Who Is Your Role Model And Why?


Role models; many of us know one and many of us have been encouraged to be one. In fact, whether we know it or not, we are looked at by our peers and often newer or junior staff, held up and evaluated. We are in fact, good or bad, poor or great, positive or negative, something to emulate and aspire to be or a warning to avoid.

The thing about being a role model is that it comes with the job we choose. When we work at our best, get along with our fellow employees, perform positively, we may be cited and referred to as someone to watch and someone who conducts themselves in ways that are appreciated by our employers.  And as I mentioned in the first paragraph, new staff may be encouraged to watch us, learn from us, spend time with us and take on many of the qualities and good attitude we have. All this in the hope that how we go about our work will rub off on the new employee and they’ll too become a good worker for the employer.

Now of course we have role models both within and beyond our workplaces. We may have a favourite athlete or singer, admire a politician, astronaut, philanthropist or humanitarian. What they stand for, how they conduct themselves in the face of adversity, how they rise to the top of their field, watching closely to see how they react to both victory and defeat, accolades and rejections; we can learn a lot about the people themselves. We may find ourselves wishing we could be more like them, maybe even going so far as to make changes in how we conduct ourselves because we were inspired by them.

So yes, we may have role models both within and beyond our workplaces. At work we might find ourselves admiring a co-workers ability to connect with others, their resilient nature, perhaps their willingness to pitch in and offer help every time there’s a need. We might admire their strength, focus, laughter, humbleness, optimism, attendance; even their smiling face. Ever had a co-worker who lights up the room and brightens your day just by being there?

So who does it for you? Who is the one person – or do you have a few people – you see as role models? What is it that inspires you about them? What qualities of character, what actions is it that they perform that draw you to them? Sometimes it can be that we admire in others that which we already have in ourselves. At other times we can admire someone precisely because they possess in large quantity that which we wish we had more of.

You’ll often hear many role models talk about their awareness of the responsibility that comes with the role they’ve taken on. When they underachieve, act poorly or make a poor decision that has a negative impact on both their personal image and that of the organizations they represent, they’ll often apologize and cite their need as a role model to do better. They may ask for forgiveness, and if they do it well, may even endear themselves in a greater way with those that hold them up as their role model.

So in addition to the question of who is your role model or role models, let me ask you a second question. Who are you are role model for? Who is looking up to you and inspired by how you conduct yourself? Who wants to be just like you?

Has it caught you by surprise at all that you – yes you reading this right now – you are a role model for others? And your status of a role model can come from many different places. You may find for example that you’re being observed and watched as a parent. Your child or children are modeling themselves based on how they perceive you as their mother or father. Do they themselves look up to you and want to be the kind of parent you are to them one day? Or you might be a model Aunt or Uncle, brother or sister. Maybe you’re in a musical group, book club, sewing circle, theatre company, etc. and there’s other’s who look to you for their own inspiration.

In the workplace, how you go about your work can be held up as an example of what others could or should aspire to. You may look around yourself and note the behaviour, attitude and actions of others that you admire and wish you could be just as good as or certainly better than you do typically. They may be ordinary, everyday people, not ever to get on television or star in a movie, lead an organization or become rich or famous. Just an everyday, common but inspiring role model.

So here’s you’re opportunity to give them a nod of thanks. To perhaps surprise them with your nomination as a positive role model. It takes only a moment or two to say a thing or two about them in the comments section. Who do you admire and why?

If you do take a moment – and I really hope you have the time to share their impact on you – be sure to share this piece with them. What a nice thing to do for someone you see as your personal role model.

So who and why?

Awake The Giant!


Many people, maybe you perhaps, go through much of life living their days in a relatively state of complacency and routine. Each morning is a regular routine, the trip in to work is essentially the same route, taking approximately the same amount of time to travel. The work day might vary every so often with training or a unique encounter with a customer, but as you look back at the past month’s or years in a job, the days blend pretty much in a sea of normalcy.

At the close of the work day, the trek back home is made, another meal prepared and consumed, an evening spent and the cycle repeats itself. This life you’re living isn’t bad; it’s far from it perhaps. Your happy in fact, and generally content. Sure you have your moments with problems, challenges, frustrations and setbacks – we all do. However, you’ve also got your moments of challenges overcome, tasks completed, successes realized. Nothing is really wrong at all.

