Below, you’ll find one of the most inspirational videos ever to come out of Youtube. Randy Pausch, a respected professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, had only 2-6 months left to live at the time of giving his now famous ‘last lecture’. Watch the whole thing below!
I thought I’d share with you today a famous essay written by an unknown author, which has been featured in many personal development books, but through the power of the internet, I can share with you today.
“A time comes in your life when you finally get…when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying and blaming and struggling to hold on. Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.
This is your awakening.
You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.
You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you…and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are…and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.
You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself…and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.
You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.
You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and everything isn’t always about you.
So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself…and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.
You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties…and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.
You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.
You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.
You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for you next fix.
You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.
You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not you job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.
Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.
You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.
You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.
You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drinking more water, and take more time to exercise.
You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.
You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.
More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.
You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.
You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.
You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people…and you lean not to always take it personally.
You learn that nobody’s punishing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.
You lean that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.
You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.
Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than you heart’s desire.
You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.
You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.
Finally, with courage in you heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.”
I hope you take as much from this essay as possible. I think it holds many truths that every one of us needs to hear. You probably won’t find a single individual who actually lives by every single ideal listed here, so everyone has some room for improvement and something to gain from reading this essay!
I invite you to share the link to this page with as many people as you can to spread some positivity around the world right now!
~ This is a guest post by author Barry Shore, Ph.D from Global Project Strategy.
Companies caught in the grip of this severe recession face many difficult challenges: one of which being how to avoid deteriorating employee morale.
While on the surface one would expect that employees who remain would be grateful that their jobs have been spared, evidence from this and other recessions suggests that they feel overworked, threatened, and vulnerable. In most cases morale really does begin to suffer.
Morale affects performance, and during a recession organizations are threatened with a double-edged sword. At the same time that their business is contracting, employee morale threatens to make matters even worse.
Lower morale can translate into “recession fatigue.” This is a situation where the company experiences a series of problems that include a decline in productivity, deteriorating customer service, increased sick days, falling sales, higher costs, and lower profits.
Indeed, the only way to escape these problems is to stop doing what most companies do. Instead, companies must be proactive in addressing employee morale. Without a proactive strategy “recession fatigue” will take its toll.
How does morale deteriorate?
In most companies morale starts to deteriorate when management becomes aware that the financial crises has become their crisis as well. They instinctively pare down the workforce while at the same time reducing as many other costs as possible.
Unfortunately, these are the very changes that are almost sure to send shock waves through any organization.
But, as is often true during an organizational crisis, communication between management and the workforce suffers. Rather than hearing about the crisis firsthand from management, the informal grapevine takes over, often raising anxiety to new and exaggerated heights. Employees become angry, detached and eventually resigned to the possibility that they my lose their job.
In many cases, the less information that management provides to the workforce … those terminated as well as those left behind … the greater is the shock wave.
Managing Those Who are Left Behind
These downsizing’s are tragic enough for those who lose their jobs, but those who stay also suffer as management expects them to pick up the slack, do more with fewer resources, and work longer hours.
Restructuring the organization and paring down the workforce, should not be the first and last step as the organization hunkers down to survive the recession. The second step, which is equally as important, is to manage the transition for those left behind. Unless properly managed, morale is almost certain to suffer. And unless management is proactive in addressing this issue, the organization will be in a weaker competitive position once markets turn around.
Four Leadership Principles
There are four leadership principles that, if followed, may help managers navigate through the transition in an honest and ethical way. They may help to minimize “recession fatigue” and to establish a healthier organizational environment for those left behind.
1. When tough steps need to be taken, management should openly discuss the challenges they face with employees. It will be uncomfortable, especially for those who are conflict avoidant, but employees will respect the honesty.
2. The frequency of communication with the workforce must increase. Communication reduces anxiety and can stabilize, if not improve, morale. Don’t delegate this responsibility to lower levels. Top management must do it.
3. Maintaining the morale of those who remain must become a top priority. It is important to recognize that they are suffering from a “Post Downsizing Stress Syndrome.”
4. Resist the temptation to take a hard line on those employees who remain. In his book, “Good to Great,” Collins identifies the five characteristics of effective leadership. They include: personal humility, professional will, diligence, and ambition for the company not themselves. Professional will and diligence is not enough to get through this crises. Equally important are personal humility and ethical behavior. They are not only essential in dealing with people who are caught in the middle, but can ensure a more motivated, productive, and committed workforce once the recession is over and jobs become more available.
Depending on the culture of the organization, some of these principles may be very difficult to execute, but ignoring the plight of those who are still employed may be an inappropriate response that could jeopardize the long run prospects of the organization.
