Amazing Grace

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Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

Here’s a little-used word in business — grace. Except in religious and artistic circles it’s kind of an old-fashioned word.

Sports analysts like to talk about intangibles, which are those miscellaneous factors that influence the outcome of games. Intangibles are always present. But it’s only when the game stats belie the outcome that we look for the intangibles. In sports as in other ventures, intangibles are hard to predict, hard to quantify and hard to describe because they are less obvious. In life, grace is one of those intangibles that can be a difference maker.

“Virtue and genuine graces in themselves speak what no words can utter.” — William Shakespeare

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley

Grace Means Being Charming and Refined

The once familiar concept of “ladies and gentlemen” is becoming more and more passé in favor of rude, vulgar and obnoxious public behavior as promoted through television programs like “Married With Children,” “The Simpson’s” and “Roseanne”. These shows are meant to be funny and perhaps they are in a childish sort of way. The blogosphere is another venue where professionalism is being pushed aside by those who seek attention the only way they know — a tantrum of words. The good news is that it is easy to stand out as a professional when the majority has chosen another path.

“I seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted.” — Og Mandino (1923-1996)

“We require from buildings, as from men, two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it; which last is itself another form of duty.” — John Ruskin (1819-1900), The Stones of Venice, 1880

“Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding.” — W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), The Painted Veil, 1925

Grace Under Fire

Seeing a leader maintaining composure in the heat of battle (figurative or literal) is both comforting and inspirational. Conversely, who follows a “leader” who “freaks out” in a pressure-packed situation? A leader ceases to be a leader when he panics.

“Always behave like a duck – keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.” — Jacob Braude

“Grace under Pressure.” — Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

Grace Means “Quiet Strength”

Because of the way our culture views leadership, grace also has the ability to camouflage more prominent traits of professionalism such as strength. Tony Dungy, a successful [American] football coach, led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007 on a model of strength with grace. Mr. Dungy’s approach refutes the familiar coaching image typified by loudness, boasting and anger. The title of his autobiography, “Quiet Strength,” befits a true professional who exemplifies grace both on and off the football field.

“O, it is excellent to have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.” — William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Measure for Measure, 1604-1605

“Real strength is not just a condition of one’s muscle, but a tenderness in one’s spirit.” — McCallister Dodds

Grace Means Generosity

True generosity, giving without expecting something in return, is another aspect of grace. Professionalism demands a giving heart.

“Riches may enable us to confer favours, but to confer them with propriety and grace requires a something that riches cannot give.” — Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832), Lacon, 1825

“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” — Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

Grace Means Forgiving

Granting and seeking forgiveness may be the hardest parts of grace because they require an incredible measure of humility. We can all take a lesson from children.

“No one forgives with more grace and love than a child.” — Real Live Preacher, Weblog, 02-15-06

By the Grace of God

Everyone is here on Planet Earth at the pleasure of God. Our talents, resources and our very lives are gracious gifts of the creator. God’s presence in our lives, His love and forgiveness too are acts of grace. While it is likely that there are effective leaders who have no belief in God, it is difficult for me to comprehend anyone becoming a complete professional without an attitude of gratitude and actions that reflect the undeserved, amazing grace of God.

“God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” — Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971), in a sermon in 1943

“There but for the grace of God go [I]. — John Bradford, Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.” — Frederick Buechner

God bless,

— CC

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

Prepare for Luck

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” — Seneca, Roman philosopher

It’s amazing how much better timing seems when we’re prepared. It would seem obvious that preparation begets confidence, which begets action, which begets success. But, if it’s so obvious, why do people spend so little time preparing?

“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.” — Brian Tracy

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

“I am a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it.” — Thomas Jefferson

In modern times, personal development has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry that has produced countless tools and techniques, including: books, magazines, Internet, CDs, DVDs, college education, night classes, seminars, sermons, lectures, computer-based training, on-the-job training, journaling, memorization, puzzles, mentors, ad infinitum. Although I love to read, I am a big-time advocate of CDs. They allow me to turn my car into a mobile classroom. Combining driving and learning takes some of the sting out of $4 per gallon gasoline. Come to think of it, my car has also been used to conduct meetings, eat meals, place calls, check email, change clothes, store stuff and take naps (not all of which occurred while consuming gasoline.)

A good preparation strategy focuses attention on the the four aspects of being human: intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Together, the following quotes about preparation address all four.

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.” — John Adams

“A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner, so if one’s life is cold and bare he can blame none but himself.” — Louis L’Amour (1908 – 1988), ‘Bendigo Shafter’

“Read something positive every night and listen to something helpful every morning.” — Tom Hopkins

“Success favors the prepared mind.” — Louis Pasteur

“Exercise alone provides psychological and physical benefits. However, if you also adopt a strategy that engages your mind while you exercise, you can get a whole host of psychological benefits fairly quickly.” — James Rippe, M.D.

“To resist the frigidity of old age one must combine the body, the mind and the heart – and to keep them in parallel vigor one must exercise, study and love.” — Karl von Bonstetten

“A good exercise for the heart is to bend down and help another up.” — Anonymous

“Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.” — W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965)

“Too many people confine their exercise to jumping to conclusions, running up bills, stretching the truth, bending over backward, lying down on the job, sidestepping responsibility and pushing their luck.” — Author Unknown

“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” — Bible, Mark 12:30

God bless,

— CC

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