Honoring Thomas White

Thomas White left the world better than he found it. He inspired so many people in so many different ways. While his presence will be missed, we know that he left a legacy and that we must strive to express our best at all times, just as he strove to do. One of the most touching sentiments about the generous spirit that Thomas carried was expressed yesterday by a friend. With her permission, it is shared below.

“Wow, Universe. You’ve taken someone away from me and it hurts. But I thank you for allowing me the time to spend with someone who TRULY believed in me, saw ONLY the good in me, and wanted only the BEST for me. There is no doubt that Thomas was sent to me as an angel here on earth and I pray that he will still be my angel now that he has been called home.”

Thank you Thomas!

The Team at TRP Enterprises, Inc.



The Sharing Culture

Group of five children thinking a over white background

Last night my boys didn’t want to share a toy. They were fighting and whining about it. We sat down in a circle and they were asked what the problem was.

“He wouldn’t give it to me!”

“I don’t want him to have it!”

“Ok,” I said, “what can you each do to create a sharing culture in the house?” This was a leap in consciousness for them, I knew, but it seemed like fun anyway. They were each asked to come up with one thing to do to create that culture. The closest thing we heard to a solution was from the three year old who said, “When he asked me for it, I told him to say please.” That was a good start!

For them, they both wanted the other person to change first. Their idea of a sharing culture was, “I’ll change when you do!” A little later in the evening however, they played nicely by themselves.

Leadership doesn’t wait for the other person to change. Leadership looks for the opportunity to engage that person right where they are. Doing so shares ourselves by being with that person, in the present moment. Engaging that person by showing our genuine interest in them not only brings out the best in us, but it invites the best in them.

Unhappy People

This post is in response to a question from a serious leader. She is all about improvement and bringing out the best, both at work and at home. She says:

I have a good friend of many years. In the last couple years, she’s grown to become a negative and unhappy person. We no longer spend much time together, mostly because she is so negative and there is no longer much common ground between us. If I can change this, I would like to do so. How?

Great question! We asked several people their experience of dealing with similar situations to the question our friend posed. Here are their answers. Any necessary context has been included too.

1. One of my co-workers is a habitual complainer. She is a person who cares about others, just like me. It can be hard for me, and I think for other people to see how inside, she’s a thoughtful, caring person who loves others and wants to see them succeed. I look for that part of her and focus on that. I look beyond the other stuff.

2. I am “friends” with people on facebook who are really negative. So I just hide them and don’t have to see their stuff in my news feed. I do not dislike them but I can choose what I “listen to.”

3. For me, it’s about  being true to myself. I know that Momma loves me, she just has a weird way of saying those three words. The other night on the phone I thought I was going to lose control with every word she said. Especially when I told her how happy I was now that I’ve been taking personal responsibility for my own choices and she said “you’d better get off of your high horse, missy!” It was in that moment I realized there was nothing I needed to do to change my mother. All I needed to do was to be her daughter.  I simply said, “Momma, if you ever see me on my high horse and acting rude or arrogant, will you please let me know? I don’t want to be that way.” For several poignant seconds, there was absolute silence on the phone. My mother changed the subject after that and we had a delightful conversation.

4. For more learning on this subject, consult appendix H in the TRP Participant Workbook (revised workbook pages 80-82).

We’d love to hear from you. What do you do with unhappy people, what works for you?


The Man Who Found Solutions

Saturday night in Rochester, New York, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) presented the annual Visionary Award. Each year and individual is chosen to receive the award. The person chosen is one who embodies the mission of ABVI: to prepare and empower people who are blind or visually impaired to be self sufficient and contribute to their families and communities.

This year’s award was presented to Jarret. Jarret became legally blind in his mid 40’s. He was an ordinary man. He had a good job and didn’t mind working hard. When vision problems prevented him from doing his job, he found a solution by focusing on the things he could do, and not the things he couldn’t. He worked with his employer and stepped back from his role as chief financial officer to take on a role of systems development, working with computers.

He loved riding a bicycle, so he adapted and learned to ride on the backseat of a tandem bicycle. With his son James, he rode that tandem from Seattle to Rochester in the summer of 2001.The next summer his daughter Mary rode with him from Maine to Rochester, completing the final 500 miles of that coast-to-coast trip.

Through learning to adapt and solve problems for himself, he found he had a passion for helping others do the same. He began volunteering with the organization that counseled him, the Rochester-based Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI).

