Friday, June 26, 2009

A few words from Harvey

As I was reviewing emails that I recieved while on vacation earlier this month, I found this one from Harvey Mackay that I wanted to share with you this evening.

But first, a personal note. Everyone should get fired at least once in their life. Hopefully early in life when you can get another job. But first you need to learn why you were fired and then correct that mistake/problem.

I got fired from one of my first radio disc jockey jobs. I got fired from my first radio advertising jobs. I even got fired from one job because I was late too many times. (My next job, I had perfect attendance for 2 years.) You have to learn from these lessons and become better. Now here's Harvey:

Harvey Mackay's Column This Week

Ability is useless unless it is used

Elephants are powerful creatures, yet when you see them at a circus they stand quietly tied only to a small chain and metal stake. They could easily break free, yet they don't. Why?

When elephants are young they are tied to a heavy chain and immovable metal stake. They soon discover that no matter how hard they try, they can't break free. As elephants grow and become strong, they still believe they can't escape, as long as there is a chain around their neck and a stake in the ground beside them.

People are a lot like elephants in that they feel constrained. They never stretch beyond their self-imposed limitations.

You can't let others stop you. You have to unleash your power.

Often, our ability to accomplish a difficult task is directly related to our confidence that we can accomplish it. You have to believe in your ability and capitalize on your strengths. Look at it this way: If you can identify a reasonable solution to a problem, and you think you have the necessary skills to fix it, chances are you will be successful. Otherwise, you wouldn't even try.

Author Glenn Van Ekeren describes it well: "All people are created with the equal ability to become unequal. Not everyone is equipped with the same talents, gifts or abilities. Each of us is created in a unique way. Our personalities are as diverse as the universe itself. Yet there is one constant: We can, by using what we have to the fullest, stand out from the crowd."

Thomas Edison was almost deaf, but he didn't waste valuable time trying to teach himself to hear. Instead, he concentrated on the things he did best: thinking, organizing and creating. He believed in his ability and accomplished great things because of it.

A lot of famous people would never have achieved success if they had not stretched themselves and refused to listen to those who tried to hold them back. They believed in their abilities.

  • The MGM testing director for Fred Astaire's first screen test wrote: "Can't act! Slightly bald! Can dance a little!" Astaire displayed this memo in his Beverly Hills home.
  • Emily Dickinson had only seven poems published in her lifetime.
  • Albert Einstein was called "mentally retarded" by one observer, and others criticized him for not wearing socks and having long hair.
  • Sigmund Freud was booed from the podium when he first presented his ideas to the European scientific community. Fortunately, he returned to his office and kept on writing.
  • Jerry Seinfield was jeered off stage during his initial appearance at a comedy club for stage fright. He returned the following night to wild applause.

The late Bill Walsh, former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was considered a career assistant coach and not head coaching material. His unorthodox ideas were shunned. Finally after 21 years as an assistant coach, new 49ers owner, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., recognized Walsh's ability and hired him as head coach. Three Super Bowl wins later, Bill Walsh proved the importance of recognizing people's unique abilities.

One of the points I mention in my speeches is that NFL head coaches Bill Walsh, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll and Jimmy Johnson accounted for 11 Super Bowl championships. Ironically, they also share the distinction of having the worst first-year records of head coaches in NFL history, with only four wins total among the four. The people who hired them maintained confidence in their ability.

The ability to recognize ability is a top management skill. As any manager knows, hiring a person they don't necessarily like is a gamble. Generally, ability trumps personality.

A friend of mine hired a quiet—some might say anti-social—woman as his company's CFO because of her fiscal know how. She rarely left her office and spoke to almost no one. In fact, the only way most folks knew whether she was in the office was seeing her car in the parking lot. But for 25 years, the woman was a financial genius. At her retirement party, she said a few words of thanks. It was the first time many had even heard her voice. Not a people person, to be sure. But her fellow employees knew they owed their jobs to the woman who had the ability to handle the budget and steer the ship through the roughest waters.

Mackay's Moral: There's always room at the table for those who are able.

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