Archive for June, 2009

Thriving in Tough Times

June 27, 2009

 

6-27_Butterfly

As I watch the federal government printing money to bail out individual companies and entire industries, I am frustrated.  I see the motives behind the bail outs, and understand them.  After all, none of us truly embrace or want to struggle.  None of us want to agonize through difficult circumstances, especially when the future is uncertain.  However, when we create an economic structure that doesn’t allow failure, we create one that also doesn’t support true success.  When we avoid the “struggle” we aren’t able to grow. 

Think about this.  If our great nation had never struggled, endured costly battles and REALLY tough times, we would still be paying taxes to the Queen of England.   What would our country be like if Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln had not struggled and persisted toward their goal? 

I am reminded of a story I heard once about a butterfly.  I will do my best to recreate the story here:  The young boy, excited about his new pet, watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened!!  A small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out. While at first excited, the boy quickly became worried and distraught.  The butterfly was really struggling to get out.  It wiggled and writhed, looking desperate to be freed from its cocoon and making very little progress. 

Determined to help, the boy grabbed a pair of scissors and snipped a small hole in the cocoon to quickly release his precious butterfly.  Of course, when the butterfly emerged, it looked different than he expected.  It had a large body and small, shriveled wings.  He continued to watch for signs of growth and improvement.  When would the butterfly spread its beautiful wings and fly?

Never.  The butterfly was never able to fly.  Later the boy learned that the butterfly was designed to GROW in the struggle and that as it pushes through the tiny opening in the cocoon, fluid is pushed out fo is body and into its wings.  Without the struggle, the butterfly would never fly. 

 As we navigate tough times in our nation, businesses, organizations, marriages, or in life in general, let’s remind each other that it is in the STRUGGLE that we learn to FLY!!

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What does it take?

June 15, 2009

“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal.

My strength lies solely in my tenacity”.

Louis Pasteur

Some time ago, I created a signature keynote presentation called, “Tougher than the Times”. With the challenges business, governments, and individuals are facing today, it is no surprise this keynote is requested over and over again. People still ask, “What do my current challenges require of me? What does it mean to be “tougher than the times”?

I hate to give “canned” answers, so my answers are usually varied in an effort to tailor my response to meet the person I am speaking to and the specific challenges they are facing. However, there are a few words that come up no matter who I am talking to. One of these is Persistence.

Persistence is the precursor to success. It is the fruit of determination. It has the power to outlast pain, forget failures, refuse the easy way out and does not lose sight of the goal.

I love the story of a little girl named “Skeeter”. Born in the Great Depression and raised as one of 22 children, she developed polio at a young age. As the disease twisted her left foot and leg, she endured twice weekly (extremely painful) treatments and could only walk with a heavy and uncomfortable leg brace. But she was determined to one day walk on her own… and she was persistent.

Because she would not be beaten… because she refused to give up… because she faithfully did what she could… because her “fire” would not die…. This sickly little girl with the hated leg brace grew up to be the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals and receive the title, “The fastest woman in the world.” Her name is Wilma “Skeeter” Rudolph and she was a champion.

A word of caution: Skeeter did not “persist” in her previous condition. She did not “accept” her condition as a permanent limitation.   You see, there is little value in persistence if you are not striving toward a worthy goal. 

To be tougher than the times, keep the goal (crystal clear and fully articulated) in front of you… “Tougher than the Times” persistence does not concern itself with the current conditions. It does not concern itself with how much time passes before the goal is realized. Persistence – in its most profitable form – is concerned only with the goal itself.

Make Reality Work for You

June 8, 2009

One way to Run to the Roar is to acknowledge reality.  However, not in the way our global media “acknowledges reality” – in a way that inspires fear and inaction.  We want to acknowledge reality in terms of this ONE question:

“Given this set of circumstances, what do we want to create?”

Rather than dwelling on the obstacles in front of us, we simply want to name them… address them… define them… and then decide what we want to do ANYWAY.  The truth is that if we IGNORE reality, it will always work against us.  But if we acknowledge our own reality, we can make it work FOR us.

So, to bring this to practical application, let’s name the TOP THREE obstacles in your business.  In other words if these THREE obstacles were removed or overcome, your organization would be able to thrive.

Now, how much time are you devoting to overcoming EACH of these three obstacles?  Have you gone “unconscious” about your top three obstacles?  Believing that there is “nothing that can be done”?  Or are you deliberately chipping away at the power these obstacles hold over your business or department?  The power of change and challenge is in the persistent action required to navigate an obstacle.

June 6, 2009

Thought for the day: “Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become.” – Brooke Foss Westcott

I am increasing conscience of how big decisions are shaped by who I am becoming through all the seemingly small, mundane and ‘unimportant’ decisions…especially those decisions when no one else is watching. “God grant me the grace to live in integrity!”

June 5, 2009

“True Excellence begins deep inside, with the commitment to bring to bear all of ones resources on an objective, to make the absolute most of everything one has to work with.” – Profiles in Character