margin niche markets.”

However, in the event that a company feels that it does possess some unique knowledge or its personnel as individuals may possess unique knowledge pursuant to their vocation, then how does the entire organization manage such knowledge?  What is the scope and scale of knowledge management at the individual or the corporate level?  The problem is that first there must be a definition of knowledge.  After such definition, then the way to capture reusable knowledge is usually via some method in computing or Information Technology.

Even with a system for capturing knowledge and making it available for use or reuse by other people across the enterprise, the knowledge is truly only valuable for so long as that knowledge is a competitive advantage in the industry.  Each company or corporation must decide for itself whether there is competitive advantage in a portion of their knowledge and to what extent this knowledge is shared.  The particular aspects of a company’s knowledge management are individual case basis decisions.

Once it is determined that a company has knowledge that is of competitive advantage, then how does such company manage and share that knowledge within its organizational structure?  Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) systems and software may be one way to share knowledge company-wide, however, such software does not take into account prose or free thinking as data entry is logical and limited.  Customer Resource Management (“CRM”) is another tool used by business to manage relationships, however, again, such system or software is not truly a knowledge sharing system.

Databases theoretically could provide a means for one to input certain aspects of his or her knowledge.  Intranet websites could be another possible knowledge sharing media.  However, what will prompt individuals to share versus hoard knowledge?  Hoarding can be common practice especially in professional work settings where employees do not wish to share knowledge because their knowledge can be a source of power and job security for them.

The key then, is once a company has determined it has competitive knowledge, how to provide a system, and reward its usage, for knowledge workers to publish their knowledge and share it across organizational boundaries.

One of the ingredients in effective business today is speed.  Speed allows the more agile company to provide solutions to their customers faster than their competitors.  Experts have concluded that the majority of customers prefer adequate solutions delivered quickly over perfect solutions delivered more slowly.  Such speed to market, if you will, is better gained by a company with systems that allow employees to communicate quickly with one another and to get a decision, answer, or solution in a rapid fashion.  Given silo mentality and hoarding, most companies fail to achieve the speed they potentially possess.  A proficient system of knowledge sharing enhances teams or individuals to come to consensus on a decision in almost real-time fashion.

The benefits are clear.  Yet, cost and efficacy variables can play a factor in the adoption of knowledge sharing policies.



© 2015 Neal Huffmanfjsdakfjaoi  FotoFlexer_Photo

President Lincoln: Vision


Lincoln (1858) said, “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it”. Even more than his essential trait and skill competencies, Lincoln carefully practiced diversity through his great vision. During the war, Lincoln delegated many policy initiatives to his Cabinet. However, he led the nation and resolutely achieved many goals from the Republican platform. Through his economic leadership, the United States passed the Legal Tender Act, a National Banking Act, a transcontinental railroad via the Pacific Railroad Act, Homestead Acts, and a Land Grant College Act. While leading the nation to the end of a great Civil War, Lincoln shepherded the great vision he always believed in from his early rise in politics to the Presidency. He transformed the nation from subsistence farming to the beginnings of an economic dynamo, all with great care in furthering the common person and providing a chance, an opportunity to better oneself. (Gienapp, 2002)


Tichy (1986) wrote about transformational leadership and a quote seems to speak almost directly on Lincoln when he said, “This vision of the future must be formulated in such a way that it will make the pain of changing worth the effort” (p. 122). As Gienapp (2002) reiterated about Lincoln, “…his leadership demonstrated the combination of resolute ends and flexible means that would be the hallmark of his presidency” (p. 92). Reinforced by Tichy (1986):

The essence of transformational leadership is the capacity to adapt means to ends—to shape and reshape institutions and structures to achieve broad human purposes and moral aspirations…the secret of transforming leadership is the capacity of leaders to have their goals clearly and firmly in mind, to fashion new institutions relevant to those goals, to stand back from immediate events and day-to-day routines and understand the potential and consequences of change. (p. 187)

At the height of his political life (Abe was cut short on leading the nation through the Reconstruction) Abraham Lincoln was stopped by an assassin’s bullet. Nevertheless, Lincoln’s leadership, morals, values, vision, and immense skill saved the United States from certain disaster. In preserving the Union and abolishing the abhorrent practice of slavery, Abraham Lincoln guided the country to a noble place in history.




