Whale Done! : The Power of Positive Relationships
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What do employees and coworkers have in common with a five-ton killer whale? A whole lot more than you think, according to the mega-bestselling author Ken Blanchard and his coauthors from SeaWorld. Whales respond best to positive reinforcement. So do humans. In this moving and inspirational new audiobook, Blanchard explains how using the techniques of animal trainers -- specifically those responsible for the killer whales of SeaWorld -- can supercharge your effectiveness at work and at home.
When gruff business manager and family man Wes Kingsley visited SeaWorld, he marveled at the ability of the trainers to lead huge killer whales in performing acrobatic leaps and dives. Later, talking to the chief trainer, he learned their techniques of building trust, accentuating the positive, and redirecting negative behavior -- all of which make these extraordinary performances possible. Kingsley took a hard look at his own often accusatory management style and recognized how some of his shortcomings as a manager, spouse, and father actually diminish trust and damage relationships. He began to see the difference between "GOTcha" (catching people doing things wrong) and "Whale Done!" (catching people doing things right).
In Whale Done!, Ken Blanchard shows how positive reinforcement and redirection can help increase productivity. These techniques are remarkably easy to master and can be applied equally well at home, allowing listeners to become better parents and more committed spouses and have happier personal lives.
- Amazon Sales Rank: #279762 in Books
- Published on: 2002-02-01
- Formats: Audiobook, Unabridged
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 3
- Binding: Audio CD
About the Author
Ken Blanchard, Chief Spiritual Officer and Chairman of the Board of the Blanchard Companies, Inc., is the author of a dozen bestselling books, including the blockbuster international bestseller The One Minute Manager and the giant business bestsellers Raving Fans and Gung Ho!. His books have combined sales of more than 12 million copies in more than twenty-five languages. He is married with two children and lives in San Diego, California.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
How do they do that?
A collective gasp rose from a crowd of over three thousand spectators as they thrilled to the amazing performances of leaping killer whales. It was another show in Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld. All eyes in the grandstand were glued to the huge animals and their trainers, so no one noticed the wide range of emotions reflected in the face of a man in khakis and a blue shirt who sat in their midst. Each time the crowd exploded in applause and cheers as the animals performed one of their spectacular feats, the man's eyes would sparkle with surprise and delight. At other times his face would cloud over and his eyes assume a faraway look.
Wes Kingsley had come to Orlando to attend a business conference. Since the schedule left room for conferees to relax, play golf, or visit one of the area's attractions, he had decided that a visit to the world-famous marine zoological park would help him forget his troubles for a time.
He was glad he had made that decision. Earlier, along with throngs of other people eagerly crowding the huge stadium, he had taken his seat above the blue waters of the large main pool. Following a welcome and a review of safety rules by an animal trainer, a mysterious fog had begun to shroud the surface of the pool. From behind and above them, the crowd heard the scream of a fish eagle. The mighty bird suddenly swooped over their heads, dove toward the pool, and took a lure from the misty waters. As it flew away, huge black dorsal fins broke the surface, and onlookers caught their breath when they saw monstrous black shapes circling deep in the pool. A wet-suit-clad trainer came through the mists paddling a kayak, to be instantly surrounded by the fins of enormous killer whales.
Following this dramatic opening, the crowd witnessed a series of astonishing acrobatic leaps and dives by a trio of whales -- a 10,000-pound male and two 5,000-pound females. These marine mammals, among the most feared predators in the ocean, waved their pectoral fins to the audience, allowed trainers to "surf" the pool by balancing on their back, and with sweeps of their great tails splashed the first ten rows of spectators with cold water. The roars of laughter, the oohs and aahs, and the thunderous applause attested to the crowd's enjoyment.
Wes Kingsley also found himself entranced by the spectacle unfolding before him. By the finale, when the three finny costars hiked their gleaming black-backed and white-bellied bodies up onto a raised section of the pool to take some well-deserved bows, he had scribbled several entries in a small notebook.
