Elbow Grease

The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Elbow grease is the best polish” — English Proverb

The topic is hard work, the title is elbow grease. To my father, these word pairs mean exactly the same thing — he prefers the latter. One of my favorite stories told at family gatherings is how Pops dealt with loafing baggers, cashiers and stock clerks in his stores. He would tell them they needed to apply some elbow grease. If they seemed puzzled by the instruction he’d send them on an errand to find a jar of it. For each person, the trick only worked once (except possibly for brother Dave). But, the point was made and the lesson was never forgotten. My dad probably would have also said the following, if he had thought of it:

“Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat.” — Ann Landers

Even possessing knowledge about the cause and effect relationship between work and results, mankind seems unable to counteract its tendency to avoid work. Any shortcut, regardless of how inferior it may be, is more often than not preferred over working up a sweat. It’s a sure bet that without the necessities of life, there would be no work done at all.

“The normal condition of man is hard work, self-denial, acquisition and accumulation and as soon as his descendants are freed from the necessity of such exertion, they begin to degenerate sooner or later in both body and mind.” — Thomas Mellon

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” — Frederick Douglass

“People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.” — Frederick Douglass

The desire to survive is a sufficient incentive for most people to put forth the effort necessary to acquire the basics of life: food and shelter. A life motivated solely by the survival instinct is the lowest form of existence and produces the least amount of effort.

“Everyone confesses in the abstract that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us all; but practically most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe

“The fundamental principle of human action, the law, that is to political economy what the law of gravitation is to physics is that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion” — Henry George

Once survival has been achieved, people seek pleasure and comfort. At this level, they’ll put forth just enough additional effort as needed to acquire the goods, services and relationships for their pleasure. As these pleasures become synonymous with the person’s life, fear of loss may create new incentives to protect these pleasures. Level three is about safety. All three of these levels are characterized by visions that are inwardly focused on personal pleasure, comfort and safety.

“The principle of liberty and equality, if coupled with mere selfishness, will make men only devils, each trying to be independent that he may fight only for his own interest. And here is the need of religion and its power, to bring in the principle of benevolence and love to men.” — John Randolph (1773-1833)

“If pursuing material things becomes your only goal, you will fail in so many ways. Besides, in time all material things go away.” — John Wooden (1910- ), American basketball coach.

What happens when a person exchanges his mirror for a window? Suddenly the view changes along with his vision of life. He’s able to see a brand new level where people do things for others on a routine basis. The benefits of voluntary helping and sharing are amazing. He sees cooperation, the swapping of good deeds, as a more productive and more satisfying way to live.

There is one more level — service with a soul. This type of life, which is literally an act of worship, is the way Christ taught and lived. It’s all about serving people who are not in a position to return any type of benefit in response. Serving others in this capacity is equivalent to serving God.

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’” — Bible, Luke 10:33-35

While rising through the levels, each step up comes from an increase in the magnitude of the vision, followed by greater amounts of effort to fulfill the bigger vision. It stands to reason that when a person is only interested in taking care of himself he will put forth only enough effort to accomplish that objective. Rising above an inward-looking philosophy and the drudgery that accompanies it starts with a new attitude and a bigger vision.

“Everything depends upon execution; having just a vision is no solution.” — Stephen Sondheim

“Instead of thinking about where you are, think about where you want to be. It takes twenty years of hard work to become an overnight success.” — Diana Rankin

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.” — Muhammad Ali

Let’s look now at elbow grease as it relates to professionalism. Like other attributes of professionalism, putting forth one’s best effort is a matter of self-respect.

“A dream is a vision, a goal is a promise. You can keep your promises to yourself by remaining flexible, focused, and committed.” — Denis Waitley

“I can’t imagine a person becoming a success who doesn’t give this game of life everything he’s got.” — Walter Cronkite

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.” — Theodore Roosevelt

It’s not necessarily true that a professional is free from apprehension toward sweat. What is true is that he has ordered his life around his life’s purpose and passion. This tends to segregate the favorable from the distasteful deeds.

“The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.” — Logan Pearsall Smith

Still, he will find drudgery in his path. But, because his courage is greater than his apprehension and experience has taught him perspective, he is able to rise above an attitude of drudgery.

“Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion” — Florence Nightingale

“Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun.” — Colleen C. Barrett

 

Instead of viewing personal toil as the price to pay, professionals welcome hard work as one of life’s opportunities. Hard work is an opportunity to improve, achieve AND enjoy.

