Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
The comment stung.
“I found her to be self-promoting.”
Last fall, I presented at a women’s conference. My session topic was a favorite of mine: vision, encouraging women to create their own futures. Shortly after the conference I received the written evaluations from participants, and there it was. That comment. Ouch! It was like a dagger in the heart.
The comment brought me back to the work I’d done years ago with my own personal coach around the topic of being selfish and what that meant for me. Like many people I was raised to not talk about my accomplishments. And if I did, it wasn’t uncommon to hear my mom say, “Don’t break your hand patting yourself on your back Ginny.” And so I learned at a young age that it wasn’t okay to embrace my own successes.
During the women’s conference session, I did embrace my successes. I shared my own story of creating a 5-, 10- and 15-year vision and how that helped me to do the work I do today. I shared stories of women who participated in our Women in Leadership groups and the visions they created and accomplished.
Is it self-promoting to talk with others about our passions, to connect about how we’re working to make a difference? Is it selfish for us to focus on the reason that we’re on this planet?
As the sting of that “self-promoting” comment wore off, it made me think about my word for 2013.
As many of you know, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions because they don’t often lead to sustainable change. Instead, I pick a word for the year and make that my focus. I invite you to do the same by commenting your word for 2013 below. If you tell me your word, I promise to touch base with you throughout the year to see how it’s going.
I’m cheating a bit this year because I have two words: Purposeful Living.
My focus for 2013 is to continue living in accordance with my own purpose and to become even more diligent in helping others to live according to their purpose. It really does create a ripple effect. Think about the impact that you have not just on your co-workers, but also on your family when you are able to spend your day doing work that makes you feel alive. One of my recent MBA students said it well with these words in her final reflective paper: “Leadership can be defined in many different ways. Ultimately, I want to lead people, not with my title, but through my actions. I can’t do this unless I have a purpose and a vision. I wouldn’t start a road trip without a destination in mind, so why would I lead without a purpose.”
Success to me is helping others move closer to living in accordance with their life’s purpose. My own life purpose is to nurture and inspire others to reach for the stars. When I hear success stories from the men and women I am blessed to work with – whether those success stories are big or small – it reminds me that I’m doing the work I was put on this planet to do.
And I’m OK with promoting that.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go out and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Harold Whiteman
Our University of Iowa MBA Leadership and Personal Development class was honored to hear from guest speaker Jim Israel last weekend. Jim is the President of John Deere Worldwide Financial Services Division. He shared his guidance for developing yourself, as a person and as a leader.
1. Get out of your comfort zone. Your success will be how effective you can rally your team. “To be a good leader you don’t have to be an expert. I see myself as the offensive line clearing the way for others to run and pass the ball.”
If you ever get the opportunity to do something new, do it. “If we make 100% of our decisions right, then we’re not making enough decisions—or taking enough risks.”
2. If you have a chance to do a global assignment, do it. The world is a lot more similar than it is different. Our customers and dealers have very similar desires and concerns. It is also great to see the United States through another country’s lens.
3. Set a clear vision for your organization. Jim talked about the power of aligning his division around a common vision. But creating that vision is only the first step. Then you have to motivate, align and inspire the organization. “And motivation isn’t about pom-poms. I have seen some soft-spoken leaders drive people to do great things.” (Jim also joked that he, however, isn’t one of the soft-spoken ones.)
4. Stay true to your own style. Do what your passionate about And have fun! “Going to work shouldn’t be drudgery. If you don’t go to work everyday excited about what you do, go somewhere else.”
5. Do things the right way. And make sure your “say-do” ration is 100%. “It is equally important how you accomplish something as what you accomplish. ”
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate. You can’t over-communicate. You have to say things over and over. And people need different kinds of communication. “You also owe it to your people to talk about the bad news. People are afraid of what they don’t know. “ He talked about the credit crisis in 2008 and how they spent a great deal of time in straight talk with their people. Also, one of the most important parts of communication is listening. “Our greatest ideas come from people closest to our customers.”
