Thursday, October 08, 2009

When the student is ready...

On October 5th, 2005, I attended a leadership seminar at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, where I was an administrative assistant. The speaker was Bob Danzig, former CEO of the Hearst Newspaper empire -- quite an accomplishment for a kid that spent his early years bouncing from foster home to foster home.

Bob was soft-spoken and personable, and as people sauntered into the auditorium and took their seats, he walked around the room and met each one; shook their hand warmly, shared a smile and had a moment's conversation, until attendees were coming too quickly to continue. Later in his presentation he called several of those people by name.

Quietly but passionately, he spoke of leadership, of being a foster child, and how he rose to the pinnacle he had achieved, and he left us with a message: "You are full of promise !"

Somehow I won a CD set that day called "You Are Full of Promise - Life Lessons from Leaders" which I took home and put away to listen to later. "Later" turned out to be nearly 4 years later on August 23, 2009, just 5 days before I was to retire from my day job at SUNY. I was driving to Rochester for my 2 year old niece's birthday party (she's not really my niece, but my good friends Hai and Karen Tran let me be uncle Kelvin) I wanted some different music than was in my car so I looked through my collection and the CD set I received 4 years prior kind of fell into my hands. I decided it was a good time to listen to it, on my 2+ hour round trip to Rochester.

An incredible message -- the perfect message I needed to hear just 5 days before I struck out on my on. I remembered why I was moved when I first heard him, and his words managed to touch me deeply as I listened to that CD all the way there, and all the way back. So touched was I, that I emailed him when I returned home... late on a Sunday night, to tell him what effect his words had on me that day. To my great surprise... he wrote me back. I could hear his voice in his typed words as clearly as if he was sitting beside me, and somehow I was absolutely certain that he remembered me from that auditorium 4 years ago, and had been waiting for me to write.

I tell you this story, because I have come to believe -- or perhaps, to realize-- that there are no coincidences in life. Part of my note to him read, "Maybe it wasn't until today that I truly needed to hear the message you had to share..." and truly had I listened to that CD when I got it, it would not have had the same meaning, and would not have had the same effect. There's even more to the story, but that is for another place and time.

Right now, however, I'd really like to recommend this CD to you. If you are a leader, or you aspire to be a leader, I believe this CD is something you NEED to hear, and I defy you to listen to it and not be moved. You Are FULL of Promise -- near the bottom of the page. $15.95 including shipping.

Here's something you need to know:
  • this is NOT an affiliate program, and I receive zero benefit -- other than feeling good -- if you buy the CD or any other product on his site
  • all proceeds from the sale of any of his products go to support one of two charity causes -- click this link if you'd like to know what they are.
I try not to recommend a lot of things, but in my opinion, this CD is a must-have if you seek to lead. This CD set does not motivate. This CD set INSPIRES. It inspired me, and if you are -- or aspire to be -- a leader, it will inspire you; because you, too, are full of promise.

Have an excellent day.


Prime the Pump

When I was child -- until I was 10, I think -- in the summer we used to go stay with my grandparents "in the country." Mom-mom and pop-pop lived on a farm, raised hogs and chickens, and all that. The house they lived in was in the middle of great fields, and each year there was a different crop. My grandfather drove a tractor -- or a combine or whatever he needed to -- to help harvest whatever crop was planted.

It was kind of fun, most years. Back then, we kids didn't realize it was WORK going out in the fields to pick baskets of peas or corn or potatoes to bring back to the house for my grandmother to cook. We were under the impression that we were having FUN! We didn't even realize we were getting exercise running through those fields, we thought we were playing :-) It's amazing changing how you look at something, changes how you feel about it. So we played, and had fun, and ate really well, and slept very peacefully each night.

But back then, the farm house -- 1960 or so -- had no running water, per se, but out on the back porch, there was a hand pump, so whenever we needed water, we went "out back" to pump it. But sometimes when we got there, the pump would be dry and nothing would come out, so we'd have to prime the pump. This meant taking some of the water we had left, and pouring it into the top of the pump while we kept pushing the handle. That created a seal around the plunger, which created suction, to pull the water up through the pipe from the well, and we'd pump as much as we needed for the day, or the morning, and life was good.

Later, if we needed more water, we'd go back out and pump more. If it was dry again, we'd prime the pump again to get what we needed (laundry day was another FUN day, as we kids got to pump all that water and still didn't realize it was work! Perspective!)

Did you ever go to tackle a new task or project, and your pump was dry? You just didn't have the energy, or confidence, or maybe even the strength... but somewhere along the line you got what you needed and you made it happen and ended up feeling great about it. All you did, was "prime the pump" and got your energy moving. That's what winners do! Winners constantly prime the pump.

NEW project, BIG project, short deadlines, and you don't know how you're going to do it. The pump is dry! But you know you've done this kind of thing before, so you reach back into your memory and grab some mental water, and your start pouring it into your pump. You think about how savvy you were on the last project you thought you wouldn't get through. You realize that you'll need those same skills and talents for this one, and you pump that handle. You remember how you broke the problem down into pieces and took it step by step and you pump that handle. You recollect the people you called, the resources you're privy too, you keep that going until you remember that victorious feeling you had when you finally got it done, even though you originally thought you wouldn't be able to handle it, and when you get to the point where you are replaying the victory... the pump is primed, the water is flowing and completion is a done deal. At that point you've already won "in your mind" and that's where the real victory takes place! Everything after that is just process. "If you can see it, you can be it "(Craig Valentine)

If you don't remember your last victory, then pre-member your next one :-) Of course you have victories! You couldn't be reading this if you didn't. Replay your past victories and, as TonyRobbins says, put yourself in that winning "state", that state of empowerment. Recount the tools, resources, and processes you used to win last time, take a deep breath, hit replay and step boldly into your next victory. You've already won.

Listen carefully. Can you hear that? Yes...? Sounds a lot like the theme to Rocky, doesn't it? Prime your pump, and go get 'em, champ.

Have an awesome day.