THE ACHIEVEMENT DIGEST “TAD” Issue No. 71
A Unique Publication for Leaders Gene Griessman, Ph.D. Editor
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QUOTES YOU CAN USE IN PRESENTATIONS, REPORTS, AND CONVERSATION
“History is lived forward but it is written in retrospect. We know the end before we consider the beginning and we can never wholly recapture what it was to know the beginning only.” –Veronica Wedgwood (English historian who generally published under the name C.V. Wedgwood; 1910-1997)
“True patriotism sometimes requires of men to act contrary at one period to that which it does at another. The motive that impels them—the desire to do right—is precisely the same.” General Robert E. Lee (in a letter written after the Civil War to General P.G.T. Beauregard.)
“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.” –G.K. Chesterton (One of the most prolific English writers of the 20th century, called the “Prince of Paradox”;1874 –1936)
“A thing may be too sad to be believed or too wicked to be believed or too good to be believed; but it cannot be too absurd to be believed.” –G.K Chesterton
“Nations, like men, do not have wings; they make their journeys on foot, step by step.” –Juan Bautista Alberdi (Argentine writer and diplomat; 1810-1884)
***THE FREE LUNCH
“Most freebies aren’t worth what you have to pay to get them.” –Gene Griessman
ASK THE COACH: “I’M NOT AS PASSIONATE ABOUT MY WORK AS I USED TO BE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?”
The individual who asked this question is president of a leading company in the travel industry, and a long-time participant in my executive coaching program.
ONE. Recognize that lack of passion is a normal accompaniment of competence. When you are first learning a craft, you encounter all sorts of new challenges. Those challenges require great attention. During the learning years, you do lots of experimentation, and the process of trial and error in itself keeps you from becoming bored.
Sometimes during the early years the adrenalin will be pumping because you are working on a time-line with not that much room for error. Stress levels are often high.
But after you reach a certain level of competence, generally you will have seen versions of most of the issues before, perhaps many times before. You know what is likely to happen if you pursue a particular course. So, what might have been a stressful situation is not that stressful any more. For this you should thank God.
Churchill had this to say about passion and book writing: “Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”
TWO. Distrust passion. I know the slogan “Follow your passion.” There’s truth in it, but you must be aware that passion can be untrustworthy, even dangerous. Instead, do what true professionals do: turn what you do into a habit that is sustained by will power. Here’s what John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, said about the subject: “I believe that for every artificial peak you create, there is a valley. Games are lost in valleys. If you need emotionalism to make you perform better, then, sooner or later you’ll be vulnerable.”
In his book on coaching, Wooden has a section entitled “Love of the Routine.” He writes, “Some people wondered how I could endure working in such a minutely detailed, persistent, and arduous manner, week after week, for years on end. I could tell them only this, ‘I love it’ It was for me as Cervantes described. For me, the journey was the inn.”
(Adapted from Coach John Wooden with Steve Jamison, Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations On and Off the Court, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1997)
THREE. Look for ways to renew yourself. If you engage in stress-related activities that drain you—whether you’re a CEO, a general, a political leader, or a football coach–read on for ways to charge your mental and emotional batteries.
Actors in long-running Broadway plays remain fresh and believable night after night by doing self-talk and visualization exercises and occasionally esoteric routines which they often keep secret.
Other creative individuals take sabbaticals or very long holidays. The legendary song-writer and performer Billy Joel told me that sometimes he quits trying to write, and just “lets the land lie fallow.”
It may help you to sustain your interest in your core competency by doing in-depth study of a related field or specialty, thereby enhancing what you already can do well.
Lincoln, as a lawyer, took all sorts of garden-variety cases, but we know that he renewed himself by studying specialized fields such as patent-infringement law. And after years as a lawyer, he taught himself Euclid so that he could do mathematical proofs, a competence that he subsequently used to construct legal arguments. His contemporaries observed that Lincoln’s legal work rose to a higher level because of it.
What can you do? Take a hike, literally. Attend a concert. Read a novel. Go to a ball game. Learn to use a new computer app. Let your land lie fallow. In short, don’t stop until you find something that renews you.
Send your questions to the executive coach. Replies will appear in upcoming issues of TAD.
LEADERSHIP: THE POWER OF A SMILE
In my seminar The Language of Leadership,” I remind attendees that a compelling smile is one of the most powerful of all communication tools. General Bernard Montgomery said of Eisenhower’s smile: “He had only to smile at you, and there was nothing you would not do for him.” Winston Churchill reportedly said that Eisenhower’s smile was worth ten divisions.
I have written elsewhere that a smile can be a time-saver. “It can help you move to the front of the line, gain privileged information, and get service after closing time.”
“Only people who are extraordinarily talented or very rich get what they want without smiling, and a smile doesn’t hurt even them. The Chinese have a proverb, ‘A man without a smiling face must not open shop.’
“But your smile must not look phony. Nothing turns people off like an insincere, frozen, prolonged smile. If in doubt about your smile, look in the mirror, or better, video yourself. You may be sincere and not look it.
“A sincere smile at the appropriate time can soften up the defenses, helping you get what you want with a minimum of effort and time expended. So recognize this resource and use it.” (Adapted from Time Tactics of Very Successful People)
A BOOK WORTH READING
CONFEDERATES IN THE ATTIC: DISPATCHES FROM THE UNFINISHED CIVIL WAR BY TONY HORWITZ (Vintage, 1999)
Written by a Pulitzer-Prize-winning war correspondent, this is a skillfully written account of some of the wonderful, exciting, zany, scary, and sad ways that the Civil War lives on in today’s America.
It is a story of re-enactors who do it as a pleasant hobby. For them, re-enacting is a way of experiencing history that is educational, entertaining, and just plain fun. It a story of other re-enactors who do it grimly, viewing with disdain those who do it for fun. Some of Horwitz’s interviews are with neo-Confederates who hate the federal government, despise Lincoln, cherish states rights, and long for the day when the noble cause will be vindicated before the world.
Horwitz’s careful research will dispel myths that even serious Lincoln students have long accepted. I found the book particularly valuable for its description of how the most important battlegrounds of the Civil War look today, and how Americans feel about them.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
“THE WIT AND WISDOM OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN” HAS ADDED A NEW MODULE: “HOW TO GET THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES.” THIS IS A VERY GOOD TIME TO INVITE LINCOLN TO SPEAK TO YOUR PEOPLE. CALL US AT 404-256-5927
“Thank you for the delivery of a great program to the men of Buckhead 50. Your style and your subject matter will be a super memory to the members of our group. Everyone was held to their seats.” –Michael E. Moore, Rainmaker and Chief Storyteller, Buckhead LLC
“Your portrayal of Lincoln was compelling and inspiring. For me, the notion that Lincoln achieved his greatest success in just seven years of his life lends courage and commitment to the work I do with my Vistage members.” –Louis Allegra, Director, Vistage, Lexington, Kentucky
“I am still amazed at how silent that room filled with 485 people remained through your presentation. You could hear a pin drop!”—M. Barnett. University of Richmond
“I spend so much energy trying to be superman. I forget to embrace the wisdom and power of the common man’s view. The message was inspirational and humanizing. It’s good to be reminded that we all struggle.” –Robin A Carter, COO, AUF Consulting.
“It brought tears—perspective of a great leader using the truth (sometimes sad) and humor.” –Dolores Pasto-Ziabro