Seek Understanding

The ABC’s of Professionalism

“There is none who cannot teach somebody something, and there is none so excellent but he is excelled.” — Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658), Spanish Writer.

A professional’s teaching duties, the subject discussed in a previous post, is the perfect lead-in to the professional’s learning responsibilities. Teachers are also learners – could anything be more obvious? Yet, it is all too common for someone with very little knowledge about a certain subject, to expose their ignorance with great bravado. It’s cute when it’s a child bursting at the seams from excitement over some new discovery. It’s embarrassing when a supposedly mature adult jumps on a soapbox, only to find out in mid-sentence he isn’t quite sure how or what to say.

“It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” — Attributed to Mark Twain and others

The first principle of teaching is having something of intellectual, emotional or spiritual value worth sharing. Being an expert is not a prerequisite. But developing a desire to grow in expertise is. Becoming an effective teacher means learning all you can. Be forever committed to your own personal development.

“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” — John Cotton Dana (1856-1929), American librarian, museum director.

“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.” — Denis Waitley (1933- )

“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.” — Eartha Kitt (1927-2008), American actress, singer.

Whether or not a professional takes seriously his responsibility to teach, he still must take charge of what goes into his mind if he expects some level of control over his destiny. It is just as unhealthy to starve one’s mind or feed it garbage as it is to starve one’s body or feed it junk food.

“From the neck down, very few people are worth more than $100.00 a week. From the neck up, there is no limit to what an individual is worth. So what do we do? We feed our stomachs, the $100.00 part below our necks, every day. How often do we feed our minds, the part that has no limit to its value, earning and happiness potential? … Most of us feed it accidentally and occasionally, if it’s convenient or we don’t have anything else to do.” — Zig Ziglar (1926- ), See You At the Top, 1978, p. 245.

“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding;” — Bible, Proverbs 3:13

A professional, knowing that life is much bigger than pleasures and comfort of the present, takes charge of his future with a personal and professional development program that includes: reading, watching/listening to recordings, performing research, taking courses, attending seminars, visiting parks and museums, and engaging in a variety of activities that provide unique mind-enhancing experiences.

“You learn something every day if you pay attention.” — Ray LeBlond

“Observe, record, tabulate, communicate. Use your five senses. . . . Learn to see, learn to hear, learn to feel, learn to smell, and know that by practice alone you can become expert.” — William Osler

What kind of understanding should a professional seek? Perhaps the most familiar is intellectual understanding, especially as it pertains to the industry of one’s career. Rapid change occurs in every industry – there are always new things to learn, sort and mentally file away for immediate use or future reference. Intellectual development also means exercising one’s reasoning and problem-solving skills. For this, puzzles and games are useful, but so are everyday life experiences.

“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.” — A.A. Milne

“If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things.” — Vincent Van Gogh

“The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet.” — Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773), Letters to His Son, 1746, published 1774

A Professional Seeks Emotional Understanding

To say someone is an “understanding person” is to say they have compassion and empathy. This type of understanding allows people to direct emotions in positive ways toward others. Not to be confused with fake compassion, which will always be exposed for what it is, true compassion is unselfish. This special type of understanding causes love to show itself.

“You can’t find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.” — Carrie Fisher (1956- )

“To fake it is to stand guard over emptiness” — Arthur Herzog

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” — Dale Carnegie

A Professional Seeks Spiritual Understanding

Knowing one’s life purpose and the source of that purpose requires spiritual understanding. Purpose is the purifier of our emotions and the fire to apply our knowledge.

“Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” — Helen Keller

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” — Bible, Romans 8:28

Imagine two people. The first believes his purpose begins and ends with himself. Consequently he favors personal pleasure, comfort and safety over other things. His job/career is little more than the means to produce the resources necessary to acquire the next toy, comfort or adventure. Tempering this selfishness is something he learned — the practicality of the Golden Rule. So, his philosophy becomes “Enjoy life — do no harm.” The second person believes purpose comes from outside himself from a higher authority. He accepts that his purpose centers not on what he can do for himself, but what he can do for others. Sometimes this means reaching outside his comfort zone and taking risks to share his time, abilities and resources. When practiced with cheer and without reservation, he receives a spiritual joy that is much deeper and far-reaching than physical pleasure.

“Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt.” — Paul Tillich (1886-1965), German-American theologian. Saturday Evening Post, June 14, 1958

“Never forget that the purpose for which a man lives is the improvement of the man himself, so that he may go out of this world having, in his great sphere or his small one, done some little good for his fellow creatures and labored a little to diminish the sin and sorrow that are in the world.” — William E. Gladstone (1809-1898), British Prime Minister.

A professional knows that spiritual understanding cannot be faked.

“You can’t fake it when you’re alone with God, you know.” — Jim Bakker

“Be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” — Judy Garland

While defining understanding in its various forms, it should be intuitive how it relates to professionalism. Having a thirst for knowledge and a hunger for wisdom, like King Solomon, is the mark of a professional.

What a Professional Does to Understand

While defining understanding in its various forms, it should be intuitive how it relates to professionalism. Having a thirst for knowledge and a hunger for wisdom, like King Solomon, is the mark of a professional.

“At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’ And Solomon said: ‘You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?’

