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Sunday at the Post

News, notes and Olympics hockey. Michael Lombardi

Print This February 21, 2010, 10:09 AM EST

QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK...

“Few players brought more dedication or honor to the game. He was my idea of a pro.” -- Bobby Hull, on Tim Horton

Today marks the 36th anniversary of the death of hockey legend Tim Horton. Early on the morning of Feb. 21, 1974, Horton was driving on the Queen Elizabeth Way freeway from Toronto to his home in Buffalo after the Sabres had played in Toronto the night before. Horton was in his De Tomaso Pantera sports car, a gift from Sabres GM George “Punch” Imlach. He was negotiating a curve on the QEW where it crosses over Twelve Mile Creek in St. Catharines when he lost control and hit a concrete culvert. The impact flipped the vehicle, and Horton, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected. He was reported dead on arrival at the local hospital. A police officer pursuing Horton's vehicle said that he had been traveling at over 160 km/h (100 mph).

Horton was also a successful business man. In 1964, he opened his first Tim Horton Doughnut Shop in Hamilton, Ontario. He even added a few of his culinary creations to the initial menu. By 1967, Horton had become a multimillion-dollar franchise system. His previous business ventures included a hamburger restaurant and Studebaker auto dealership in Toronto.

We honor the death of Tim Horton today here at the Post – but tonight we root for the USA against Canada in men’s hockey.

“To desire is to obtain; to aspire is to achieve.” -- James Allen

THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN THE NFL LAST WEEK…

“I hope people are reading my work in the future. I hope I have done more than frightened a couple of generations. I hope I’ve inspired a few people one way or another.” -- Richard Matheson

1. NFL considers rules changes to combat concussions (Washington Post)

NFL and players union leaders are studying the possibility of curtailing teams' offseason practices and placing restrictions on the amount of hitting allowed during training camp and the regular season, officials said. The measures are to be discussed by members of the NFL competition committee and union representatives at the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis.

2. Brackett wants to remain a Colt (Indy Star)

March 5 is approaching, and with it impending unrestricted free agency for Gary Brackett. But the Indianapolis Colts linebacker's agent, Brian Mackler, and Colts president Bill Polian are speaking. “Gary has expressed his great desire to retire a Colt,” Mackler said Friday. “I'm going to do my best to honor his wishes, and Bill and I are going to continue to talk.”

THINGS I HEARD AROUND THE NFL LAST WEEK...

“Very many maintain that all we know is still infinitely less than all that still remains unknown; nor do philosophers pin their faith to others' precepts in such wise that they lose their liberty, and cease to give credence to the conclusions of their proper senses. Neither do they swear such fealty to their mistress Antiquity that they openly, and in sight of all, deny and desert their friend Truth.” -- William Harvey

1. New Browns president Mike Holmgren did not give Brady Quinn an endorsement, which was predictable. He also said on the radio last week that his intentions are to rebuild the Browns through the draft. Holmgren will find a quarterback who fits his system best, and don’t rule out the Browns picking one at the top of the draft. Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen? We know Charlie Weis loves Clausen and has been taking calls from NFL teams about him. Weis is a fully behind Clausen the player and the person.

2. Speaking of Bradford, he’ll undergo all the mental and physical testing at the combine but will not throw until his workout at Oklahoma on March 25. Bradford will be cleared to throw at that point and will have a controlled workout. Monitoring who goes in for a private workout will make the first round interesting.

3. Jason La Canfora of NFL.com reported that he expects the Patriots to franchise DT Vince Wolfork if they don’t get a long deal — which I expect will happen right before the Feb. 25 deadline. Wilfork isn’t going anywhere, Pats fans.

4. Karlos Dansby of the Cards will not be given the franchise tag again this year and will be signed very quickly once free agency begins. This week is combine week and is the busiest week in the NFL. Most deals are put into place with a first meeting at the combine.

5. Don’t expect too many restricted free agents to sign deals before training camp. Why? Because if they sign deals, they would not become free agents if -- and that’s a very big if -- the union and owners agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

6. No doubt the Titans would love to have Kevin Mawae back, but they won’t overpay for his rights, and currently they’re not close to a deal. The Titans feel very comfortable playing Leroy Harris at center.

LEADERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IDEA...

“New opinions often appear first as jokes and fancies, then as blasphemies and treason, then as questions open to discussion, and finally as established truths.” -- George Bernard Shaw

Learn to Ask Better Questions by John Baldoni

Every leader I know has at least one need in common: a need to connect honestly with others. One way to help foster improved connections is by asking good questions. Leaders who excel at asking good questions have honed an ability to cut to the heart of the manner in a way that disarms the person being interviewed and opens the door for genuine conversation.

