Thursday, January 31, 2008


I read a really good book about a year ago titled the Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer. The Book was written by Art Berg and it served as the story of his triumphant life after a very tragic accident that rendered him a quadriplegic. Art uses the book to tell how the human spirit can conquer almost any obstacle. Art went on to live a very productive life after his accident. He states that his life was more rewarding after the accident than before. He accomplished incredible things in life. He became a world class wheelchair athlete, a very inspiring motivational speaker, A husband and father, and was even awarded his very own SuperBowl championship Ring by the Baltimore Ravens. Art drew alot of his motivation from a poem written by William Ernest Henley titled "Invictus". This became Art's battle cry "INVICTUS" I got the story of the poem from wikipedia to share with you. However, to get a real good understanding of the power of this poem you may want to get a copy of Art Bergs "The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer"

Here is the wikipedia story on "Invictus"

Invictus is a short poem by the British poet William Ernest Henley. The title is Latin for "unconquered". It was first published in 1875.

At the age of 12 Henley became a victim of tuberculosis of the bone. In spite of this, in 1867 he successfully passed the Oxford local examination as a senior student. His diseased foot had to be amputated directly below the knee; physicians announced the only way to save his life was to amputate the other. Henley persevered and survived with one foot intact. He was discharged in 1875, and was able to lead an active life for nearly 30 years despite his disability. With an artificial foot, he lived until the age of 54. "Invictus" was written from a hospital bed.

The Poem

Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of Circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud.Under the bludgeonings of Chance my head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the Horror of the shade, and yet the menace of the years finds, and shall find me, unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

Art Berg's life was a testament to the message he tried to get all to understand. It is not the circumstances of our life that determine our destiny, it is our response to our circumstances that determine our fate.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Employee engagement

I was talking with a co worker today on the subject of employee engagement. We were discussing strategies for getting workers to feel more connected to their jobs and thus increasing employee satisfaction in the workplace. We discussed giving various employees responsibility for implementing new initiatives. This idea came from Trevor Gay an author from England and a good friend of mine. Trevor has written 4 books on leadership and management practices. One of his main tenets comes from his book Simplicity is the Key. Trevor makes the point to let the front line staff solve the problems because they know all the answers. As I think about this I realize that it has a lot of truth to it. When I read studies on job satisfaction and employee engagement I find that pay and work schedule are down the list of priorities on what makes employees happy. Near the top of the list is feeling valued and having the ability to feel as though one is making a difference. So, it makes perfect sense to give front line staff the opportunity to be in charge of new initiatives. As we begin to turn over these initiatives to the frontline staff the initial responses are favorable. I will have to keep a track of how they progress and what effect it has on productivity and morale.

Check out Trevor's Simplicity blog at and check out the article that was recently published about his simplicity is the key theme in the New York Times and his his recent appearance on Fox Business Network TV

Monday, January 28, 2008

How to be successful in two sentences.

Construct your determination with sustained effort, controlled attention, and concentrated energy. Opportunities never come to those who wait, they are captured by those who dare to attack.- Paul J. Meyer

I found this great quote via Cynthia Kerseys Unstoppable insights. I really like the statement it makes. Opportunity is not passive. Success is not passive. It is a verb. It requires concentrated effort and action. Success requires perseverence and drive. I like the wording of the quote. It uses so many elements necessary for success in just about any endeavor.Determination, sustained effort, controlled attention and concentrated energy. The one big missing element is passion.But maybe the quote is the very definition of passion. It is destined to be office posting material for me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stick to Your Roots

I recently took some time to reflect on my professional life. I thought back on my successes and my many failures through the years. As I reflected I wondered what really shaped me a s a professional. Was it my education? Was it my years of experience? Certainly both education and experience played huge roles in my development. However, I realized it was the more than just education and experience. It was all the many people that I have met along my professional journey. Some of the people I met were a great influence in a positive way and there were some that I would rather forget. Now that I am looking back I realize that I myself have often been both of those kind of people. I have influenced some people in positive ways and others would just as soon see me on the side of the road with my car broken down. What causes us to be so different and what will determine our eventual legacy? At the end of my career will I have become someone that has benefitted my fieldof work and those that I have worked with and for.Or will I be added to the long list of bad bosses?

As I reflected on these questions I realized that my education is less of a factor than my experiences. It is my experiences that will benefit me more than most anything else. Those experinces are both personal and professional. My professional experiences are summed up in my interactions with good and bad bosses, employees, customers, meetings, business events, trips, and day to day grinding it out. My personal interactions have been far more frequent and varied. Certainly I have had the same good and bad interactions and experiences. I realized that personal lessons often came much mre mundane and routine interactions than in the professional arena.

Many of the personal lessons came when I was not expecting them. The times when I was young and I helped my father assemble some toy or help out in some household activity. They came by watching my parents work hard every day and come home play tag with us in the yard. It came when I watched my siblings get their first jobs, lose their first jobs, go on their first dates, graduate school, get married have their children. It came when my father gave me the speech about giving more service than you are paid for and then seeing him live up to it. The lessons multiplied when I started to have those sameexperiences for myself. They came when I saw my parents lose their jobs and not know where to turn, but they always knew what to do next, and that was to keep working at raising your family and finding a way to pay the bills. This was always by working. I learned that when times are hard you will put your life back together by working and rendering more service than you are paid to do. I learned that when I did things that were stupid and hurtful to others that I would eventually pay the price for those things. I learned that all things are created that way. You get back what you put in. Do good and you eventually get good in return. Do bad and you will eventually get the bad in return. Even when it doesn't always seem as though that is how it will work out.

I could go on for a long time talking of the different lessons. The real point is that I learned my most valuable lessons right at home. Not in school, college, or graduate school. Not at work, meetings, retreats, or business trips. My greatest lessons come from my roots. Maybe this is the greatest lesson of all, the realizing the importance of my roots. I only hope that I can live up to the lessons and pass them on to my kids. I do hope that they decide to pursue education, but I believe that it would be worthless if they failed to take their roots with them.