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Archive for June, 2013

By refusing to give up when life’s circumstances conspire against us, we powerfully model the value of perseverance.

Who is watching when you go through hard times in life?

How can you inspire them by the way you act?

What will they learn by watching you?

In 2002, I went through a life-changing leadership training program. During the five weeks I spent in this program, I was made aware that as a leader, one is always “on stage,” so to speak. Meaning, someone is always watching. Think of yourself as a role model, because you are influencing others around you about how to behave in certain situations.

So, will you teach them to persevere? Or to give up when times get tough?

You get to choose. I hope you choose wisely.

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Today is a good day to learn more about others who have persevered. Spend some time online searching for stories of people who made it through adversity.

Think of a traumatic experience: The Great Depression, the Holocaust, or something you witnessed personally. Read or think about the accounts of hardships and what was learned from them.

What did you learn from reading these accounts?

How can you apply these principles to what you are facing today?

Last year, I read the Little House on the Prairie series of books with my son. There are some stories of perseverance! I can’t recall how many times the Ingalls family lost pretty much everything they had worked for (homes, crops, etc…), including very nearly losing their lives on several occasions, mostly due to weather and other natural events. But they continued to get up every day and work to build their home, sow and raise crops and animals, trying to build a good life.

I believe that when we are working toward the right and true things, toward our dreams, there is no other choice but to persevere.

What do you think?

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Perseverance can make or break people. When you persevere, you learn a lot about yourself and others. Spend some time now writing a few lessons you’ve learned about perseverance in each area of your life:

Lessons from family members

Lessons from education

Lessons from friends

Lessons from professional life

What two or three principles can you create to remind you of the lessons you have learned from perseverance?

I’ll share one of my stories with you.

I always knew education would be my ticket to a better future. So, I worked hard through high school. I earned a small scholarship through the Jr. Miss program (it was a scholarship program, pretty prevalent in high school, with many programs throughout the US), and qualified for some financial aid for college. I went to school my first year, and was told by the financial aid office at my university that I no longer qualified for aid because my parents earned too much money.

Regardless of what the Financial Aid office thought, my parents were not in a position to help me with school, and I was determined to finish my degree. So, I found a job babysitting a couple of kids for a woman who worked at my university, for about nine months, until I had been independent of my parents long enough to apply for FA on my own merits.

After missing nearly all of what should have been my second year of college, I was able to get some student loans and start classes, again. Because my loans weren’t enough to pay for everything thing, I worked. In fact, I worked three different jobs (cleaning the administration building at my school — part time thru the school year and full time over the summer, cleaning the home of one of the professors, and taking care of the live plants in one of the school buildings) while taking a full load of classes. While the jobs I held changed over the next three years, I worked my way through school. I know I was blessed to have access to financial aid, grants, and loans to earn my Bachelor’s degree.

While having a college education doesn’t guarantee anyone a good job or a successful career, it has certainly opened a lot of doors for me. In fact, in many cases, it was the required minimum to even be considered for some positions. And, after I had been working in my field for several years, I started missing new job opportunities because the level of positions I was becoming qualified for stated “Master’s degree preferred.” Not required, just preferred. Nonetheless, I missed a number of job offers, because the positions were offered to someone with a Master’s degree. So, I realized, if I wanted to move up, I would need to go back to school and earn my Master’s degree.

This wasn’t a daunting task for me, as I love learning. In fact, if I could be in a learning environment all the time, I would be there in a heartbeat! So, I did go back to school. This time, the money wasn’t the biggest challenge; I was working a full-time job and attended school several nights a week, plus some weekend workshops. It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always fun…but I persevered and emerged from that time in my life victorious!

I am proud to list myself as Laura Prisc, MSC (Master of Science in Communication).

Try it…you’ll like how you feel about yourself when you finish what you set out to do, and especially if you had to persevere through difficult times.

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Do you remember the days before photocopiers were everywhere? I do…I remember in Junior High School, being a teacher’s aid for the elementary school across the street. The teacher asked me to make copies of something she was planning to share with her students. I had to use what was called the “mimeo” machine (short for mimeograph, if I recall correctly). The original was a carbon copy with tracing-paper thin pages, and there had to be fluid in the machine, and you had to line the page up straight and catch the top in this “gripper” thing…ooof! It was a difficult and annoying exercise, to say the least!

Well, others had just as difficult a time, if not more so, duplicating documents. Chester Carlson worked in a patent office as a young man. He routinely experienced the costly and time-consuming process of obtaining copies. Motivated by his frustrations, he set out to discover an alternate way to make copies.

Through intense research and experimentation, he patented an inventive way to make copies. His patent was ingenious, but marketing it proved to be quite difficult. After all, he was a newlywed, earning a modest salary, studying law, and living with his in-laws (just a few challenges and constraints, wouldn’t you say?!).

