Susan Ford Collins

Mom, I Want to be a NASA Astronaut

By Susan Ford Collins

I was speaking about the power of children's dreams, and the even more awesome power adults have to make or break them, when a woman in the audience raised her hand. "Susan, I've got the perfect story for you to share."

"When our daughter turned five, she told us that she was going to be a NASA astronaut when she grew up. She would sit mesmerized in front of our TV during every space shot. And while her father and I were sipping our soup at dinner one night, we realized simultaneously that she actually saw herself as a member of the crew.

Suddenly we moved beyond the glaze of day-to-day living long enough to realize that we were at a crucial decision-point: Was this a passing fancy or her mission? We could continue silently pooh-poohing her dream as something a boy could do but not a girl—a feeling we both knew was definitely there inside us. Or, we could line up with her.

We decided to line up with her. So when she asked us what she needed to do to become an astronaut, we took her seriously and found out. When she needed help completing elaborate science projects, we made time to support her. When she wanted to go to science camps instead the camps her girl friends attended, we remembered her dream and continued to nurture it."

"And you'll be happy to know that our daughter is a NASA astronaut. She was aboard the last shot. And as the roar of the rockets blurred our words that morning at Cape Kennedy, my husband and I shouted agreement that we had made the right choice."

Our children's dreams are the seeds of the future, precious future solutions to the problems we face today and tomorrow. As we build our children's self-confidence, the second most important thing we can do is to nurture their dreams—agreeing with their possibilities, arguing for their success... not their failure, and appreciating their greatness in advance.

(c) Susan Ford Collins, 2016. All rights reserved.

* For more on Success Skills 3 and 4, Dreaming and Co-dreaming, read The Joy of Success or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

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I Was Awakened Underwater... by Golden Light

By Susan Ford Collins

I received a text message that severe thunderstorms were moving into our area. A moment later the sky opened and we seemed to be in the midst of a hurricane punctuated by flashes and crashes. My dog Honey was shaking. An hour later the storm had passed but the power was still off so I decided to walk Honey before it got dark. A quick jaunt around the block and we headed into my side gate and across the stepping stones in my banana jungle as we had hundreds of times before. But this time was different.

Midway across the water, my right foot suddenly slid out from under me. There must have been algae on the rain-covered surface. The next thing I remember was the thunderous sound of the back of my head cracking hard against the edge of the round concrete stepping stone.

I wasn’t aware that I had fallen in the water until my eyes opened and I saw a bright circle of golden light with glistening air bubbles rising up from my mouth to the surface. I realized in a flash that I would drown unless I could raise my head and take a breath... now! 

Knowing how hard my head hit and the sound it made, I was unsure whether my arms and legs were still working. But with one life-intending push I lifted my head out of the water and took at breath! The banana pond is 5 feet deep and the bottom and sides are sharp coral rock. How would I get out before I lost consciousness? I realized my shoe had fallen off so I rummaged around until I found it and began grappling my way out of the dark water. Once standing, I remembered I had my cell phone in a pouch around my waist. It was wet so I couldn’t call for help… besides Albert was away and completely unaware of my predicament.

When I finally got in the house, I lit a couple of candles to see how badly I was injured and figure out what to do next. I pulled off my wet clothes and touched the back of my head with my hand and was stunned to see it come back covered with blood. And, that I had “an extra kneecap” on my right shin… or so it seemed because of the rapid swelling in that area.

Was I neurologically OK? I tried talking and I could. I tried moving my arms and legs up and down and they worked. I seemed to be mentally alert and functional but I was so used to auto-dialing people that I couldn’t remember their phone numbers, and it didn’t matter because, with no power and an internet phone in the house, I had no dial tone. Now what? 

I was focused on one thing… getting to my daughter’s home 10 miles away. Margaret is a doctor and I knew she would know exactly what steps I should take. She had been my medical savior in the past so I was eager to get her input this time as well. I found Honey’s leash and made sure I had my wallet and medical cards, then climbed in my car and carefully headed south to where she lives. They had a new gate installed that afternoon so her first thought was, oh good, Mom’s here to see the gate. Then my teenage grandson met me at the door and saw blood streaming down my neck. “Are you okay?”

No. I’m not, and I began to explain why I couldn’t call from home so they could come get me (the power was off), why I couldn’t call from my cellphone either (it went in the water with me). Then someone handed me an ice pack and a blanket and Margaret came up with a plan. She would drive me to the Urgent Care Center near her home. I felt bad about sending her back to work after she had put in 10 straight exhausting days, but this was a crisis and she assured me that she wouldn’t sleep a wink if we didn’t get my injuries assessed.

