Gratitude and Uniqueness!

2015 was a phenomenal year for me, a year of life accomplishments and awards.  When a year like this occurs, what does it mean and how do we respond? I believe it is important to share our journey with the people we touch. We can inspire them to greater hope and faith whatever their current situation may be. Rewards for hard work and faith do come if we focus on goals and on our greater purpose.

Big Events of 2015:

  1. Teaching second year graduate students at Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management was one of the most joyful, gratifying experiences of my life. The students were wonderful and the work was a stimulating challenge.

LY SS5882 Will Classroom 1The semester of teaching was also one of the most all-consuming, relentless-focus experiences of my life! 

The experience-based, exercise-focused course was based partially on my book, The DNA of the Resilient Organization and  also  on the other books which were significant inspirations for my work over the last 25 years:  The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge; A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink; Diagnostic Interviewing, John Quay; The Art of War, Sun Tsu; and Absolute Honesty, Larry Johnson and Bob Phillips

One student summarized the course with a central sentence from the book: “Successfully and sustainably accomplishing organizational change is simple – build both Ability and Desire at the same time.” The University said that my unique accomplishment with the book was that it linked two disciplines: Organization Development and Risk Management.

  1. My second major event of 2015 was a huge surprise. My 2003 article, “How to Effectively Implement Change”, was chosen by the Journal of Corporate Accounting and Finance as one of the “Top Articles of All-Time” in their 30 years of publishing.  The Journal featured the article again in their “Best of” May/June 2015 Edition – #1 on the cover.

JCAF May-June 2015 Cover

The JCAF is a juried professional publication, available by subscription only. Selection of the best articles was by their Editorial Board of leaders representing national corporations, universities and libraries.

Selection of my article was based on two criteria: 1) Enduring usefulness and 2) Most accessed online.

 3. award_bigThe third 2015 honor/accomplishment was receiving the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco award: “The Ray Dezember Award for Epitomizing the Meaning of the Fed Family.” This was especially meaningful because Ray Dezember was a friend and director of the Federal Reserve Bank from Bakersfield,  the honor was given at the annual “Fed Family” meeting in San Francisco, and it was a big surprise!

 Now What?

So, my question was, what do I do with phenomenal gifts like these? How can I thank God for these incredibly wonderful events that happened all within one year?  I know the answer should be “Share” but the follow-on question is “How”?

The answer came recently with an invitation received only 10 hours before an Oregon Christian Chamber of Commerce event. I immediately accepted, partially because of the topic: Passion Drives Business: Inspiring Employees and Fostering Consumer Loyalty.

The speaker was Justine Haigh, Director of the Fulltime MBA program at George Fox University and Professor of Marketing. In her presentation I heard the answer to my question, “How?”

Justine’s message was that we can thank God and simultaneously achieve greater success and fulfillment for ourselves, our people, and our organization by sharing our unique gifts. We frequently find our uniqueness after periods of great trial, times when we are “crippled” in some way by devastating events: financial, family tragedy, debilitating illness or injury.

To use Justine’s words, really tough times “turn us inside out.” We then have two possible reactions: 1) Give up and retreat or, as Winston Churchill said, we can 2) “Never, never, ever, ever, ever give up”. We can keep going, step by step, and use the devastation to find our unique strengths and gifts. As that occurs, we build great personal passion which can inspire all those around us and lead to success we never imagined in directions we could never have anticipated.

Justine gave many examples of people who have done just that, very publicly. Here are a few:

These people found their uniqueness and took their organizations to new heights as a result of challenging life events.  They gained personal strength in tough times and developed their own unique direction, which resulted in great success for themselves and their organizations.

“Happiness is not about self-gratification.  It is about finding purpose.” — Helen Keller

“Don’t waste your time living someone else’s life.  Don’t let others be your voice.” — Steve Jobs, Commencement Speech at Stanford University

“We need to develop an authentic corporate cause.” Mohan Nair

“We need to expand from our organization ‘Mission’ to develop our ‘Cause’.” Justine Haigh 

I certainly have found that an attitude of Gratitude and Hope, especially when going through tough times, will guide you to your unique self. Utilizing your unique gifts for greater good is the best way to thank God, to become more resilient, and to achieve true Joy.

 

 

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