How Am I Sabotaging My Future? (Part 11)

Successful people learn and grow before they have to.  A baseball player doesn’t just submit a resume and interview for the World Series.  He learns the game, works out, practices the fundamentals and gains experience at many levels.  People in all walks of life earn the privilege of playing in their industry’s “World Series” only when they prepare and “pay their dues.”

While most folks are willing to prepare once they see an opportunity, a whole new level of success comes to those who consistently, intentionally and strategically prepare for opportunities that don’t yet exist. Are you up to the challenge?

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
— Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father

“The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.”
— Bobby Knight, College Basketball Coach

Preparation is a simple process: enlightenment, engagement, empowerment, repeat.  Although simple, it is not always easy.  Preparation is part intellectual, part experience, part emotional, part belief, part conditioning, and part repetition.  Here are the three stages of growth.

Enlightenment

It’s true for you, me and everyone else — we don’t know what we don’t now.  Enlightenment, the first stage of growth, is the passing from ignorance to awareness and from awareness to understanding. Sounds simple, right?  It can be for those with curiosity.  Curiosity is the inspiration that causes us to ask “How?” and “Why?”  It’s the energy of learning.  Growth begins with a healthy measure of curiosity.

“Curiosity killed the cat, but where human beings are concerned,
the only thing a healthy curiosity can kill is ignorance.”
— Harry Lorayne, Memory-training specialist, magician

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”
— William Arthur Ward, Author

Engagement

So, you learned something new.  Now what?  The next stage begins with a choice.  You can reject the knowledge or you can file it away for the future.  There’s a third radical option you can apply it!  The value of knowledge grows with application and your understanding along with it. While sorting the useful stuff from the rest, take a few whacks and see what happens.  Be creative.  Look for interesting ways to use your new knowledge and practice your new skills.  You might be surprised.

“The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice.”
— George Eliot, Novelist

“You don’t know how much artists go through to make it look so easy.
It’s all in the practice.”

Lauryn Hill, Singer, actress

Empowerment

There’s value in the first two stages.  But, the greatest value is not in having knowledge and experience.  It’s the empowered person you become during the process.  This new and improved person gains confidence and a preference favoring the newfound knowledge and capabilities over the old.  As the growth process continues, preference transforms into conviction.  That’s real growth — that’s empowerment!

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
— Viktor E. Frankl, Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”
— Napoleon Hill, Author

In a rapidly-changing world, success comes to those who have a hunger to grow even when there is no apparent urgency.  People who learn only when they have to are sabotaging their futures.

Your Excellency!

The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Your Excellency!” Even those who never come in contact with royalty know what these words mean. Well, get used to a brand new meaning because they are now my battle cry for you and a call to arms against the dragons that are impeding your quest toward professional excellence. Maybe your dragons are named “Rut” and “Grudge.” Or maybe they are known as “Pride” and “Rigid.” Thankfully, there are attitudes, behaviors, and principles of professionalism that will equip you to slay them. This post in particular will help sharpen your battle axe and fill any chinks in your armor. Add them to your arsenal and get to work on “Your Excellency!”

Adaptability/Flexibility

Professionals will bend when they need to bend and stand firm when they need to stand firm. The challenge is understanding which attitude is appropriate for which circumstances.

“The definition of insanity is continuing the same behavior and expecting a different result.” — Alcoholics Anonymous

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” — Thomas Jefferson

“Stay committed to your decisions but, stay flexible in your approach.” — Tom Robbins

Patience

People who orient their lives around accomplishment, who are driven by achievement, often have to work harder than others to develop patience. Perhaps it’s because when they visualize outcomes, they overlook the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to get there. Maybe it’s because they do not foresee certain challenges or they underestimate the level of effort required.    In any case, without patience, frustration sets in. Patience is a sobering virtue that adds realism to expectations. As long as patience does not become a substitute for action, it is an irreplaceable virtue needed to achieve professionalism.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” — Saint Augustine

“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” — Chinese proverb

“For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.”

— Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Commitment/ Determination/Resolve

One of the worst habits anyone can form is the habit of giving up. When things get difficult, it’s not the time to quit. Struggling through difficulties, trying again and again after multiple failures is where the learning and improvement occur. Success follows failure. In fact, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t growing.

“If at first you succeed, try something harder.” — John C. Maxwell

It’s impossible to predict with 100% certainty which failure will precede success. What is certain is that every time you quit, you are forfeiting success.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” — Japanese Proverb

“There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream.” — Anonymous

Growing up, we had a rule in our family. No one was allowed to quit. It wasn’t as much a rule as it was an understanding. It meant, if I went out for football and made the team, I had to finish the season. If I was injured, I would be expected to sit on the bench (where I spent most of my time anyway) and support my teammates. It was acceptable to not go out the following year. But, finishing meant completing the season.