When we arrived at the center, I felt safer. After filling out forms and handing them my insurance cards, we were guided back to an examining room and Margaret checked to see who the radiologist on duty was. A friend she deeply trusted so we both relaxed as the nurse took my blood pressure which is typically athletically low but had shot up to 202. The doctor came in and parted my still-wet hair so she could see where I was cut and whether I would need stitches. Yes, but first a CAT Scan of my head and a plain film of my suspected broken right leg. I kept saying, “No, I can walk fine.” But, by the looks of “that extra knee cap,” the evidence seemed to indicate otherwise. When Margaret’s colleague read the X-rays, and she looked at them too. My right leg was whole and there was no bleed in my skull. Whew!

All that remained was cleaning the wound and stapling it closed. Margaret said they look just like office staples. And they do. The bleeding stopped and they handed me a tube of antibiotic cream and told me I could take a quick shower when I got home… one of the advantages of stapling she added.

On the ride back to Margaret’s, she told me she felt much better now that the worst scenarios had been ruled out. I was blessed! I would spend the night at her home. I was exhausted and sleep sounded wonderful, but when I tried to lay my head on the pillow, a sudden new reality set in. The very place where my skull touched the pillow was the very spot where the staples were, and turning my head to either side didn’t work either. I had wrenched my neck too. It ached and pulsed. I drifted off for a couple of minutes but woke up in terror again.

I had left two candles burning in my house! I had to drive home and check! So I woke Margaret and told her I needed help turning off their alarm and finding my keys. I gathered up Honey and headed home with a clear agreement… I would call as soon as I arrived home.

But when I got there, the power was still off even though I had been told it would be back on by 9. I tried plugging in my wired phone… which involved moving my bed, bending over to pug the phone connection in tightly so the circular cover would snap closed… but there was no dial tone. I kept praying for the sound of the AC going on, or the sudden burst of light from a lamp I may have left on when the power went off. But nothing.

At daylight I walked Honey, hoping to see a neighbor so I could use his phone but no one was up and no lights were on. When I started a second loop, a friend came out of his house to pick up the paper and I waved and shouted, “I need help.” I used his cell phone to call Margaret, but she had finally fallen asleep and didn’t answer. At least I had done everything I could to keep my agreement. An hour later the power came on, and the air conditioner and the lights I had left on. And I could finally call to explain what had happened and let them that I was safe and OK.

The candles had burned out on their own, leaving a long wine-colored trail of wax on the table as evidence.

Now I could look back and rethink what had happened. I walked over to the stepping stones to figure out how I had fallen back-first into the water. And one life-saving memory kept blazing in my mind… that bright golden light-filled image of glistening bubbles coming up from my mouth as I lay there in shock in the water. The golden image that alerted me to lift my head and take a breath… now! I wondered where that golden light had come from. When I fell it was dusk and overcast and the banana pond was under a huge leafy sapodilla tree. Why wasn’t it dark when I looked up? With a chill I knew the answer… that golden light was Spirit coming to my rescue, empowering me to take action to save my life. Reminding me that I still had work to do. It wasn’t my time to leave.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on Committing to Outcome, go to Success Skill 7 in The Joy of Success or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

You Learn More From “Failure” than “Success”… or Do You?

By Susan Ford Collins

You’ve probably heard the old saying… you learn more from your failures than your successes. Well maybe, but not necessarily. Let me explain why.

If you fail to get the result you want and let that experience slip back into memory AS IS, your brain will unconsciously recall that upset and disappointment whenever you’re in similar situations creating dread and hesitation in the future. You know the feeling… Oh no. Not again. Procrastination, avoidance and, like it or not, repetition. That’s just the way our brain works.

Despite what “they” say, you don’t learn more from failures… you actually learn less… because unconsciously thereafter you avoid opportunities to learn more and gain more experience. But if you Update that memory, by thinking through what you learned, you can learn more.

Here’s How to Update a Failure… 3 Essential Steps

1-Imagine watching that failure scene again. (If was really painful, imagine viewing it on a movie screen while you sit in the audience. This will give you perspective and disconnect old painful emotions!