While he could see the commercial applications for his invention, he had trouble selling the merits. IBM, RCA, and Kodak all turned him down. Even fellow scientists at the National Inventors Council dismissed his ideas as impractical. As anyone would have been, he grew more and more discouraged and nearly gave up on his interest in photocopying several times, but just couldn’t quite get it out of his system.

Eventually, Carlson had an experience similar to that of Theodor Geisel in trying to get his first children’s book published; Carlson was rejected by about twenty organizations before he happened upon Haloid, a tiny company in Rochester, New York. Haloid invested research funding to develop Carlson’s patent and over time created the first copying machines. Haloid would turn the business world upside down with the new machines, essentially vindicating Carlson, making him a multi-millionaire 21 years after he secured his patent. You may not recognize the name Haloid, but surely you are familiar with Chester Carlson’s company, Xerox!

When leading, others may not initially see your vision as clearly as you, and some never will. Like Chester Carlson, and millions of others before and after him, you may spin your wheels for some time…weeks, months, even years, before your vision gains traction. To find success, you must find and display a bulldog-like tenacity to stick with what you believe in.

Today, journal about someone who has inspired you to persevere through unfavorable conditions. What have you learned from this person?

How can you use those lessons to help you persevere?

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We have come to the end of week two…Friday’s sure do seem to come quicker these days, especially when one is really busy.

I’ve been in Guatemala City all week, working with John Maxwell, EQUIP, and my fellow John Maxwell Team-mates preparing for and teaching Transformational Leadership to groups of leaders from the seven streams of influence: Government, education, business, media, arts & entertainment, the faith community, and family. We have been teaching the principles shared in John’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth (this is really powerful material; if you are at all inclined toward growing yourself, and you haven’t read this, I highly recommend it. In fact, I take that one step further and recommend you join a Mastermind Group on this topic and work through the book with a small group of other growth-oriented individuals so you can learn together and from each other), as well as 15 values inherent in transformational leaders.

It’s been an amazing, invigorating, exciting, educational, and fun week. I’ve stretched and grown. I’ve helped others stretch and grow. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone in many ways. I’ve met some amazing new people. I’ve gotten to know so many of my JMT Team-mates so much better. I’ve discovered new opportunities I hadn’t even imagined. We donated a variety of materials and supplies to some orphanages; I brought art and school supplies, primarily.

Tomorrow, we will have our last teaching sessions, and after lunch we will be the guests at a huge party celebrating our investment in this effort of transforming the culture of Guatemala. What an amazing opportunity this has been!

So, you can see, my weekend will not be a typical time of rest and restoration! Saturday will be quite full and I will be traveling on Sunday.

What will you do with your weekend?

What relationships do you need to build, nurture, grow…repair?

What activities would you like to spend time and energy doing?

What do you need to do to be prepared for the start of a new week on Monday?

What do you need to be thinking about and planning for, for the next few weeks?

Have an intentional, enjoyable weekend!

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As we near the end of week two, month six, look at the team of people working around you. What do you think are the most difficult aspects of their jobs?

As you consider this question, write down the top two or three biggest challenges you think they face.

Now, consider what simple actions could you take to help your co-workers persevere through the challenges of their daily work?

Plan it out and take action. You’ll make a huge difference in their day and you may be surprised by how good you feel…and how much easier it might now be for you to work through some of your own challenges.

The test of character is not ‘hanging in’ when you expect light at the end of the tunnel, but performance of duty and persistence of example when you know no light is coming.   ~Admiral James Stockdale

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This morning, the John Maxwell Team and all of the Guatemala Trip support staff (John Maxwell Company, EQUIP, Guatemala Prospera, and La Red) met in a conference room to prepare to meet our translators. All told, there were probably 170 of us in the room.

Guatemala Prospera (Prosperous Guatemala) arranged for the interpreters who will support us in our mission this week. Some of them are professional translators, some of them — many, in fact — are high school and college students studying English and translation, and they all volunteered to help us this week. We were told there would be more of them than there were of us. This make sense because our schedule is somewhat fluid, and some of them may not be available every time we need them (or for four-hour training sessions). So, they came into the room and filed past all 170 of us, to the front of the conference room we were in. They just kept coming and coming and coming…There were so many of them, it was overwhelming. And they had these expressions on their faces of anticipation and joy and gratitude. They just kept saying “Thank you for coming to help Guatemala,” “Thank you for being here,” Thank you, thank you, thank you…”

For those of you who know me, or maybe you’ve discerned this from reading my posts, you know I am RARELY at a loss for words…but I am today. I cannot adequately describe the feelings from this morning watching them come in to us…the hugs, the hand shakes, the smiles…it was an extremely emotional time for so many of us in the room.

They have been through the same training we’ve been going through this week, so they are familiar with the material. They are excited for the change to come to change their culture and improve their nation. They are familiar with John Maxwell and his teachings and seem pretty overwhelmed to see that John brought a small “army,” so to speak, to help in this endeavor. And they are filled with eagerness and some anxiety.

