Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words

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Talk Quick!
99-Word Stories to Spark Discussion about Common Management Issues
by Brian Remer

Talk Quick! is a collection of group discussion starters designed to inspire meaningful conversations about important management issues.
(12 Discussion Activities, 33 pages, Cross Referenced, $10)

Learn more HERE.

99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2016 Brian Remer
Updated Sept. 2016

99's on the 9th

Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.

September 2016 -
In Sight: The hidden value of loss

Read this story aloud or make copies for your group or team members.

In Sight
"I didn't recognize you without my glasses," Chloe admitted when she saw me at the pool.

It made me think: If I lost my glasses, I'd have to make big changes. I'd have to listen more, rely upon other senses, slow down. I'd need to develop support resources, invent coping strategies. Perhaps I'd become more thoughtful, more reflective. Mostly, I hope I would concentrate on building and reinforcing relationships with the people I truly care about.

Perhaps it takes losing your glasses (even if only in your mind's eye) to help you focus on what's really important.


You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.

There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.

If you are lucky, you'll live long enough to have a disability. Perhaps that sounds like bad luck to you but a loss can actually add value.

The truth is, unless we meet a sudden demise, all of us will have to compensate for the loss of our physical and mental abilities. And there are many other types of loss waiting to cross our path: loss of wealth, property, status, friendships, loved ones, even our values. Some we will give up deliberately, others not.

Loss is part of the human experience. And just as it's a part of our personal lives, it's a part of our organizational lives as well.

In our organizations, we lose contracts and grants, customers and clients, investors and donors, leaders, employees, and team members. Hopefully, wise leaders and committed staff have built an organization that is resilient. Perhaps they have practiced scenario planning to invent contingencies for the future. Maybe there is a mentoring system to address the succession of leadership.

Unfortunately, even the best plans can hit a profound and sudden dead end. When my friend, Vance, moved to an assisted living facility due to an unexpected health problem, I asked what it was like to make that transition. In response he said, "Sometimes you have to face reality." On the other hand, Ken, aged 98, lives in a two story walk-up unable to conceive that one day those stairs may make him a prisoner in his own home.

Again there is a parallel organizationally. Sometimes we are alert to the changing environment of our profession and able to make transitions gracefully. Other times we become so comfortable doing what we've always done that we don't notice our stagnation until it's too late.

Enduring a loss can debilitate, but the right mindset can help us thrive. That's the hidden value of loss. Do we see loss as an opportunity for learning and growth? Certainly there is an initial time of grief when we can't see anything positive in a loss. But those who eventually get beyond that point often identify new strengths, insights, skills, and opportunities. It depends on what they do with the experience, the story they tell to explain the loss, and whether they expect to learn something as a result.

In reality, all we can do is work with the abilities and disabilities that we currently have. You may wish you had 20/20 vision but you've become legally blind. Work with it. You may wish your team was more cohesive but egos clash and tempers flash. It's still the team you have to do your project.

For better or worse it is our gifts and our losses that make us who we are: a one-of-a-kind human. Same is true for teams. Work with the team you have: identify and focus on what's important, maximize the positive, make improvements as you are able, and use the whole of each individual as best you can.


Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.

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