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” — William James

Quitting is no minor thing. It always means breaking a promise to one’s self.  It usually means breaking a promise to others, too.  Here’s some food for thought: is quitting also breaking a promise to God?

“Saints are sinners who kept on going.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

Loyalty is another word for commitment, usually referring to a relationship toward a person or a group of people, such as a team or an institution.

“Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life” — Napoleon Hill

An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.” — Elbert Hubbard

“A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.” — Robert Benchley

Champions are those who take commitment to an entirely different level. They have a do-or-die attitude. No failure, mistake, or hurdle is bigger than the desire they have to achieve their dreams. When people tell them, “It’s okay, you gave it your all.” they dig deeper and find a little bit more to give. Their dream is bigger than their doubts, fears, pain, and excuses.

“When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’” — Anonymous

“Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer.” — Anonymous

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” — Newt Gingrich

Trying new things is generally a good thing. People should always be willing to get out of their comfort zones for new experiences. However, there is a difference between “trying” and “committing.” Too often people walk away from something and say, “Oh well, I tried.” Did they really try? Or was it a half-hearted attempt? Did they start off with a built-in excuse? They next time you are faced with an opportunity, be resolute. Instead of saying, “I’ll try.” say, “I will!” That’s a commitment.

Assertiveness/Self-Assurance

Being assertive is sometimes confused with being aggressive, pushy, or rude. Once a person understands that ideas, principles, and opinions can be expressed in both a direct and respectful way, he is able to imagine the benefits of professional assertiveness.

“The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well being of others.” — Sharon Anthony Bower

Assertiveness takes form in all of the ways that define who we are: thoughts, words, and deeds.

“Assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are!” — Attributed to Shakti Gawain

While becoming an assertive person is a personal decision, it is also unlikely to be a quick transition. Raw assertiveness tends to grow gradually in direct proportion to increases in confidence.

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” — Arthur Ashe

“Self-confidence is the memory of success” — Anonymous

Discretion/Prudence

Professionalism requires assertiveness to be tempered with professional attitudes and behaviors such as kindness, forethought, and patience. With these well in hand, professionals are prepared to balance assertiveness with tact.

“Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” — Sir Isaac Newton

“Forethought and prudence are the proper qualities of a leader.” — Publius Cornelius Tacitus

“Wit without discretion is a sword in the hand of a fool” — Spanish Proverb

“The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life” — William Shakespeare

“Discretion in speech is more important than eloquence” — English Proverb

There’s a special instance of discretion that involves appropriate use of private information. Let me be blunt — gossip is not a feature of professionalism.

“What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth.” — Jewish Proverb

“If it’s very painful for you to criticize your friends – you’re safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that’s the time to hold your tongue.” — Alice Duer Miller

“Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.” — Spanish Proverb

“Gossip needn’t be false to be evil – there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.” — Frank A. Clark

“Trying to squash a rumor is like trying to unring a bell.” — Shana Alexander

“There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly becomes any of us
To talk about the rest of us.”

— Edward Wallis Hoch

Finally, before setting out to slay your personal dragons, there’s a Biblical perspective to take into account.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”

— Bible, Ephesians 6:10-17

Armed with these added tools of professionalism, you can be more prepared to someday say to yourself, “Welcome, your excellency!”

God bless,

— CC

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

Dream Baby, Dream!

The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” — Napoleon Hill

What a powerful thought. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems that the older people get, the less time and effort they devote to dreaming. Even when they do grant a little freedom to the right side of their brains, the images tend to be constrained by fears, doubts, and the “realities” that they’ve constructed for themselves. Vision is the victim.

“Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.” — Sam Walton

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” — Bible, Proverbs 29:18

Imagine an entire world that embraced the Napoleon Hill philosophy and was able to unleash the full capacity of human creativity and ingenuity. Not just the so-called “educated thinkers” with advanced college degrees. I mean everyone – kids included.

“One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination.” — Sam Levenson, humorist

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — Albert Einstein

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.” — Charles F. Kettering

Is that too idealistic for you? Okay. Instead of imagining the release of ALL untapped creativity, what if we could gain access to just 1% of it? How different would the world be if everyone made a habit of exercising his creative mind like some exercise their bodies? I envision happy, energized people who think up better solutions to old problems, invent new things, fuel the next economic boom, and make the world a better place. Ridiculous? Where’s your imagination?

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

Everyone has within himself untapped God-given creative potential. With desire and a little bit of practice, everyone has the ability to develop qualities of a visionary (not in the prophetic sense.)