While advising the group financially for years, Jarret became a member of its board in 1994 and was chairman from 2000 to 2002.

This man Jarret, was my father. When my mother received the visionary award on his behalf this past Saturday night, nearly 300 people were gathered together for the ceremony. They gave her an immediate standing ovation. With grace and poise, she delivered an eloquent “thank you” speech to ABVI and those who support its’ mission. And to all those who honored and loved my father.

I give thanks today to my parents who have given my siblings and me a great example. And to my father Jarret who taught so many of us that no matter what obstacles we are presented with in life, when we look for one, there is always a solution.

Moments of Choice

The smile
She was getting frustrated. Every call she answered had an unhappy customer on the other end of the phone. After all, people don’t call customer service when they are happy. They call when something is wrong. Normally she finds it easy to solve problems, but the last customer was mean. The customer blamed her! She wanted to tell the customer it wasn’t her fault, but she knew that wouldn’t work.

Her manager walked by. She knew her manager knew she was getting frustrated, she knew it was written all over her face. The manager smiled. “You’re doing fine,” she said. “Let them hear you smile. The way you handle the next call, you might just make their day.”

The phone rang. She smiled, and answered.

Our moments of choice are not annual events. They are everyday. They are the opportunities we have to reveal our character. In those moments, we might just make someone else’s day.

For me, the value of respect is important. It’s a value I try to live by. How? By looking for opportunities to express it – looking for those moments of choice. What’s the value you will choose at the next moment of choice?

It’s the System

Recently in a workshop, a participant raised a very interesting question. She said that it seemed like the leaders of her organization had brought TRP training to the staff for the purpose of helping individuals improve themselves, but that they seemed to be avoiding more significant challenges with regard to productivity and outside systemic problems over which the participants in the workshop had no control. She wanted to know what could be done about those problems. This is not an uncommon question.

One answer is to ask a question in return: “How can we as a group, Department, section, etc. of this organization better deal with the systemic challenges over which we appear to have no control? As victims? Or as TRPs?”

One approach to this problem might be illustrated to us by the civil rights movement. There were enormous cultural and legal barriers to racial equality. Many of the civil rights groups, especially those led by Martin Luther King, Jr., utilized concepts similar to TRP to train their demonstrators. For example, in Nashville, in preparation for the sit-ins, legions of college students were trained to respond, rather than react, to the abuse they were about to be subjected to. The organizers and facilitators had adopted the principles of Mahatma Gandhi regarding nonviolent resistance. These were taught to the students as documented in that wonderful video series, A Force More Powerful.

We would like to hear your views on how you would handle and approach attempts to change the system in a TRP way? What has worked for you? Can we approach the system without allowing ourselves fall into the victim consciousness?

Making Progress: A TRP Success Story

keyboard_typingWe sent an email to Amber, a graduate of a TRP program. Amber experienced the TRP training six months ago and has been dedicated to using what she learned. In our email, we asked, “How is your TRP practice going these days? What success stories can you share? What O-FLAG’s?”

Amber writes back. Warning!! Only read this if you are ready for inspiration!

Sent: Thu 1/16/2014 5:38 PM

I am definitely thinking about TRP constantly – when I feel myself getting very frustrated or about to snap, I am constantly reminded to take a breath, step back, and make a better decision about how to respond. Sometimes it even works! 🙂

One success story I have is that one of my co-workers that was very negative and hard to work with seems to be coming around. He has actually apologized to me and said he wants to be better. I think there are other, personal factors at play, but I do think that my behavior has helped. Rather than reinforce the negativity, I have tried to at least model TRP and focus on improving myself rather than worrying about everyone else. I’m hoping that has at least a little to do with the turn-around. (But either way, I’m happy about it!!).

Notice how Amber’s email illustrates two things:

  1. Her level of self-awareness has heightened. With practice after the training, she is more aware of the victim mentality and making excellent choices about it.
  2. Her ability to put the TRP awareness into practice is having a huge impact on personal relationships. Likely both at work, and at home.

Thank you Amber, for sharing this story. We’re passing it on.

Reversing the Flow Illustrated in Downton Abbey’s 2014 Premier

Fans of the PBS hit, Downton Abbey, were entertained by season four’s first episode this month. It seems that the series writers may have had some connection with the TRP® ideas as there were several references in the first episode of ideas similar to TRP®’s Reversing the Flow.