2-This time picture that situation working out. What would it take to be a success instead? How could you change what you thought and did, what others thought and did? What expertise could you use to switch that experience from negative to positive? This process of mentally transforming a failure into a success is called Updating… an essential skill you need to know, and use, to be fearless enough to change a product, system and our world. To be creative and innovative.

3-Once you have the details of that Updated success scene clearly in mind, step into it and experience it… see it, hear it, taste it, smell it… and by all means feel the pleasure of it working out. In this step, you do want to feel the emotion, so enjoy it and savor it. Memorize this Updated version so your brain can access it the next time you go into in a similar situation. So you will feel confident.

Why does Updating work?

To our brains, thoroughly detailed virtual experiences work the same way real experiences do… and even better. This was demonstrated years ago by Dr. Maxwell Maltz who had two teams practice basketball. He told one team to go on the court and practice as usual. Maltz had the other team mentally/virtually shoot basketballs and imagine making every shot. A perfect performance! Which team did better the next time they played? You guessed it. The team that pre-experienced doing it perfectly.

Bottom line, to learn more, increase the time you spend Updating past failures (no matter how long ago they occurred!) so you can be far more successful in your future. And far more confident and enthusiastic now.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com.

 

*For more on Updating, read Skill Six in The Joy of Success or Our Children Are Watching.

***

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

 $14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

 

10 Responsibilites of a Highly Successful Leader

By Susan Ford Collins

As leaders, what is expected of us at work, at home and in our communities? What do those who follow us need so they can become successful... effective, efficient and ultimately creative? So they can bring forth the next generation of ideas, systems, inventions and innovations?

Here is a deep and sensitive look at what others really want from us. Isn't this exactly what you want from your leaders now... or you wish they had given you in the past?

A Declaration of Leadership... 10 Responsibilities of a Highly Successful Leader

1- We are responsible for being trustworthy leaders, for allowing those who follow us to have confidence in us until we can help them build confidence in themselves... self-confidence. We are responsible for protecting and educating them until they can effectively take over these responsibilities themselves.

2- We need to recognize when those we lead are ready for independence when they need more freedom, less control and supervision. We must sense when to shift from acknowledging compliance to our rules and regulations, to acknowledging their productivity and competition, their creativity and innovation.

3- We need to support them as they begin dreaming their own dreams—pre-experiencing desired outcomes along with them or suggesting others who can assist them in discovering appropriate first steps.

4-We need to communicate patiently and skillfully, making it safe for our followers to share their evolving ideas, likes and dislikes, choices and preferences—handling their “newborn dreams like tiny precious butterflies.” By respecting their choices now, we encourage them to respect others’ choices when they will lead later.

5- We need to provide expertise until we can find other experts to assist them, or they learn how to select and vet experts on their own.

6- We are responsible for updating their fears and disappointments, or finding experts who can. We need to regularly update old rules and limits that we set for them, helping expand their Safe Zone and contract their Danger Zone. And opening the door to The Potential Zone, the zone where they will create our future as well.

7- We need to hold their outcomes with them, especially when they don't have the foggiest idea what to do next, when they get discouraged or fall into the depths of impossibility. We need to cheer them all the way to completion and greater creativity.

8- We are responsible for shielding their dreams from the cold drafts and scorching heat of others’ disagreement and overpowering statements of impossibility. We need to say things to them that they will need to say to themselves. Yes, you can. (Yes, I can.) You need to think of another way. )I need to think of another way.) Let's hold this outcome together until we can find other *Co-dreamers... people who will keep the details of your dream alive in their hearts and minds with you, people you can talk to when upsets and setbacks make you temporarily forget where you are headed. People who can help re-install the details of your dream destination and re-energize you as you set out again.

9- We are responsible for turning negative thoughts into positives ones by asking switching questions. If you don't want this, what do you want? If this doesn't work, what might work instead? If you don't know this, who might know it? Even when we disagree with their outcome in the moment, we need to encourage them to keep asking for what they want, from us and from others. And we need to celebrate their success with them when they finally get there... to attend their product launches, award ceremonies, weddings and baby showers.

10- As leaders, we are responsible for maintaining our health and balance—monitoring our food and exercise, feeling the effect it is having on our health, on our moods and emotions, so those around us will learn how to maintain their health and balance too. We need to remember that we are leading by example 24/7. We need to be powerful inspiring, happy, healthy models.