7. Focus on developing talent. “The most important thing I do is get the right people in the right chairs.” Identify people who have potential and keep providing them with challenges. Stretch your high potential people. And remember for yourself not to focus on pay. “If you’re moving around alot, you’re going to be at the bottom of the pay grade a lot. Your pay will catch up with you. ”
8. Strive for work-life balance. Not only your own but for your people. “It used to be a badge of honor how many hours you worked.” But there are a lot of things in life you’ll never have the opportunity to get back. Work is a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself, emotionally and physically. “I invite my grandkids to come and have lunch with me at work every couple of months.”
9. Give back to your community. Pay it forward.
Thanks Jim for these words and much more. And for providing a role model of authentic leadership for our class.
Posted in Balance, Communication, Global Leaders, Leadership Advice, Listening, MBA Class, Teams, Vision | 1 Comment »
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung
I remember smiling and thinking at the time, “This young man is going to accomplish exactly what he is talking about”. Almost two years ago I had been invited by River Action to work with their Youth Board and other young leaders in the Quad Cities. After sharing my own perspective on leadership I walked them through a reflective exercise where they imagined what their life would look like in five or ten years.
I sat back and watched them draw their visions of the future. Fifteen minutes later they shared their stories. Many of them spoke with an amazing amount of confidence about their futures. One of the people attending was Chad Driscoll. At the time Chad was working for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Quad Cities as their Americorps Program Director. But his five year vision clearly showed him working in Des Moines. And the passion and conviction he spoke with made me smile.
Last week I received the following e-mail from Chad, which I am sharing with his permission.
Anyways, one of the activities you did with us was have us draw our vision, or future plans, or where we would like to see ourselves down the road. So what I drew was the state of Iowa with marks on it of where I have been, where I am now, and where I would like to go moving forward. Where I wanted to go was to be in Des Moines and have a state job or work within an organization there or possibly in politics but my focus was and is on service and giving back to the community.
Well I wanted to share with you that I am going to be starting a new job in Des Moines in a couple weeks!! I will be a Program Officer with the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service and will oversee a variety of education focused AmeriCorps Programs in the state of Iowa as well as other initiatives that come through the office. I am very excited about this career move, although I am sad to leave the Quad Cities and Big Brothers Big Sisters. I wanted to share this with you because this was part of the idea of what I drew during that session a couple years ago and I still have that piece of paper at home!
The other cool thing about how all this developed was they approached me when this opening came available. I was not looking or seeking another job. In my current role, I do work with them pretty regularly so they have seen my work and product and know what I am capable of. So you never know who is watching!
In her article “Vision, Learning to Manage the Dream” Nancy Fredericks talks about the power that comes from creating a vision.
Power Comes with Vision. As we emotionally and passionately create our vision, we connect our internal resources to opportunities outside of ourselves that support us in achieving our vision. Internally, radiating from within the oldest part of our brain stem is a small network of cells called our reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS provides us with the unique function of filtering incoming information to support our goals and visions. Without us even knowing it, this powerful internal tool is automatically aligning us with the external world so that we are in the right place at the right time. The system is always working to produce the results we request, whether positive or negative. The unique aspect of this system is that it is always working for you; so when you don’t use it to support yourself consciously, it will be taking its lead from your unconscious. If you aren’t getting fulfilling results in your life, take a look at what you are unconsciously creating.
Lean more at www.nancyfredericks.com/vision/.
“Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.” Randy Pausch
Had life gone according to “my plan” I would be in South Africa right now, co-hosting a group of women on a learning journey. But life didn’t follow my plan. After months of planning, we decided to cancel in January due to low enrollment.
I will admit that I had a pity party for awhile. I felt disappointed, angry, judgmental. Sometime in early March I decided to practice what I teach. I have a strong passion for inviting people out of their comfort zones, and into spaces where they can truly learn more about their leadership skills. I began reflecting on what kinds of learning experiences are most important to me—and what other international opportunities are available for me. I noticed my mindset shifting from one of scarcity to abundance. And the excitement began to build within me.
I began thinking about opportunities to reformat the South Africa trip—and others trips. I want the trips to be more affordable to people of all ages. And I began to get really excited about leading a group of Millenials on a learning trip to some foreign country.
