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

NEW at 99-Word Stories

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

Download a copy of this issue of 99's on the 9th as a PDF.*

View with my iPhone.*

View as a PDF and print from my computer.*

You have permission to use this material for your personal teaching, training, or coaching. You may not sell it or reprint it for other uses without permission from .
Thank you!


99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2017 Brian Remer
Updated Dec. 2017

99's on the 9th

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

December 2017

Missing the Real Point

It's not uncommon to become anxious about our performance. After all, we are frequently being evaluated in one way or another. But when this concern over-rides the larger intention of what we are doing, we may be undermining the real purpose of our work. Lead your team in a discussion about how to stay on course toward the big picture in this issue of 99's on the 9th.

At a Chamber of Commerce workshop, the presenter mentioned several times how relieved he was to have a small class so that he wouldn't have to use PowerPoint. But his presentation consisted of walking us through a paper version of his slides! When questioned later, he explained that he finds PowerPoint "distracting." "People look up at the screen and not at me!" he said.

Why does he need people watching him? Recognition, affirmation, reinforcement, or attention? The workshop shouldn't be about him but about learning.

Take your eyes off the goal and all sorts of self-doubt creeps in.




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.

Missing the Real Point
Seems we are constantly being evaluated.

Standardized testing now begins in kindergarten but the assessment of one's development starts just after birth with measurements of weight and length that are compared to the norm. Soon after, we are rated against standards in reflex reaction and sensory perception. Our parents are relieved when we roll over, crawl, and begin to talk at the "right" age.

Throughout school we are tested, graded, compared, and evaluated. The results lead to post high school jobs, military or volunteer service, and college where similar evaluations determine future careers. And in those careers, evaluation continues with 360 performance reviews that determine merit pay and bonuses.

If at any point we don't measure up, we are given a failing grade. It's a stain that, depending on the situation, may mark us both internally and externally for a long time.

Considering all this, it's hardly surprising that the presenter in the 99-Word Story felt self-conscious, watched, evaluated, judged. How can anyone be expected to concentrate on the big picture when they also feel the pressure of performance anxiety?

Now, I'm not saying that we should stop measuring performance. We do need data to determine our effectiveness and to suggest ways we might improve. But I am saying that, as individuals, we should also tie our success to the impact we are having on big picture results.

Think about your job or your position on a team. Why are you there? I mean, why were you chosen to fulfill that role? It was probably not because you are some sort of superstar or celebrity and the team needs to boost its You Tube ratings! Most likely, someone thought you had something significant to contribute. Rather than focusing on how you look, channel your energy into your contribution, the gift you have to share that will enhance the big picture issue.

That's what people care about - not your outdated blazer, the stain on your tie, or your PowerPoint slides.


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.

Read previous issues.
To add or delete your name to our mailing list, email with a short note in the subject line.

I want this newsletter to be practical, succinct, and thoughtful. If you have suggestions about how I can meet these criteria, please let me know! Send me an with your thoughts and ideas.


For more information, please contact .