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Given this broad list of complaints, it's no wonder most people have given up hope that things could be different. Good people are no longer preparing for meetings or participating in ways that add value. They have moved to the sidelines.

This book will provide you the tools to solve each of these complaints. It's time to move meetings from frustrating to effective to remarkable. The ideas in this book work, and their impact will reach far beyond your meetings. The foundational ideas on perspective, conversation, and relationship will change your interactions with your family and colleagues and impact almost everything you do.

If we can make each of our conversations richer in terms of engagement, attention, candor, and respect, our meetings will improve.

CHAPTER ONE

CHOOSE THE PERSPECTIVE:
THIS MATTERS

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." — Dr. Wayne Dyer

The first step on the journey toward effective meetings begins with choosing empowering new perspectives. Much of this book focuses on the techniques and practices required to make your meetings better. Unfortunately, even the best tactics cannot overcome a 'dis'empowering perspective.

We all operate with certain perspectives in place—values we learned from our parents, from our coaches, from friends, or from lines in movies or books that resonated with our thoughts about ourselves or about life. Such phrases remind us of who we want to be or how we want to respond to life. Here are two that have stuck with me:

* From Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher: "You fall into the trap of being mediocre. If you're OK with being mediocre, then you're going to be mediocre."

* From Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer: "People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things."

These two broad perspectives point us forward. Simply noticing where we have settled for mediocre meetings and choosing to get on the path of being extraordinary will bring immediate change. In addition, throughout the book are perspectives that, if chosen and embraced, will impact your group's conversations. For example, as the person calling the meeting, you are responsible for the time and talent in the room; do not disrespect it. Or, as a participant, your participation could make all the difference in the outcomes and experience of this meeting.

PERSPECTIVES SHAPE OUR EXPERIENCE—OF LIFE AND MEETINGS

A perspective for everyday life: Treat each person, each conversation, and each moment as though they matter

This is perhaps the most powerful perspective for shaping a positive experience in many aspects of life and work. You may be familiar with Tolstoy's story "The Three Questions" from What Men Live By:

1. Where is the most important place?

2. When is the most important time?

3. Who is the most important person?

The answers are, of course:

1. Right here.

2. Right now.

3. The person you're with.

The point is to treat everything as though it matters and give your full attention to whatever you are doing and to whomever you are with right now. It's easy to slip into dealing with certain tasks or situations mindlessly; we all do it. If you have been going through life this way, there is a tremendous upside to beginning to treat what you do as if it matters. If you are attentive and engaged in the moment, those around you will notice. In a world of devices and multitasking, attention is often fleeting. The key is to be present, attentive, and engaged.

This is not a new idea. The adage "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right" has been with us for a long time.
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