Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year means we...

...examine components of our lives; mentally, personally, habitually, professionally, physically, socially and even spiritually.
As we count down till the ball dropping, what considerations might we ponder at this new beginning?  How do we self-assess? Or do we?  Do we make resolutions to change, or do we try and manage our vices?  Do we recommit to maintaining good habits? Do we promise to exercise and eat right, only to notice it seems like tourist season at the local gym?
These landmarks are best viewed when looked at from a distance.  Step back and examine three events of the prior year.  Try the Ben Franklin method and list the pros and cons in two separate columns on a sheet of paper.  Review any life changes and reflect on those implications.
But it may be best to look individually and not in relationship with other people.  Comparing our own talents, gift, abilities and experiences with anyone else either sets us up for failure or over-inflates our perspective.  Of we pick too high a bar, discouragement and paralysis from analysis stifles further goal setting.  On the other hand, viewing progress through outdated or under-articulated benchmarks inflates or exaggerates our true growth.
Finally, remember to write these things down.  Once written, the thought becomes a goal.  As a goal, attainment shifts from possible to probable!  Written goals are easier to monitor, report on and celebrate.
The answers to those earlier questions are indeed personal, yet the dilemmas are universal.  What will this year look like?  Will we wait for life too happen to us, or will we face obstacles head-on with confidence?
Regardless, remember to keep a big picture, individualize goals and write them down!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Where did you go to High School?

While reading Malcom Gladwells latest on underdogs and battling giants a few highlights jumped out implying Winfield Middle School was on the way to its rightful location #onthemap.
Big Fish in Small Pond or Small Fish in Big Pond

Not to steal any thunder from the book but the author poses the idea that a better bet may be a person familiar with success, regardless of the venue.  For instance, the scores at one school may all be better than all the scores of a different school, yet a top student at the mediocre school is often more effective and better suited for success.  To apply this to Winfield Middle School we know our district is not the biggest, yet that is exactly what makes it likely we might produce champions!  We study success, building champions and reaching goals.  Other schools may have more students try out for a sports team than we have in the entire class, yet was are competing on a level playing field?  Yes, the Big Fish from our small pond have likely success relative to the Small Fish in more successful pond.  Again, even though China has more honors students then we have students, where would we go to find ready and willing potential.

For example, the standard question floating many gatherings in St Louis starts with, “Where did you go to high school?” In St Louis, this question opens many introductions and social, professional and business meeting.  Of course, it supplies social clues leading to common connections, yet the hidden undertone often carries other connotations about the potential for success, growth or opportunity.  Almost like, “Are you from a Big Pond or Small Pond?”

What advantage is a disadvantage?

Gladwell continues his examination of underdogs considering the inordinate amount of CEOs and other business leaders with deficiencies like dyslexia.  His hypothesis addresses their overcoming the original obstacle by tuning other characteristics.  Similar to a blind person that tunes their hearing.  For instance, a successful trial lawyer overcame poor reading by hyper-sensitive hearing listening to the nuance with testimony supplied from the witness stand.  As underdogs, we often are overlooked following the formal and traditional channels.  It seemed the thing that these characters had to overcome, actually made them stronger and better suited to lead, connect with others and build from strength around a weakness.  Johnny Cash anecdotally described it in A Boy Named Sue.  Would you ever wish dyslexia on your children?

Don’t be afraid of being afraid.

Fight or Flight, Fear of Fear and the paralyzing results of some fears keep many of us back but build confidence in others.  The familiar quote:  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger is actually articulated for better understanding and application.  Considering London during the bombing raids of Germany in WWII, we noticed three groups of people:  first, those that did not make it; second, those that suffered a near miss and finally those that made it through a remote miss!  Regretfully, the first group deserves complete respect. Then the near miss is just that, somebody fairly close to the impact.  This may be traumatic and even personally injurious but definitely different than a remote miss.  A victim of a near miss may so suffer a temporary negative setback.  Ironically the remote miss had the opposite effect on the citizens.  It brought them together.  Surviving a horrific bombing actually galvanized their unity.  The more bombings they survived, the more they believed they were invincible.  This made them stronger.  Anecdotally, some claimed they would rather stay in the city then flee to the countryside!

How does this apply to us? 

Are we a big pond struggling to succeed or small pond building fish ready for any pond? 

Do we let our perceived disadvantages give us a disadvantage, or do we just work around them?

Does our fear motivate us to fight, improve and get better or quit, submit and suffer setback?