Is your organization spending too much time seemingly rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic? Are the senior decision makers consistently voicing the need to make substantial change in the face of a complex and dynamic environment yet no real change takes place? Is the organization spending a great deal of time planning strategically but the answers to the questions keep coming out the same? Perhaps the problem is not with the answers, but with the questions. Perhaps strategic planning, a management process, is inappropriate for finding the path to change. Instead what is required is a leadership process, such as strategic thinking, that calls into question all the questions being asked.
Looking for the Right Questions
Simply stated, if an organization does not do strategic thinking before it does strategic planning, it is the same as rearranging those deck chairs. Why? Because in the end no one really cares where the deck chairs are positioned on the lounge deck if there is a great big hole in the boat, i.e., the big hole in the boat presents a much more pressing problem.
Strategic planning is about finding the right “answers” to questions. In strategic planning the questions already exist, they have been decided. On the other hand, strategic thinking is an imaginative process designed to assure that key decision makers are asking themselves the right questions. Strategic thinking does not start with a set of questions. It starts with the proverbial clean sheet of paper. Decision makers form no preconceived questions, disregard any ideas of what works and what does not, making no assumptions about the organization. Optimally, the process includes a healthy vertical and horizontal cross section of the organization. Why? Because you never know where the most valuable information might come from.
But more than that, strategic thinking is an effort to develop industry foresight. As Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad write in their book Competing for the Future, industry foresight often starts with what could be, and then works back to what must happen for that future to come about. Questions are the root of all knowledge, and crafting the right questions provides senior decision makers the ability to imagine the future in the context of present and future risks and threats.
An Overview of a Strategic Thinking Process
Threats or Risks-start with that clean sheet of paper. The process begins with assessing the threats or risks, both internal and external, to the organization. Said another way, it is vital for the senior decision makers to know the internal and external forces impacting their future. Emerging trends in technology, new competitors, customer service, and succession planning could all pose different types of risks or threats. The idea is to get everything on the table so that it is in full view of the decision makers.
Strengths-R&D investment, financial structure, timely distribution, active web and Blog presence and developing people may very well be strengths of the organization. Strengths provide leverage that can be used to gain specific industry advantages or buffer weaknesses. For example, the organization may have a robust web and Blog presence on the Internet having cultivated a large loyal fan base. These relationships are a substantial strength that can be used to assess and develop new products and services.
Weaknesses-What is it that the organization is not doing so well, that needs improvement or is having a negative systemic effect on the rest of the organizations operations or administration? Seeking weaknesses is not an exercise in seeking blame. Inappropriate organization structure, human capital retention, lack of leadership development programs may well be some of the issues that emerge as weaknesses.
Gaps-Identifying the gaps between the strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the real and perceived risks require some type of response and become the grist for the strategic planning mill. Now strategic and tactical strategies can be created, resources and assets assigned and prioritized and the day-to-day job of creating the future and closing the gaps is turned from imagination into reality.
In our rapidly changing, complex world filled with more information than one might have imagined just a few years ago, sorting through the facts, the hype and emerging issues and challenges drives the need to continually rework the organization’s collective foresight. To do otherwise, may result in a small leak turning into a big hole leaving the crew and passengers scampering for the lifeboats saying to themselves, “But I thought we were unsinkable!”
If you’re looking for a review of “The Pursuit Of Something Better” then you’ve come to the right place. I’m currently reading an advance copy, and will be publishing Leadership Expert’s official review within a week, so stay tuned!
‘The Pursuit Of Something Better’ follows the story of US Cellular – a regional telecoms company, through its journey to becoming home to one of the most vibrant and motivated cultures in the USA. As an underdog in the telecoms industry – US Cellular has to fight to survive in the modern world, but the employees fight for it, due to their extreme loyalty and pride.
On one day every year, the managers from across the organisation leave their positions to attend a conference that announces the results of something very dear to them – the annual employee satisfaction questionnaire. Grass-root staff rise to the challenge and the company ticks over just fine without them. The atmosphere at the conference is likened to that of a concert – not an annual review. What on earth has happened at this company to drive such enthusiasm?
Well, you’ll have to buy the book yourself to find out!
Review is coming soon!
This title was released on the 15th of August 2009.
You can pre-order this book on Amazon UK here
We all face leadership challenges at some point of our lives. If you’re searching for leadership challenges then you’ve come to the right place. You could be looking for one of two interpretations of this phrase.
1. Leadership challenge to mean, an attempt to overthrow your authority. “What can I do to protect myself against somebody overuling my leadership?“. For the answers to these kinds of questions, I suggest you reflect upon your own leadership skills rather than those of your ‘competition’. Are your leadership skills up to scratch? If you want to improve them, click here.
