Heritage of Gratitude

With all of the falderal over prohibiting prayer in schools and nativity displays on public property, it is worthy of our time to review a couple historical facts regarding religion and the passage of the First Amendment. After months of debate, the House of Representatives passed the First Amendment on September 24, 1789.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — Source: http://www.archives.gov

The House, it’s members best qualified to understand the intent of the amendment, passed by a 2/3 majority the following resolution on the very next day:

“We acknowledge with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peacefully to establish a constitutional government for their safety and happiness.” — M. Stanton Evans, “The Theme is Freedom” p.285

The same body went one step further and called upon President George Washington to officially establish a national day of prayer and thanksgiving. The following is an excerpt of Washington’s proclamation:

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly implore his protection and favor … That great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that ever will be, that we may then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people…” — M. Stanton Evans, “The Theme is Freedom” p.285

The tradition continues, cluttered as it is with the trappings of football games, anticipation of holiday sales and other distractions, America still sets aside a special time to be thankful for her abundance.

What one is thankful for is always personal and sometimes private. I think that’s why reading or hearing genuine expressions of appreciation reaches inside and touches our hearts deeply. How different would the world be if everyone responded every day to the proclamation of President Washington?

“It is another’s fault if he be ungrateful, but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige a great many that are not so.” — Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)

“Gratitude is our most direct line to God and the angels. If we take the time, no matter how crazy and troubled we feel, we can find something to be thankful for.” — Terry Lynn Taylor

“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” — Bible, Psalm 106:1

“For what I have received, may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received.” — Storm Jameson

“One single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer.” — G. E. Lessing (1729-1781)

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

— Author Unknown

God bless,

— CC

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

Watch Your Language

[ K=Kindness | Index | M=Mistakes ]

Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

Professional language is a skill and a discipline that reflects feelings and personal character. Language includes both spoken and written words. When spoken, it includes words and sounds as well as voice inflections, facial expressions and body language. Language is a highly visual medium. That’s why it makes sense to say, “Watch your language.” and “Read my lips.”

“Get in touch with the way the other person feels. Feelings are 55% body language, 38% tone and 7% words.” — Source: thinkexist.com

“The body says what words cannot.” — Martha Graham (1894-1991)

“The language of the body is the key that can unlock the soul.” — Konstantin Stanislavsky

Language is usually equated with speech. But, it is also at the heart of the human thought process. People think and act within the framework of their language(s).

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)

“If one corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” — George Orwell

“Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

— Unknown

Language is a powerful force used for good or evil. This makes language a tool of one’s intentions, which in turn is submissive to one’s character.

“Language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides.” — Rita Mae Brown, Starting From Scratch, 1988 (also attributed to Alcaeus)

“The assassin and the slanderer differ only in the weapon they use; with the one it is the dagger, with the other the tongue. The latter is worse than the former, for the first only kills the body, while the other murders the reputation.” — Tyron Edwards

When one’s words are inconsistent with his intentions he needs to improve his language skills. When his words are inconsistent with his actions, he needs to improve his attitude.

“‘Careful with fire’ is good advice we know. ‘Careful with words’ is ten times doubly so.” — William Carleton

“Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing” — Edmund Burke

“Go put your creed into your deed.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Use soft words and hard arguments.” — English Proverb

Words can empower others, sometimes with a subtle change in phraseology.

“Words differently arranged have a different meaning, and meanings differently arranged have a different effect.” — Blaise Pascal

For example, compare the following two phrases and ask which one treats the person as an object:

“I’m assigning you to this task.” OR “I’m assigning this task to you.”

A professional communicates effectively not just by the words he chooses, but also when he uses them. Silence is an element of language and knowing when to remain silent is a key aspect of professional language. Precision means the right words or no words at the right time.

“Accuracy of language is one of the bulwarks of truth.” — Anna Brownell Jameson

“Grammar and logic free language from being at the mercy of the tone of voice. Grammar protects us against misunderstanding the sound of an uttered name; logic protects us against what we say having double meaning.” — Rosenstock-Huessy

“No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut.” — Sam Rayburn (1882-1961)

Language is either the polish or the tarnish on one’s reputation.

