Are you afraid of your real potential?

Are you scared of your potential? Are you afraid that if you work towards being all you can be, you may not be able to handle the responsibility that will surely be part of the package?

If yes, you may be settling for much less than what is satisfying and meaningful. Some people accept the mediocre because they can’t pull together the sense of pride of purpose which would allow them to move beyond ordinary.

I can share with you that I felt that way some years ago. I got some help from a good friend who said, “Try to go beyond the simple need to fit in and appreciate your own uniqueness. Accept the fact that you can and do make a difference.”

He said, “If you conduct your life from the perspective that you can achieve almost anything you put your mind to. You will notice that mediocre is no longer good enough. You will be inspired to break from mere routine and explore the wealth of potential within you.”

That advice was of tremendous help back then and continues to push me forward today.

They might be hard to see but rays of hope are present

A short while after I started producing this programme for Music Radio 97—some 25 years ago—a listener wrote in and said, “A waste of time. It’s too positive. Totally unrealistic.”

I was much younger then and it hit hard. Then I thought, wait… too positive?

Ever noticed how some folks only focus on stories about how bad things are in the world? They do not raise a finger to make things better, but they will stand on the sidelines, waiting and praying that others will fail so they can shout, “I told you so.”

That’s the real world they say. “Things are just rotten everywhere.” If you present them with a creative way to solve an issue or point out positive steps being taken, they label it unrealistic pipe dreams.

We all have a choice. Pointing out what’s wrong is easy… there’s lots to choose from. But what are you going to do about it? We can choose to label all the negative stuff as reality, refuse to explore the positive options being put on the table, and proclaim that the situation is hopeless. Or we can see the challenges, admit they are pulling us down, but also embrace the fact that positive things are happening. Even though they are sometimes dim, rays of hope are present.

From that vantage point we stay focused on seeking solutions. A positive outlook does not blind us to reality, it sharpens and clarifies our vision, enabling us to see more possibilities.

Not all heroes are super, most are human

There’s a tendency to put people we love and respect on pedestals, as if they are perfect. Parents, friends, children, colleagues, teachers and so called celebrities. We expect particular patterns of behaviour, speech, responses and achievements.

But notice what happens if at some point they fail to live up to our expectations and desires, if they should show some simple human failing, or choose to do something we do not understand or of which we do not approve. We are disappointed, annoyed or hurt. The faith, trust and respect is quickly replaced by distaste.

Is it really possible that the talents, and every good act of that person can be completely wiped out by one mistake, a small weakness or simply because they failed to live up to our expectations?

Human beings are just that… beings who are human. And being human means we are not perfect. We are making effort according to our own perception and beliefs, our own understanding of our role and according to our capacity at any given point in time.

Sometimes even heroes need a helping hand, some guidance, someone who will listen without judging, a shoulder to lean on.

The uncommon thought creates the exceptional individual

We usually think it’s easier to follow the crowd, conform, because that’s what everyone else is doing and we don’t want to be left out. I mean, people might think we’re different.

Ah-ha! That’s the point, we are all different. When following the crowd, are you sure those in the crowd know where they’re going? More importantly, do you know where you want to go and why? If you choose to blend in with the crowd because you don’t want to appear unusual, you may be giving up your right to be all you can be.

Some people complain of feeling unfulfilled and bored, but instead of seeking new opportunities, trying new things and standing up for what they believe and what they know is right, they choose what they consider to be safe and familiar. Instead of taking the calculated risk, they opt for the mediocre and what they think will be comfortable.

You have the right to think for yourself, and if sometimes that means you have to be a little different, so be it. As they say, “The uncommon thought creates the exceptional individual.”

Where to start to make it better?

These are difficult times. Some express the view that we just have to accept that it’s all going to be downhill from here.

At a recent parenting workshop my wife asked participants what they were doing to help their children deal with society as it is today. The majority told stories of the supportive, nurturing strategies they are trying to adopt in the home. They want the best for their families and are doing what they can to make a positive impact on their children.

