Circle and Dot Training: Enlarging Your Awareness Capacity

A “dot” is a person/employee with a very limited awareness capacity.

A “circle” is a person/employee who is fully aware of his or her working environment, and covers more ground within their scope of awareness.

During a road trip to Los Angeles I witnessed a “dot” in action. I stopped at a nationally known coffee house for a cup of joe. Instead of going through the drive-thru I decided to stretch out my legs a little, so I went inside. As I walked across the parking lot I noticed an employee sitting outside perhaps on his fifteen-minute break. Next to him I noticed two garbage cans filled beyond capacity, overflowing with garbage. The area around him was littered with trash. It was so bad I had to step around, and over some of the garbage to get into the store. I almost said something to the young man about the litter around him but I kept it to myself, only to see what he would do. I wanted to see what type of employee he was; a dot or circle. Was he really aware of his surroundings. After I purchased my drink I sat down keeping a watchful eye to see how he would respond to his environment. After his break he got up, and went behind the counter to assist the customers waiting in line, which is commendable and perhaps company protocol, which probably states something like, “After your break you must go back to work.” On my way out the door I made a comment about the garbage overflowing outside and continued on my journey. My point about this story is simple; the employee was totally unaware to the garbage scattered all around him or was he? I thought to myself, “Now there’s a dot!” Someone who does only what is required in his job description, instead of going above and beyond the call of duty.

A Bourne Example

A great example of a circle is found in the movie Bourne Identity starring actor Matt Damon, who plays CIA Agent Jason Bourne. Jason Bourne is very much aware of his surroundings since he was trained to “think and act” like a circle during his initial training as a CIA agent. There is a part in this movie where he is sitting in a restaurant with his gypsy female counterpart trying to make sense of his life, after a lapse of memory during a secret mission. At the restaurant he is somewhat confused and does not seem to remember who he is at the moment, somehow he is extremely aware of his surroundings. For some reason he seemed to know:

  • The license numbers of all six cars parked outside the café.

  • The waitress is left handed.

  • The guy sitting at the counter weighs 215 lbs. and knows how to handle himself.

  • The a gun may exist in the cab of the grey truck parked car outside the restaurant.

  • And, that he could run for so many miles in the high, cold altitude before his hands started to shake.

At the moment Bourne seems confused and doesn’t seem to know why he knows these things. What he does not know at the moment is the training he received as a CIA agent made it possible for him to possess such extraordinary awareness. In sum, he is operating like a circle – he is aware of many details in his environment that the common person would not know or care about knowing.

Engage, Experience and Expand Your Awareness

I first learned to think like a circle in a part time job that I held during my college years as a Loss Prevention Agent for a large merchandise chain. This occurred before retail stores installed the cameras you see in many stores today. In this job I learned to develop and use my skills of observation, intuition and follow-through. During my training I learned to read my environment, enlarge my scope of vision and look for certain traits of a typical shoplifter. Over time I gained more experience by discerning with a high level of accuracy a shoplifter’s shopping patterns and behavioral profile. I learned “the way of a circle” and how to expand my awareness zones. I got so good at detecting shoplifters I soon started to locate professional shoplifters. These professional shoplifters were really crafty. They are swift and make themselves undetectable by dressing, acting and blending in as clean cut citizens. They think and act very much like a circle themselves. This is why they get away with so much merchandise because they take the time to study and observe their environment. They will often come in to scope out an area of the store and buy something at a low price. During this time they are checking out the weak areas of the system by examining employee working patterns, mainly those employees who think and act like dots. After the experienced shoplifter has scoped out the land he or she will return within a few days. When they return they know exactly what they want ahead of time (they are not impulse shoplifters). They have a plan and execute it very well, right up until they meet someone who thinks more like a circle.

Many years after working in Loss Prevention I was at a nationally recognized bookstore sipping on some coffee and enjoying a conversation with my friends. As we sat at the coffee shop I noticed a young man at the magazine rack. He looked suspicious so I kept a watchful eye on him without alerting any of my friends. All of the sudden he turned his back toward the coffee shop where I was sitting. He looked around to see if anyone was watching, and stuffed a magazine down the front of his pants and covered the merchandise over with his shirt. Since he was already near the exit door it took just a few steps and he was out the door. I told my friends what just took place, and asked one of them to accompany me outside. Once outside I called out to the young man and asked him to give me the magazine that he had hidden underneath his shirt and pants. At first he denied it but when I told him that I was just interested in retrieving the magazine he relented, and took the concealed item in his clothing and handed it to me. As an experienced Loss Prevention Agent I was trained to look beyond my immediate surroundings to the larger area around me (circle thinking). I was trained to think and act like a circle, therefore, I became one.

What will it take for you to grow your awareness in the workplace? Can you sense things in your environment before anyone else does? What do you do with this information?

Are you a “dot” or a “circle”?