“The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. Then God said to him: ‘Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.’”

Bible, 1 Kings 3:5-14

Solomon, by not asking for outcomes, like fame or wealth, received something more valuable. In fact, having the sense to request wisdom showed maturity beyond his years. Among all of the ancient kings, Solomon modeled professionalism perhaps better than any other.

“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

A professional is intentional about continuously developing his understanding. His education goes way beyond institutional schooling. He reads, watches educational television, and listens to educational recordings while on the road. A professional keeps a journal, takes copious notes and logs ideas. He engages in thoughtful discussions and debates. A professional tastes life not just for the pleasure it affords, but for the wisdom it contains. A professional probes life experiences to discover deeper meaning. Finally, he teaches others both as a way to give back and to enhance his own understanding.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” — John Dewey

“A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,” — Bible, Proverbs 1:5

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” — Bible, Psalm 111:10

God bless,

— CC

[ T=Teaching | Index | V=Vision ]

© Copyright January 2009, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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Optimize Your Optimism

The ABC’s of Professionalism

Do you remember Winnie the Pooh’s friends Tigger and Eeyore? These characters could be used to teach a seminar on optimism and pessimism.

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

— A.A. Milne (1882-1956), “The House at Pooh Corner”, p. 11.

Tigger: Come on, Rabbit. Let’s you and me bounce.
Rabbit: Good heavens! Me bounce?
Tigger: Why, certainly! Look, you’ve got the feet for it.
Rabbit: I have?
Tigger: Sure. Come on, try it. It makes ya feel just grrreat!

— Walt Disney’s “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” (animated film), 1977.

Probably the most familiar description of optimism is a comparison to its opposite using a glass that is half full of water. To the optimist it is half full – the pessimist sees it as half empty. Some hold a different understanding of these terms.

“We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic.” — Susan Jeffers

If so, how can the very same glass be unrealistic to one and realistic to another? They are both the same glass of water. The view Jeffers describes could only originate from someone with the mindset that we live in a world where outcomes are generally unfavorable.

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” — James Branch Cabell (1879-1958), The Silver Stallion, 1926

By the way, what causes pessimists to think they need to “save” the optimists?

“An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? — Rene Descartes

An optimist, coming from a different emotional universe, has a more positive perspective. Good or bad, he makes the best of every situation and is more productive and happier because of it.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“I will say this about being an optimist– even when things don’t turn out well, you are certain they will get better.” — Frank Hughes

“All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” — Bible, Proverbs 15:15

The current downturn and volatility of the stock market along with other economic uncertainty has many people stirred up to the point of panic. Not so with one of my optimistic friends who admitted to being behind in his long-term investment goals. He correctly recognized this situation for what it is – a HUGE opportunity to catch up. Stocks-based investments are on sale at 1989 prices!

An optimist goes on an adventure, while the pessimist stays home. Maybe this is a good thing. We need people to “mind the store” while the rest of us are out living life. Great leaders are optimists. Their optimism was not the result of their climb to the top — it was the cause. They go a step further, by their inspiration.

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, London, November 9, 1954

“The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.” — John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life … in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.” — Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), Farewell Address, January 11, 1989

How can someone become more optimistic? It starts with a decision. Yes, it is possible to decide today to become more optimistic. Here are five steps to get you started.

1) Take a personal inventory — Write down all of your blessings. Focus only on the positive. If you’re pessimistic, you’ve spent enough time and effort dwelling on the negative. Post your list of blessings on your bathroom mirror, by your bed and other prominent places. Add to your list regularly.

“This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” — Bible, Psalm 118:24

“Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” — Psalm 106:1

2) Seek God’s help daily — Develop your new positive attitude through prayer. Give thanks for each item on your list of blessings. Seek forgiveness for your mistakes. Ask God for strength, wisdom and guidance.

“He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

— Bible, Isaiah 40:29,31

3) Purge the negative thoughts — Throw away the negative stuff cluttering your mind. Write down your liabilities, barriers and excuses. Then tear them up and burn the pieces – literally! The next time you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, take a moment to remember that purging process.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” — Bible, Romans 8:31

4) Fill your mind with positive thoughts — Without the negativity there is room for positive thoughts. Make good choices for what you read, listen to, and watch on television. Put driving time to good use — turn your car into a university on wheels. Even if you can’t feel it, your mind is hungry, too. Feed it daily!

“Pity the man who has a favorite restaurant, but not a favorite author.” — Jim Rohn (1930- ), Weekly Ezine, Issue 48 – July 26, 2000

“Before you change your thinking, you have to change what goes into your mind.” — Zig Ziglar (1926- )

5) Reinforce your positive thoughts — Start using positive language. Practice it until it becomes a habit.

Friend: “How’s it going?”
You: “OK, I guess.”

This type of response is no longer acceptable. Only words like good, great, and fabulous are worthy of an optimist.

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” — Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

Follow the program and you will enjoy the results. Here are some of the things you can expect from your new attitude:

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” — Willie Nelson (1933- )

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” — Colin Powell (1937- )

“A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.” — Patricia Neal (1926- )

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” — Anonymous

“An optimist is the human personification of spring.” — Susan J. Bissonette

Have a fabulous day!

God bless,

— CC

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© Copyright November 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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