Many said they believe it is possible that by guiding their children to be law abiding, self reliant, caring individuals they were making positive waves that can spread beyond the household.

If we take the responsibility to contribute to an atmosphere that supports mutual respect, growth and development, that is a seed that can grow into something very powerful.

Many people imagine that the problems around them can only be solved by other people, usually people in authority. But nothing will get better unless we do something to make it better.

The home is a good place to start.

The car accident that saved his mother’s life

A car slammed into the back of my friend’s vehicle a few Saturdays ago. His 8 year old daughter was in the back seat. He said she began to cry, telling him of pains in her head and back. Hospital scans later revealed nothing was broken, just bruises. He took her home. He was scheduled to be in work on Sunday, but called and explained what happened and that he would be staying home to keep an eye of his daughter.

While making breakfast Sunday morning his mother, who lives in the same house, called out saying her chest was hurting “real bad”. He found her in bed sweating. He rushed her to hospital. The doctors said it was a massive heart attack and it was fortunate he got her to the hospital as soon as he did otherwise she would have died.

My friend told me if the accident had not occurred on Saturday, he would not have been home taking care of his daughter on Sunday, so he would not have been there to take his mother to hospital.

Bad stuff happens… but it might be just the opening scene in a movie that has a wonderfully positive ending.

Do you know when you cross that line?

So the line is drawn between what is allowed and what is not allowed, or what is right and what is wrong. And everybody is cool with that. But over time, some folks decide they want to operate very close to the line. Then, when no one is looking, they move the line. Just a little, but enough to give them an advantage or in order legitimise their actions.

Before you know it, everyone starts using this new line and gets comfortable with it. After a few years the process is repeated and the line keeps getting moved. Not only that, but because so many people are stepping on the line, it’s becoming faint, barely visible. So even those who want to do the right thing have difficulty knowing the boundaries. They don’t even know when they cross the line.

Seeing others moving beyond where lines used to be they ask themselves, “Well, if everyone is getting away with it, why not me?”

And so it goes on. Is there still a line? Do you see it?

You are a Motivational Speaker

When I am invited to speak at an event I am often introduced as an independent radio producer and motivational speaker. I’m okay with the first part, but motivational speaker… What’s that? I once told a host I will accept the title if he accepts it for himself.

We are all motivational speakers. Check it. Haven’t you found yourself in a cloudy frame of mind and someone, even a person you didn’t know, said a few words that trigged an ah-ha moment, a moment of clarity that helped you get back on track?

Or you’re in a meeting, something is said and a switch flicks on to help you see more clearly. Perhaps something a child says or a story told by a senior. All this speaking has the potential to motivate.

And what about when you speak to others? You may never know how many people you have positively impacted with your words.

If you keep your ears and mind open you will likely realise that we are all motivational speakers.

Who are you going to motivate today?

Many give orders, but few know how to lead

In every business, whether large or small, once it comprises personnel, there will be personalities to deal with. Personality, as defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

A person’s personality has an effect on others. Sometimes just the presence of an individual can change or impact a group of people. This is often noticeable in the workplace. The atmosphere can change very quickly when the boss is around. That change may be for better or for worse. The personality of a boss can affect efficiency, attitude, cooperation and overall progress within a company. It would follow then that the quality of leadership impacts the whole organisation. As obvious as that may seem, I’m sure you can think of examples where lack of effective leadership resulted in failed companies.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”15″]It can be a major challenge to get buy-in from employees. But as leadership consultant and author John Maxwell points out, “People won’t go along with you if they can’t get along with you.”[/perfectpullquote]

The impact of personality in the workplace involves a complex series of interactions. Each worker has to deal with himself or herself, his/her co-workers, with customers and clients and with the boss.

These interactions are regularly tested and can be the source of conflict when it comes to delegating duties or issuing directives.
Do this!
I want this done.
Can you handle this for us?
How do you think this ought to be done?

Each of the above statements reflects a personality trait. If the order is barked out, the response may be prompt, but will probably reflect a certain amount of resentment. If, on the other hand, an order is made to sound like a request or a call for expertise, this soft-skilled approach invariably brings better results. The worker carrying out the order feels better about himself/herself in terms of being useful and he/she feels better about the person who has given the order.