So if all this is true, if nothing is really wrong, why is it that from somewhere deep down inside, you occasionally feel this tremor; this stirring of something slumbering? Physically there may be nothing going on; it’s not indigestion, nor is it your last meal breaking down into nutrients and waste. No, something else is stirring restlessly from within; something far from physical – much more metaphysical. It might be hard to put into words beyond what I’ve done here but if you’ve felt it you know what I refer to.

It starts with a general awareness you get that something is stirring. That stirring is in response to what’s going on around you; your stimulated in some way with your environment or maybe someone you’re interacting with. If you fail to tune in to that deep inner feeling, it passes. There’s no harm done, you return to the life you’re leading and it subsides. It never really goes away completely, but it slumbers again for a period. Ah, but if you’re dialed in, attuned to the stirring; if you really live that moment in full self-awareness, you my friend, have the opportunity to awake the giant!

Some of you will never know what I’m referring to here. For you, this will be simply a romanticized post of whimsy and theatrics; a poetic rambling of nonsense to be dismissed. Might actually be the majority of you come to think of it. No matter. There are only so many Harry Potter’s, Frodo Baggins, Christopher Columbus’ and Sir Edmund Hilary’s in our world.

Or is that a falsehood? After all, don’t each of us star as the leading character in our own life stories? We are the ones that compose our lives, write our tales and no one else. So what kind of story are you writing? Is it a story filled with highs and lows, repeated defeats, struggles of mental health, loved one’s lost, and interjected moments of triumph and victory? Or is it a huge volume of mundane, commonplace, daily routines; where your decisions are which cereal to have at the start of your day?

What makes you come alive? What shakes the Giant within and gets you feeling invigorated? Have you found that yet? If you’ve had that feeling why aren’t you doing more to feed that feeling more often? And for each of us it’s different isn’t it? For we are on a quest of sorts. We’re on a journey from our present to our future self. In the stories that make good adventures such as Treasure Island or The Lord Of The Rings, hero’s don’t always recognize themselves as such. They start expecting life to be ordered and highly predictable and then some event comes along that changes all that.

If you’re waiting for pirates to abscond with you or some dwarves to come knocking at your door to take you on a quest, you might be waiting a rather long time – waiting your life away. Your stimulus; your calling, might just be internal and not external – the giant within. If you feed it, it grows. If you ignore it, it diminishes until it’s such a far cry from itself it’s barely recognizable.

For there are many adventures still to be found in 2018. While some are thousands of miles away, some are right where we live – where you live – all around you. There are tyrants and victims, the oppressed and the hungry, lives to be saved and people to be helped up. There are those to advocate for, some to be rescued, and the hero to do all these things and more isn’t charging in on some distant horizon. The hero my friend is – perhaps – the giant that slumbers within Y-O-U.

Sure, go on and nod your head in disbelief. Jim Hawkins didn’t believe it, nor did Frodo when talking to Gandalf. Most hero’s at some point say, “But I am only one! What can I do?” Ah, but there is a slumbering giant within us all my friend. Imagine how powerful we might be if we not only awoke the giant within us but stirred the giant in others to join us; to work with us, to journey with us! Then what could we not do collectively together?

Now the next time you feel this stirring from within, pay heed my friend. Ask not where it comes from but rather what is it in response to around you that stirs it?

The Expectation of Hope


Think about the services and or goods you offer your customers or clients. Every one of the people who choose to receive what you offer do so in the expectation that what they get fulfills a need or want. In short, they hope that you can deliver on a promise and their expectation will either be fulfilled or left wanting. Never forget this.

The greater the hopes of the person with whom you interact, the greater the responsibility to deliver on your service to meet and/or exceed their expectations. So think for a moment about the demographics of the people you serve. How needy or desperate are they? Have they cause to feel skeptical or perhaps even cynical about what they might receive? For many people, their trust has been taken advantage of numerous times leading up to their encounter with you. All those past negative experiences, most of which you know little or nothing about whatsoever, go a long way to explaining their obvious lack of trust in what you can deliver.

If we lose sight of this when we first encounter someone – and it’s not inconceivable that the very best of us do so from time-to-time, we might misinterpret their lack of enthusiasm for our help as being indifferent, unmotivated, disconnected or only mildly motivated at best. The actual truth may be that they are indeed seeking out help with great earnest, but when it comes to having faith and getting their hopes raised only to be dashed yet again, their cautious. No one but the person knows how many times that hope was given and abused or neglected with the care it deserved.