“Language most shews a man: Speak, that I may see thee.” — Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

“We can learn much from wise words, little from wisecracks, and less from wise guys.” — William Arthur Ward

Some of the most polished professionals I know are capable of uttering a profanity or vulgarity when they are overcome by anger or other intense emotion. This is a forgivable offense and not necessarily a permanent blemish on their professionalism. However, professionalism is compromised when offensive words are standard fare in a person’s vocabulary. It indicates a lack of respect and self control as well as a limited vocabulary.

It’s probably fair to say that people are not always aware of their own improper language. An example that comes to mind is the phrase, “Oh my God!” If someone says God’s name and is not speaking to or about God, he is using the Lord’s name as a slang word. Regardless of one’s religious faith, professionalism means respect toward the sacred words and symbols of others.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” — Bible, Exodus 20:7

So what does all of this stuff about language mean in practice? A comprehensive list would be too long to include here. Still, I thought it useful to provide a few places to start.

  • Voice Quality — Become adept at using the full range of your vocal capacity: inflections, volume, pitch, projection, diction, pace, resonance and continuity of sound.
  • Silence — Become a good listener. Besides giving others a chance to speak, you will learn more by listening.
  • Power — Communicate with conviction and resolve. It’s easier to use the right language when you have the right attitude.
  • Introductions — Use Dr., Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., military rank or other title when introducing people and addressing them in a professional setting.
  • Boasting — Offering unsolicited advice, being a know-it-all and bragging subtract from professionalism.
  • Gossip — Spreading rumors and negative information about others is really an attempt to elevate your reputation by means of lowering others.
  • Posture — Whether standing or sitting, the way you lean, the direction you face, and the position of your head, legs, feet, arms, and hands can embellish or denude your words.
  • Face — Emotions and attitudes are projected most powerfully through facial expressions. Your facial expressions and head movements either support or contradict your words.

“I’m so excited for you.”

  • Mannerisms -– Avoid distracting movements, such as: jingling keys/coins, yawning, fixing or playing with hair, biting nails, picking nose, scratching, rubbing, and picking scabs.
  • Eyes — The windows to your soul often speak more loudly than your words. Eye contact, when, how often and how long can impact your underlying message.

“Eye contact is the best accessory.” — Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata

“The eyes have one language everywhere.” — George Herbert

Together, all parts of language reflect and define who we are. A dedicated effort to improve one’s language will pay huge dividends.

“As was his language so was his life.” — Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)

“The game of life is the game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.” — Florence Shinn

“Kind words, kind looks, kind acts and warm handshakes, these are means of grace when men in trouble are fighting their unseen battles” — John Hall

In the end, what matters most about our language is that it is heartfelt, kind, respectful, and in all other ways consistent with the definition of a professional.

“Let the words of my mouth bring You praise.
Let the words that I speak be seasoned with Your love and grace.
Let the things, O Lord, that I choose to say,
Bring glory, not shame, to Your name each day.
Let the words of my mouth bring You praise.”
— “Let the Words” by Gail Hamilton, performed by Take 6

God bless,

— CC

[ K=Kindness | Index | M=Mistakes ]

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

“That’s Entertainment!”

[ D=Dress | Index | F=Finish ]

Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

Business entertainment is largely about expanding the business playing field. Meeting clients in venues outside company walls allows business to be conducted informally and in more subtle ways. For the most part, entertaining clients is about showing appreciation for past business deals with the hope of maintaining and expanding the relationship. However, as long as the intentions are made clear in advance, it is appropriate to make product announcements, present company news or engage in business discussions. “Can we discuss this over lunch?”

“A dinner lubricates business.” — Lord William Stowell

When entertaining prospects and recruits, business discussions are the norm. An entertainment venue is chosen to create an environment where the parties can get to know each other and determine if there is a mutual fit. A job applicant can decide if he would enjoy working for or with this person. On the other side of the table, the recruiter has the opportunity to look beyond the résumé. To ensure team chemistry, the recruit will need to fit into the company culture. (Note: We’re not talking about attributes like ethnicity or gender.) For example, the way a person plays golf helps reveal aspects of his character. The shine on a person’s professional image will be enhanced or tarnished depending on his conduct on a golf course.

