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Posts Tagged ‘Commitment’

Change: The process of becoming different.

In this, our eighth month of this Intentional Leadership* journey,  we will closely examine the process of change; which is, oddly enough, the only thing that seems to be consistent in today’s world! If you can count on any one thing, it’s that change is either on its way or already here! And how we adapt to and manage change will make an enormous difference in our path to success and satisfaction.

Change is happening at a dizzying pace that appears to be moving faster all the time. This is true in all aspects of life, including business, and if you aren’t able to anticipate, recognize, and adapt to change, as a leader, you will certainly fall behind. Not only is change a requirement for growth, it is actually necessary for survival.

Think back over the course of your lifetime and remember some of the things that have come and gone. I grew up in Southern California, and I remember buying actual ticket booklets at Disneyland. The “E” ticket was the most desirable, as they were for the best, most exciting rides in the park. If I remember correctly, there were a lot more tickets in the book for the “A-D” rides, and if you wanted to go on more than one “E” ride, you had to buy more “E” tickets! I remember rotary dial phones; cell phones as big as a shoe, and heavy as a boot! I remember when you could actually buy “penny candy” and a bag of M&Ms was 10 cents! This list could go on and on…and I’m sure you have one of your own, possibly similar to mine, or very different if you are from a different generation.

The point is, change is inevitable and we must be able to work our way through it, and remain committed to it, even when it appears as if nothing is happening. This requires leaders to be steadfast, holding tight to their convictions, willing to sacrifice for what they believe to be the right thing. Eventually, the transformation will happen and we will all easily see the benefits of having stayed committed.

To be truly successful in these ever-changing times, we must not only adapt to change, but we must welcome and embrace it. Our most valuable skills in these times are flexibility, resourcefulness, and resilience. To take it one step further, leaders who are able to anticipate change, and prepare for it before the need becomes obvious, are much better prepared for what’s to come.

As we get started with this new month, new focus, take some time today to ask yourself these questions:

How can I be more flexible to the changes happening around me?

In what areas do I have opportunities for growth in terms of changing the direction of my leadership, that will allow me to work through change more effectively?

What changes have you made in your life, to-date, and what growth do you attribute to them?

How has your self-confidence changed as a result of successfully navigating change?

Much more to come on this topic. “See” you tomorrow! In the meantime, have an intentional day!

 

*From the Intentional Leadership booklet by Giant Impact. 

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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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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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Time to get your journal out and spend some time writing about the following questions today (and, really, over the next week — if you want a fuller experience with this):

Why is taking the first step to persevere so important?

What factors may help you to take the first step?

What can you gain by persevering in your personal and professional life?

Of course, I can speak only for myself…but it really takes a lot to get me to quit on something I am interested in or passionate about. I have to have exhausted every avenue I can imagine to make something work before I move on. And I rarely have a Plan B! I generally approach things with this mind set — I may not know everything I need to know, or everyone I need to know, and I may not feel as if I have every resource will need right in my immediate grasp, but I trust that those things will become available as I need them, I will learn along the way…and unless it’s nuclear physics or brain surgery, it doesn’t occur to me that I can’t succeed.

So…if it’s a true passion, I just keep going!

What about you?

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Passion is contagious.

Are you familiar with the story behind the Susan G. Komen Foundation? Yes, the one focused on finding a cure for breast cancer.

More than 25 years ago, Nancy Brinker promised her dying sister she would devote herself to fighting breast cancer, and she did. She named the foundation after her sister, and set forth the vision of raising awareness of the disease and supporting research towards a cure. As you know, the non-profit resonated with the population and quickly grew. Brinker’s passion and focus attracted survivors, supporters, researchers, and more.

Two years after she formed the foundation, Brinker was diagnosed with breast cancer herself; she refused to allow her condition to keep her from advancing the cause of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She continued to host fundraising events and secured corporate sponsorships, as she was winning her own battle with cancer.

Her passion was contagious…it lit the fires of so many others and the foundation grew by leaps and bounds. Passion is similar to lighting one candle with another; Brinker’s passion sparked the passion of those she touched on her journey. By 2008, the SGK Foundation had donated over $1.2 billion to research a cure for breast cancer and to promote education about the disease.

It’s fair to say, largely due to the Foundation’s efforts, the five-year survival rate of women with breast cancer has increased from 74 to 98 percent, and more women than ever are having regular mammograms.

Is your passion tied to a core belief or commitment in your life?

At what cost are you willing to pursue your passion?

What would be the impact if you pursued your passion?

What will be the impact if you allow your passion to dim and fade away?

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