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I’ve thought it over Boss, and I Quit!

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That was the headline of my resignation letter in 1977. “I’ve thought it over and I quit!”

I was the Senior Program Manager of Individual Development programs for the 356,000 members of the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees. My role was to develop, promote, train and manage these programs through a volunteer field force of 250 young men in all 50 states. It was a thrilling job that included much travel and many speeches to hundreds or thousands of Jaycees at conventions nationwide.

My job allowed me to collaborate with my heroes like: W. Clement Stone, who had been partners with Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, the most popular success book of all time; and Og Mandino, author of The Greatest Salesman in the World, and president of Success Unlimited Magazine. I visited The White House and met President Gerald Ford in the Oval Office for a one-on-one photo. It was the most exciting time of my 30 year life up to that point.

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I will forever be grateful for the privilege of serving in this position, and for the profound lessons I learned while there.

And then I mastered my new job.

My boss was Don Varnadore and his boss, our Executive VP, was Al Simensen. Don was my mentor and my champion. He believed in what I could do. Al was skeptical. He thought I was “a bit much”, sort of a “Mister Motivation” and he questioned whether I was real or all show.

That was all the challenge I needed. For over a year, I worked long hours and gave way more to the job than was reasonable to expect. Many times I worked late into the night and occasionally fell asleep at my desk. My productivity was immense! I was producing high quality work (their opinion, not mine) and winning awards for my department. I wrote a new Leadership Dynamics program and Communication Dynamics that sold over 76,000 copies in the first couple of years. I worked with the Million Dollar Round Table to publish “Family Time, a Revolutionary Old Idea” for the Jaycees. I curated an audio album by W. Clement Stone called the “Personal Success Series.” These were just a few highlights of the many great projects I championed while there.

Try Try Again

But, despite my massive efforts and measurable results, I was never selected as “Staff Officer of the Month.” The reason that mattered to me was the awardees would have their name added to a permanent plaque that was displayed in the lunchroom at Jaycees Headquarters where we all worked. There were about 100 of us at the time. I had never been considered a true contributor in my life before.

I went to Don Varnadore and asked what I needed to do to be selected. He coached me, but still no acknowledgement came. So, I took on even more. I enrolled in night courses at the local community college. I joined a Toastmasters club. I volunteered to conduct before work and after work training programs for the HQ Staff for no pay. These were highly popular and focused on job related skills; public speaking, travel tips and strategies, speed reading, effective listening, and other topics. I also crafted a plan for merging the personnel management and training of our staff into the duties of the Individual Development programs office. I was not asking for a raise, just more opportunity to show my abilities. Still, no permanent acknowledgment. It mattered to me that I could achieve a lasting recognition for my contributions. Nada.

Miracles still exist

One day, as I was returning from a trip to Utah to study the Family Home Evening program developed by the Mormon Church, I said a prayer. “Lord, I’ve done all I know to do. Please take the wheel and guide me as to what to do next. And, please be bold, don’t hint. I want to know it was you.”

The following day I had an appointment to meet with Joe Willard, the general agent for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company’s Tulsa, Oklahoma office. He offered me a full time job as his confidant and advisor, plus trainer for his 19 insurance agents. He also offered me a penthouse suite corner office and use of the secretarial staff for my professional speaking career. Gasp! This happened on the very next day!

I thanked God and wrote a letter to Al Simensen. The headline said, “I’ve thought it over Boss, and I quit!”

My departure was amicable and I still have friends from those days long ago. My new life with Mass Mutual led to six years of training, consulting and speaking for them nationwide and in their home office in Massachusetts. I went on to speak to most of the world’s leading insurance companies and was once the opening keynote speaker for the Million Dollar Round Table! My life was, is and has been blessed on so many levels. As of today I have delivered more than 3,300 paid speaking engagements in all 50 states, most of Canada and literally around the world. Joe Willard became one of my lifelong closest friends and my career has blossomed beyond my greatest dreams. I’m grateful, deeply grateful.

What this means to you is:

Sometimes your best efforts, even with great measurable results, are not going to generate the kind of acknowledgment you may desire. My goal was to leave my mark, to be counted among the people who mattered. I wanted to be able to see my name on the wall along with my predecessors. But it was not meant to be…at least not there.

Upon leaving the Jaycees, I commenced a career that has taken me around the world three times, having 20 books I’ve written published by the nation’s leading publishing houses, inducted into the Sales and Marketing Hall of Fame and I’ve served as President of the National Speakers Association. All of the great awards, certificates and acknowledgments that are bestowed upon professional speakers have been provided to me and my feelings of incompleteness from the Jaycees experience have long since been wiped away by rewards of  “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, poured into my lap.” Luke 6:38 

The same principle applies to you.

What have you been pining for, dreaming about, and hoping to earn? Have you been giving more than enough but not receiving the outcomes you targeted? Maybe it’s time to give up…control. Just as the song says, “Put your hand in the hand of The Man who stilled the water…calmed the sea…”  Pray for guidance and then look and listen. God doesn’t need to hint. You will know if it is right and from Him.

When people say to me, “I think God is trying to tell me something”, I say, “Really, you think the Creator just drops subtle clues and expects you to pick up on them?” Maybe your prayers have been more like pleading rather than placing yourself in His hands. Just pause, take a different look, get a broader perspective. It may well be that a slight change in direction could put you a path that will make all your dreams come true.