Galbraith, J.K. (1977). In The age of uncertainty. In R. Andrews, M. Biggs, & M. Seidel, et al. (1996). The Columbia World of Quotations. Search by “leadership.” Number: 24326. Retrieved November 2, 2004, from

Gienapp, W.E. (2002). Abraham lincoln and civil war america a biography. New York: Oxford.

Keneally, T. (2003). Abraham lincoln. New York: Penguin.

Lincoln, A. (n.d.). In Six months at the white house (Carpenter, 1867). In Respectfully quoted: A dictionary of quotations requested from the congressional research service. Platt, S., (ed.) (1989). Search by “Abraham Lincoln.” Number: 110. Retrieved November 8, 2004, from

Lincoln, A. (1858). In The collected works of abraham lincoln. (Basler, 1953). In Respectfully quoted: A dictionary of quotations requested from the congressional research service. Platt, S., (ed.) (1989). Search by “Abraham Lincoln.” Number: 936. Retrieved November 8, 2004, from

Tichy, N.M., & DeVanna, M.A. (1986). The transformational leader. New York: John Wiley.



© Neal Huffman 2015 all rights reserved



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Lincoln and his people skills

People Skill

Adhering to keeping his word and a reputation for honesty, Lincoln dealt with both friend and foe with goodwill and extreme patience. Having used his great oratory and communication skill throughout his life, Abe used communication to inspire, hearten, and lead the nation. Perhaps Abe’s greatest competency as a leader was his communication skill. Abe was determined, yet cool headed. He was deliberate, yet tolerant. He melded his aspirations in an internal locus of control taking unyielding accountability for his ideals. (Gienapp, 2002)

While the war raged and generals dallied, Abraham always exemplified patience. Lincoln took an active role in the strategy of the war and become one of the true great Commanders-in-Chief. Abe had a propensity for forbearance. Both Generals McClellan and Meade had opportunities to crush General Lee of the Confederacy and put an end to the war yet failed to do so. In spite of this, Abraham was non-judgmental. Abe deliberated at great length on issues and personalities. Lincoln sought to persuade, coach, and reason with his generals. Eventually, Lincoln was not afraid to sack non-performers who failed to get on board with the aims of the nation. Abe selected a performer, General Grant, to lead the army. General Grant and Abe concluded strategy to win the war. Abraham successfully implemented a learning culture, especially with Cabinet members in his administration, and empowered vision. (Gienapp, 2002)



© Neal Huffman 2015 all rights reserved

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President Lincoln: Inauguration

Crisis Greets the New President

Even before Lincoln’s inauguration, crisis was looming. Apprehension over the slavery issue, dissatisfied that Lincoln would contain slavery and work against it, South Carolina was the first state in the Union to declare secession from the United States. The idea of popular sovereignty as advocated by Democrats for states to decide by popular vote whether a state should allow slavery was a position advocated by the Kansas/Nebraska Act. But President Lincoln would not waver, declaring, “I am sorry any Republican inclines to dally with Pop. Sov. of any sort. It acknowledges that slavery has equal rights with liberty, and surrenders all we have contended for” (as cited in Keneally, 2003, p. 88).

Lincoln unceasingly confronted slavery and the division of the United States. “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership” (Galbraith, 1977, n.p.).

Spurred on by South Carolina, other states joined a Confederacy. Fort Sumter, besieged by Confederate forces, soon fell as the rebellion fired the first shots of the Civil War. Lincoln was soon confronted with not only the dissolution of the nation, but the vulnerability of the Capital. Troops amassed to defend the Capital and thoughts of an offensive began at Manassas in the first battle of Bull Run. Lincoln blockaded ports in the South. (Gienapp, 2002)

