books - self development

Growing the Distance

Timeless principles for personal, career, and family success

by Jim Clemmer

My flags…

pg 33 In Going Deep, Ian Percy writes, “Most business people I know are much more concerned with the quality of their customer service than they are with the quality of their parenting and spousing.” … Yet these executives had failed to ask themselves an important question: When the company suddenly tosses them aside or they reach retirement, will they be so sure that career success is worth the cost of a broken family? Does this trade-off really represent their core values?

pg 42 We find what we focus upon. Whether I think my world is full of richness and opportunity or garbage and despair – I am right. It’s exactly like that. Because that’s my point of focus.

pg 51 “What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised. “It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

pg 53 “…everything can be taken from us but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances – to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl

pg 78 “When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one desperate attempt, I settled for changing my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize if only I had changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.” Anonymous epitaph written on a tomb at Westminster Abbey

pg 80 In my firm’s leadership development work, we use a simple exercise to help people see the connection between changes they’d like to see in others and those they need to make in themselves.

Draw a line down the middle of a page. Title the left column “Changes I’d Like Them To Make”. List the four or five biggest changes you’d like to see in others.

OK, that’s the easy part. Now title the right column “Ways I Can Exemplify These Changes”. Here, write down the ways you can influence “them” with your personal behavior. Difficult, isn’t it? Of course it is – because it forces us to acknowledge all those things we have or haven’t been doing to influence their behavior.

It’s much easier to be a victim here, to blame others for their behaviour and refuse to accept any responsibility at all. But how honest and true is that – really? … The big (and often painful) leadership question is: “What do I need to change about me to help change them?” Instead of just wishing for a change of circumstance, I may need a change of character.

pg 81 Good intentions are useless if they stop there. Unless we act on them, they’re nothing more than warm, fuzzy thoughts in our heads. When it comes to leadership, the messenger must be the message.

The biblical story of the Good Samaritan would have no meaning if all he did was look with sympathy at the badly wounded traveler lying by the road. He acted on his compassion and made a difference. One of the biggest differences between most people and authentic leaders is action. Real leaders make it happen.

pg 87 Studies of thriving people and their successful career paths show that they types of jobs they have had is much less important than the type of person they are. There are no dead-end jobs, but there are dead-end people. Unsuccessful people in unfulfilling jobs often make the mistake of thinking that they are working for someone else. … Albert Schweitzer, the Noble Prize-winning French philosopher, physician and musician, fervently believed that “the tragedy of life is what dies inside a person while they live.”

pg 91 … But we all agreed that a highly skilled mechanic who loves his or her work and is continually growing and developing in it is a much more productive leader than a doctor who feels trapped in a system he or she despises. I’ve met cleaners, security guards, bus drivers, and other people in low-skilled, low-paying jobs who love what they do and make strong contributions to their organizations and society. As the highly passionate American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr put it, “If a man is called a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Life is too short to give in to the Victimitis Virus and get stuck in the rut of a meaningless job; wishing and hoping I win the lottery, my fairy-job mother magically appears, or I can just hang in there. Meaningful work goes well beyond what I do for a living; it joyfully expresses what I do with my living.

pg 97 “The bedrock of character is self-discipline; the virtuous life, as philosophers since Aristotle have observed, is based on self-control. A related keystone of character is being able to motivate and guide oneself, whether in doing homework, finishing a job, or getting up in the morning. And, as we have seen, the ability to defer gratification and to control and channel one’s urges to act is a basic emotional skill, one that in a former day was called will.” Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

pg 111 … written by a former football player and student of Lou Holtz. At the heart of the poem:
I’ve seen my share of tombstones but never took the time to truly read
The meaning behind what is there for others to see
Under the person’s name it read the date of birth, dash, and the date the person passed
But the more I think about the tombstone, the important thing is the dash

pg 115 Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia outlines another face of love when talking about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year-old whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the old man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

pg 122 Leaders love their organization’s greater purpose and see its products or services contributing to a bigger world that they love. That love – and desire for growth and development – extends to everyone involved.

pg 123 What’s our best defence against being victims of change? To grow and develop every day; to change ourselves – and to lead others in the process.

pg 127 Losing our childlike curiosity. Our sense of wonder and discovery is replaced with cynicism and apathy, often expressed as “been there, done that, what else is new.” Pablo Picasso, one of the most prolific painters in history (with more than 20,000 works) once observed that “every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

pg 128 Fearing to attempt. We know that the turtle only makes progress by sticking his head out. Yet we sit and dream about what we’re going to do – someday. If we don’t take steady steps toward our dreams, the walls around our complacency zone get ever higher and thicker.

pg 129 “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition.

131 It’s too easy to see learning as an end result rather than an ongoing process. Once I get my diploma, certification, or job, it’s all too natural to relax and feel that I should now enjoy the fruits of my labors. Therein lies the deadly trap of viewing learning (or change) as a phase, not a way of life.

Constant growth, development, and adaptability to change comes from lifelong learning. As the 19th-century British theologian and essayist John Henry Newman once said, “Growth is the only evidence of life.” If we’re not growing, we’re like a dying tree; eventually the winds of change will snap us of our rotting trunks and blow us over.

(Sidebar – this reminds me of a line from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”: Get busy living, or get busy dying.)

pg 137 The art of developing others is the art of assisting their self-discovery. Writing in the 15th century, Galileo put it this way: “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.” … I the workplace, managers are generally considered to be responsible for helping employees to grow and develop. The traditional management view is to get work done through people, but strong leaders develop people through work.

pg 144 True and lasting security comes from constant growth and development. We can’t manage change, but we can be change opportunists.

2 replies on “Growing the Distance”

Thanks for your comment George. When your site is running I look forward to reading more about those successful individuals – no doubt there are some inspiring stories!

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