Do your best where you are, grow where you are planted. When you outgrow your current place, branch out and look for a new direction, but don’t stop doing more than you are required to do. Overfill your place. Give full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. Those who do this will be noticed and rewarded even if not from the direction they’ve been seeking. Be the best bargain of a worker that anyone could ask for, give your employer and your customers a raise through your performance and your compensation will surely come.

 

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Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is an Executive MBA Professor, Author of 21 books, Hall of Fame Professional Speaker, Top 1% TEDx video (2.4 million views), US Army veteran, Singer/Songwriter, and Lifelong Motorcyclist. He is known as "Your Virtual VP" for his Advisory/Mentor work with organizations worldwide. Based in Texas...and proud of it!



 
 
 

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Business

Smart Move in a Rough Economy: Help Your Boss to Shine

Stay on top of your job, your department’s goals, and your company’s objectives

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Making your boss look good can only reflect favorably on you. Both your boss and his or her supervisors will appreciate this.

The best way to make your boss look good is to handle your work efficiently and thoroughly. If your boss is fair, he or she will give you credit for the work, increasing your chances of promotion.

If your boss is not doing his or her share of the work, leaning on you unfairly without giving you the credit, it’s still likely that you’ll be promoted when your boss is promoted. That person knows you’ve been doing more than your share, and he or she won’t be able to take a new position without your help.

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Becoming a Mentor to Others

Maybe you’re only 27 years old, or perhaps you’ve only been with your present firm for a year and a half. Yet, with your previous experience and achievements, you may already be in a position to serve as a mentor to junior members of your organization. This can be accomplished on an informal, ad hoc basis, and you can literally choose the amount of energy you’re willing to commit. Helping junior members always looks good to those above you, especially at performance review time.

Stay on top of your job, your department’s goals, and your company’s objectives. This three-way strategy includes reviewing your job description, deciding precisely what your department’s goals are, and determining your company’s objectives:

Your Job Description

First, knowing your job description and honoring it, or amending it if necessary, protect you from any misunderstandings. It will also give you an idea of the part you play in the total picture of the organization, an important factor in your work satisfaction and chance of promotion.

Your job description ideally contains all the important activities of your position, the knowledge you need to have or acquire to perform those activities, and some sense of your overall role. If your job description does not adequately detail the information you need to know and the responsibilities you have, now is the time to change it.

Company Goals

Second, learn and understand the goals of your part of the company. By whatever method your organization is broken into groups — department, division, project team — your group has objectives.

Goals are important to guide actions as well as to mark milestones. Knowing your group’s goals will help you to set priorities for your own work and make wise decisions concerning how jobs can best be done.

What is the Mission?

Finally, be aware of your organization’s mission. Any organization, from the smallest business to the multibillion-dollar corporation, has a mission. If you don’t already know it, find out. Your organization’s brochure, annual report, promotional literature, or employee handbook will have the mission spelled out.

The mission will unify and give meaning to all the division or department goals. Although conflicts among divisions will occur because of the nature of different responsibilities, a solid base can be produced when all employees realize the overall mission of the organization.

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Business

Lessons of the 2020s: Unanticipated Events Happen

Unforeseen tasks that arise represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being as well as on our time

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By now, nearly everyone has mentally marked the first few years of this decade as strange and, for those on the right, entirely upsetting. While we can’t guard against the unknown, or anticipate radical moves emanating from Washington DC, we can seek to do our best with what we have and what we know.

Each day when you compose your to-do list and begin proceeding merrily down it, do you take into account what is likely to occur in the course of a day? No matter how well we organize our lists and how productive we are in handling the products and tasks unexpected obligations, interruptions, and other developments arise that are going to throw us off.

How do you react when you are humming along, and all of a sudden, you get an assignment from out of left field? Perhaps your boss has asked you to jump on something immediately. Maybe a client calls. Maybe something gets returned to you that you thought was complete.

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To Be Flustered No More

If you are like most professionals, you immediately will become flustered. The intrusion on your time and your progress means that you are not going to accomplish all that you set out to before the end of the day. Is there a way to proceed and still feel good about all that you accomplish?

I believe there is, and it involves first making a miniature, supplemental to-do list that accurately encapsulates the new task that you need to handle. Why create this supplemental to-do list? It gives you focus and direction, reduces anxiety, and increases the probability that you will remain buoyant at the time of its completion and be able to turn back to what you were doing before the task was assigned.

If you don’t compose such a list, and simply plow headlong into the unexpected challenge that has come your way, you might not proceed effectively, and you might never get back to the to-do list on which you were working.

Anticipating the Unexpected

Unforeseen tasks that arise represent more than intrusions on our time; they represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being. Some people are naturally good at handling unexpected situations. Most of us, however, are not wired like this. Interruptions and intrusions on our workday take us off the path that we wanted to follow, and tend to be at least momentarily upsetting.

So… when executing the items on your to-do list, proceed ‘knowing’ that there will be an interruption of some sort. You don’t know when it is coming or how large it will be, but it will pull you off course. The key question for you is: can you develop the capacity to maintain balance and equanimity in the face of such disruptions?

The good news is that you can, and it all starts with acknowledging that the situation is likely to happen, devising a supplemental checklist to handle the new task, and as deftly as possible, returning to what you were doing.

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