As people exited the stadium, scores of them were still dripping from the soaking they'd happily received sitting in the "splash zone" of the first ten rows. Despite this -- or perhaps because of it -- their faces sparkled with smiles. Still in his seat in an upper row of the emptying stands, Wes Kingsley remained staring down into the pool. Its blue depths, recently awash with great waves but now still, seemed to echo his mood.
After the crowd had left and the place was quiet, an underwater gate opened and a giant black form moved into the pool and began circling it. A trainer came through a door and strolled out onto the lip of the pool, and the huge killer whale immediately swam over to him. "Nice going, big guy," he said, stroking its head. "Enjoy your playtime. You earned it." As the trainer rose and walked along the pool's edge, the whale moved with him. It seemed to be trying to stay as close to him as possible.
The blue-shirted man in the stands shook his head and thought to himself, You'd think that after doing a whole show that whale would hoard its free time. But what does it want to do? Play with the trainer! A question was forming in the man's mind, a need to know that had been building up in him ever since the start of the show. He had an impulse to go down there and ask the trainer that question, but fear of embarrassment held him back. Then suddenly he got up off the bench and quickly descended the stairs.
"Excuse me," Wes called as he reached the deck of the pool and started toward the trainer.
The trainer looked up in surprise. Then he gestured toward a door. "Sir, the exit is over there."
"I know. But I need to ask you something." As Wes approached, it was evident that he was not ready to take no for an answer.
"Sure," the trainer said. "What do you want to know?"
Pulling a wallet from his pocket, Wes offered two fifty-dollar bills to the trainer. "I'm willing to pay you for the information. What I want to know is probably what everyone who sees the show wonders: What's your secret? How do you trick these animals into performing for you? Do you starve them?"
The man in the wet suit controlled an impulse to react angrily to his visitor's impertinent attitude.
Patiently and quietly he said, "We don't trick them, and we don't starve them. And you can keep your money."
"Well then, what is it? What do you do?" Wes
demanded. But after a long silence from the other, Wes's manner softened. Realizing he had given offense, he put his money away. "Sorry," he said, holding out his hand. "I'm Wes Kingsley. I don't mean to bother you with this, but I really have to know how you get such a tremendous performance from these animals."
"Dave Yardley," said the trainer as they shook hands. "I'm in charge of the animal training here, so I guess you might say you've come to the right place. The answer to your question is that we have teachers. Would you like to meet one of them?"
Kingsley looked around to see if they were being joined by someone else. When he looked back, Yardley was pointing to the whale. "This is one of our teachers. His name's Shamu. He and all the other whales here at SeaWorld taught us all we know about working with these wonderful animals."
Wes squinted warily. "Come on. You mean to say you've been trained by an animal? I thought it was the other way around."
Dave shook his head. "Shamu is one of the world's largest killer whales living in a zoological park. As far as who trains whom, let me put it this way. When you're dealing with an eleven-thousand-pound animal who doesn't speak English, you do a lot of learning."
Wes glanced down at the rows of enormous, two-inch-long teeth in Shamu's enormous mouth. "I think the only thing he would teach me is to stay on his good side."
"There's plenty of data to back that up," Dave said. "Killer whales are the most feared predators in the ocean. They can kill and eat anything in sight."
"I guess if he's not learning his lessons, you don't make him go and stand in the corner," Wes ventured.
"That's exactly right. One thing we learned quickly was that it doesn't make much sense to punish a killer whale and then ask a trainer to get in the water with him."
"Not unless you want your career shortened!" Wes exclaimed. Then, recalling the prodigious leaps Shamu had performed in the show, he added, "It's hard to
believe a creature that size could get ten feet out of the water on its own. How do you get him to perform so well?"
"Let's just say it didn't happen overnight," said Dave. "Shamu taught us patience."
"Shamu wasn't about to do anything for me or any other trainer until he trusted us. As I worked with him, it became clear that I couldn't train him until he was convinced of my intentions. Whenever we get a new whale, we don't attempt to do any training for some time. All we do is make sure they're not hungry; then we jump in the water and play with them, until we convince them."
"Convince them of what?"
"That we mean them no harm."