Whether they are talking to customers, interviewing job candidates, talking to their bosses or even questioning staff, executives need to draw people out. And so often, it is not a matter of what you ask, it is how you ask it. Here are some suggestions.

Be curious. Executives who do all the talking are those who are deaf to the needs of others. Sadly, some managers feel that being the first and last person to speak is a sign of strength. In reality, though, it's the opposite. Such behavior is closer to that of a blowhard who may be insecure in his own abilities but is certain of one thing — his own brilliance. Such an attitude cuts off information at its source, from the very people — employees, customers, vendors — whom you should trust the most. Being curious is essential to asking good questions.

Be open-ended. Leaders should ask questions that get people to reveal not simply what happened, but also what they were thinking. Open-ended questions prevent you from making judgments based on assumptions and can elicit some surprising answers. In his autobiography, talk-show host Larry King recalls asking Martin Luther King, who had just been arrested for seeking to integrate a hotel in Florida, what he wanted. To which King replied, "My dignity." Using what, how and why questions encourages dialogue.

Be engaged. When you ask questions, act like you care. Yes, act — show that you are interested with affirmative facial expressions and engaged body language. This sets up further conversation and gets the individual to reveal information that could be important. For example, if you are interviewing a job candidate you want to encourage him or her to talk about not only accomplishments but also setbacks. An interested interviewer will get the person to talk in depth about how he or she rebounded from failure. That trait is worthy of consideration in recruiting. But interviewees will only open up — especially on sensitive subjects — if you actively show interest.

Dig deeper. So often, executives make the mistake of assuming all is well if they are not hearing bad news. Big mistake. It may mean employees are afraid to offer up anything but good news, even if it means stonewalling. So when information surfaces in your dialogue, dig for details without straying into recrimination. Get the whole story. Remember, problems on your team are, first and foremost, your problems.

Not every conversation need be on point and under the gun. There will be times when you'll need a more solicitous tone and a more leisurely pace, especially when coaching an employee or listening carefully to a customer concern. There, taking your time might be most appropriate.

Asking good questions, and doing so in a spirit of honest information gathering and eventual collaboration, is good practice for leaders. It cultivates an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing issues that affect both their performance and that of the team. And that, in turn, creates a foundation for deepening levels of trust.

ARTICLES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THAT AREN’T WORTH MISSING...

“Now, let me say this: I know that this is not the last of the smears. In spite of my explanation tonight, other smears will be made; others have been made in the past. And the purpose of the smears, I know, is this — to silence me, to make me let up.” -- Richard Nixon, “Checkers” speech, Sept. 23 1952

The Tiger debates rages. Here are some samples:

Bill Simmons

Jason Whitlock

Daily Beast — Four Execs on Tiger

The 100 Least Powerful People Under 100

A MUST READ... Baltic the sea dog swimming through fan mail
 

STORIES TO SHARE....

“Life ends when you stop dreaming, hope ends when you stop believing, love ends when you stop caring, friendship ends when you stop sharing...so share this with whomever you consider a friend.” -- Unknown

The Art of Sharing

Author unknown

Many years ago, three soldiers, hungry and weary of battle, came upon a small village. The villagers, suffering a meager harvest and the many years of war, quickly hid what little they had to eat and met the three at the village square, wringing their hands and bemoaning the lack of anything to eat.

The soldiers spoke quietly among themselves, and the first soldier then turned to the village elders. “Your tired fields have left you nothing to share, so we will share what little we have: the secret of how to make soup from stones.”

Naturally, the villagers were intrigued, and soon a fire was put to the town's greatest kettle as the soldiers dropped in three smooth stones. “Now this will be a fine soup,” said the second soldier, “but a pinch of salt and some parsley would make it wonderful!”

Up jumped a villager, crying, “What luck! I've just remembered where some has been left!” And off she ran, returning with an apron full of parsley and a turnip. As the kettle boiled on, the memory of the village improved. Soon, barley, carrots, beef and cream had found their way into the great pot, and a cask of wine was rolled into the square as all sat down to feast.

They ate and danced and sang well into the night, refreshed by the feast and their newfound friends. In the morning, the three soldiers awoke to find the entire village standing before them. At their feet lay a satchel of the village's best breads and cheese. “You have given us the greatest of gifts: the secret of how to make soup from stones,” said an elder, “and we shall never forget.”

The third soldier turned to the crowd, and said, “There is no secret, but this is certain: it is only by sharing that we may make a feast.”

And off the soldiers wandered, down the road.

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