Have a Wonderful Life

Only about half of all Americans today say “they are satisfied with their jobs, down from nearly 60 percent in 1995.” (Source: The Conference Board, 2/28/2005 (http://www.conference-board.org)  So, for about half of working Americans 40% of their waking hours are spent doing something they are NOT excited about. The next time you are at work, pay attention when you casually ask, “How’s it going?” You are likely to hear comments that put the exclamation point to the statistics.

  • “Okay for a Monday.”
  • “The boss is on my case; my coworkers get on my nerves!”
  • “It’s only Tuesday and I’m already stressed out!”
  • “I’m so burned out! I need a vacation.”
  • “Thank goodness it’s Friday!”

It would seem that many people have allowed themselves to be “imprisoned” by distasteful, uninspiring jobs and willingly accept a jail term as the price for subsistence, safety, and periods of recreation.

“Before you can break out of prison, you must first realize you’re locked up.” — Unknown

Comparing job dissatisfaction to incarceration might seem a bit extreme, but it does raise some questions. If so many people are unhappy in their work, why don’t they change companies or careers? Why do they continue this schizophrenic lifestyle of slavery and freedom when there is a better way?

“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.” — Wayne Dyer

“Find a job you like and you add five days to every week.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius, Philosopher

It’s fair to conclude that many people would benefit from a career change or some other corrective action. But, change is harder for some than for others. Whether voluntary or imposed, it ranges anywhere from a minor inconvenience to a chain reaction of agonizing disruptions with appropriate emotional swings. The same brain that has the power to cause change also has the power to conjure up petrifying fear.

“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Let’s take a look at three keys to an abundant life: Curiosity, Courage and Conscience.

Curiosity

Finding a better way requires options – finding options requires curiosity. Many folks have put on blinders, limiting their curiosity to what is straight ahead. An abundant life requires 360-degree curiosity, like a child. Children are acutely aware of the sights, sounds, and smells coming from every direction. Not satisfied with just noticing, they also take an interest and seek answers. “Mommy, why is the grass green?” “Daddy, how does the clock know what time it is?”

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” — Muhammad Ali

My grandparents were proficient at focusing on the business portion of life AND enjoying its amenities. To them, a bird singing, a flower blooming, an interesting viewpoint, and a new idea were not to be missed. They would frequently pause from an important task to enjoy what others would consider distracting. By their example, I learned NOT to differentiate between the “distractions” and the “business of life.”   These are merely different aspects of one abundant life.

“Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.” — Samuel Johnson

What is there to be curious about? Nature, relationships, music, technology, concepts, philosophies, and ideas! Where can one’s curiosity be aroused? Museums, zoos, aquariums, parks, carnivals, sporting events, and the theater all come to mind. How about church and mission activities, travel, hobbies, clubs & crafts, part-time jobs, books, and the backyard? With a little practice, it is possible to be curious anywhere at any time.

“Welcome all life experiences … let life touch you. Don’t let it kill you, but at least let it touch you. The next touch could open up the well springs. [Then] you’ll never lack for desire the rest of your life.” — Jim Rohn, “Challenge to Succeed” (audio recording)

“Always think outside the box and embrace opportunities that appear, wherever they might be.” — Lakshmi Mittal

There is a human tendency we attribute to adolescence, but one that really has no generational limits. It is, allowing our curiosity and interests to be influenced by what the popular culture and our peers define as “cool” or “hip” – call it “curiosity by majority rule.”

“Only dead fish swim with the stream.” — Malcolm Muggeridge

“If you don’t control your mind, someone else will.” — John Allston

Conclusion #1: Curiosity is an opportunity multiplier.

Courage

Common sense, observation, and experience provide evidence that there is a relationship between fear and courage and that courage has a role in dealing with fear, especially the fear of change in its many forms:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of hard work
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of criticism

It’s true that people sometimes set aside their fear of change when overcome by curiosity or when enticed by the possibility of benefits that change will bring. It’s also true that in different situations the most powerful benefits are no match for seemingly trivial fears. In such cases, people will opt for change only when they hold greater fear for the status quo.

We’ve been conditioned to think of courage and fear as mutually exclusive. That is, there are situations where one is either courageous or afraid. While there is a relationship between these two emotions, they are not necessarily in opposition.

“Fear and courage are brothers.” -– Proverb

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” — Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

In some cases it is more precise to say that fear is the source of courage. Consider the story of Roger Olian. On a snowy January day in 1982, a passenger jet crashed into the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Before emergency response professionals could mobilize a rescue effort, Olian jumped into the icy waters to try and save the survivors. Not able to reach them, he remained in the river for 20 minutes, encouraging them to hang on.