Wes said, "You mean you want them to trust you."
"You're right. That's the key principle we use in working with all our animals."
Wes took out his notebook and pen and began to write.
"Are you writing an article?" Dave asked. "Or doing research?"
Wes Kingsley smiled grimly. "I guess you'd call it research of a personal nature. I've got to learn some new things myself or else..."
Dave Yardley waited and watched. It's hard for this guy to trust anybody, he thought. That's what his bluster act is about.
After a long pause, Wes spoke, avoiding eye contact with the trainer. "I live near Atlanta and work for a big industrial-supply outfit. I came to Florida to get away for a few days, using a business conference as the excuse. But over there at the hotel with my manager buddies, all I could think of was how I don't want to go back home to face the same old problems."
Dave was listening with evident interest.
"For a long time I've been having a hard time getting my people at work to perform well," Wes continued, then grinned. "Not to mention getting my kids at home to pitch in around the house and do better at school. When I was complaining to a friend of mine about it, he had a nice way of suggesting that since I was having management problems both at work and at home, we might look for the common denominator."
"What was that?" Dave asked.
"My friend said, 'Did you ever notice, when your life isn't working, who's always around?'"
Both men chuckled. "I know I'm not managing effectively," Wes went on, "and I might be about to lose my job. Frankly, I'm getting a little desperate."
Dave was aware of Wes's anxious, almost pleading tone of voice and said, "Let me take you on a little backstage tour. Then we can talk more about this."
Dave led Wes through a gate and over to a training pool where a few feet away the huge black backs and fins of two killer whales were gliding through the clear blue water. Their beautiful bodies exuded an air of calmness, and at the same time the promise of explosive power. As the two men walked from one holding pool to another, the trainer identified each whale by name and supplied interesting anecdotes about them.
"It takes a long time to build trust and friendship with each of the whales," Dave said. "That trust and friendship is the basis of everything you just saw in the show. These animals are n...
Here's another quick-fix corny book by the author of the ONE MINUTE MANAGER. Even with Tony Roberts's professional skill, this text sounds contrived. There's a lot more to business and family relationships than pats on the bac--let's get real. Roberts sounds middle-aged and reads slowly. But he sounds noticeably skeptical--you can hear the doubt in his voice--and his portrayal of the management consultant who espouses this plan is just too bright and chirpy. The value of this too long production can be reduced to two words--praise everyone. A.G.H. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Most helpful customer reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful.
Another winner from Blanchard
By Blaine Greenfield
Whenever Ken Blanchard (one of my favorite authors) comes out with a new book, I usually rush to read it . . . so when I saw that WHALE DONE! THE POWER OF POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS had just been released, I got hold of a copy and devoured it in one sitting. You'll be able to do so, too, in that it is real short . . . but don't be fooled into thinking that there's not a lot of "meat" contained in its 128 pages . . . Blanchard, along with coauthors Thad Lacinak, Chuck Tompkins and Jim Ballard, takes a simple tale and uses it to get you thinking about how both whales and people perform better when you accentuate the positive . . . that information may sound basic, but it is far too often never used.
The story revolves around a gruff manager who visits SeaWorld and is impressed with how animal trainers of killer whales can get them to perform amazing acrobatic leaps and dives . . . he begins to see how these same techniques could be applied to his business life, as well as his situation at home . . . in addition, he learns the difference between "GOTcha" (catching people doing things wrong) and "Whale Done!" (catching people doing things right). I particularly liked the many examples that were used, and the fact that these could be applied to countless
work and home situations. There were many memorable passages; among them: "The point here is that progress--doing something better—is constantly being noticed, acknowledged, and rewarded. We need to do the same thing with people--catch them doing things better, if not exactly right, and praise progress. That way, you set them up for success and build from there."