2. Leadership challenges to mean difficult and rewarding leadership experiences. “How can I deal with this situation and come out of it a stronger person?“. This is the topic this article deals with.
In most organisations – you will encounter challenges as a leader many times a year, possibly even many times a week, depending on how much pressure is placed on your role. The key to dealing with these is to quickly picture in your head a clear image of the benefits you would receiving from successfully accomplishing this task. Reduced stress? Increased respect? Improved promotion prospects?
Almost every scenario you will encounter – glorious benefits will await you on the other side. The thought of these will help motivate you, and that is why I ask that you picture them immediately.
Next, you need to look inwards and decide whether you have the appropriate leadership skills and experience to be able to overcome the current difficulty. Don’t worry if you look at your skill set and admit ‘I’m not experienced at this area’, because you can certainly compensate for lack of experience by good preparation.
To hone up your leadership skills I’d recommend buying a quick and effective leadership course such as ‘Apply Leadership‘, which is the product I talk about most to those who ask me which leadership e-course I would recommend. (You can follow the link to read my review).
Once you have the benefits clearly in mind, and a good preparation, it’s time to tackle the leadership challenge head on. This will probably involve implementing a strategy of leading that you are perhaps not 100% comfortable with. Perhaps you read a leadership book that suggested a certain leadership style, but you don’t feel that it’s working. Don’t worry! A subtle change of direction can go unnoticed by the workforce if you display confidence in your actions.
Follow these tips and you will be able to weather any leadership challenge, and emerge from the other side as a success leader with an extra notch on your belt!
‘Generation Y’ is the affectionate name given to the demographic cohort that was born between 1980 – 1995, although specific definitions do vary. This group hence forms today’s teenagers and twenty-somethings – a group highly sought after by large recruiters, and whom form the solid base of employees for many multinationals. The problem of how to lead this generation is a hot topic.
What Are Businesses Doing To Attract Generation Y?
As competition has increased among the large graduate recruiters to attract the best ‘Generation Y’ talent, they have been fighting among themselves to paint the best picture of their own workplace. Of course, promises have to be met, and so in painting their company in this brighter way, they have indirectly led to progressive changes in the workplace. These new changes to the working environment include:
1. More flexible working hours for a better work/life balance. (Example – ‘The Big Four‘)
2. Guaranteed acceptance onto management training programmes after preconditions have been met. (Example – Enterprise Rent a Car)
3. Extensive induction training.
4. The opportunity to rotate round departments and roles. (Example – Unilever, P&G and Johnson & Johnson)
5. Higher reliance upon internal promotions to fill vacancies.
It is clear that the recruiters believe that generation Y care less about salary and traditional benefits, and more about the pursuit of an interesting, fulfilling and and less stressful job than their parents. This trend definitely seems to be following the general shift away from Fordism factory workers, and towards independent, respected and empowered workers, that has been taking place in the last century.
What Are Businesses Are Doing To Lead Generation Y?
When it comes to leading ‘Generation Y’ – new leadership styles have evolved to compliment the new ‘people -orientated’ workplace. These have manifested into:
1. Annual reviews taking a more personal development focus, rather than productivity. Managers are trying to adopt more of a ‘coaching’ and ‘supportive’ role. Managers are told to encourage and train employees so that in the future they are able to take their place.
2. A more democratic and team-based way of working – where ‘on-the-job’ training is becoming more popular, and instructions on how to actually ‘get the work done’ is now coming from from experienced teammates more often than the manager.
Do These Methods Actually Work?
The evidence isn’t very clear on this issue. Despite all these new initiatives and opportunities that ‘Generation Y’s parents dreamed of, these young workers are extremely likely to leave a company they join after a short period of time (every 4-5 years on average), which is a far higher rate of turnover than their parents, the ‘baby boomers’.
I believe that this is happening for 2 main reasons. Firstly – only a fraction of companies are actually fulfilling the promises made to potential job candidates. The hype that recruiters drum up is unsustainable and almost impossible for companies to deliver on. This it doesn’t surprise me one bit to discover that graduates are continually drawn to the ‘greener’ grass on the other side of the hill.
Secondly, and this is linked with the first reason, managers are going about implementing these initiatives in a reluctant way and unsatisfactory way. Either managers are attaching too many ‘novelty’ initiatives to rudimentary and menial jobs – such that the employee feels like it’s all a show, or managers are only introducing leadership techniques as part of a ‘token’ effort.
For instance, I’m in disbelief at the number of times I’ve heard managers undermine their human resource counterparts with phrases such as “Now, I’ve been told by the people above to tell you that …”. This sort of attitude in implementing policies if effectively negating any positive effect they were supposed to bring.