Just two days after the shift in my clarity I was driving from Cedar Rapids to the Quad Cities. My intuition suggested I stop in Iowa City and visit with some folks from the University of Iowa Business School. As an adjunct instructor for the U of Iowa Evening MBA program, I wanted to touch base with people I don’t often see.
During the conversation, the director of the Evening MBA program walked by the office and stopped and said, “Hey Ginny, great timing. We were just talking this morning that it’s time to begin planning our next international trip for the students in January 2010 and we don’t have a course identified yet. Would you be interested in possibly doing an international Leadership course?”
I almost jumped out of my chair. Sign me up!
Okay, there are still many things that need to happen in order to make this a reality, but that doesn’t matter to me right now. In the two weeks since that initial conversation, I’ve had two other unforeseen conversations with people about international possibilities.
And so I renew my commitment to myself to look for the positive—to see the world through the lens of abundant opportunities, as opposed to believing that what I want is scarce and I have to grab it and hold it tight.
“If you hold on to the handle, she said, it’s easier to maintain the illusion of control. But it’s more fun if you just let the wind carry you.” (www.storypeople.com)
“I’ve always been the opposite of a paranoid. I operate as if everyone is part of a plot to enhance my well-being.” – Stan Dale
I met a husband and wife recently who shared their dream to quit their jobs and begin public speaking full-time. They shared their individual and collective stories of overcoming obstacles and I could clearly hear the strength and conviction of their faith. The stories they told were compelling and I know they will woo audiences with their heartfelt compassion, vulnerability and strength.
The woman said she had a clear vision of being on a stage in front of a large group of people. In her vision she is wearing a suit. So, what did she do? She went out and purchased two new suits. She began acting “as-if” her dream had already come true.
In his book, “The Success Principles”, author Jack Canfield talks about the power of creating a vision and then acting “as if”. “One of the greatest strategies for success is to act as if you are already where you want to be. This means thinking like, talking like, dressing like, acting like, and feeling like the person who has already achieved your goal. Acting as if sends powerful commands to your subconscious mind to find creative ways to achieve your goals and it sends strong messages to the universe that this end goal is something you really want.”
Canfield shares the following story. “Fred Couples and Jim Nantz were two kids who loved golf and had very large dreams. Fred’s goal was to someday win the Masters Tournament, and Jim’s was to someday work for CBS Sports as an announcer. When Fred and Jim were suitemates at the University of Houston in the late 70s they used to playact the scene where the winner of the Masters is escorted into Butler Cabin to receive his green jacket and be interviewed by the CBS announcer. Fourteen years later, the scene they rehearsed many times in Taub Hall at the University of Houston played out in reality as the whole world was watching. Fred Couples won the Masters and was taken by tournament officials into Butler Cabin, where he was interviewed by none other than CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz. After the cameras stopped rolling, the two embraced each other with tears in their eyes. They always knew it was going to be the Masters that Fred won, and that Jim would be there to cover it for CBS—the amazing power of acting as if with unwavering certainty.”
Acting “as if” is not reserved for golfers, celebrities or “other people.” Just like the couple I mentioned in the beginning, this powerful tool is available to you and requires just two things. First, is a dream or vision of where you want to be in the future. Second is an unwavering commitment and belief in your self.
Over ten years ago, in February 1997, I wrote a 5, 10 and 15 year vision for my future. My 10 year vision included these words: “I will be running my own corporate leadership development company—training others to be the source of their own creativity.” My 15 year vision was “I will be teaching at the university level—to masters level business students.” Those words were step one of creating my vision for the future.
My business, Integrity Integrated Inc was started from scratch over eight years ago. I left a six figure salary as President of a printing company to start this business. People have called me courageous; perhaps that is true. What is true for me though is that I knew to the depth of my soul that it was time for me to leave the comfort of my previous role and start this company. To be totally honest, I didn’t feel afraid at the time, because I just knew that the business would succeed. That sense of faith, together with the unwavering commitment from my husband and friends has helped me to achieve my 10 and 15 year vision far in advance of when I thought I would do so.
“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.” – Ben Stein, author and actor