“A visionary is one who can find his way by moonlight, and see the dawn before the rest of the world.” — Oscar Wilde

“What is now proved was once only imagined.” — William Blake

Vision is imagination with focus. When random images are assembled and brought into focus through lenses called intent and purpose and a filter called morality, visions are formed – some have world-changing potential. Without focus, the target is fuzzy making it difficult to aim at and even more difficult to share with others. However, too much focus and the wrong kind of filtering can squelch creativity. For example, applying the filter known as “probability” too early in the visioning process is like a governor placed on a high-performance engine. It limits the power of the vision.

“Dream big dreams! Imagine that you have no limitations and then decide what’s right before you decide what’s possible.” — Brian Tracy

“No one is less ready for tomorrow than the person who holds the most rigid beliefs about what tomorrow will contain.”

— The Visionary’s Handbook: Ten Paradoxes That Will Shape the Future of Your Business, 1999.

When the image is an outcome or target it is sometimes referred to as “the big picture” or “the 30,000 foot view.” Contrasting with that is the idiom “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Both are referring to the fact that that there is a difference between the overall outcome and the implementation details.

The next step is giving birth to your vision. Like a baby, which needs lots of love and attention, every vision needs a parent (biological or adoptive) to help it grow and mature. This is where care and feeding begin. The parent of the vision needs a plan of action.

“A baby is born with a need to be loved – and it never outgrows it.” — Frank A. Clark

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” — Japanese proverb

It’s Your Vision, Record It

Professionals keep a journal of their thoughts, events, ideas and yes, their visions. Describe the vision and all of its glorious details. If possible, draw or find a picture of it. It’s not silly to record the birth date of an idea or vision. If a beer company can make a big deal about the “born on date” of their product, you should do likewise. Certainly the birth of your idea is more significant than a bottle of beer. If you are unwilling to do these things, you probably don’t love your vision enough to help it survive, much less to help it grow and thrive.

“If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured and unique individual – keep a journal. Don’t trust your memory. When you listen to something valuable, write it down. When you come across something important, write it down.”
— Jim Rohn <http://www.personal-development.com/jim-rohn/keeping-journal.htm&gt;

It’s Your Vision, Share It

Dote on your vision like it’s your own precious child. Show it to others. Your enthusiasm will grow and you may find others willing to help support your vision. Be ready for some to say “you have an ugly baby.” Others will more thoughtfully offer encouragement or parenting advice. Use the good feedback to refine and bring clarity to your vision. Ignore the useless and bad feedback. However, both types of feedback can be sources of positive motivation.

“A baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.” — Eda J. Le Shan (1922-2002), Psychologist, family counselor, author.

“If you desire to drain to the dregs the fullest cup of scorn and hatred that a fellow human being can pour out for you, let a young mother hear you call dear baby “it.”
— Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927), Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, p. 58.

It’s Your Vision Realize It

The future of your vision is undeniably linked to the amount of passion you or someone else has for it. Passion is the fuel that turns vision into reality.

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” — John C. Maxwell, <www.JohnMaxwell.com/about/>

“There is no finer investment for any community then putting milk into babies.” — Winston Churchill

There’s a corollary to this vision/passion connection. Regardless of whether or not a particular vision lives or dies is less important than for the individual to create a passion connection with any worthy vision. Having a passion-filled vision is crucial to achieving the highest levels of professionalism. It might sound cliché, but find what you love to do and figure out a way to make a living out of it. Instead of just making a living, you’ll be making a life.

“If you wake up in the morning and you can’t think of anything but singing first, then you’re supposed to be a singer, girl.” — A line by Sister Mary Clarence in Sister Act II.

“Once you surrender to your vision, success begins to chase you.” — Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

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

Ownership of a vision is not limited to the ones who created it. In fact, people working together should adopt the organization’s vision if the organization is to thrive. Whether or not you are the originator of the vision, if you claim either a parental role or an adoptive parental role in the life of the vision, you are a leader. Keep this in mind while reading the following leadership quotes:

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” — John C. Maxwell

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” — Robert Jarvik, Artificial Heart Developer.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” — Theodor Hesburgh

“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” — Ralph Lauren

“We lose sight of the most important factors that lead to successful leadership: commitment, a passion to make a difference, a vision for achieving positive change, and the courage to take action.”
— Larraine Matusak, Finding Your Voice: Learning to Lead Anywhere You Want to Make a Difference, p. 7.

“The size of a leader is determined by the depth of his convictions, the height of his ambitions, the breadth of his vision and the reach of his love.” — D.N. Jackson, Leadership Inspirational Quotes & Insights for Leaders, p. 155

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” — Warren Bennis

Now, go feed that baby!

God bless,

— CC

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