Books often celebrate being “the best” at whatever one does much more adequately than does life itself. Whether exhibited through sports or in celebration of creative expression, unique talents or gifts of individual achievement, people are fulfilled by the recognition they receive from others and (perhaps more importantly) from the satisfaction they derive from their own successes and accomplishments. Great books, however, rarely provide pure entertainment or escapism – they teach lessons through their insights and illustrations by providing examples of successful decisions (and the results of those choices) and the ramifications of poor decisions or inappropriate actions. We should pay attention to the lessons stories teach us as we chart a path – determine the directions we wish to take – as we travel through our everyday lives.
Identifying “naturals” can be a difficult task without providing an innovative environment that fosters (and rewards) an individual’s contributions through personalized (and meaningful) rewards. Without the freedom to expand their horizon, “naturals” often become bored (due to their ability to accomplish things easily), leaving them time to disrupt or disturb others. When you find a “natural,” celebrate your discovery by providing new and ongoing challenges that will allow his or her efforts to contribute to accomplishing things that will add to the “greater good.” If you ARE a natural, recognize that others may not think like you, experience life as you do, nor approach issues in the same manner – and that it is OK they are different. Remember that the broad parameters and boundaries you prefer might make tasks that are simple for you seem much more difficult for others who may have to remain focused on the “ends” if they are to establish the “means” to achieve results.
While a “black and white” person like Howard may be difficult to work with at times (because of an unwavering quest to accomplish the goal without compromise or negotiation), one will ALWAYS know where they stand and what they might come to expect from him or her. In dealing with such a personality, be sure to understand the underlying “why” beneath their actions rather than simply taking actions at face value. We often find ourselves accomplishing great things that were not previously been deemed possible when we embrace creativity and exhibit individuality. We must allow the unique – the unproven – to have a place in our lives if we are to achieve greatness.
Another book written by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, is one of my favorite books about individual accomplishment prevailing at the expense of societal “good” gone too far. For those unable or unwilling to read a book, pick up the movies (both The Fountainhead and two parts of Atlas Shrugged are available). Either book would make a “great read” as you seek to become all that you can be! Join The Natural as he finds success, share Roark’s quest for perfection or allow John Galt to guide you through Rand’s eerie prognostication of our times. You will be transformed as the words jump from the pages to become indelibly imprinted upon your mind.
Take the time to read a good book about creativity, individuality or accomplishment in the face of great odds or unparalleled objections. Given the choice between breaking a rule and breaking the spirit, I would choose to obliterate the rule rather than (even marginally) inhibit the spirit. What about you?
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Why is today’s news created for us rather than reported to us – sensationalized and editorialized rather than honestly revealed? News is but one example of a trait running rampant within our daily lives. What would happen if we all took time to look past the obvious when we see or hear information – to see what might truly be behind the curtain as we seek what might hide just past the frame our mind creates around the real story that is often hidden beyond the initial picture we visualize?
A lighthouse can be a powerful sight against a stark blue sky. Beauty upon the rocks set against a calm sea in the background – perched upon a solid foundation built to survive the test of time. We could stop at that image if we wished – or fast forward to the purpose served by a lighthouse during a storm. We could enjoy the beauty OR appreciate it for the lifesaving benefit it provides when serving as a beacon leading ships to safety.
A pier can be a support or a gateway. Many would walk upon the surface of a pier and find the stability it provides as a platform above the sea. Shops fill its surface or meals be caught from its edges. A dock is a foundation from which the world can seen – to which ships can be moored allowing visitors to come and go. Much truth can be found if a pier is examined from beneath its surface. Strong supports frame the world beyond a pier – supports that hold it firm against the power of the tides. Taking time to look beneath the surface of a pier can provide a new perspective to life – finding strength beneath the obvious that makes us what we appear to be.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Far too often success breeds arrogance, which leads to complacency. If we ride a single success beyond its effective lifespan – thinking “our way” is the only way – someone else will either assume our market share (by improving upon what we do), force us to change (by revealing the shortcomings of our established approach), or disrupt our stagnant but comfortable existence (by offering a more exciting option). We must actively appraise the things we do – both within our work and our personal relationships – retaining those things that contribute to our growth and replacing those that hold us back. By continuously analyzing both our strengths and weaknesses, identifying the things that hold us back and leveraging those that pull us forward, we can remain an effective contributor to the life around us.
Recognizing that change is the only constant in life is necessary if we are to enjoy the rewards that come from accepting the risks of change. We must learn to embrace the possibility of failure – recognizing that with failure comes learning which leads to growth. Success is not born through frantic movement without direction or purpose. It comes ONLY when we stop what we are doing – when we consider the many paths upon which we could travel – so we can begin doing something new by taking a new road in a different direction.
Whenever we initiate change, we must recognize and acknowledge three major factors - intentionally identifying and addressing their hold upon us:
- We must acknowledge where we have been, recognize what we have accomplished, and wish to be or do something different before we can start to travel upon a new path. How can we better serve our customers? What can we do to improve a relationship? Must we alter our behavior so that we can remain relevant within a changing world? Is there anything that we can do to strengthen another – or that we would be willing to allow another do to help strengthen us? We recognize the need for change when our goals or objectives have changed. We must consciously step from our original path onto one that will refocus and redirect our efforts if we wish to harvest the fruits of change. Before embarking on such a path, however, internalize that our desire to begin something new is stronger than our contentment with what we have – that moving forward provides more desirable rewards than remaining where we are.
- We must stop doing the things we are doing – that we have always done - no matter how effective they may have been in the past or how comfortable we might be in doing them. When we accept and acknowledge that change is necessary we must abandon the paths (and methods) with which we are comfortable, intentionally and deliberately walking away from the safety provided. A change in paradigm must often occur – walking away from “what is usually done and accepted by others” towards “what has not yet been tried.” A disciplinary procedure must not always include time off without pay (what is the value of suspension when an employee chooses not to work in the first place?). A relationship must provide all involved with a measure of satisfaction – building the esteem of all parties – or it is nothing more than a hollow structure built on shifting sand. How can a meaningful relationship be maintained if both parties want everything “their way” with neither willing to “walk a mile” in the other’s shoes?