Christine: A Courageous Life by Jim Johnson

I may have shared this story before, but it’s worth repeating in case you didn’t read it then.  This is a story of a former team member of mine, Christine Frick.  The story “ends” with an update from last evening…

 

8/3/2014 10:23 pm. Within the past hour Christine passed away. I have just received word about this.

Most of you reading this have not met her. Most of you won’t. Christine and I had worked together at 3Rivers here in Fort Wayne. Christine was one of our great call center reps. I had been privileged to work with her for many years, and she gave me permission to share part of her story.

Christine has had her share of struggles in life. But you know what? I didn’t know about the struggles until she told me about them. You see, Christine was one of those wonderful people we get blessed to encounter who was facing really big issues but found a way to smile and bring happiness to others.

Christine had been diagnosed with cancer. She found out about it at the end of 2011. I won’t go into the details, but it was a shock to her, her family, and her friends. Her body was causing her many painful days that led into weeks and then months. After tests and surgery, she got the diagnosis. Did she crawl into a hole to cry out for a pity party? No. Not Christine.

You see, Christine was  no stranger to a life that had been anything but smooth sailing. She had MS. She was born with a condition that had affected the “normal” development of her arms. There were other uphill battles she had fought in her life. But had she given up? Nope. Had she settled for less in life? No.

Christine  earned a Second Degree black belt in ATA (American Taekwondo Association). Her goal was to achieve Third Degree status. I watched her work. You did not want to mess with that woman!

Christine was respected as one of our best service providers here at 3Rivers. She engaged in meaningful conversations with our members (customers) and helped them  understand money matters every day. There was a smile in her voice when she was on the phone. She handled cranky people with patience and empathy. One of our Sales Managers wrote: “I also want to take this opportunity to give extra special recognition to Christine Frick!! She is a star!! Not only does she resolve all of our questions and problems immediately, but she goes a step further and educates us on how to obtain the information ourselves in the future, hence allows us to speed up the resolution processes with future member questions or concerns.”

Christine had been positive and inspiring. Even after losing her hair due to chemo, she returned to work continuing to be a model with an awesome attitude. She had her good days and her bad days.  When I get caught up in feeling sorry for myself about trivial matters, I remember Christine and tell myself to toughen up. She gave me a good perspective on life.

I asked Christine to share her story. Her is what she wrote…

In Christine’s own words:

“I shared last two years ago with a few in my congregation that I did not know what my “Gift” was that the Lord had/has blessed me with. Well, you know how the saying goes – “Be careful what you pray/ask for”. I asked for my gift to be revealed to me.

Then I was blessed with a total hysterectomy in January, 2012 and was told I had stage four cancer (mind you I was blessed with MS and diagnosed in 2001). It was a friend who pointed out to me on June 19th, 2012 what my gift was (of course, I did not see what that was so I asked because I still not see what it was). She told me what an inspiration I was to her due to my handling of the news, my treatments, and my daily walk with Christ and accepting my blessing with the cancer and how it made her take a closer look at her walk with Christ and how she has renewed her faith.

I would not be able to do this walk if I did not have the support of those brothers and sisters “In Christ” that the Lord has blessed me with to lift me in prayer. I would like to thank those who I don’t even know who have prayed for me and continue to do just that very thing. This in itself is such a blessing and inspiration to me for through “Christ all Things are Possible”.

So when times seem to be too tough, keep looking to heaven and those who he has blessed us with and don’t be afraid to lean on someone. Reach out a little and before you know it, that little will turn into a lot of people.

I did not have an easy childhood and I now understand why. Everything I went through was preparing me for the different roads that I would be traveling down. I have never been one to wallow in self-pity. God has blessed me with one life on this earth, and I intend to live it to the fullest.

My phrase or motto is “I may have cancer but cancer does not have me.”

Lead by Telling or Lead by Questioning by Jim Johnson

We’ve all had “that boss” who would dictate directions from afar.  We would be fearful of taking any action on most anything for fear that we were heading in a direction that they would not like.  So, we sat on our hands waiting for our orders.

Leading by telling is not an effective or efficient way to get things done.

