What Goes Around …

I am inspired by the Development Beyond Learning logo. It reminds me of a boomerang, the perfect symbol for one of life’s most important lessons, “What goes around, comes around.”

This well-known expression describes a value neutral principle. Just as gravity works equally well on heavy objects as it does on lighter objects, the boomerang principle works the same on deeds good and bad. First, take a look at two quotes on the positive side of this principle.

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
— Bible, Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)

“You can have everything you want in life, if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
— Zig Zigler
(1926- )

On the flip side, the legendary feud between the Hatfields and the McCoy’s comes to mind. The fact is, the human tendency to return evil for evil goes back to the earliest days of recorded human history.

“Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the gateway, as though to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.”
— Bible, 2 Samuel 3:27 (NIV)

The Information Technology industry is notorious for adopting a familiar phrase or object as a metaphor for a technical concept. “What goes in comes out” could easily have become the computer industry’s way to explain how computers deal with bad data. Instead, they parodied one of their own phrases, First In, First Out (FIFO) and came up with Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO). Today GIGO is the universally accepted warning for the behavior of any system or process, including the human thought process.

“If you dump garbage in, garbage will come out. The person who dumps garbage into your mind will do you considerably more harm than the one who dumps garbage on your floor.”
— Zig Ziglar (1926- ), See You At the Top, 1978, p. 228.

“Whatever you put into your mind becomes part of the total you.”
— Zig Ziglar (1926- ), See You At the Top, 1978, p. 231.

It’s encouraging to know that “Garbage In, Garbage Out” has a corollary called “Good In, Good Out.” I know it’s not very clever, but it’s the best I could come up with.  At least it uses the same letters.  The important point is, there’s a positive side to GIGO.  Ziglar explains it using a nutrition analogy.

“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.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
— Bible, Romans 12:2 (NIV)

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
— Bible, Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Coming back around to the boomerang principle, think about how it applies to thoughts and words. Ever get in an argument? One person throws out an inflammatory remark and finds an inflammatory remark flying right back. Since we’re all guilty of wanting the last word, we keep throwing that boomerang, each time with a little more force as if throwing it harder will somehow end the argument in our favor. Not so — it’s just more fuel on the fire.

“If you can’t answer a man’s arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.”
— Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), American writer, publisher, artist, philosopher.

Eventually, as the verbal combatants run out of gas, the principle may appear to fail. Maybe a more appropriate phrase for arguments would be…

“Round and round she goes and where she stops, nobody knows.”
— From The Original Amateur Hour, an American radio and television program.

Hard as it may be, the best alternative to arguing is the practice of throwing boomerangs of love, kindness, grace, humility, apologies, and forgiveness. What comes flying back may be a big surprise! But should it be? After all, what goes around comes around!

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
— Bible, Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.”
— Bible, Romans 12:17 (NKJV)

God bless,

— CC

Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the gateway, as though to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.

Amazing Grace

[ F=Finish | Index | H=Heart ]

Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

Here’s a little-used word in business — grace. Except in religious and artistic circles it’s kind of an old-fashioned word.

Sports analysts like to talk about intangibles, which are those miscellaneous factors that influence the outcome of games. Intangibles are always present. But it’s only when the game stats belie the outcome that we look for the intangibles. In sports as in other ventures, intangibles are hard to predict, hard to quantify and hard to describe because they are less obvious. In life, grace is one of those intangibles that can be a difference maker.

“Virtue and genuine graces in themselves speak what no words can utter.” — William Shakespeare

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley

Grace Means Being Charming and Refined

The once familiar concept of “ladies and gentlemen” is becoming more and more passé in favor of rude, vulgar and obnoxious public behavior as promoted through television programs like “Married With Children,” “The Simpson’s” and “Roseanne”. These shows are meant to be funny and perhaps they are in a childish sort of way. The blogosphere is another venue where professionalism is being pushed aside by those who seek attention the only way they know — a tantrum of words. The good news is that it is easy to stand out as a professional when the majority has chosen another path.