And, we need to extend the same care and sensitivity to other leaders and followers with whom we work and live.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

The 10 Responsibilities of a Leader... a Parent or Grandparent

By Susan Ford Collins

As the stages of life advance, the stages of our responsiblities advance too. From taking care of ourselves, to taking care of our spouses and businesses, to most exciting and most challenging of all... taking care of our children and our children's children. What is expected of us then?

First, we are responsible for being trustworthy leaders, for allowing those who follow us to have confidence in us until we can help build their self-confidence. We are responsible for keeping them safe and educating them until they can take over these responsibilities themselves.

Second, we need to sense when those who follow us need more freedom, when they’re ready for more independence. We must sense when to shift from acknowledging compliance to our rules, to acknowledging their production and competition, their creativity and innovation. And teaching them how to acknowledge themselves.

Third, we need to assist our children as they begin dreaming their own  dreams—pre-experiencing desired outcomes with them and assisting them in finding appropriate methods for completing them.

Fourth, we need to communicate patiently and skillfully, making it safe for them to share likes and dislikes, choices and preferences—handling their “infant dreams like tiny precious butterflies.” By respecting their wishes now, we encourage them to respect others’ wishes in the future.

Fifth, we must provide the expertise they will need until we can find other experts to assist them, or they learn how to select experts on their own.

Sixth, we are responsible for updating their fears and disappointments, for learning how to do this ourselves or finding experts who can. We need to regularly update old rules and limits we’ve set for them, helping to expand their Safe Zone and contract their Danger Zone. Opening the door to The Potential Zone, the zone where they will create our future as well.

Seventh, we need to hold their outcomes with them, especially when they don't have the foggiest idea what to do next, when they get discouraged or fall into the depths of impossibility. We need to cheer them all the way to completion and greater self-confidence.

Eighth, we are responsible for shielding their dreams from the cold drafts and scorching heat of others’ disagreement. We need to say things they will need to say to themselves. Yes, you can.(Yes, I can.) You need to think of another way. (I need to think of another way.) Or, let's hold this dream together until we can find co-dreamers who will nurture it with us.

Ninth, we are responsible for switching negative thoughts to positive ones. I know you feel you can't, but I know you can. What do you really want? How will you feel when you've completed it? What difference will it make in your life, and others’ lives? Even when they’re frustrated or disappointed in us, we need to encourage them to keep asking for what they want from us, and from others.

Tenth, as leaders, we are responsible for maintaining our health and balance—monitoring our food and exercise and the effect it is having on us, on our moods and emotions, so they will know how to maintain their balance as well. We need to remember… we are leading by example 24/7.

And, of course, we need to extend the same care and sensitivity to our followers at work and in the world.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

 $14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins


Becoming a Grandparent... a Hard to Believe Moment!

By Susan Ford Collins

Exhausted from a 14 hour day, I had been asleep for 15 minutes when a call from my daughter Cathy suddenly woke me up, "Mom, I think my water just broke."

Those words took me back to 31 years before. I had been baking cookies with one eye on late news, when a sudden gush of warm water rearranged our evening’s plans. Grabbing pre-packed bags, my husband and I immediately headed for the hospital and, in less than two hours, I was holding Cathy in my arms.

With that memory prodding me, I packed quickly and drove an hour and a half north to West Palm Beach, praying I would arrive there before the baby did, and rehearsing what I'd say if I was stopped by a state trooper.

But what happened to me didn't happen to Cathy. After two hours, anesthesiologist Dad-to-be Alan and I were still tossing and turning on lumpy cots in her room. At sunrise we took pictures of her sitting up in bed, ready and beautiful. But she wasn't in labor. The birth was 34 days early, so the doctors ran tests to determine her baby's maturity. Twelve hours later, the results were all positive. They would induce labor the next morning at six.

After 20 minutes on Pitocin, a printout of high spikes and low valleys confirmed that Cathy was in labor. Alan stood to her left, breathing through the pains with her. Her sister Margaret and I took turns on the right.

The pain increased and she needed anesthesia, but the anesthesia failed to work for this anesthesiologist’s wife… despite three painful attempts at correctly inserting the needle in her spine. My doctor-daughter Margaret and I winced as we watched her husband stand helplessly by observing a procedure, he had done successfully 200 times, go wrong on his wife. Having instantaneously assessed that jumping over the bed and jerking the needle out of that doctor's hand was illegal and inappropriate, he remained as calm as those circumstances allowed.