To believe Olian wasn’t afraid of the bitter cold and strong current defies credibility. Hypothermia and drowning were real dangers he had to understand. It is only remotely possible that he took action as a means to achieve personal fame, fortune, or other benefit. More likely, his bravery was inspired by something bigger than concern for his personal safety. It is reasonable to guess that the fear of seeing others die while he was in a position to help caused him to act in a way that made him appear unafraid. If so, one fear caused the courage to overcome another fear.

Conclusion #2 — Courage is the catalyst for change.

Conscience

There is another type of courage, one that is inspired by personal values. Real courage has its roots in knowing one’s purpose in the world and the source of that purpose.

“Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience.” — James Freeman Clarke

Heroes like Roger Olian often say they were compelled to act, that it was the only right choice to make. Their action was caused by something inside tugging at their hearts.

“I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don’t know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.” — Christopher Reeve

Heroes frequently point to the Bible as their source of purpose leading to courage and strength.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” — Bible, John 15:13

“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” — Bible, Matthew 20:26-28

Whether or not Olian was motivated by these or any other Bible verses is not the point. The point is, he was nudged into action by a purpose larger than himself despite danger, fear, and great personal risk.  This purpose, which some call “conscience,” is the most powerful and dependable form of courage. Conscience causes action and ensures the right kind of action.

“Courage without conscience is a wild beast.” — Robert G. Ingersoll

“Conscience is our magnetic compass; reason our chart.” — Joseph Cook

Being aware of one’s conscience and following its guidance without perverting it for one’s own selfish desires is the root of all morality and the basis of all positive change.

“While conscience is our friend, all is at peace; however once it is offended, farewell to a tranquil mind.” — Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

“The person that loses their conscience has nothing left worth keeping.” — Izaak Walton

“Abraham Lincoln did not go to Gettysburg having commissioned a poll to find out what would sell in Gettysburg. There were no people with percentages for him, cautioning him about this group or that group or what they found in exit polls a year earlier. When will we have the courage of Lincoln?” — Robert Coles

“The inability of those in power to still the voices of their own consciences is the great force leading to change.” — Kenneth Kaunda

Conclusion #3: Conscience inspires courage and filters opportunities.

Summarizing the 3 C’s of Abundance

Living an abundant life is a continuous process of transforming opportunities into good results. The concept is simple. Curiosity increases awareness of opportunities, which generates desire. As desire increases, it becomes necessary to listen to and respect one’s conscience. Courage reaches its peak when desire and conscience are in harmony, making ready new thought and behavior patterns. In a nutshell, this is what personal growth is all about.

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” — W. Edwards Deming

“Life is something like this trumpet. If you don’t put anything in it, you don’t get anything out.” — W.C. Handy

“Every man dies. Not every man lives. The only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow are the ‘buts’ you use today.” — Les Brown

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” — Leo Buscaglia

As you embark on a life of new abundance, it’s helpful to know you are not alone in your quest. There’s a greater power you can lean on for courage, strength, and guidance.

“They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” — Bible, Isaiah 40:29,31

Change, inspired by curiosity, turned to action by courage and filtered by conscience, leads to a meaningful life. Be curious, pray for courage, and obey your conscience.

God bless,

— CC

Professional Attitude (Updated)

[ Index | B=Behavior ]

Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Professionalism” is one of those words that’s rather hard to define. Consequently, people have different viewpoints on what characteristics constitute professionalism. Let’s explore.

“Believe passionately in what you do, and never knowingly compromise your standards and values. Act like a true professional, aiming for true excellence, and the money will follow.”
— David Maister (1947- ), business management consultant. The Advice Business: Essential Tools and Models for Management Consulting, Chapter 23.

“…a professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.”
— Alistair Cooke (1945- ), British-born American journalist, broadcaster. Six Men, 1995, p. 136.

At first glance, these quotations might appear somewhat at odds with each other and yet, I think they both define different moments of professionalism. It is not contradictory to have an enduring passion about one’s career and not feel like engaging in that passion at a particular moment.

So, what is professionalism or perhaps, what is it NOT? By my thinking, professionalism has nothing to do with the profession — it’s all about the person …

“Professionalism: It’s NOT the job you DO, It’s HOW you DO the job.”
— Anonymous

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy…neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”
— John W. Gardner (1912-2002), president of the Carnegie Corporation.

… it’s not about the payment …

“You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That’s the mark of a true professional. Professionalism has nothing to do with getting paid for your services.”
— Attributed to: Joe Paterno (1926- ), Penn State University football coach. Strategic Outsourcing, by Maurice F. Greaver, 1999.

… and it’s not about conforming to arbitrary standards.

“Professionalism is not about adherence to the policies of a bureaucracy. Professionalism is about having the integrity, honesty, and sincere regard for the personhood of the customer, in the context of always doing what is best for the business. Those two things do not need to be in conflict.”
— Eric Lippert, software expert, author.
< blogs.msdn.com/ericlippert/archive/2008/06/23/customer-service-is-not-rocket-science-part-two.aspx >

Professionalism consists of certain attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors sometimes known collectively as “virtue” or “good character.” Attitudes and behaviors have two things in common. First, both are produced by our beliefs. Second, we have the power to choose our attitudes and behaviors.

