First Anniversary Reflections

On the first-year anniversary of my blog I offer heart-felt thanks to YOU for visiting “Clancy’s Quotes.” As I prepare this anniversary issue, together we are closing in on 12,000 page views, which averages out to be 1,000 views per month, 230 views per week, and 33 views per day. I realize that the numbers would increase dramatically if I pandered to the culture with crude humor, naked pictures, and stories about the celebrity du jour. Rest assured that won’t happen on this site.

Occasionally some of you will write to share how a particular quote has touched your soul or was especially timely. While I appreciate it, it’s important for me to remember and acknowledge that the quotations were invented by others. As for the timing, that is either a matter of chance or God’s choice. So, except for the connecting thoughts, I’m just the delivery boy.

Speaking of  deliverers, isn’t it strange how delivering pizza is considered a humble occupation whereas delivering the news is exalted? Delivering people to their destination in a bus is less glamorous than doing the same by airplane. Personally, I appreciate “Matt the pizza delivery man” much more than Katie Couric the news delivery lady (no offense intended).

“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.

Humility is a virtue, a very confusing and highly challenging virtue to say the least. I would say that having pride in what we truly accomplish is healthy and is not contradictory to humility. Pride motivates us to continue serving others and improving ourselves.

“You shouldn’t gloat about anything you’ve done; you ought to keep going and find something better to do.”
— David Packard (1912-1996), co-founder of Hewlett-Packard.

Pride gets in the way of humility when we desire credit for more than we deserve and turns ugly when it graduates into grandstanding for that credit.

Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.
— Barry Switzer (1937- ), American football coach.

“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”
— Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th U.S. President.

Taking credit for God-given talents is wrong. Taking credit for the contributions of others is, too. Both are acts of theft.

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
— Malcolm S. Forbes (1919-1990), publisher of Forbes Magazine.

“Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self.”
— Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), British Reformed Baptist preacher.

Humility is graciously accepting unsolicited praise for one’s accomplishments AND deflecting the appropriate amount of credit toward those who also played a role. Humility is about quietly doing one’s business and enjoying the results whether anyone notices or not.

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”
— Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), A Founding Father of the U.S.

Back to the quotes. I sometimes imagine becoming a prolific writer of Twain-like memorable and pithy phrases . I once envisioned Mark Twain suddenly standing up in a room full of people with his fist raised to proclaim, “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” As the oohs and ahs filled the room, he smiled and sat down again. Moments later he arose again to make another proclamation: “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” He bowed to the laughter and applause and sat down again. Hopefully this ridiculous mind video drives home the point that the 208 Mark Twain quotes at http://www.brainyquote.com are really just tiny excerpts isolated from a huge body of work.   Except maybe for Steven Wright, no one sits around thinking up quotes.

“I’m writing an unauthorized autobiography.”
— Steven Wright (1955- ), American comedian, actor, writer.

“If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do all the rest have to drown too?”
— Steven Wright (1955- ), American comedian, actor, writer.

On those rare occasions, when I accidentally think up something that borders on the profound (at least in my own mind) generally no one is around to share it with. This is probably a good thing. Embarrassment comes easily to rookies. Then again, we can only imagine the stupid or bland things Samuel Clemens said or wrote before he became Mark Twain.

The truth is, I am most effective as a delivery boy of other people’s great ideas. You know what? I’m okay with that. Your comments are proof that this approach has value. And as long as something has value it is worth doing and doing well. So, I will continue my best effort to seek out and deliver inspirational and thought-provoking words. And I’ll keep writing for the joy of it whether or not BrainyQuote adds me to their database.

God bless,

— CC

(1809-1865), 16th U.S. President.

Professional Attitude

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.  25 Jun 2008 at:
< blogs.msdn.com/ericlippert/archive/2008/06/23/customer-service-is-not-rocket-science-part-two.aspx >

Your GPS
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.

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.” If 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 R
eflections, 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 amazed at 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.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

Proper Perspective

Hurricane Ike brought devastation to parts of Texas and cut a wide swath of disruption and inconvenience as it moved northward through America’s midsection. In a couple of days, Ike created great changes in the lives of millions – some short-term and some long-term.

Countless hours of national news coverage documented the damage in Texas, sometimes overshadowing election-year politics, the pennant race, and world events. In Texas, Ike was one for the record books. Not to be outdone, our local news media took center stage with their cameras and microphones eager to report (some would say to “shape”) the news of Ike’s curtain call in Ohio. Breaking news reports and cancellation of regular programming were regular fare for almost a week. The words “closed” and “two-hour delay” still echo in my ears.

Repair crews and emergency response teams have been working overtime and taking risks for the purpose of restoring power and rescuing people as quickly as possible. Like the brave firefighters who entered the burning World Trade Center, these folks deserve our admiration and respect.

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

I am amused every time I see a television reporter unnecessarily expose himself to danger while admonishing the rest of us to “stay home where it’s safe.” Apparently, a risky backdrop is a journalistic necessity. This dogged determination for “on-the-scene reporting” means we are frequently “treated” to stories with empty buildings in the background where something allegedly happened earlier in the day. One reporter even said something like “as you can see the lights are out and nobody is home, but earlier today …” You can decide for yourself if this was a Freudian slip.

After some cheap shots at our beloved news media, let me get back to a more important point — attitude. Focusing on Ohio, who was hurt by the storm? People who rely on electricity for special health and safety needs, people who were careless, people who were too curious for their own good, people without insurance, and people who were unprepared. However, the real victims were those that chose a bad attitude as their response to an unfortunate situation.

“Accept fate, and move on. Don’t yield to the seductive pull of self-pity. Acting like a victim threatens your future.” — Source Unknown

Every problem is a potential opportunity. I’m not talking about looting and predatory business practices. Consider a personal example. Despite our gallant efforts, we lost most of our perishable food. The opportunity? Clean out the refrigerator/freezer and restock with fresh groceries. No television, no big deal! We played cards and read by candlelight.

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” — Albert Einstein

People choose their response to challenges. I’m happy to report that most people I came in contact with chose patience and helpfulness. The way our townsfolk coped and reached out to others was inspirational. Complaining was amazingly subdued. Instead of a “woe is me” attitude, the grumbling I heard was more like bragging. People exhibited a bit of proud defiance in their ability to persevere.

“The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective.” — Al Neuharth

Less than two hours away, there were different responses. Students at one university complained about attending class during the power outage, which led to a rowdy protest in front of the university president’s home where several arrests were made. Turning to another nearby university I learned that an agitated parent called and insisted her child be housed in a nice hotel at university expense. Apparently the university’s makeshift arrangements were not good enough. It gets worse. When the power company’s technicians finally arrived to work on the problem, they were harassed by angry students.

Homes and businesses in Texas were leveled and this is how some respond to the inconvenience of a power outage.

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” — John W. Gardner

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” — Abraham Lincoln

Face it, challenges like Ike are part of life. While a world with never-ending, rapid, major disruptions would be unbearable, a life with no changes would be exceedingly boring. Learning to keep change in perspective and to deal with it in a positive manner is a characteristic of maturity. (Unfortunately, not everyone grows up.) With a mature attitude, change can be managed and even enjoyed.

For most of us in Ohio, the events from the week that began on September 14, 2008, which interrupted our routines, created memories that we will recall and eagerly retell over a cup of coffee and at family reunions for years to come. Where were you when the lights went out?

God bless,

— CC

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