Cathy rose to the occasion. Focusing on her breathing, she managed herself masterfully for 12 grueling hours with only a minute between pains. As the baby’s head crowned, the obstetrician shouted, "Keep your eyes open!” On the next push, he helped Cathy reach down and deliver her own baby. At 5:47 p.m. Dylan's cone-shaped head and slippery supple body finally emerged, and Cathy pulled him up to her chest lovingly, gasping and sobbing as she glimpsed their new son for the first time. We all stood awed by the miracle of birth.

His waxy face looked exactly like Cathy's had when she was born—the same tiny nose, the same peachy complexion. But this baby was my daughter's, not mine. Our babies looked alike, but our deliveries were quite different. I had been taken off to labor alone, comforted only by a call button and overwhelming anesthesia. My husband paced the halls while my mother, recovering from electroshock therapy, sat limply by in the waiting room, knowing I was her daughter but not remembering my name.

As Cathy began to nurse her new baby, I reflected on the profound changes that had occurred in the generation between these births, changes in my life and my society. Today I can ask for what I want, and, even when I'm told No, I still hold my outcome. And I've long since learned how to avoid individuals who try to manipulate and control me—attempting to get their way by blocking mine.

But I hadn't known how to ask for what I wanted when I was Cathy's age, and even if I had, the hospital staff would have told me no. What I wanted didn't matter to them, bound by procedures, right ways and wrong ways, have tos and musts. So I simply did what I was told.

This birth was different. First and foremost, Cathy and Alan focused on their baby's safety and health. Second, they expected their staff to perform effectively and efficiently. Third, and most satisfying, Cathy and Alan had made choices. Dylan's birth was their creation. They had been preparing for months—visiting local hospitals to discover the one they wanted, interviewing obstetricians, pediatricians and delivery nurses to ensure their personalities would be compatible. Cathy had chosen a room with a sunrise view of the water.

It had never occurred to me to look at rooms when I delivered, to find which ones I liked and I didn't. So when Cathy asked me to walk through the halls to check out rooms with her, I was constrained by a certain residual compliance. I had taught her to make choices and she was comfortable doing it—even more comfortable than I was at times.

Cathy and Alan chose to leave the phone turned on during labor so friends could check on her progress. Nurses came as needed, doctors did too. There was no secrecy, no separation or aloneness. Anyone could hold her hand. Anyone could brush her hair, not just genetic family but family of heart. The entire birthing process took place in her room. Alan and I slept there the whole time. Dylan stayed there too, his tiny rolling glass-sided bed always within eyeshot. We bonded as a family in those precious first days.

I had reached a new level—The Grandparent Level. My leadership responsibilities had expanded again.

The Grandparent Level

My children are now asking me how to raise their child—how and when to feed him, when and how to bathe and pick him up. I am no longer just parenting, I am teaching them to parent.

Cathy and Alan are temporarily dependent on me, not knowing how to handle their screaming child in the night. Not knowing what to do when a fever spikes suddenly, or a rash erupts painfully. Their phone calls have increased. Their visits have increased. And my perceived value has increased as well. Oh how I wish I’d known about this stage when we were going through the rebellious and unappreciative teenage years. The years when I was viewed as "stupid and out of touch.” The years when my only value seemed to be paying their way.

Soon we will be teaching Dylan how to deal with new experiences—which ones are safe for him and which ones are dangerous, which things he can reach for and which ones he should draw back from. What’s possible and impossible for him, temporarily. We are installing his “basic life program.” And we’ll be responsible for updating it as he grows.

By the second week, I began noticing Cathy's resistance to my input. Her self-confidence was building and she was beginning to feel competent again. I was already backing off, remaining nearby in case she needed me. Even when there was nothing she needed, I was busy holding the vision of Cathy and Alan as successful parents and looking forward to Dylan's creations and inventions, to what he will teach us, to what he’ll contribute.

For the 10 Responsibilities of a Leader... a Parent or Grandparent, go to the Resources page or The 10 Responsibilities of a Leader... a Parent or Grandparent.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

 $14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins


But I’m Not Exactly Sure How

By Susan Ford Collins

An unexpected phone call stopped me in my tracks. The sound of my friend John’s voice immediately told me he was upset. What’s wrong? I asked. “My life is in chaos and I am calling to ask if I can stay with you till I get reoriented.” And of course, I said yes.

Once John settled in, he started going on morning walks with me so we could have some quiet time to talk. Around seven each morning, we hitched up my dogs, Mica and Mango, and headed out the gate. Within a few steps John started asking questions… not ordinary questions but big profound ones like… “I’m trying to figure out how to keep moving ahead in my life, but I’m not exactly sure what to do next.”

