A Dream About Tracy’s Dream!

At the end of a very long, hectic autumn day, Tracy skipped dinner and went straight to bed.  What happened later that night was strange.  Imagine a dream with no people and no signs of activity.  Instead the entire dream is two bright yellow words on a dark background. Period!  That’s exactly what happened in Tracy’s dream. The words were, “BE READY”.  Kind of eerie wouldn’t you agree?  Tracy sat up in bed, puzzled and somewhat scared, but after a few minutes of pondering this strange dream, Tracy succumbed to fatigue and fell asleep.

There are people like Tracy who make up their minds to live lives and have careers that can leave the world in a better place.  That’s why Tracy awakened the next morning more curious about than afraid of the strange dream.  As a result, the day went fast and nighttime came soon enough only to be interrupted sometime around midnight.  When Tracy awakened prematurely from a sequel to yesterday’s dream of green words on a dark background there was an expanded message – “BE READY OR ELSE” That would get anyone’s attention!  Shocked by this more threatening message it took almost two hours for Tracy to return to a state of sleep.

Compared to the previous days, the next day was light, giving Tracy the freedom to ponder the meaning of these dreams, where they might be coming from and whether or not there would be another one tonight.  The answer came at 2:15 am.  “BE READY OR ELSE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES WILL DISAPPEAR.”  This message was equally strange, but the previous fear had morphed into the “fear of loss.”

While the presence of fear lingered, it was tempered by curiosity and the hint of hope.  Would the dream continue?  Sure enough!  Tracy arose with the sun, inspired by the following expanded message: “BE READY OR ELSE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES WILL DISAPPEAR.  PREPARE DILIGENTLY.”  As simple as this dream sounded, Tracy’s curiosity and frustration returned, wondering, “How can anyone prepare for opportunities that come and go like lightning.”

Days 5, 6 and 7 came and went without any strange dreams.  Was the sequence finished or had Tracy’s exhaustion wiped out any new dreams?  Either way, it turned out to be a blessing.  The gap made room for some heavy reflection that would make room for more wisdom.  On the eighth night, Tracy was ready and so the dream continued with new advice.  “BE READY OR ELSE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES WILL DISAPPEAR.  PREPARE DILIGENTLY.  FOCUS ON YOUR FOUNDATION”

It’s Day 9. For three days Tracy wondered what goes into a person’s foundation. Realizing that a strong foundation is essential for any successful endeavor, Tracy is eager to discover the remaining pieces in the puzzle.  Like the first 4 days, the dream maker delivered an expanded message of wisdom along with a recommended set of tools.  That message is simply this:

“BE READY OR ELSE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES WILL DISAPPEAR.
PREPARE DILIGENTLY.  FOCUS ON YOUR FOUNDATION OF
LEADERSHIP, EXCELLENCE, ASSOCIATIONS AND PROFESSIONALISM.”

At the end of a very long, hectic autumn day, Tracy skipped dinner and went straight to bed. What happened later that night was strange. Imagine a dream with no people and no signs of activity. Instead the entire dream is two bright yellow words on a dark background. Period! That’s exactly what happened in Tracy’s dream. The words were, “BE READY”. Kind of eerie wouldn’t you agree? Tracy sat up in bed, puzzled and somewhat scared, but after a few minutes of pondering this strange dream, Tracy succumbed to fatigue and fell asleep.

There are people like Tracy who make up their minds to live lives and have careers that can leave the world in a better place. That’s why Tracy awakened the next morning more curious about than afraid of the strange dream. As a result, the day went fast and nighttime came soon enough only to be interrupted sometime around midnight. When Tracy awakened prematurely from a sequel to yesterday’s dream of green words on a dark background there was an expanded message – “BE READY OR ELSE” That would get anyone’s attention! Shocked by this more threatening message it took almost two hours for Tracy to return to a state of sleep.

Compared to the previous days, the next day was light, giving Tracy the freedom to ponder the meaning of these dreams, where they might be coming from and whether or not there would be another one tonight. The answer came at 2:15 am. “BE READY OR ELSE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES WILL DISAPPEAR.” This message was equally strange, but the previous fear had morphed into the “fear of loss.”