The woman I worked with is named Marlene. She is a professional translator, most frequently working with pharmaceutical companies, if I understood her correctly. She has two young sons. She does a radio show on Sundays that is broadcast around the country; she shares bible teachings with children and they talk about what they understood and thought of that week’s passage. She is bright and energetic, kind and open, generous with her time and spirit, and just kept thanking me for being here.

We won’t know who our interpreter will be until we get our teaching assignments. Here’s how it’s going to work: At 6 AM tomorrow morning, every one of us will be in the hotel lobby, ready for whatever the day brings. Our logistics folks will tell us where we can find breakfast and give us our assignments for the day. We won’t know, until then, if we are teaching a morning or afternoon session, where the session will be held, how many people will be at the session (average is supposed to be 40, but could be as many as 80), what interpreter we will work with, or who will be driving us to wherever we are going. What we do know is this: Tomorrow, we will be going somewhere, with someone, to teach some group, at some time…

It’s a test of how well we function in chaos, I guess! We will need to be resilient, flexible, and patient. I’ve got the first two down; looks like an opportunity to practice patience may be coming my way!

The way I see it, this whole experience/opportunity is way beyond me and what I ever imagined I might be doing…so I will happily go with the flow, be a river not a reservoir, and do my very best to prepare these people to be confident, competent facilitators of the Roundtables they will lead over the next 30 weeks to begin the transformation of this beautiful place.

Trust that if I find the words that can do the experience justice, I will share them with you.

In the meantime, have an intentional day!

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A key to perseverance is knowing when to celebrate. When you are up against a challenge — reflect back on your responses to yesterdays’s questions — what key milestones could you celebrate?

Today, think of something you have been diligently working to accomplish. Identify markers to be able to celebrate within this project or task, such as the start of the project, key milestones, key players’ performances, and the completion of the project.

Today, accomplish a key milestone and celebrate with someone to mark the occasion. Let the person know why you are celebrating and share your story about the journey you took to reach this point.

Project/Task:

Key Milestones:

Key Players’:

Opportunities and ways to celebrate:

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As you may be aware, I am in Guatemala City this week with John Maxwell, the John Maxwell Team (~150 coaches), La Red, Guatemala Prospera, and EQUIP. Our mission is to teach a process that will allow leaders within the seven streams of influence (government, business, media, faith community, arts & entertainment, family, and education) to facilitate growth within small groups over the course of the next 30 weeks, using content from John’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, and 15 corresponding values defined thru a survey of 12,000 Guatemalans as being critical for the future of their country.

We have spent the last day and a half learning this new process and going through it ourselves, to experience the power of it first-hand. It is simple, elegant, effective…powerful. It requires intentionality and transparency.

Beginning Thursday, we will be sent out to various sites around the city to teach groups between 40-80 people how to use the process. We will actually facilitate as they experience the process by working through The Law of Modeling and The Value of Listening.

In three days, we will have taught the process to 19,000 – 20,000 people. Each of them will facilitate the process with small groups of 8-10 people each, one session per week for the next 30 weeks. That means, 150,00 – 160,000 individuals will be directly involved…and if each of them has the power to influence a minimum of another four people each day…WOW!

The foundation is that transformation begins with me; I must first change if I want the circumstances and conditions of my life to change. The idea is to get people talking about the things they need to talk about.

As individuals embrace these lessons and begin to embrace and live the values, they will bring this change to life in their country. The effects may not be seen for years, but it will happen. This place and these people will be forever changed. But think of it this way: If each person touched by this process and this content can make a 1% improvement per week — at the end of a year, they will be 52% better than when they were exposed to this material.

Taking a step back from today, I am humbled by this opportunity. I have said I am on a mission to change the world one encounter at a time — whether that be with individuals, small groups and teams, whole organizations, or even larger gatherings. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my purpose is to help others step confidently into their potential through increased self-awareness and intentional action. I never imagined I would have the opportunity, so soon, to be part of something this significant…fully aligned with what I believe I’m here to do. And yet, here I am tonight, writing to you from Guatemala City!

The real truth of the matter is, whatever happens with the people and the culture here, I am already forever changed by this experience. I am more deeply connected with my John Maxwell colleagues, more aware of myself (thoughts, beliefs, preferences, etc…), and I am grateful. If all I am able to accomplish this week is to leave some people with hope for a better future, I will have been successful.

More to come, to be sure, as we are just beginning. Tomorrow, we meet with and get to know our translators; spend some time fine-tuning our process and personal stories; and in the evening, we have been invited to the Presidential Palace.

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Spend some time today with your journal, considering your responses to these questions:

In what area of your personal or professional life have you been persevering?

What small steps have you taken in this situation?

What have you learned so far in this situation?

What are some ways you can build momentum and not become discouraged?

Who can walk with you through this time?

I won’t color your responses by sharing any of the details of my responses to these questions today; I will share the story with you in the coming months, I’m sure…but today, I can say with absolute conviction, this month’s topic and these questions are really pulling on me.

When you’re ready to share your story, I’ll be here waiting to hear it.

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