This is a position of trust we’ve got you and me. As a Service Provider, our client or customer is the very reason we’re in business. Treat our customers well and deliver on what we promise and we get a following. Mistreat our customers, play on their blind trust and abuse them in the process and our reputations suffer as a result. Not only our reputations by the way, but the reputation of our employer by association and this extends further out into the public domain. Hence people generalize and say things like, “All retailers are so and so, all government workers are this and that,” and eventually, “you can’t trust anyone.”

So it’s not hard to imagine that look of exasperation on their face, that smirk of disbelief, and you know you’re only getting lip service in reply to your offer of genuine help. It’s easy to misinterpret such behaviour and body language as communicating a lack of commitment or even laziness. You might wonder, “What have I done to deserve this? I’m trying my best and getting nowhere.”

Move away from your own perspective, from one you need to get out of the meeting. What’s important here is to focus on the person before you and empathize with their situation, questioning and listening with compassion to understand their perspective; all of which comes out of the sum of their past experiences. The most vulnerable of people are often the ones who trust blindly and without reservation. They innocently believe people will always work in their best interests, deliver on what they promise and do what they say they will. When that trust is betrayed and the person left wanting again and again, eventually that innocence and trust is replaced with mistrust and self-preservation.

Our responsibility then when we first meet people is to ensure that whatever we promise we can indeed deliver on. We don’t want to be yet another person that let them down, that promised something and didn’t come through on. For who knows, we may not just be “yet another person who let me down”; we just might be, “the last person who’s going to let me down – the final straw.”

People come to us with hope. They hope that we can be helpful, that we can move them forward toward whatever the goal they wish to reach is. Whether it’s a purchase made online, help determining career direction, employment advice, or help repairing a fragile relationship, they come with hope.

Don’t always expect that hope and trust are given. In some ways, the bond you forge with someone who initially presents as suspicious of your motives and holds back from fully investing their hopes in you and what you might do can be richer and far more rewarding when their trust is gained. Those initial first seeds of hope that you sow in someone’s mind can be cultivated over time to produce a lasting change; possibly even renewing their confidence and faith in believing in others.

Hope is why people even show up to meet with you and I. Oh sure they might have to come to meet some legislative requirement or ‘play the system’ to get a desired outcome. I get that. But to think they have zero hope at the same time is a mistake. Hope is a wonderful thing to possess and an even better thing to know you’ve reciprocated and delivered on. To act in such a way that supports what you’ve promised and have someone express gratitude for what you’ve done for them is a wonderful thing.

Today, think about the hope YOU represent for the people you meet with. See if this awareness in the moment changes the dialogue.

 

Bulletin Board Of Inspired Quotes


Last week I had a moment of inspiration while spending some time in our Resource Centre. Just like you; just like anyone I suppose, that moment came where I thought, “I wonder if other people will think as much of this idea as I do; it has a lot of potential.”

Now ours is a place to go exclusively for those in receipt of Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program social assistance programs. So essentially those who make use of it may be there for a number of reasons. Some look for jobs, housing, attend workshops and seminars or get help finding community services. Others use it as a place to network, socialize, have someone they can trust hear them out, make a phone call or use the fax/copy services. We attract a variety of purposes, even though our centre is at present limited to these two groups.

At the rear of our drop-in Resource Centre are 5 boards we’ve typically used in the past to put up the latest job postings. Observation of these boards has suggested that while some people continue to scan them for employment possibilities, more and more users tend to sit down at one of the 20 computers we have and look for jobs themselves; finding them as they are posted throughout a day.

This has led our team to re-examine the effectiveness of having all 5 of these boards filled with jobs and duplicating what people find themselves. I stood looking at an empty board the other day and thought about what I or we could do with that board other than job opportunities. Then it came to me. I’d search online for motivational quotes and stick them up on the board with the invitation to take whatever a person wanted or needed. But would it work?

I began by turning to the internet and went to Bing. Sorry Google, but I’m a Bing man. I searched, “Quotes with pictures” and clicked on Images which gave me the result of photographs and illustrations with various motivational or insightful quotes overlaid on them. These I scanned, choosing the ones I thought might particularly appeal to the audience they would attract.