© Neal Huffman 2015 all rights reserved

The Political Lincoln part two

Prominence Leading to the Presidency

Lincoln took a stand when Senator Stephen Douglas created the Kansas-Nebraska Act which relied on popular sovereignty to determine if a state were slave or free. This Act nullified the Missouri Compromise where no state above a certain line could enter the Union a slave state. Soon Lincoln gave a famous speech with the line “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Keneally, 2003, p. 67). Lincoln was now running against Douglas for the Senate and began a crusade to defeat him. Lincoln challenged Douglas to a series of debates. Abe went on the offensive and attacked Douglas’s idea of popular sovereignty in the debates and in other speeches and events. The Democrats won the Senate race, but Abraham gained even more notoriety and following based on his strong principles. (Keneally, 2003)

© Neal Huffman 2014 all rights reserved

The Political Lincoln

Love of Politics

Abe ran for the Illinois legislature in 1832 as a Whig advocating a banking system, infrastructure improvements, and progressive ideals. In 1834, as a newly elected Assemblyman he first met Stephen A. Douglas who would be his political opponent and later through debates would gain Lincoln national attention. By this time, Abraham was convinced that lawyers were important in politics and he commenced self-study in law by reading law books. Over the course of his young life, Abe had suffered from the deaths of many family and friends including his first love, Ann Rutledge. Lincoln developed a continuing struggle with depression which lasted the rest of his life. Life and death, political election and defeat, and military wins and losses would cement Abe into ebbing and flowing cycles of depression. Political drive and “moral passion” (p.50) saved Abraham from sliding into the deepest abyss of depression. (Gienapp, 2002)


By 1837, Lincoln was offered a partnership in law in Springfield, Illinois where he applied and received a license to practice. Abe would remain in Springfield until leaving for the Presidency. Abraham began to build a political reputation as a Whig leader and circuit lawyer. He eventually married to Mary Todd and began having children. His reputation in law, considerable political skills, and marriage to a belle earned him increasing approval in Springfield society. Through debates with Douglas, campaign stumping, and speeches in the east, Abraham joined the new free soil, anti-slavery Republican Party and won nomination, and subsequent election, to the Presidency. (Keneally, 2003)

© Neal Huffman 2014 all rights reserved

More on urgency levels


Qwest and other leaders use empowerment and divide strategic performance tools into leadership positions and management positions. The executives and the leaders keep the vision in sight with repetition and guidance leaving operations to managerial employees. Management means delegating routine daily activities and subordinating lower priority work. Employees can readily see the importance of priorities and improvements. The result is that new ideas and improvements can induce the next wave of change.


Finally, change leaders, such as Qwest, are able to derive the new behaviors desired to take advantage of new opportunities or solve problems. In alignment with the ever present vision, staff is motivated and eager to keep moving forward to the ultimate goal. Qwest is one company that sees the future state as a separation from the past. The CEO of Qwest has even declared that most of its services are now a commodity. Only through the vision and behavior in tune with the vision can Qwest distinguish its brand and service as a leader in a commodity industry.

Opportunities and threats are constantly examined. Not just external threats, but internal threats are always on the radar to reinforce which behaviors are needed more and which behaviors must be left behind. As a whole industry, telecommunications companies do recognize similarities. Best practices are sought after and adopted. Such as the new Qwest billing practices imitated from industry leaders. Qwest knew that its invoices to customers were hard to read and understand. Qwest made over its bills by thoroughly analyzing many other communications companies invoices and adopted methods, appearance, layout, and billing tools designed to be customer friendly. The billing project is just one example of short-term goals, visibility, vision alignment, complacency fighting, and persistent urgency that sustain competitive advantage for the long term.


Until the vision is satisfied, complacency and low urgency may hurt progression to the goal and may ultimately defeat the transformation process. Because companies cannot stop, cannot let up until the vision is fulfilled, which may take years to complete, organizations have to keep complacency at bay. Urgency is one method to counteract complacency, yet the ultimate end is embedding enough unrelenting behaviors and unbroken shared values to anchor the culture for sustained achievement.


Kotter, J.P. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Kotter, J.P. (2004). The heart of change website. Step 7. Retrieved June 23, 2004, from

Kotter, J.P. & Cohen, D. (2002). The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people change their organizations. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

© Neal Huffman 2014

All rights reserved