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 Helping Managers and Salespeople Thrive in Turbulent Times Vol. 1, #7, July 2003 
in this issue
  • Anticipation
  • About Jim Schaffer & Associates


  • Greetings!

    This month we discuss how to find motivation in less-than-inspiring times.

    Just click "reply" to send along your comments at any time.

    Best regards,

    Jim Schaffer
    President, Jim Schaffer & Associates


    Anticipation


    "These are the good old days."
    Carly Simon


    Last month we focused on learning to savor the daily tasks and not just strive for life's occasional peak moments. It's so much easier to do that, though, when the economy is expanding and opportunity fills the air like the scent of ozone after a thundershower.

    But how do you learn to love the plateau when work consists in large part of doggedly cranking out the numbers between senior management's announcements of the latest re-org?

    Most of us in Corporate America are waiting right now for some external event, an inspirational leader, a hot product, even for summer to be over to provide motivation and fuel for a new phase of our careers. Alas, we are waiting, as Samuel Beckett's characters did throughout much of the last century, for Godot.

    There is an old saying: "When you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him." The answers, the inspiration, will not come from someone or something outside of ourselves. It is only by looking within that we will find them.

    Finding these answers and this richness is in itself a daily practice. San Francisco Zen priest Norman Fischer, in his new book Taking Our Places, urges us to develop the quality of persistence in our lives:


    "The real beauty of persistence is that it eventually blossoms into trust. And trust is the secret ingredient, the magic of our lives. A trust in what is. And a trust in yourself, confident that whatever happens, you will be able to make use of it somehow."


    In other words, he is saying, real inspiration comes from showing up every day, sticking to it, and understanding that the results of what you do may not become evident for a long time, perhaps even longer than you will be in your current job. But eventually the results will reveal themselves to you, uncovering what in Eastern culture is called your karma.

    Development of this steadiness, this persistence, will ultimately make us more effective and provide us with a depth and richness to our careers even in humdrum times.

    Persistence should become easier as we get older. Can't you look back over your career and smile when you remember both good times and bad, and realize that the richness and the significance of those moments came from how you and others behaved, not from such ephemera as perceived "success" or "failure?"


    How, then, in times such as ours, do we turn persistence into inspiration?There is no easy answer, but here are some concepts to keep in mind each day as you show up for work and perform your daily tasks:


    1. If You're Going to Be Here, Be Here. In this country, each of us is at his job by choice. Wouldn't it be foolish to spend your days thinking about what you dislike about it or what might be better somewhere else? If you reach a point at which your job truly does become untenable, you know the steps to take to get out and you will take them. Until then, why not just let go of all that ambivalence and just be here?
    2. That Was Then, This Is Now. Your past deserves a place of honor in your own mind if in no-one else's. But your own vision of where you once were may not serve you too well right now if you grip it too tightly. Do you know who one of Fred Astaire's good friends was in his later years? Michael Jackson. It would've been easier for Fred to sit in a room with his awards or to surround himself with only his contemporaries — instead he insisted on exploring the present, even when he himself could no longer be the center of attention
    3. Every Obstacle Is a Teacher. You think you've got problems? We know there is no such thing as a life without them. I can tell you from experience, though, that if you spend a number of years approaching your difficult challenges with a quiet attitude of "What is really going on here? What am I to learn from this?" you may find yourself smiling at adversity one day as your colleagues wonder how you stay so centered in the midst of a maelstrom.

    4. Choose Your Companions Wisely. Self-help gurus love to exhort us to "find our passion." Aren't you sick of that? It's been my experience that most of us already know what turns us on, but that's quite a different animal from coming to work every day for several decades and maintaining one's motivation. Far more effective is surrounding ourselves with folks that have a zest for life and give us the juice to re-locate our own on a daily basis. Conversely, descending into office politics and gripe sessions may seem like a harmless release of stress, but it will drag you down faster than a bad piece of mahi-mahi.


    Right now has the potential to be as rich a time in your career as any other; the ability to perceive it as such lies solely within you.Whether or not your customers behave the way you'd like, your objectives are met exactly as you envisioned them, your paycheck looks precisely as you think it should, you can still develop a deep feeling of richness by showing up every day, cultivating persistence, and staying open to what lies in front of you. Over time, this daily constancy will blossom into feelings of inner serenity and provide the inspiration you are seeking.


    Bad times? Perhaps. But in a much broader sense these are the good old days — the only ones we are given.


    Keep the Faith, Babies!

    For the lyrics to Anticipation by Carly Simon, click here

    About Jim Schaffer & Associates

    Jim Schaffer & Associates helps management teams & salespeople stay focused, get results and keep high morale — regardless of what may be going on around them.




    Copyright 2003 by Jim Schaffer & Associates.

    To subscribe to this newsletter, simply send an email with your request to: jim@jimschaffer.com.

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  •      email: jim@jimschaffer.com
         voice: 617-332-9105
         web: http://www.jimschaffer.com
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