Mark Matteson publishes his Sparking Success EZine Street newsletter on the first Wednesday of every month. The next newsletter will go out on October 2, 2013
It's Not What You're Given; It's What You Do With It!
by Mark Matteson
A number of years ago, I conducted a sales training seminar for KING 5 TV in Seattle. This extraordinary sales team had 21 women and three men. I thought it went very well until I received the written reviews: "You tell no stories about women!" and "Too many sports stories!" Ouch. I listened. I adjusted. I changed. Later this month, I am speaking to Women in HVAC in Philadelphia. I can't wait because I collect stories about inspiring people, women and men in equal measure.
Unless you live in Washington, DC, you might not have heard of Cathy Lanier. Skipping school at age 13, she was pregnant at 14 and married at 15. By age 17, she was separated, on food stamps, and living with her mother in a working-class neighborhood by a railroad in Maryland. When, at age 16, a prospective employer asked her if she could type, she said, "No, but I'll learn if you let me take the typewriter home." Lanier recalled, "My mother taught me how to type at the kitchen table." She has been climbing to the top of her field ever since. When Lanier was 23, she joined the D.C. police force because they offered a program to cover her college tuition. She worked as beat officer at night and went to school by day to eventually earn two master's degrees. The 6-foot tall blonde, now 46, is D.C.'s very popular police chief, a white woman in charge of law enforcement in a city with a black majority; a watchdog for the city, she presides over 4,000 officers and 450 civilians. Last year, the nation's capital had the lowest number of homicides on record since 1961. Results are the name of the game. To read more of Cathy Lanier's story, click on the link below.
It's easy to blame your circumstances-the government, your parents, your teachers or coaches, your boss-for your lack of success and many people do. The reality is it's not what you are given; it's what you do with it that matters. It's not what happens, but how your respond. The Cathy Laniers of the world are an inspiration. They demonstrate a number of qualities each of us can adopt if we choose. Here is my short list of positive attitudes and qualities to adopt:
- Do what you love. What would you do for free? If you follow your bliss, work is play. Think Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, or Eleanor Roosevelt.
- Stop blaming everyone else for your troubles. Take personal responsibility for your life and career.
- Persist. Do you know why a bulldog's nose slants backwards? So it can breathe while it hangs on. It's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.
- Find mentors and follow their lead; read what they read and do what they do. A mentor is simply a person who has done what you want to do and has been where you want to go.
- Develop a sense of urgency in your work. Get excited. Go the extra mile. Get going. Take a class or seminar, read trade magazines in your industry, keep a journal, and read books. Become a serious student.
- Find meaning and purpose in your work. Get behind a cause. Become a zealot for your industry. Become a pioneer in your field.
- Face your fears and do it anyway. Feel the fear and take action regardless of how you feel. Action cures fear.
Here is my short list of pioneering women I admire who demonstrate the qualities listed above: Mother Teresa, Lucille Ball, Rosa Parks, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Anne Frank, and Oprah Winfrey. The list goes on and on.
Maybe I should contact KING 5 TV again. I have a whole new batch of stories. I think the Women in HVAC attendees will dig my talk. Sorry, fellas-no boys allowed.
Book of the Month
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
The great thing about having a large library is, when it's time to pick a book of the month, I don't have far to go to find one I have read that matches my message for the month. I read this book while I was laid up after two major surgeries in 2007. It helped me bounce back.
Jack Canfield said, "Should be required reading for every person who can read." This is not a new book. It was written in 1987. However, it has sold over 2,000,000 copies. Here are some salient points from this classic self-help book:
- All you have to do to find a way out of your self-imposed prison is to retrain your thinking. Say the "Fear Truths" ten times a day for a month.
- If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear?
- I'll handle it!
- The only way to feel better about myself is to go out and do it!
- Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.
- Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I am in unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
You can bet Cathy Lanier is a master of facing her fears. I see great things in her future. She is someone I truly admire.