One of the things I’ve tried to get better at is to lead by questioning.  This leadership tactic has required me to roll up my sleeves and spend time with my team leaders.  I’ve worked hard to build trusting relationships with them so they aren’t afraid to disagree with me, challenge me or question me.  I’ve had to make it safe to do this with me – the “ownness” is on me.

Just the other day, I sat down with one of my first-year leaders to talk about some results I needed to see improved.  I had been using a report that, I thought, demonstrated the need for improvement in a sales area.  I asked her a lot of questions about the performance of her team and how she managed them in this particular area.   She began questioning where this report came from, who showed it to me, and was it the same report that the lending department actually used.  Since someone in lending gave me the report, I had assumed (oops) that the report was valid.  It was not.  I was able to find the right report and we both got on the same page right away.   But I only learned this when this leader questioned me on it.  We then created a better tracking mechanism that she can use with her team to predict their performance by month’s end.  It was a very good use of our time.

In this interaction, there were a lot of questions and clarifications being used – and this was healthy.  We got to the heart of the matter.  I worked hard not to simply tell this manager to “fix it”, but we talked through the issue and found the resolution that we both needed.

In her post “If You’re Always Giving Order, You’re Not a Great Leader”, Jessica Stillman shares the following:

“Think about a leader and chances are your first image is of someone giving orders — maybe it’s the quarterback in a huddle outlining the next play for his teammates, maybe it’s an army officer coolly  barking commands in the heat of combat. But chances are, when many of us think of leadership, we picture a person telling others what to do.

After all, that’s the essence of leadership, right?

Wrong, says Christine Comaford, an executive coach and author of SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together who recently participated in a series of interviews on the website of fellow author Keith Ferrazzi. In the course of a long exchange about leadership, she tells the story of an executive she was coaching who couldn’t stop telling his employees how to do day-to-day things.”

She goes on to say that when a leader asks more questions vs. telling the employee what to do, good things happen:

  • The employee learns that they do have responsibilities (and the abilities) to get things done on their own.
  • The leader cannot create an environment where the staff will not act unless they get permission.  Nothing will get done this way.
  • The leader and the employee will both learn more with this method.

“The great leaders are like the best conductors –

they reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players.” –Blaine Lee

Leadership is an Activity…not a Position by Dr. Martina G. McGowan

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Everyone responds to good leadership! Period! It is in every aspect of your life, not just business. A mother is a leader in her home. A son may be leader of a team sport, or a daughter the leader of her debate team. A group relies on the person in charge to actually lead them to success. A true leader is highly ethical, honest and respected.

In every aspect of society there are leaders and followers. Are we born to be or become one or the other? No! Can you hone your leadership skills? Absolutely! Positively!

What things do we all admire in leaders we respect?

1. They think BIG! They don’t place an automatic ceiling in place. Instead, they look beyond the previous limits to find out how big or how much better something can be.

2. They are firmly focused on their goals.

3. They are clear. They make it known to everyone involved the final product/ goal that the team is working toward. Selling x number of widgets, or winning a football game. Know what you are aiming for.

4. People buy in. They can get compliance to their requests.

5. When goals are met, they celebrate the victory and the people. Then they set new goals or raise the bar.

People willingly follow your lead if you are honest, ethical, reliable, consistent and treat them with a modicum of respect. Rewarding someone when a job is well done is always appreciated.

A few simple rules of the road, and you can improve your own self-respect while becoming an inspiration to others. How great is that!

About Martina McGowan
Servant, MD (gynecologist), blogger, businesswoman, seminary student, mother, grandmother, sexual assault survivor’s advocate, minister, speaker, teacher, leader, writer, occasional haikuist

http://martinamcgowan.com/2013/07/leadership-is-activity-not-position/

You Can’t Matter Unless You Know What Matters by Dan Rockwell

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Leaders define what matters. Organizations grow weak and lethargic until someone creates focus and direction by explaining what’s meaningfully important. Leaders describe what’s relevant.

Things that matter capture attention.

In the absence of something meaningful,
insignificance prevails
.

Distraction, frustration, and office politics dominate where people don’t know what’s important.

Focus:

Focus is magnetic, it establishes and clarifies direction. Everyone looks at and thinks about what matters. You ultimately go where you look. The most useful thing leaders do is point to what matters.

