The Heart of It All

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Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

Saying that a certain competitor “has heart” makes one guilty of using a worn-out sports cliché. Yet, what better words are there in the case of someone like Brett Favre? In a different context, people say the same about the late Mother Teresa. With their countless differences, it might seem ridiculous to compare the two. Still, I’m willing to dabble in the ridiculous because they both “have heart.”

Passion

Both of these people became renowned for their accomplishments and I’d wager that neither was driven by the desire to achieve fame. They were ordinary individuals each with an extraordinary passion for something much bigger. Notoriety was simply the by-product.

“There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” — Nelson Mandela

Ordinary people get excited all the time about one thing or another. But, when the novelty wears away or the going gets tough, they’re finished until the next exciting “thing” comes along. The reason for their fickle behavior is often a misplaced passion. An ordinary person becomes extraordinary when he has vision beyond himself.

“Fame is a fickle food – Upon a shifting plate” — Emily Dickinson

Pleasure in wealth is a fickle joy” — Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” — Bible, Matthew 6:21

Whether or not they thought about it, Brett Favre and Mother Teresa are/were in the people-building business. Their success came in direct proportion to their ability to help others reach their potential.  Building up others requires looking beyond outward appearance and reputation to find their heart, to understand what the person is passionate about and the source of that passion.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” — Bible, 1 Samuel 16:7

If a person’s “why” (i.e. purpose) isn’t big enough, chances are high that his passion is temporary. However, if a bond can be identified or established between personal interests and something much bigger, success is a worthy bet.

“The mind is fickle like a fast galloping horse and the only way to control him is by involving him in good actions beneficial for the welfare of all. The person who does so shall achieve success and peace.” — Rig Veda

Love, desperation, fear and similar emotions can cause anyone to develop a mountain-moving heart. When someone taps into the energy source of his passion he needs very little push to get started.

“Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow.” — Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

“Desire creates the power.” — Raymond Holliwell

Brett Favre produced touchdown highlights with long passes, but most of the scores he led came about a few yards at a time. Mother Teresa also had a “one-small-step-at-a-time” approach.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” — Mother Teresa

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” -– Mother Teresa

Where there is passion, there is desire. Where there is desire, there is persistence. Where there is persistence, there is success.

“Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire.” — Arab Proverb

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” — Vince Lombardi (1913-1970)

Except for Brett Favre’s family and possibly his faith, the evidence would seem to indicate that he is driven primarily by an intense passion for football. It’s not money and it’s not fame. Think of how Brett Favre the kid appears after every score and every victory. (I enjoy watching a Favre celebration as much as the touchdown.) If money was the source of his passion he would not have spent most of his career in Green Bay when more bucks were certainly available in bigger markets. Just old-fashioned love of a game. How quaint, how refreshing!

“Well family is obviously the most important. There was a time when I thought football was the most important.” — Brett Favre

Compassion

If one’s source of passion involves personal sacrifice to help others, the concept of “having heart” has an added dimension. Mother Teresa’s desire to serve sick and starving people originates from the passions she has for God.

“I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.” — Mother Teresa

The “size” of a person’s heart and the direction it points varies from person to person. Yet, I think it’s accurate to say that all professionals have heart. Talent alone does not make a professional.

“…effective leadership starts on the inside; it is a heart issue.” — Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, “Lead Like Jesus”

“In a full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.” — Antonio Porchia, Voices

To become a professional one must develop and grow his heart for the benefit of other people. This includes the hopes and dreams as well as the pain and struggles.

“A good exercise for the heart is to bend down and help another up.” — Anonymous

“A mature adult realizes that life is about what you give rather than what you get.” — Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, “Lead Like Jesus”

“Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.” — Annie Lennox

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” — Benjamin Disraeli

Someone with a “small heart” can still achieve success, but he probably won’t excel. Talent alone only goes so far. Getting to the top takes lots of heart. Those who have it leave an indelible mark on the world in part because of what they say, but mostly because of what they do.

“Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold — but so does a hard-boiled egg.” — Unknown

God bless,

— CC

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© Copyright September 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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Dress Up

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Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

This topic is challenging because there are so many opinions on what constitutes professional attire and a lot of acceptable variations depending on the industry, company, day of the week, business function and more. Fortunately for you, I have acquired extensive expertise in this area through my circle of friends, who represent some of the most fashion-aware people in America, including: barbershop singers, professors, scientists, computer geeks, senior citizens and golfers. 😉

“Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.” — Dave Barry

Professional Dress is a Matter of Respect

As with all areas of professionalism, attitude is at the core. In the case of dressing professionally, the specific attitude is respect. Respect yourself with the way you dress and your overall attitude of professionalism will rise to a new level.

“Put even the plainest woman into a beautiful dress and unconsciously she will try to live up to it.” — Lady Duff-Gordon (1863-1935)

The way you dress broadcasts to others how you see yourself. Thus, the adage, “Dress for Success.”

“Keeping your clothes well pressed will keep you from looking hard pressed.” — Coleman Cox

Dressing with respect includes good hygiene. At the risk of stating the obvious, here is my list of keywords: soap, razor, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, cologne, comb and nail clippers. Mom was right when she told you to wash behind the ears, comb your hair, brush your teeth and trim your nails. In case mom’s not around to check up on you, here’s a tip. If you draw blood when shaking hands, it’s time to trim your nails.

“Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education, and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them.” — Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Your GPS

Style and Professionalism

Like medicine, more is not always better. Overdressing can have a negative effect on your image, although I believe that erring slightly on the side of overdressing will create fewer problems than the reverse.

“Looks are part of business. A businessman should never stand out more than his customers. His mannerisms, his clothes, everything about him… Moderation is the key.” — Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005

A stylish wardrobe can be important when it comes to color combinations, width of neckties, ensembles, buttons, stitching, fabric, creases and pleats and accessories. On the other hand, dressing professionally often requires rejection of other aspects of fashion.

“In your clothes avoid too much gaudiness; do not value yourself upon an embroidered gown; and remember that a reasonable word, or an obliging look, will gain you more respect than all your fine trappings.” — Sir George Savile, ‘Advice to a Daughter,’ 1688

“Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.” — Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 1592)

For women, there is a difference between attractive and sexy. Displaying cleavage, thighs, and/or a bare midriff is unprofessional for most careers (if you get my point.)

“If you’re not selling, you shouldn’t be advertising.” -– Donald P. Nock (1928-2000), teacher and coach

A career woman who wants to be respected for her mind, capabilties and personality should not direct unnecessary attention to her looks by wearing clothing that looks like its been painted on her. Going easy on make-up and perfume is also good advice.

Accessorize with Care

For simplicity, I’ll define accessories as everything except clothing that people see and use to judge another person including: handbag, briefcase, car, jewelry and hair. Let’s be honest, body piercings, excessive and gaudy tattoos and outrageous hairstyles are not an advantage in most fields. These things may cause people to look at you and they may make a fashion statement. But, you have to be twice as good to overcome the first impression you make with these nontraditional accessories.

Your car is an accessory, too. More important than make and model are operability and cleanliness. A BMW that rattles, spews black smoke and is filled with food wrappers can’t compete with a shiny new and clean economy car.

Professional Appearance is a Choice

You might be thinking, “Well, this really isn’t who I am. I’m not a ‘suit and tie kinda person.’” I would counter that there isn’t a gene that defines how you dress, take care of yourself or conduct your business affairs. These are choices available to everyone.

Next, you might be thinking this is going to be hard. What’s the alternative?

“Doing nothing is very hard to do … you never know when you’re finished.” — Leslie Nielsen

Think about which path to success is hardest. The first way is to make the necessary changes in yourself to project professional image. The second way is to make no personal changes and devote your energies to convince everyone that you are a professional in spite of your unprofessional appearance. In other words, change thousands of opinions. The third option is to choose a profession which demands less in the way of appearance.

“My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably.” — George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

God bless,

— CC

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© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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On Purpose

Because we usually go through the day on automatic pilot, its easy to lose track of the reason we do certain things. For example, today I got out of bed, like I do every day. Was this accidental or did I do it on purpose? What was the purpose? I decided to do the mental exercise of listing some of the things I did and the reason(s) behind them.

Action or Thought Purpose
Got out of bed Things to do that are more important than lying in bed.
Ate food Quench my hunger; give me energy; keep me healthy.
Read the Bible Feed my mind; calibrate my attitude.
Showered It’s healthful; to avoid offending others.
Went to a business meeting Make a sale.
Studied & took an online test Improve my mind.
Went to bed Recharge my batteries (sleeping feels good!)

I began to recognize that in each case, these purposes were not the total answer. Each was based on a more foundational purpose. For example, the “things more important than lying in bed” included making a living to help take care of my family. But, that still did not fully satisfy my mental exercise. There was an even deeper purpose at stake. Why should anyone consider caring for his family as a worthwhile purpose? Well, for moral reasons, of course. The next logical question was, “Where do morals come from?” It goes even deeper, but that’s enough for now.

I also thought back on how well I executed the tasks with respect to the intended purpose. Did eating quench my hunger and give me energy? Yes. Did it promote good health? Here I can do better. I humbly admit that I ate too much and did not eat a well-balanced meal.

What is the purpose guiding your life. Is it to be happy and/or to make others happy? Could it be that your purpose is to make a difference in the world? Maybe your purpose is simply to avoid doing harm to others? If so, are you missing an even larger purpose? Unless we are a cosmic accident, we were put here for a special purpose ordained by a creator. Could that creator be God? I hope you enjoy the quotes and are inspired to reflect on your purpose.

“Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television.” — David Letterman

“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” — Bible, Proverbs 20:5

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“The secret of success is constancy of purpose.” — Benjamin Disraeli

“To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

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

“Any ideas, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.” — Napoleon Hill

“Unless a life is activated by sustained purpose it can become a depressingly haphazard affair.” — Richard Guggenheimer

“Providence has nothing good or high in store for one who does not resolutely aim at something high or good. A purpose is the eternal condition of success.” — T. T. Munger

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” — Bible, Proverbs 19:21

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” — Bible, Romans 8:28

By the way, for those of you who think you know me pretty well, try and guess my favorite quote on purpose.

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com