Characteristically, the people who would stand before this board might be unemployed, anxious, perhaps lacking career direction, feeling despair, loneliness, isolation, depression, dwindling hope, low self-esteem, medically and mentally fragile and frustrated. On the other hand they may also be resilient, determined to succeed, need support, adaptable, hopeful, open to change and thankful.

When I found a quote I liked and hoped might speak personally to someone in a public space, I saved the photo to the computer I was on and then copied and pasted the photo/quote to a Word document I called, “Quotes with pictures”. Yes, painfully obvious; but that’s what file names are supposed to be right?

Then it was left to me to print several pages of these gather quotes with pictures and make sure they were of various sizes, so they’d appeal more to the eye as a collage and not looking too institutionalized. With 7 or 8 pages of these quotes, I cut them all to size and pinned them to the board, taking care to ensure they were randomly placed by theme, size and image. In the center of the board I placed, “Please Take What You Need”; an invitation to help yourself to anyone looking.

That was just Friday last and yesterday combined. With anything new, you’ve got two choices; direct people who don’t notice to what you’ve done or allow people to discover what’s new on their own. In a place like ours, people can get robotic; come in, do their thing, leave, return, repeat. I opted to let people go the self-discovery way. After all, I didn’t want people to feel they had to compliment me on the board, nor did I want people to feel they should take something just to please me.

I was delighted to later have a fellow come up to me with 7 or 8 of the quotes in his hand and double-check to see if he really could take them with him or if he was expected to photocopy what he took and replace them. When I told him to help himself; that they were there for the taking, he smiled and appeared quite happy. I could have asked why those 7 or 8. I could have looked at them to know which ones to replace. I could have started data collecting to see what speaks to people and then use that information to start conversations with people on whatever they wanted to talk about. I didn’t do any of these things. I replaced the quotes with more.

If you like this idea or some resemblance of it, feel free to duplicate it all or in part and adapt it to your space and your audience. You can also search by topic: leadership, hope, goal setting, courage, team work, strength, wisdom – the list is only as long as your own imagination. There’s other ways of arriving at the same finished products too; you could make your own quotes and insert them as text over your own photos. You could also use a colour printer. Or what about one colour photo in a sea of black and white ones – just to see the impact?

Conversation starter or source of inspiration; my share with you to start August 2017.

What Do You Do With All Those Quotes?


You see them everywhere; on posters attached to beautiful images, in hallways in offices, all over the internet, and in some publications – quotes.

Some people have a quote or two that are special to them for the inspiration or perspective they provide. One of my own pesonal favourites is an Italian proverb that goes, “At the end of the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.” To me, it’s just a quick reminder that no matter how important I become, or how important the people I interact with are, we all eventually come to the same end. As much of the work I do is with financially disadvantaged people, it helps keep me grounded.

But my question to you is what do you DO with all those quotes in your workplace? Quotes give some people cause for reflection and for others, they read them and give it next to no thought whatsoever. The posters that adorn some workplaces that have quotes on them are routinely passed in the halls by staff all day long without anyone pausing to think about the words printed there. So of what value are they? There is even a website called Despair.com dedicated to this idea. On this website there are wondferful images matched with sayings that are actually demotivational. It was established in response to the belief that many people just look at the pictures and don’t really read the print message.

If you facilitate workshops as I do, perhaps you integrate quotes and sayings into your lesson plans. What is the response of the people you share them with? Do quotes have a lasting value? Do you yourself try to live and work with some kind of quote that captures your personal belief or philosophy? If so, what is it, and why does that hold such meaning for you that you try to live by that saying?

Sometimes when I’m leading a workshop, I’ll put enough quotes on the board for the number of participants, and after the lunch hour, I’ll ask each person to explain the quote that they have chosen prior to the break. This gets people thinking, and creates some discussion. It also gives me an idea of participants ability to interpret correctly the meaning behind the words. I may discover literacy issues, expanded vocabularies, new meanings I hadn’t thought of myself, and generally provides the group with an interactive learning opportunity. If I have 15 people in a room, I’ll either ask them to choose the quote they want to address on a first chosen first assigned basis (which gets people shooting their hands up quickly) or I’ll just ask people to pick a number from 1 to 15 when they have no idea why they are picking a number, and then reveal the connection with  the corresponding quotes. Number 1 gets quote 1 on the board etc. to number 15.

So what do YOU DO with all those quotes? Let me know, I’m interested.