“The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.” — John Ruskin

 

“Success, remember is the reward of toil.” — Sophocles

“You do not pay the price of success, you enjoy the price of success.” — Zig Ziglar

 

“The happy life is thought to be one of excellence; now an excellent life requires exertion, and does not consist in amusement.” — Aristotle

 

While professionals usually have a positive attitude about their work — others usually prefer to make excuses. “Well I’d have a good attitude about my job too if I made as much as the CEO.” Wrong! Attitude is the cause, not the effect.

“Both tears and sweat are salty, but they render a different result. Tears will get you sympathy; sweat will get you change.” — Jesse Jackson

“To say yes, you have to sweat and roll up your sleeves and plunge both hands into life up to the elbows. It is easy to say no, even if saying no means death.” — Jean Anouilh

Usually, the hardest part of work is the getting started part. Making excuses seems easier than making a beginning. Statements like, “I’m not prepared” or “the timing is bad” are usually fear disguised as excuses.

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” — Zig Ziglar

“In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment.” — Thomas Carlyle

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Lao-Tzu

“The beginning is the half of every action.” — Greek Proverb

So here you are, armed with a powerful vision of your life and the understanding that action is the necessary next step. It’s time to turn the key, get in gear and step on the gas. It’s time to make an action plan.

“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.” — Brian Tracy

“Life is a journey of single steps. None can be taken back. Take each step with the anticipation and the vision of the outcomes you desire.” — Gary Lear, Australia

The plan should consist of a sequence of manageable objectives or goals and it must be written down. The goals help make the vision seem less daunting and they are the milestones for measuring progress.

“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” — William Faulkner

“Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.” — Rene Descartes

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” — Henry Ford

One popular planning technique, called the SMART Plan, has many variations on the format.  However, the principles are similar. I like this one:

  1. Specific – Define a step-by-step approach in terms of detailed goals that can be measured and tracked.
  2. Mission – Goals must be consistent with the overall mission and vision.
  3. Accountability – Identify person(s) with authority over the vision.
  4. Resources – List both required and available resources.
  5. Timeline – Define dates for progress reports and milestone completion.

The most important part of planning is writing down the plan. A written plan based on bite-sized measurable goals enhances accountability and focus. Keep the plan handy and review it daily. When individual goals are reached, reward yourself in some small, yet meaningful way. If you stop to rest between accomplishments, don’t stop for long. Let momentum drive you forward to the finish line.

“Plan the work; work the plan.” — Anonymous

“Success depends in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by a dint of hard work.” — Anna Pavlova (1881-1931), Russian ballerina.

“Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.” — Marian Wright Edelman (1939- ), American activist.

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” — Thomas Edison

God bless,

— CC

[ V=Vision | Index | X=eXcellence ]

© Copyright February 2009, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

Teaching & Developing

The ABC’s of Professionalism

Describing a teacher as “one who has a teaching certificate and works in a school” is incomplete and a slight against all others who contribute toward the development of people. Teachers are known by many names such as: mentor, tutor, trainer, advisor, counselor, leader, educator, coach, guide, role model, instructor, advisor, demonstrator, therapist, lecturer, rabbi, preacher, Jesus, supervisor, co-worker, friend, parent, relative, neighbor and author.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” — Charles W. Eliot

“And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.” — Bible, Luke 4:32

In reality, everyone is a teacher and a developer of people in some capacity or another. Teachers are givers. When a teacher shares information with a student who receives and understands its meaning, learning has occurred.

“There are three things to remember when teaching: know your stuff; know whom you are stuffing; and then stuff them elegantly” — Lola May

Development is a special phenomenon of teaching that goes beyond learning. Transition from learning to development occurs when a teacher helps a student cross the threshold between “potential change” and “actual change” or between “knowledge” and “application.”

“Teaching is what you do to people; development happens within the individual. Teaching is an action; development is a process” — Gary Lear

“Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” — William Butler Yeats

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” — Mark van Doren

This transformation is made possible through the expertise of caring teachers who share knowledge AND inspire students to creatively integrate it with their beliefs and behaviors.

“Change only occurs when the beliefs are impacted” — Gary Lear

“No man can be a good teacher unless he has feelings of warm affection toward his pupils and a genuine desire to impart to them what he believes to be of value.” — Bertrand Russell

For each of us, as teachers engaged in people-building activities, two questions need to be asked: “What impact can I have?” and “What kind of teacher should I be?”

“Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.” — Anonymous

Because learning and development beyond learning are critical to personal and societal success, millions of people train for years and make a lifelong commitment to teaching and learning.  What about the rest? How can we all become a more effective teachers? What kind of teaching model should be adopted by a professional who is not a career teacher? Three words come to mind: enlighten, engage and empower.