"Killer whales can 'take out' any other animal in the ocean. We sometimes use that information when we're working with dog trainers. Some of them scold and yell at their animals. They use choke chains and sometimes hit them. When they talk about that kind of treatment, I ask them, 'If your dog weighed eleven thousand pounds like Shamu, the whale, how would you treat him? Would
you use a choke collar or smack him around?' I don't think so." If you don't hire people on a performance review curve, why grade them on one? My only criticism is that some of the material seems recycled from Blanchard's first bestseller, THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER . . . but maybe that's not such a bad thing, in that I still consider this his best work . . . and a "must" read for anybody who has not yet had the pleasure of experiencing it.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful.
Powerful Msg that's already having an impact @ home & office
By A Customer
I just finished Whale Done and I loved it. I've been a fan of Dr.Blanchard's books for years and feel this latest book really gets to the essence of what he's been teaching for years. One of the big take aways I had from the book was paying attention and noticing. I find myself at work and home either not noticing or keying in on the negative behavior that I don't want repeated. In talking with a member of my staff about this I learned how I need to focus much more of my attention on noticing and praising the positive. The issue was very emotional for this person and I was a much bigger deal than I ever would have imagined. Ken and his co-authors emphasize building relationships where people feel that you mean them no harm. If the majority of the feedback I'm providing my people is how they can do things differently, dare I say better, they can misinterpret my suggestions as catching them doing things wrong. I've been making a concetrated effort to catch my staff doing things right. I've been amazed at how my natural tendency is to revert back to seeing the mistakes and not encouraging all the things being done right. The concept seems simple and yet I can't say enough about the change I've seen in the energy level in my department. I still need to redirect behavior from time to time but I'm looking for what is partially right and building off of that verus focusing valuable energy on what was wrong. This approach has been equally as impactful with my son and wife. I've been married for ten years now and admit that I've stopped noticing all the incredible qualities that caused me to fall in love with my wife to begin with. The qualities are still there I just stopped pointing them out like I did when I was courting her. I've gone on far longer than I should but I must end with the change I've seen in my relationship with my 4 year old son. His behavior and more importantly our relationship seems to be headed in the right direction after just 5 days of coming home and noticing all the things that he is doing right or partially right. He runs to the door to greet me now and seems to get in much less trouble. The suttle or not so suttle difference has been the attention he has received from me. I was a little skeptical applying the concept with him because he is testing us all the time trying to find out what he can and can't get away with. Its only been 5 days but he seems much more interested in getting the positive attention from me than he does finding out what he can't get away with. Its sad that the we had to learn the importance of developing trusting relationships in this manner because killer whales won't tolerate anything else from trainers that would otherwise be little more than a lite snack. A huge thank you to Shamu for forcing his trainers to treat him in a manner that we all deserve but rarely get.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
Very Relevant for Teachers and Everyone else
By J. LEE
I feel extremely grateful to the authors of this book for writing this gem.
I am an Elementary School Teacher, and I was handed a very difficult class to manage. The children in this class came from homes with poor parental support, and they had poor social skills causing them to constantly pick fights with each other. I tried using the disciplinarian manner of dealing with them. It just didn't work. They were already so jaded and used to being punished that to them it didn't matter one bit at all. In fact, it only served to make them even more defiant. Then, I happened to chance upon this book. When I read this book, I could instantly link the ideas of positive relationship to William Glasser's Choice Theory - where positive discipline is emphasized. They are really very complementary.
When I tried using just Choice Theory alone, it didn't quite work. But when I used Whale Done together with Choice Theory, it took me just two days and the class became much more well behaved and cooperative. It was too amazing for me to believe that it was happening! But really, seeing is believing... I think for people who have given poor ratings to this book, it's probably because the book hasn't given very clear instructions with regards to how to redirect the undesirable behavior appropriately. If you can't figure out how to redirect, it is a sure thing that the Whale Done method will fail hopelessly.
If you really wish to give positive relationships a shot, try this:
Read William Glasser's Choice Theory first.
Then, read Whale Done.
Finally, use the Whale Done method, coupled with using Choice Theory as the basis for all redirections. And very importantly...never give up! It is sincerely a very trying process in the beginning especially when you do not witness immediate changes. But be patient and push through with both the Whale Done method and Choice Theory, and you'll be able to enjoy better positive relationships around you.