Therefore I would argue that, while it appears that ‘Generation Y’ workers are extremely unappreciative of the benefits and perks that exist today – these so-called perks only exist in policy and paper and aren’t created or supported with sincere intention from managers. In fact – this move towards pseudo-policy is alienating our Gen Y workers, and this may be able to explain why they are constantly on the move.
Changes that companies have made to their leadership and human resource strategies have been well thought out, and do add good value to the role a company could offer a graduate. However I believe that to be able to lead Generation Y effectively, the focus must then be on educating and training managers to sincerely back these new efforts.
N.b. You may be looking for the Ultimate Leadership Guide.
Change is all around us. Effective leadership communication during times of change creates stability and trust. Leaders at all levels must communicate change and share information as soon as possible. Here are tips for a communication-rich culture.
1. Communicate change as soon as possible. People do not want to hear about a merger or acquisition through the grapevine. Communicate even when you don’t have anything substantial to say. This lets people know you are aware of their need for information and you will provide it as soon as possible. Provide frequent updates to keep their need for information satisfied. People who do not have useful information in a timely manner feel confused, stressed, scared, and insecure.
2. Explain what is changing, how, and why. Let people know the business reasons behind the change and how it impacts them. Anticipate any questions they may have and give them detailed, valuable answers.
3. Let people know what they can do. Empower people to make a difference during volatile times. Inspire and motivate people to own the change and to be innovative in helping to resolve issues. Provide them with a specific call to action to make them feel included and important to the process.
4. Be visible during times of change. Be accessible and allow people to ask questions and offer ideas. Schedule meetings to communicate up, down, and across the organization. Follow through with your commitments to follow up with people.
5. Be a role model for change. Demonstrate high levels of emotional intelligence during uncertain times. No one wants to see a leader have an emotional meltdown. Your actions and leadership presence will speak volumes about what is really going on and help others deal with their fear and resistance.
6. Use a variety of methods to communicate. Select the most useful and effective channels to communicate. These methods can range from town hall meetings, to small group meetings, to newsletters and e-mail updates. Create a trustworthy, communication-rich environment that is reliable and effective leadership communication will follow.
7. Communicating bad news is often uncomfortable for both the sender and receiver. However, direct talk is often the best choice. But always deliver your message with tact and diplomacy. Demonstrate empathy when delivering bad news. Understand the emotion, resistance, and discomfort toward change.
There’s no perfect way to communicate during uncertain times. Transition makes most people uneasy, and behaviors and long-held habits are not easy to change. Communicate clearly, openly, frequently, and most important, honestly.
Business leadership advice is not about promoting any single quality so much as it is about a number of qualities that come together to create something much stronger than any of those qualities alone. Business leadership is not so much about managing others and “taking charge” as it is about motivating by example.
So if business leadership is something that is difficult to pin down, what steps can you take so that you will find yourself recognized as a leader in this, the 21st century? What can you do to incorporate the principles of leadership into your life so that you will be able to achieve your goals and rise to the top in your organization or your career field?
One step is to look at those leaders who you admire. Whether you’re inspiration comes from political leaders – those who have been able to unite the people of their country during difficult times – or from leaders within your own field, when you are looking for information that will help you to take on a team leadership role, it’s important to understand what makes someone a leader.
In other words, when you are thinking about business leadership, it’s important to take the time to understand courage, determination, and to learn more about the ways in which leaders speak to those who follow them. Ultimately, what you will find is that by embracing those qualities within yourself, you will be able to persevere and to reach the goals that you have set for yourself and for those who you are working with.
Ultimately, what you are likely to discover is that, in order to differentiate yourself in the 21st century and to take on a business leadership role, you will need to:
Learn to set aside excuses. The majority of people who are in business find a way to come up with a number of excuses when something that they have been asked to do isn’t done. Leaders, on the other hand, focus on getting the job done.
Learn the value of making mistakes. When we make mistakes, it’s important to take advantage of the lessons that come out of them so that we can use that knowledge to move forward.
Learn to lead from within. When you are looking at business leadership characteristics, you’ll see that those who are in a supervisory role are not just watching others and telling them what they do wrong; instead, when they see a problem they jump into the trenches and work with their staff, helping them to solve problems and to find creative solutions.
Business leadership is about working with others and motivating them to do more – to be more. When you’re looking for a way to differentiate yourself from others, one of the best things that you can do is to work well with others, put forth your best effort at all times and to make sure that – at all times – you’re making an effort to bring a team of people together.
Finally, remember this: business leadership is about having a willingness to try something new. To set yourself apart from the crowd, you need to look at the big picture – and then to get everyone else to see it too.
Cecile Peterkin is a Certified Career and Life Coach. Feeling stuck in middle management or mid career? Claim your free assessment and complimentary coaching session at his career guidance website. Leadership ppt.