Don’t tell people where to focus.
Tell them what matters.

Diversion:

Everyone rows in different directions until someone explains what matters. Teams languish, meetings waste time, and effort grows meaningless without the guidance of something that matters.

Don’t tell people to pull together.
Give them a rallying point.

People:

Pursue what matters.
Reject what matters less for what matters more.
Feel energized when doing what matters.
Galvanize when they see what matters.
Strive for success when they contribute to what matters.
Fight for what matters.
Fit in when aligned with what matters.
Know what’s next when what matters now is clear.
Endure when they believe in what matters. Struggle matters when you know what matters.
Feel accomplishment when achieving what matters.

Connecting:

Most sink inward. But, leaders press outward by reminding everyone they don’t exist for themselves.

Every organization focused
on self-preservation is doomed.

It’s normal to focus on internal matters. But, leaders connect what matters inside organizations to what matters outside.

How can leaders explain what matters?

Check out the great list of leadership M’s on the Leadership Freak Facebook Page. While you’re there, add leadership N’s for tomorrow’s post.

http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/you-cant-matter-until-you-know-what-matters/

“Git-r Done” – Results Matter

by Jim Johnson

As a manager/leader of a team, what you known for at work? What is your team known for?

* a nice group of people
* “he’s/she’s been here a long time”
* drama
* aloof
* wow

You and I both have something in common. We can, in part, control our destiny in our careers. As I wrote earlier, we can be either passengers or drivers on the journey to success. One of the main ways we can advance is by performing – getting things done.

Corporate Goals

Every company has them. They are the WIGs – the Wildly Important Goals as detailed in the “4 Disciplines of Execution”. At my company, we call them the “Measures that Matter”. They get communicated at staff meetings, all employee meetings, and on the intranet. We’re supposed to not only know them, but move them forward. These are the things that positively impact the bottom line.

If you want to succeed, make sure you and your team are doing the things that move your corporate goals in the right direction. If you have a sales goal, work to exceed that goal. If you have a service goal, do what you need to do to have your team become the poster child for service.

Hitting a corporate goal isn’t magically done. You need to discover the leading indicating behaviors that your team needs to habitually do in order to hit those big goals. If you wait until the goal results are posted, it’s too late. You need to act now to move those measures in the right direction.

Innovation

Is there a process that needs improved? Get your team together and figure out a better way to do it. Have you uncovered an issue that if fixed would improve customer loyalty? Map out the improvement, sell the idea, and collaboratively solve it.

Don’t wait for someone else to come up with great ideas. Use your experience, the talent on your team, and your own unique gifts to dream, question, and experiment.

Get Involved

Project teams are always going on in companies. Get on one. Lead one. Get your team involved. be known as a go-to team. You and your team will learn so much from participating on teams.

Help Others Succeed

If your team is a support system for another team, work to find ways to make their jobs easier. Find efficiencies that will benefit them. Communicate change clearly. As Zig has said, “if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll find that you will get what you want”.

Focus

It’s so easy to get side tracked at work. Office drama. HR issues. Change.

As a leader, your job is to help your team stay focused. Focused on results. Focused on improvement. In staff meetings, in your walk-a-rounds, in your coaching sessions, in your emails, keep your team focused on success. Don’t let up. Don’t give up. Make it fun. Let your team know that you and your message of focus are not going away.

Don’t wait for something to happen at work – make it happen. Celebrate your team’s success. Recognize their efforts when they hit and exceed their goals. Constantly coach. Council as needed – don’t delay getting someone refocused.

Your positive efforts won’t go unrecognized. Results matter.

10 Ways to Start Living a Meaningful Life Right Now

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BY IZMAEL ARKIN

Does Your Life Even Matter?

Go to work. Come home. Eat Dinner. Go to sleep. Wake up.

Rinse, recycle, repeat.

Do you ever wonder…

Does my life even matter?

There is magic and fear behind this question.

Deep down inside – you know that you matter! You know your life has meaning! You know you have a purpose!

But if your life matters, has meaning, and purpose… You’re forced to ask yourself:

Why am I living each day stuck on repeat?