Those who have attended a TRP® training know page 20 of the workbook introduces Reversing the Flow as a process of channeling negative emotional energy into service for others. The result is transformative and helps change the negative feelings of fear, anger, grief, etc. into a positive expression.

During this first episode we find the characters grieving over the death of Matthew Crawley which occurred shortly after his marriage to Lady Mary, daughter of the Earl of Grantham, the head of the Abbey. In addition, Matthew was half owner of the Abbey. Matthew’s death occurred in the last scene of the last episode of season three.

The two people most impacted by Matthew’s death are his wife, Lady Mary (who also gave birth to their child after Matthew’s death) and Matthew’s mother, Isabel Crawley.

Season four begins with several scenes with both of these ladies seemingly paralyzed by their grief. Mary is angry and Isabel feeling useless.

Through the efforts of Mary’s brother-in-law who is involved in management of the Abbey and the head Butler, Mr. Carson, Lady Mary begins the process of reversing the flow of her attention away from her grief to paying attention to the operation of the Abbey.

An interesting exchange occurs between Mrs. Hughes, the head housekeeper of the Abbey, and Isabel Crawley, Matthew’s mother. Mrs. Crawley is grieving and feeling useless. Mrs. Hughes has discovered a homeless man (an old acquaintance of Mr. Carson) who is in need of assistance. She goes to Mrs. Crawley and asks her to take this man in saying he has potential. The dialogue between the two is instructive:

“To be honest, Mrs. Hughes, I don’t see that, it [the homeless man] is any of my business.”

“That’s something I never thought I’d hear you say, ma’am. A wretched man is in the workhouse and he reaches out to us for rescue.”

“He reached to Carson. I don’t see what you want me to do.”

“Mrs. Crawley, I wondered if I could bring him here.”


“If you and I would vouch for him to the authorities, I’m sure we could get him away from that place.”

“But why here? Why not the Abbey? Isn’t he Carson’s responsibility?”

“I’m sorry to say it but Mr. Carson has turned his back on his old pal.”

“I see. So, you want to risk Mr. Carson’s wrath by rescuing this Mr. Griggs.”

“He’s a pitiful being. But, he’s not beyond work. He’s not beyond a decent life if he could find it.”

“You see, in my present state I don’t believe I’m strong enough…”

“But, you are, ma’am. If you could just set aside your grief, and use that strength for another’s good.”

Shortly thereafter, the homeless man was broght into Mrs. Crawley’s home and was on his way to recovery.

Mrs. Hughes is right on. Let’s collect some more examples in our lives.

Feedback Can Unleash Creativity

Feedback usually consists of some form of praise or censure. Focusing solely on someone’s faults can have a negative effect: the recipient can become demoralized and develop an attitude of “Nothing I do is ever good enough”—even if the intent was to provide “constructive criticism.” This can result in a state of despair and decreased effort, since increased effort would seem futile.

Similarly, the recipient of high praise may become so prideful about his/her accomplishments, that further effort might seem unnecessary. He/she may become complacent by thinking “I’ve already arrived.” Note that future effort is thwarted in each case. Thus, TRP® seeks balance between these two types of feedback. We all need at times both correction and encouragement—mistakes should not be overlooked and good work should not go unrecognized.

In TRP®, mistakes and failures are seen as essential and ordinary parts of life; they create opportunities to learn and grow (they are O-FLAG’s—Opportunities for Learning and Growth). In fact, a large part of life is about learning from and correcting our mistakes; also, trying new things and failing, and then trying again. This indeed is how we learn competence in any field of endeavor or any area of life. Failures are necessary along the path to success—and we often learn more from failure than success.

Take for example this anecdote from the life of Thomas Edison: upon hearing from an assistant that 10,000 experiments had failed, Edison is reputed to have remarked, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This is the TRP® attitude.

Excerpted from TRP Participant’s Workbook, page 109. (C) TRP Enterprises, Inc.

Now That’s Service

Inspired by a few frustrating experiences with hearing impaired passengers, this New York City bus driver decided to learn sign language.

Now that’s service! It is not expected that a bus driver would ask a passenger how his or her day is. Edwin Cora not only sees that simple greeting as part of his job, but he sees that he can raise it to another level of inclusion. One of his hearing impaired passengers said, “You can’t overestimate what these exchanges mean to a deaf rider.”

He is expressing the quality of empathy. It can be as simple as this example. Thanks, Edwin. Read An Introduction to Empathy in the TRP Participant’s Workbook, pages 51-54.
Read the full story on Edwin in the New York Daily News.