Shortcuts and Running In Reverse

Hudson Taylor said, Do not have your concert first and then tune your instrument afterwards.  This bit of common sense counsels us that our “Befores” are intended to precede our “Afters”. Why? Because there is something significant going on in between that works only when the sequence is correct.

Think of a race track. The starting line always precedes the finish line and there’s always a meaningful journey in between. Otherwise, the Olympics might have a one-millimeter dash.

If we analyze our lives we are likely to recall times when we were tempted to take shortcuts, even trying to start races at the finish line. Sometimes temptation won and when it did, we lost.  Below are two categories of broken races that are more metaphoric than realistic. Some are downright preposterous, but all contain a lesson intended to challenge our modus operandi.

Running the Race in Reverse:

  • Dry your laundry then wash it.
  • Eat your food then cook it.
  • Jump from the plane then put on your parachute.
  • Swallow the liquid then read the label.
  • Pull the trigger then ask, “Who’s there?”
  • Go out to the mailbox then get dressed.
  • Saw the board then measure it.
  • Fire, aim, ready.
  • Swallow before chewing.

Taking Shortcuts:

  • Develop relationships without engagement.
  • Take action without a plan.
  • Seek progress without change.
  • Create strategies without information.
  • Expect potential without learning, practicing, developing and implementing.
  • Pursue efficiency without systems and processes.
  • Expect career success without intentional learning, consistent practice, strategic development and the help of coaches and mentors.

Here’s your challenge:  Tune your instrument today for next week’s concert.

Quotes 4/12/2014

He remarked to me that today’s workers need to approach
the workplace much like athletes preparing for the Olympics,
with one difference. “They have to prepare like someone
who is training for the Olympics but doesn’t know
what sport they are going to enter.”

— “The World is Flat” p. 294 by Thomas L. Friedman
with a quotation from Gene Sperling

Integrity and Honor

[ H=Heart | Index | J=Joviality ]

Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

A familiar story with a new sequel every two years, cheating Olympians, completely baffles me. Why are certain athletes willing to trade their integrity for an Olympic medal? Why are certain coaches and/or trainers willing to look the other way or even aid and abet? Don’t they realize that wearing a gold medal and being an Olympic champion are not equivalent? There is no victory in cheating.

“Winning is nice if you don’t lose your integrity in the process.” — attributed to Arnold Horshak, character in the television sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter”

“…a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.” — from the Disney movie “Cool Runnings”

Playing by the rules is more than sportsmanship. It is a reflection of honesty: honesty toward others and honesty with one’s self. And isn’t honesty at the heart of integrity? There’s another integrity aspect: having and following a “moral compass.”

“Integrity means adopting a morally strong value system and having the honesty, courage and conviction to live and act within these values.” — Clancy Cross

This definition leads to two thoughts. First, integrity is an inside job, which means it’s a personal decision.

“We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice.” — John C. Maxwell

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” — John C. Maxwell

Second, integrity is so important to building and maintaining relationships that a person’s greatest gift may be to live a life of integrity that inspires and encourages others to raise their standards and commitment to integrity. Ideally, an integrity foundation is built in the home during the formative childhood years and is forever nurtured by teachers, pastors, friends, colleagues and others.

“The reward for doing right is mostly an internal phenomenon: self-respect, dignity, integrity, and self- esteem.” — Dr. Laura Schlessinger

“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” — Bible, Proverbs 20:7

“The effect of one upright individual is incalculable.” — Oscar Arias

“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” — Socrates

This ideal picture of integrity breaks down because inevitably, moral and ethical principles will be violated. The realization that human perfection is unachievable is not a new revelation. So, how can there be integrity when everyone commits violations against his own principles? It would seem that the only logical alternative for avoiding universal hypocrisy is to adopt a personal philosophy devoid of moral principles. Some would say “moral relativism” is an attempt to do just that. (That’s a topic for another day.) Actually, the paradox dissolves when we fully understand the final piece of integrity.

“Honor isn’t about making the right choices. It’s about dealing with the consequences.” — Midori Koto

How does a person of integrity respond to his own moral failings? First, he makes a humble admission of and apology for the offense, totally free of excuses. Conversely, “I’m sorry I did it, but …” is hardly an effective confession. Second, the person of integrity takes ownership of the consequences and makes appropriate reparations. Finally, integrity demands a commitment to do better. After that, the rest is up to those who were offended. Will they forgive? Will they hold a grudge? Whatever the aggrieved party decides, a person of the highest integrity will accept the verdict with grace and move on.

Humility is what allows integrity to survive moral indiscretions. Even so, it’s important to realize that it takes more time to develop integrity than to destroy it and even more time to restore it when it is damaged. While Integrity has some room for errors, just one momentary indiscretion has the potential to be a major setback against a lifetime of progress. This implies that people serious about their integrity should behave as if any violation will destroy it and when necessary, respond with humility and urgency to restore it.

“Honor is like a steep island without a shore: one cannot return once one is outside.” — Nicholas Boileau-Despréaux

“Character is much easier kept than recovered.” — Thomas Paine, author, statesman

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” — William Shakespeare

Life without integrity is a miserable and pathetic existence. So, in a sense, hanging on to integrity is a matter of life and death.

“What is left when honor is lost?” — Publilius Syrus (~100 BC), Maxims

“Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.” — Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

God bless,

— CC

[ H=Heart | Index | J=Joviality ]

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

The Last Domino

This post was inspired by something I saw on the back of my niece’s soccer practice jersey.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

This simple, yet thought-provoking definition led me to see a chain reaction using dominos. I saw “Dream” as the first domino, “Deadline” in the middle and “Goal” at the end of the chain. Three dominos makes a lousy image. So, I imagined inserting a few more and came up with the following chain:

Dream → Passion → Action → Progress → Urgency → Deadline → Goal Achieved

However, with long-term goals, the dominos are normally spaced too far apart to generate enough momentum to reach the goal. Something more is needed. The gaps must be filled with lots of “character” dominos to maintain momentum in the chain. The following quotes identify some of these momentum dominos:

Every Day Get Started: “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” — Amelia Earhart

Determination: “Persist and persevere, and you will find most things that are attainable, possible.” — Lord Chesterfield

Courage: “The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.” — John C. Maxwell

Selflessness: “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.” — Zig Ziglar

Faith/Purpose: “It is not such a fiercesome thing to lead once you see your leadership as part of God’s overall plan for his world.” — Calvin Miller

Service: “From now on, any definition of a successful life must include serving others.” — President George Bush

Imagine how much character goes into falling domino displays like these:

How many dominos does it take to become a world class swimmer like Michael Phelps, who is dominating U.S. media coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games? He is now the most decorated American Olympic athlete of all time. His goal to win 8 gold medals with world record times is just 3 events away. Phelps’ unprecedented dominance has already produced millions of dollars worth of endorsements. Can a book and a movie be far behind?

During the endless coverage, one item jumped out at me. In an interview, the young “Phenom Phelps” acknowledged that he keeps a typewritten list of his goals beside his bed and reads it every day. Sounds like a good idea and one that is very easy. Yet, how many people do it? Thanks to Mr. Phelps’ inspiration, my list will be in its appointed place starting tonight!

God bless,

— CC

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