Latinos Lack National Leadership Voice

On Monday, November 15th 2010, the Pew Hispanic Center released a new report dubbed National Latino Leader? The Job is Open. This essence of this report reveals there is no consensus over a prominent leadership voice representing the Latino community in America today. According to the study, “Latinos were asked in an open-ended question to name the person they consider ‘the most important Latino leader in the country today,’ nearly two-thirds (64%) of Latino respondents said they did not know. An additional 10% said ‘no one.’” These percentages reveal that 74% of the Latino population is unsure or at least unaware of a national Latino/na leader. The results of those who did provide answers were dismal at best, noting:

7% support for Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
5% thought of Luis Guiterrez, U.S. Representative from Illinois
3% mentioned Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa
– And, 2% voted for news anchor Jorge Ramos of Noticiero Univision

These Latinos have liberal tendencies and occupy “institutional” and “local” offices, which would not appeal to a nationally diverse Latino population. With this said, a few questions must be asked:

It is time for the Latino community to have a national voice speaking for them, much like the African American community has Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and leaders of the National Associations of  the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The recent mid-term elections propelled three potential Latino voices onto the national scene: Senator-elect Marco Rubio Florida; Susan Martinez, Governor from the State of New Mexico; and Brian Sandoval, Governor-elect from the state of Nevada. 

Marco Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants and a proven conservative. A question arises whether Mexicans, who make up the majority of Latinos in the United States, can depend upon Rubio to represent their needs in Congress, especially in the area of immigration reform?
Susan Martinez, a conservative as well, and a native born citizen from El Paso, Texas. Could Martinez, as a native born citizen of the United States, appeal to the large Mexican population living in the Southwest region to galvanize a respectable national following with strong feelings against amnesty?
Brian Sandoval, a native born citizen of Northern California, is perhaps too distant from the current diverse makeup of the Latino population, which tends to be more bi-cultural in nature, speaking Spanish as their first language.

These voices will take some time to hold sway among a growing and diverse Latino population.

One individual not mentioned in Pew’s study is Rev. Sammy Rodriquez who presides over the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the largest Hispanic evangelical group in the nation, representing over 40,000 churches and religious entities with representing a population of 19 million adherents. Rev. Rodriquez was recently featured on the cover of October’s edition of Charisma magazine, an evangelical periodical. In my opinion Rev. Rodriquez has more potential than anyone mentioned in Pew’s report, even of  the three newly elected Latinos, to have a national voice. He has met with members of both parties in Congress and participates in White House briefings on social justice, Latino and values issues. As a matter of fact Rev. Rodriquez has been a regular voice on CNN, Fox News and other national media outlets advocating for immigration reform; defending over 12 million undocumented Latinos. As a national voice for immigration reform, he has the best possibility of becoming our nation’s leadership voice for the Hispanic community. Perhaps, Rev. Rodriquez is the best kept secret in the Latino community.

Who do you see as the national voice for the Latino community? And why do they deserve your respect?

Life Coaching for Teens

Life Coaching for Teens, a workbook covering three crucial areas vital for Latino teen success, was inspired when I witnessed first hand the need for mentoring and life coaching among a fast growing Hispanic population in the Las Vegas community.

First and foremost, teens need to build a healthy self image, which builds confidence.

1. Building Confidence

The first section introduces students to foundational principles and concepts of identity, significance and life purpose. These areas are critical for helping students know “who” they are, and “why” they exist. A person’s “self-worth” is tied to their identity. Without a clear identity, life purpose is much more difficult to comprehend.

2. Developing Character

The middle section introduces students to the Top 12 Virtues for Teens, which are crucial for building character. These virtues are:

1. Love: Overlooking the faults of others and building influence

2. Honesty: The ultimate character test

3. Purity: Staying “green” in a polluted world

4. Discipline: Staying on task – achieving your goals

5. Money Management: Mastering money so it doesn’t master you

6. Generosity: The sign of a satisfied heart

7. Courage: Standing strong in the midst of fear and doubt

8. Perseverance: Refusing to quit – Expecting to win!

9. Introspection: Finding self through silence and solitude

10. Wisdom: Navigating successfully through life and social situations

11. Foresight: Perceiving and interpreting the immediate future for sound decision-making

12. Magnanimity: The King of all virtues: self-mastery

3. Living Courageously

The final section encourages students’ to discover their innate gifts, and their passion. Finding one’s innate gifts are easy, there are many online tests to measure your temperaments and personal gifts. Passion is much more difficult to pinpoint but when someone finds it, they are naturally empowered. The section takes students through a series of questions that probe and pinpoint their passion. Once passion is discovered, a teen can then formulate a 5-year life plan to help them move forward courageously. Courage, therefore, plays a critical role at this point. Cultivating and expressing courage throughout life is necessary to achieve great results and become a lifetime winner.

What do you think, are these virtues relevant for today’s youth? (Post your thoughts below)

(The Top 12 Virtues for Teens, copyright (2009) Latino Townhall – all rights reserved)