“I seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted.” — Og Mandino (1923-1996)

“We require from buildings, as from men, two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it; which last is itself another form of duty.” — John Ruskin (1819-1900), The Stones of Venice, 1880

“Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding.” — W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), The Painted Veil, 1925

Grace Under Fire

Seeing a leader maintaining composure in the heat of battle (figurative or literal) is both comforting and inspirational. Conversely, who follows a “leader” who “freaks out” in a pressure-packed situation? A leader ceases to be a leader when he panics.

“Always behave like a duck – keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.” — Jacob Braude

“Grace under Pressure.” — Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

Grace Means “Quiet Strength”

Because of the way our culture views leadership, grace also has the ability to camouflage more prominent traits of professionalism such as strength. Tony Dungy, a successful [American] football coach, led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007 on a model of strength with grace. Mr. Dungy’s approach refutes the familiar coaching image typified by loudness, boasting and anger. The title of his autobiography, “Quiet Strength,” befits a true professional who exemplifies grace both on and off the football field.

“O, it is excellent to have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.” — William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Measure for Measure, 1604-1605

“Real strength is not just a condition of one’s muscle, but a tenderness in one’s spirit.” — McCallister Dodds

Grace Means Generosity

True generosity, giving without expecting something in return, is another aspect of grace. Professionalism demands a giving heart.

“Riches may enable us to confer favours, but to confer them with propriety and grace requires a something that riches cannot give.” — Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832), Lacon, 1825

“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” — Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

Grace Means Forgiving

Granting and seeking forgiveness may be the hardest parts of grace because they require an incredible measure of humility. We can all take a lesson from children.

“No one forgives with more grace and love than a child.” — Real Live Preacher, Weblog, 02-15-06

By the Grace of God

Everyone is here on Planet Earth at the pleasure of God. Our talents, resources and our very lives are gracious gifts of the creator. God’s presence in our lives, His love and forgiveness too are acts of grace. While it is likely that there are effective leaders who have no belief in God, it is difficult for me to comprehend anyone becoming a complete professional without an attitude of gratitude and actions that reflect the undeserved, amazing grace of God.

“God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” — Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971), in a sermon in 1943

“There but for the grace of God go [I]. — John Bradford, Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.” — Frederick Buechner

God bless,

— CC

[ F=Finish | Index | H=Heart ]

© Copyright September 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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A Parable of Grace

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course his or her freshman year, regardless of his or her major. Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor’s class. One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.

“How many push-ups can you do?”

Steve said, “I do about 200 every night”

“200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Dr. Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”

Steve replied, “I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time.”

“Do you think you could?” again asked Dr. Christianson.

“Well, I can try,” said Steve.

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” said the professor.

Steve said, “Well… I think I can…yeah, I can do it.”

Dr. Christianson said, “Good. I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr.Christianson’s class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?”

Cynthia said, “Yes.”

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”

“Sure.” Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’ s desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe, do you want a donut?”

Joe said, “Yes.” Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?”

Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.

When the professor asked, “Scott do you want a donut?”

Scott’s reply was, “Well, can I do my own pushups?”

Dr. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”

Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?”

With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten pushups.

Scott said, “Hey, I said I didn’t want one”

Dr. Christianson said, “Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.

Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”

Sternly, Jenny said, “No.”

Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten….Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say “No” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch all of Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, “Well, they’re your pushups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want.” And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, “NO, don’t come in Stay out!”

Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, No, let him come.”

Professor Christianson said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him?”

Steve said, “Yes, let him come in . Give him a donut.”

Dr. Christianson said, “Okay, Steve, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?”

Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. “Yes,” he said, “give me a donut.”

“Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?”

Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve’s arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a doughnut?”

Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”

Professor Christianson quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. “Susan, do you want a donut?” Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. “Dr. Christianson, why can’t I help him?”

Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, “No, Steve has to do it alone, I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.

When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.”

“Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?” As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said. “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, ‘into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.

“Well done, good and faithful servant,” said the professor, adding, “Not all sermons are preached in words.”

Turning to his class, the professor said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not only His Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid.”

“Wouldn’t you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?”

— Source: Various Internet sites; earliest found was at www.edevotions.org.

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