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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.

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

Work-Life Balance in Your Life

It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life

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Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.

Supporting Disciplines

Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:

1) Self Management

Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.

2) Time Management

Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.

3) Stress Management

By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.

4) Change Management

In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.

5) Technology Management

Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.

6) Leisure Management

The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.

Entirely Achievable

Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.

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Business

Work-life Balance: The Enduring Quest

Organizations today recognize the importance of supporting employees’ well-being while maintaining productivity

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Thank goodness that organizations today increasingly recognize the importance of supporting employees’ well-being while maintaining productivity. As such, the corporate quest for work-life balance, harmony, and integration has gained great prominence.

Key Aspects

Here are 12 key aspects of this pursuit gleaned from a variety of programs:

1. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible work schedules, remote work options, and part-time opportunities allows employees to better balance their professional and personal lives.

2. Have Clear Policies: Establishing clear policies and guidelines regarding work hours, overtime, and expectations helps employees manage their time effectively.

3. Support Mental Health: Providing access to mental health resources, counseling, and stress management programs can address employees’ emotional well-being.

4. Give Leave: Offering generous paid time off, including vacation, sick leave, and parental leave, allows employees to address personal and family needs without fear of repercussions.

5. Prevent Burnout: Encouraging employees to disconnect from work-related technology after hours helps prevent burnout and supports work-life separation.

6. Support Workload Management: Ensuring that employees have manageable workloads and realistic deadlines prevents excessive stress and long working hours.

7. Provide Wellness Programs: Implementing wellness initiatives, such as fitness facilities, nutrition programs, and health screenings, promotes a healthier work-life balance.

8. Enable Employee Assistance Programs: Such programs provide confidential counseling and support services for employees facing personal challenges.

9. Promote a Culture of Balance: Company culture plays a significant role in work-life balance. Leaders should model a balanced lifestyle, and the organization should celebrate accomplishments beyond work.

10. Maintain Continuous Communication: Engaging in open dialogues with employees about their needs and concerns regarding work-life balance fosters a supportive and responsive corporate culture.

11. Empower Workers with Training and Education: Providing training on time management, stress reduction, and resilience equips employees with the skills to better balance their lives.

12. Leverage Remote Work Policies: Crafting clear remote work policies and expectations ensures that remote employees have a structured work-life balance.

Bringing in the Hired Gun

As the world’s only holder of the title, “The Work-Life Balance Expert®,” as issued by the USPTO,  I am often summoned by organizations to enhance work-life balance for their troops. In all, I’ve delivered programs and spoken to 960 groups. Below depicts an encounter with a company who shall remain nameless for reasons of confidentiality. See if this squares up with your experience in your organization.

The following responses were derived as a result of my sending a questionnaire to the conference meeting planner where I was to be their keynote speaker. I requested the names of 10 people who would be in the audience. I called each of them to discuss their current challenges. Here are their actual replies to three of my questions:

1) If you could magically resolve a work-life balance issue, what would it be?

* Have more breathing room between high-level projects.
* Accomplish more during the workday and leave mentally free.
* Hire more staff!
* Take vacations and time off with no big pile ups when returning.

* Be allowed to take some Fridays off and catch up on much needed appointments.
* Reduce the number of pop-up requests and questions flying at me all day long so that I could ACTUALLY do what I need to do each day.
* Be approved to work from home or adjust my hours. My personal time isn’t respected.

2) What do you seek to derive from attending a session such as mine?

* Manage my time more effectively.
* Gain tools to embrace life while living it
* Develop stronger skills.
* Make work-life balance a reality in our company’s work-first culture.

* Acquire strategies, tips, or ideas to re-think my approach.
* Learn to change my focus, to be more productive, balanced, and focused.
* Be able to balance the few things that I do control during my day.
* Discover tips for keeping my staff in balance.

* Gain a realistic expectation of what we can achieve or experience.
* Develop a more positive outlook for the group.

3) Are there any observations you could offer?

* Work-life balance is a huge topic organization-wide. We are high performers who want to do a good job. We compromise our personal lives to meet work demands. We have to keep pace with the leaders and teams we support. If we don’t, we’ll be deemed unresponsive.

* A frenetic pace seems to be inherent in this company. Our team does a good job of emphasizing work-life balance; the problem lies with the surrounding divisions that thrive on working all the time, for no good reason. Yes, we are in a global space, working in different time zones, but some of these people are beyond the pale.

* What I love about this organization are the people. They are dedicated to the cause and truly want to deliver reliable, affordable, dynamic, and versatile solutions to our customers. However, our frenetic pace isn’t necessary. Not every project is the most vital. Not every problem is an emergency. Not every request has to be filled now.

* If in charge, I’d implement a more efficient, logical pace organization-wide. If we all took a breath and reevaluated how we work, in a more focused environment, we might find that we could produce better results with less stress.

Resonates Strongly

As you can see, the topic of work-life balance resonates strongly among today’s career professionals. Going forward, may more organization recognize and acknowledge the critical role that employee wellness and work-life balance has on the organization’s overall effectiveness.

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