Choose to Live a Meaningful Life Today

You have to be intentional about the life you want to live. It’s just too easy to fall into the “rinse, repeat, recycle” pattern.

Therefore the first step to living a meaningful life is to choose to live a meaningful life.

Once you have made this choice, then you have to take action.

Below I have listed 10 specific actions you can do today that will start to bring meaning to your life. Don’t try to do all 10 at once. Adopt one item from the list, and then slowly add others as time goes on. The journey of a 1000 miles starts with one step.

10 Ways to Start Living a Meaningful Life… Today

1. Focus on Being a Better Person

What type of human being do you want to be? A trustworthy friend? A loving partner? filled with gratitude?

The key is to step back and to ask these two questions:

1) What type of character do I want to have?
2) If I was that person, how would I act?

Then immediately start acting in a manner consistent with your answer.

We are what we do. Therefore, if you begin to act in a specific manner and continue to act like in that, then you are that person.

2. Commit This Moment

I mentioned this earlier but it bears repeating. Find somewhere quiet to sit. Take a few full breaths in and out. Become present in the moment.

Then with conviction start having an intense dialogue with yourself. In this dialogue you are going to explain that “This moment is it! This is the moment when O commit to living a meaningful life!” Then explain why you are going to commit.

Tony Robbins calls these “incantations”. They are not affirmations. Incantations are not statements that are merely said. They are words driven by deep emotions and passion. They are a commitment to the most important person in this world: yourself

3. Donate Your Time

One of the greatest way’s to bring meaning to your life is to help others in need. You can volunteer at a homeless shelter, help a friend move, read books to children at the library, the list goes on and on.

When you give your time to make the world a better place it brings immense meaning to your life. Imagine being part of the reason the world is improving! Now, that’s cool.

4. Listen When People Talk To You

Very few people actually listen during a conversation. We are social creatures. We all want to be heard. By showing how much you value others, you will bring greater meaning to your own life.

5. Make Today “Book Worthy”

Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself “Wow! That was awesome!” Well, what if you could make today worthy of a chapter in a book.

Think about this question:

What would make today worthy of a Chapter in “The story of my life”?

Answer that question than take action on the most viable thing you can do.

6. Do The Simple Things That Make You Smile

What makes you laugh? What makes you smile? What fills your soul with joy?

Maybe you like to watch sesame street, listen to cheesy music, watch old episodes of Seinfeld. What it is, doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it truly brings joy to your life.

7. Write out a “Future Gratitude List”

This works best if you do it in the morning. Sit down with a pen and paper. Then write down everything you are thankful for that is going to happen today.

The key is to write down everything you want to happen. For example “Have a wonderful lunch with a friend”.

Write down 5 things (the more the better). Then fold up the list and put it in your pocket. Carry it with you throughout the day. Then be intentional about making it happen.

Essentially this is a fun way of planning out your day.

8. Write Out Your “Life Dream List” and Take The First Step

This is awesome! Take out a piece of paper, pen, and stopwatch. Set the timer for 15 minutes.

Then start writing down everything you want to achieve in your life. Have fun with it, nothing is too big!

Then at the end of 15 minutes, look at the list and ask this question.

1) Which achievement (from the list) would have the single greatest impact on my life right now?

Then follow that with this question

2) What is the very first step I can take today to move in that direction?

Then immediately take the first step.

9. Tell Those You Love… That You Love Them

The danger is that It’s easy to get caught in the trap of assuming “they already know I love them”. But in reality, they might not know.

Write down a list of the people that you genuinely love. Then identify which of them you have not told lately “I love you”. Then go say it! It might be a little bit weird at first, but it will also be very powerful.

10. Ask this Question and adjust based on your answer

What would the world be like if everyone was like me?

Take a look at that question. Answer it openly and honestly. Then start making the necessary corrections this very moment.

Hint: If you said “The world would be great!” Then humility and the ability to be honest with yourself are skills you should work on.

Choose 1 Thing

This list can ignite the first step towards a life of meaning and purpose… Or it can do nothing for you. That’s on you.

Is today the moment when you start to bring meaning to your life?

http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/10-ways-to-start-living-a-meaningful-life-right-now/