“We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice.”
— John C. Maxwell (1947- ), American author, speaker, minister. The Maxwell Daily Reader, 2008, p. 58.

Your GPS

As mere humans, we are hindered from peering into the minds and hearts of others to gage their professionalism. Fair or not, character judgments are made from outward signs such as what people say and do (i.e. behaviors). Only God can look inside to know a person’s attitudes.

“…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

“Behavior is a mirror in which every one displays his own image.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German author, philosopher. Novels and Tales by Goethe, 1868, p. 153.

“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.”
— Attributed to: Ian Percy, motivational speaker.

“Our names are labels, plainly printed on the bottled essence of our past behaviour.”
— Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946), American essayist, critic. All Trivia: Trivia, More Trivia, Afterthoughts, Last Words, 1934, p. 162.

Knowing we cannot see inside a person’s heart, it is important to remain humble and guarded when judging the character of others with partial information. For ourselves, it is important to understand that judging behavior is the very thing that others will do about us. In fact, there are those who wait in ambush and will pounce unmercifully at the first sign of moral indiscretion.

As we develop understanding of our own professional development needs we must not become fixated on the outward behaviors at the expense of the inner attitudes and beliefs. Consider the most fundamental relationship among beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors: beliefs are the causes of our attitudes, which in turn cause our behaviors.

“… human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
— William James (1842-1910), American psychologist, philosopher.

This fundamental cause and effect principle of humanity states that improvements in our values are required to produce improvements in behaviors. Unfortunately, there is the temptation to go straight to the behavior, bypassing the beliefs and attitudes.

“If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior. In other words, begin to act the part, as well as you can, of the person you would rather be, the person you most want to become. Gradually, the old, fearful person will fade away.”
— Attributed to: William Glasser (1925- ), American psychiatrist.

While it is accurate to recognize that the roles can be reversed as Glasser proposed, the effect is temporary at best. Real change that sticks, good or bad, comes from new attitudes. To be more precise, real change happens only when beliefs change.

Becoming a professional is an attitude adjustment process that begins by understanding what it means to be a professional, creating a personal vision of professionalism, and aligning one’s values in accordance with that image. Another way to say this is “change on the outside begins on the inside.” Suppose you were to understand professionalism, then claim it as your set of personal values, where would you start to begin your professional tune-up? A good place is with the attitude called “respect” and a person must start by respecting himself.

“Self-respect – that cornerstone of all virtue.”
— John Herschel (1792-1871), English mathematician, astronomer, chemist.

“The way to procure insults is to submit to them. A man meets with no more respect than he exacts.”
— William Hazlitt (1778-1830), English writer.

Professionalism also insists on respect toward others, explained best by “The Golden Rule.”

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
— Bible, Galatians 5:14

“Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.”
— Bible, Luke 6:31

Building professionalism also requires courage, the attitude that conquers fear.

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because, … it is the quality which guarantees all others.”
— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British Prime Minister. Maxims and Reflections, 2005, p. 169.

Fear is an emotion manufactured in the imagination. The best proof of this is found by observing the differences in what people are afraid of. If fear was instinctive, genetic, or the product of rational thought, shouldn’t we all fear pretty much the same things?

“Some people are afraid of heights. I’m afraid of widths.”
— Steven Wright (1955- ), American comedian, actor, writer.

Fear can be tamed and it can be conquered. History is full of examples of ordinary people who became heroes merely by confronting their fears. How does one take action while in fear’s shadow?

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
— Dorothy Bernard (1890-1955), American actress of silent movie era.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
— Attributed to: Ambrose Redmoon (1933-1996), Hippie, writer.

“Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.”
— Susan Jeffers, Inspirational writer, speaker. < http://www.susanjeffers.com >

It’s time for those who care about professionalism to stop being apathetic about timidity, lack of respect, and other unprofessional attitudes in today’s culture. It’s time to do something about it, one person at a time. Who should be the first person on your list? You! If the adage is true, “actions speak louder than words,” doing nothing more than becoming a living example of professionalism may be all that is needed. If enough people make that choice and commitment, our world will be changed for the better. Life is short — it’s time to get busy.

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
— Attributed to: Zig Ziglar (1926- ), American author, salesman, and motivational speaker.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,”
— Bible, Colossians 3:23

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact attitude has on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.
— Attributed to: Charles R. Swindoll (1934- ), evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, radio preacher.
< storiesfortrainers.com/attitudepoem.aspx >

God bless,

— CC

[ Index | B=Behavior ]

© Copyright March 2009, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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