Enlighten

Enlightenment is the intellectual dimension of development that presents new information and processes then challenges the student to consider the relevance of both the old and new information as it relates to experiences and current situations. Some would call this “learning to think outside your box.”

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” — Socrates

“Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing, the rest is mere sheep-herding.” — Ezra Pound

“We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.”— Lloyd Alexander

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”— Kahlil Gibran

Engage

This is the action dimension that creates opportunities for experiences to apply the new information, philosophies and processes so as to produce new and improved results. Some would connect this to the enlighten dimension by saying, “This is where the rubber meets the road.”

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”— Chinese Proverbs

“The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, familiar things new.”— William Makepeace Thackeray

“We can teach from our experience, but we cannot teach experience.” — Sasha Azevedo

“Play is the beginning of knowledge.” — Anonymous

“Every extension of knowledge arises from making the conscious the unconscious.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

“Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men.” — Mortimer Adler

Empower

This is the emotional dimension. With help from an inspiring teacher, a learner discovers his desire to continue developing and applying new information and processes until they become a new pattern. In response, confidence builds and momentum increases causing real and lasting change to occur.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” — William Arthur Ward

“A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectations.” — Patricia Neal

“The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.” — Edward Bulwer-Lytton

“Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily.” — Thomas Szasz

“In motivating people, you’ve got to engage their minds and their hearts. I motivate people, I hope, by example – and perhaps by excitement, by having productive ideas to make others feel involved.” — Rupert Murdoch

Enlighten, engage and empower are interdependent dimensions of a comprehensive personal and professional development approach. Enlightenment points the way, but by itself has no action. Engagement and empowerment without enlightenment produces directionless action.  Empowerment breathes the life of momentum into enlightenment and engagement. All three legs are needed for development that goes beyond learning.

Understanding this framework is helpful in selecting an effective teacher. More importantly, adopting them will help you as a professional more effectively fulfill your teaching responsibilities. Take a moment to reflect on the many ways you help teach and develop those who are under your care. Then consider specific ways the Three E’s can help you become a more effective teacher.  In closing, here are more thoughts about teaching, learning and development beyond learning.

“You can teach a dog new tricks for rewards, but developing a better-natured dog will require patience and a want on the behalf of the dog to change.” — Gary Lear

“The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer” — Alice Wellington Rollins

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” — Sydney J. Harris

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”— Oliver Wendell Holmes

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth.’” — Dan Rather

“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.” — Anonymous

“You do not get out of a problem by using the same consciousness that got you into it.”Attributed to Albert Einstein

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”— Alvin Toffler

 

God bless,

— CC

[ S=Service | Index | U=Understand ]

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

Decide to be Decisive

Our lives are determined less by what happens to us, than the sum of the minute-by-minute decisions we make. We can’t always control what happens. But, we always have some measure of control over our response.

There are decisions about today and tomorrow, decisions about right and wrong, big and small decisions, and decisions to act or not to act. Decisions will have an element of each of these characteristics. As human beings, we tend to make many of our conscious decisions based on the anticipated short-term effects, usually as it relates to comfort, safety, pleasure and/or happiness.

Most decisions are made subconsciously. Habits are the innumerable routine decisions we make that allow us to function. Consequently, the decision to form good habits is one of the biggest decisions anyone can make.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going” — Jim Ryun, American Athlete

“Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.” — attributed to George Dana Boardman

Action Starts With a Decision

“This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life, and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live.” — Omar Bradley

“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing and the worst thing you can do is nothing. “ — Theodore Roosevelt

Decisions Do NOT Require Perfect Knowledge

“The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.” — Henri-Frederic Amiel, philosopher, educator

Good Decisions Require Vision

“Make your decisions for your tomorrows not just your todays.” — Patricia Fripp

“Life is a journey of single steps. None can be taken back. Take each step with the anticipation and the vision of the outcomes you desire.” — Gary Lear, Australia

Deciding to Make a Difference

“There has never been another you. With no effort on your part you were born to be something very special and set apart. What you are going to do in appreciation of that gift is a decision only you can make.” — Dan Zadra

Keeping Decisions In Perspective

“Don’t waste your effort on a thing that results in a petty triumph unless you are satisfied with a life of petty issues.” — John D. Rockefeller

“We can no more afford to spend major time on minor things than we can to spend minor time on major things.” — Jim Rohn

One of Life’s Most Important Decisions

“Forgiveness is ‘selective remembering’ — a conscious decision to focus on love and let the rest go.” — Marianne Williamson

The Ultimate Decision

“As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he arose and followed Him.” — Bible, Matthew 9:9

Anyone can become decisive. It’s a decision.

God bless,

— CC

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

attributed to George Dana Boardman