While the presence of fear lingered, it was tempered by curiosity and the hint of hope. Would the dream continue? Sure enough! Tracy arose with the sun, inspired by the following expanded message: “BE READY OR ELSE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES WILL DISAPPEAR. PREPARE DILIGENTLY.” As simple as this dream sounded, Tracy’s curiosity and frustration returned, wondering, “How can anyone prepare for opportunities that come and go like lightning.”

Days 5, 6 and 7 came and went without any strange dreams. Was the sequence finished or had Tracy’s exhaustion wiped out any new dreams? Either way, it turned out to be a blessing. The gap made room for some heavy reflection that would make room for more wisdom. On the eighth night, Tracy was ready and so the dream continued with new advice. “BE READY OR ELSE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES WILL DISAPPEAR. PREPARE DILIGENTLY. FOCUS ON YOUR FOUNDATION”

Day 9. For three days Tracy wondered what goes into a person’s foundation. Realizing that a strong foundation is essential for any successful endeavor, Tracy is eager to discover the remaining pieces in the puzzle. Like the first 4 days, the dream maker delivered an expanded message of wisdom along with a recommended set of tools. That message is simply this: “BE READY OR ELSE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES WILL DISAPPEAR. PREPARE DILIGENTLY. FOCUS ON YOUR FOUNDATION OF LEADERSHIP, EXCELLENCE, ASSOCIATIONS AND PROFESSIONALISM.”

It’s Day 10, or so I thought. The phone had awakened me from my unplanned nap. I was groggy, but happy to see my friend had not left my home. Tracy was pumped up and dying to share so-called “life-changing, foundational information” contained within an online professional development program named “L.E.A.P. OF FAITH.”  Strange as it seems, Tracy was just beginning Lesson 10!

P.S.  Thanks for reading what is perhaps the shortest novel of 2016!

Advertisements

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 Bridges and Barricades Story

A Lesson in Leadership
by Gary Lear — Global Managing Director, Development Beyond Learning

The team leader of a group of engineers looked across the desk at the people in the team he managed. “If only I could treat these people as I do my designs and work out a logical way of solving their problems, and improving their performance,” he thought. “I design and build bridges to cross difficult terrain. I put up barricades so I can stop people from entering areas that I don’t want them to go into. Why, then, don’t I help people build bridges across the difficult issues they face in their personal and business lives? Why don’t I show them how to remove the barricades and let them explore the possibilities of new relationships and unexplored territories, find new paths and, using the bridges they build, achieve an effective way of reaching new and exciting lands.”

He got up from his desk and walked to the closest young team member and asked, “What do you want to achieve in life?”

Startled, the young team member looked up and said, “What is it to you? All you want from me is results and I’m giving that to you aren’t I?”

“Yes you are,” the engineer replied, “But I want you to know that I‘m interested in your future. What do you want from life?”

“I’ve never really thought about it,” the young team member replied, “I did my schooling and just got a job and here I am.”

“It’s time you gave it some thought,” said the engineer. “I want to help you remove the barriers to the future and work with you to build bridges to new and exciting areas you never though possible. Can we do that together?”

“He that would be a leader must be a bridge.”
— Welsh Proverb

The Birth of Development Beyond Learning

So commenced a process for both the engineer and the young team member of building bridges and removing barricades. The things they explored together have since been expanded into the complete suite of Development Beyond Learning (DBL) learning modules, assessment tools, models, methods, and success stories.

Development Beyond Learning is more than a training company. It is a development organization committed to facilitating individual and organizational change both in and beyond the classroom. Through the use of our suite of learning materials and our “enlighten, engage, empower” process, a journey through change can be mapped and embarked upon at any level within an organization. The results of this are seen in personal, professional, and organizational growth, which succeeds in getting people “unstuck” from the day-to-day grind and motivated to make change and achieve that which they want to do and now believe is possible.

For more information about Development Beyond Learning, USA
call: 937.660.5217,
email: CCross@DBLearning.biz,
or visit www.DBLearning.biz.

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