There are bosses who fear that this soft-skills approach is an undermining of their position. They want to make it clear to everyone that they are in charge. They will shout and sulk, curse and accuse, order and abuse. Some say aggression is the only way to survive in this crazy world. They believe that unless you scream your head off, no one will listen. Is that really true?

If you twist someone’s arm they may well do as you say. But will you get the best from them? On the other hand, if you interact respectfully with people, it’s much more likely they will respond to being treated like a human being and will perform with a sense of responsibility, feeling valued.

Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” Unfortunately, this piece of advice is sometimes ignored by employers/bosses who consider it their birthright to be in charge. This can project an air of bossiness. Such bossiness may have someone in authority, but confidence makes a person an authority. Confidence is bred of competence; it is a credential difficult to fake. You cannot order someone to trust you or demand a show of confidence and respect.

Some bosses consider themselves leaders and their employees as followers. But if you want to lead, do you do anything that would make people want to follow you? There are several differences between a boss and a leader. Sam Geist, author of, Would You Work for You, notes a few… “The boss depends upon authority… the leader on goodwill. The boss inspires fear… the leader inspires enthusiasm. The boss says I… the leader says we.”

Are you a boss or a leader?

Originally published in Business Journal.

Some build up … some cut down

Ambition plus fair and honest competition are very useful in one’s journey up the ladder of success. But have you noticed how some people believe that the only way to move forward is by holding others back?

Instead of endeavouring to hone their own skills, they would rather blunt the other person’s blade. Perhaps we could name such people M.O.W.E.R.s (Moving Ahead With Extreme Ruthlessness).

Their planning is geared towards finding ways of denigrating the opponent, making the public feel that the competition is incompetent, and cruel. Even if their competitors produce something of worth the MOWERs will find a convoluted way of illustrating an imagined hidden agenda.

Who are these MOWERs? They are everywhere; in fact if we look closely we can often see a little MOWER inside ourselves. By trying to make others look bad in order that we should appear good, could well be an indication of our shallowness. By extension, whatever we have to offer would also likely be superficial.

[pullquote]Appreciating the good that others do goes a long way in the development of mutual trust. [/pullquote]It is so easy to take everyday occurrences for granted that we no longer recognise their importance. This can be observed in the political arena, in work place and even in the home. In the world of business this behaviour surfaces often not only between competitors, but also within individual companies.

Picture the following scenario. Mr. Smith is troubled by the youth, vitality and creativity of Mr. Jones. He is fearful of the sharpness and innovation shown by Jones. Instead of retraining and grooming himself to be up to date and more efficient, he chooses to step on Jones’ foot.

Jones cannot move forward any longer, but it is also clear that in order to maintain Jones’ stagnation, Smith has also to remain on the same spot mashing the foot of Jones. What we have here is a clear case of stalemate. To impede the progress of Jones, Smith has to sacrifice his own growth. If he raises his foot he knows that Jones will race ahead.

Maybe Smith’s basic difficulty is insecurity. Because he has an underdeveloped or inaccurate self-image he is in constant fear of being toppled from his position. He cannot afford to let the bosses, or the public, develop too much affinity with Jones for then they may forget him. If Smith experienced greater security both men could share the best of what they have. Smith could share the wisdom of his experience and Jones could infuse Smith with new ideas and methods.

There are many people like Smith who feel threatened by what they perceive as competition, regardless of its origin. They refuse to co-operate in case the competition learns too much, even if the competitor is on their own team.

Maybe there is truth in the often held view within spiritual circles that the ills within the world and within our homes are due to the ills within ourselves. Many of the problems facing us are of our own making and require a change of perspective; a vision of development that spans more than the four or five years of a political term in office and the understanding that personal greed leads to national need. When the nation is in need ill gotten wealth loses its value.

Some may label such thinking as naive and idealistic. Well that may be so, but surely we have to start somewhere. We can choose to be GROWERs or MOWERs.

Originally published in Business Journal.