“If there is any larceny in a man, golf will bring it out.” — Paul Gallico

“Eighteen holes of match or medal play will teach you more about your foe than will 18 years of dealing with him across a desk.” — Grantland Rice

A professional does not let his guard down, even when the entertainment is purely personal. You never know who is watching or listening. Oh, how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help noticing …” Professionals never takes a timeout from professional behavior, even in seemingly insignificant situations.

“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans.” — Ronald Reagan, source: Observer, March 29 1981

Professionalism means having an attitude of respect for yourself and others — it does not mean being stiff and boring. One of the reasons for business entertainment is to have fun and be a professional simultaneously.

“If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.” — Herodotus (484 BC – 430 BC), The Histories of Herodotus

“Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.” — Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)

When entertainment and business are combined, a meal is usually part of the package.

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” — James Beard

What a person remembers about a business meal is a testimony to the professionalism of his fellow diners. Few people will notice or remember who used the wrong fork. But, certain errors have the potential to become indelibly etched onto their memories.

1. Talking with food in your mouth (“Close your mouth, Michael; we are not a codfish.” — Mary Poppins)

2. Coughing or sneezing across the table (“Exposing others to your germs is the ultimate discourtesy” — Peter Post)

3. Not washing your hands after using the restroom (“the single most important thing anybody can do … to safeguard themselves against unnecessary infection is washing your hands.” — Dr. Philip Tierno)

4. Double dipping and touching other people’s food (“That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!” — episode of Seinfeld)

5. Eating like a glutton (“Gluttony is not a secret vice.” — Orson Welles)

So, allow others to enjoy their food, your company, the ambience, and the conversation instead of tolerating your disgusting table manners.

“Good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue.” — Izaak Walton (1593 – 1683), The Compleat Angler, 1653

“A smiling face is half the meal.” — Latvian Proverb

Whether you are the client or the vendor, the prospect or the company, or just along for the ride, there are three things to keep in mind about business entertainment. Certainly, enjoy yourself within the bounds of professionalism. And of course, use the opportunity to accomplish your business purposes. But, above all, be good company.

“People may not remember what you did or said, but they will remember how you made them feel.” — Attributed to Maya Angelou

“Your skills can get you in the door; your people skills are what can seal the deal.” — Source: http://www.EmilyPost.com

God bless,

— CC

[ D=Dress | Index | F=Finish ]

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

Easy Vs. Hard

The expression “work smart, not hard” is advice about efficiency by leveraging resources. It presumes that working smart leads to easier work. Efficiency and a lighter burden are always good goals as long as the easy way and hard way both lead to the same destination. The critical question when faced with an easy vs. hard choice is, “Do they really go to the same place?”

As human beings, the natural tendency is to pick the path of least resistance even when this is not expected to produce the best results. Always choosing easy over hard is based on near-term mindset. Instant gratification is an example that comes to mind. In the long run, we end up settling for far less in life if we make a habit of taking the easy path. Being one who is willing to consider and choose the more challenging path, whenever it makes long-term sense, requires a deep-seated commitment to the future.

“Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry, all things easy. He that rises late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night, while laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.” — Benjamin Franklin


“Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.”
— Anonymous

Easy and Hard Can Be Matters of Perspective and Attitude

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.” — Terence (185 BC – 159 BC)

“Attempt easy tasks as if they were difficult, and difficult as if they were easy; in the one case that confidence may not fall asleep, in the other that it may not be dismayed.” — Baltasar Gracian

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill

Difficulties Help Sharpen Our Axes

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” — Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)

“All things are difficult before they are easy.” — Dr. Thomas Fuller (1654 – 1734)

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

Facing Difficulty Requires Courage

“It is surmounting difficulties that makes heroes.” — Louis Pasteur, microbiologist

“Courage and perseverance have a magic talisman, before which difficulties and obstacles vanish into air.” — John Adams

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” — Sam Ewing

Dealing With Difficulty

“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” — Dale Carnegie

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.” — Phillips Brooks (1835 – 1893)

Finally, always remember the words of Edward R. Murrow:

“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.”

God Bless,

— CC

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