And I replied… first of all, let’s look at the word exactly in more detail. Because you are never going to know exactly in advance, any more than a farmer sowing a field of wheat knows exactly which grains will land on rock and which will fall upon rich soil, germinate and thrive. But if that farmer throws enough seeds, he knows some will prosper.

Exactly is about scarcity... I only have one seed and I have to make sure I put it in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. Well, that sounds plausible and prudent, but it simply isn’t ever possible to know exactly... in advance. When I talk to people who have been successful at realizing dreams, at leading successful families or building large companies, they laugh and chuckle when I ask them if they knew how to get there in advance.

The idea that life is laid out in a straight line is a limit because life isn’t straight. It’s more like a maze. So every once in a while, it’s valuable to relook at your relationships and career so you can have a good laugh over how little you had to do with how it all happened. How divinely it occurred.

It’s not as much about making opportunities as seizing them

Let’s take you, for example. How exactly did you come to manage 110 people at Quotron? Was it a straight-line or were there all kinds of bends and twists and turns in the river, backwashes and crazinesses that got you to that point?

As we stopped and started with the dogs, John told me his life story in fits and starts, darting ahead and then circling back again, trying to piece it all together. Then, neatly ordered and assembled, I played it back to him.

So, John, when you grew up you attended a technical high school in your neighborhood. Your grades were OK, but, according to you, not great. Then you went to a community college where you signed up for electricity and electronics with computer science as a minor. But the computer screwed up and majored you in your minor. So the truth is a computer chose your major for you, and you did quite well, much better in fact than you had in high school!

When you graduated from college, you couldn’t exactly have known that The Burroughs Corporation would be on strike and, in an extremely tight job market, the only job you could find would be replacing striking workers. So, even though you didn’t like being a scab, you took the job and spent the next two years getting some experience under your belt and onto your resume. Then, because you were injured in a car accident and couldn’t drive to meet clients for several weeks, Burroughs sent you to attend a conference on technical writing and taught you a new operating system.

Next a headhunter called just when you were sick-and-tired of getting high praise but not getting rewarded for being the “Dirty Harry, always working long hours, pulling rabbits out of hats, keeping impossible customers happy” kind of guy that you were. So you worked for Digital for two years, handling the most difficult accounts in your branch, and started to notice that besides technical skills, you also had people skills and so you kept moving up. But what finally got your goat was you trained someone so well that she made supervisor before you did. And, outraged at the unfairness, you quit. When they asked where you were going, you told them, “I don‘t know. I just won’t work here anymore.”

Next you called a couple of headhunters, one of which found you a job at GE... with the big raise you’d been looking for… plus a company car. Yes, you loved the money, but you hated the work, which quickly taught you another life-changing lesson. “Money’s nice but I also want to enjoy my job.” Six months later that same headhunter called again and set up an interview with Quotron... the right job plus another 50% raise. Soon a manager was promoted but the assistant managers who worked for him weren’t qualified to fill his shoes. So they made you assistant manager and, within two months, you were manager of the biggest, most-high-profile department at Quotron. And, interestingly enough, the clinching factor in that promotion came way back when you were at Burroughs, when you had a car accident and attended a course in technical writing and learned a new operating system. These were the very skills that landed you this job.

John, my purpose here is to shoot the word exactly in the head and prove to you, here and now, how absurd needing to know exactly in advance really is. Absurd? Yes, absurd. Complete idiocy!

So here’s the secret: Throw in enough seeds to assure a prosperous crop. Keep taking action and using accumulating feedback and knowledge. And, right from the start, know that you will never know exactly where you’re going, or exactly how you’ll get that. And realize the best parts of life are those computer glitches that guide you, those strategically-timed strikes that provide unanticipated jobs, those phone calls that come out of the blue, those people you bump into just when you need them, those courses you take because of an accident, those managers who get promoted at exactly the right time—all the puzzle pieces you weren’t looking for when they were lowered into your lap unexpectedly.

The intention to get to a specific destination is a huge prayer. God, I can see this, hear this, feel this, I can even taste and smell it, but I don’t know how to get there. Please help me find the way.

Yes, its’ true. If you pin down the destination, God will provide the transportation. So, here’s the bottom line... you will never know exactly how to get to your dream... in advance. You just have to keep praying and dreaming and taking appropriate action. You just have to keep responding and trusting and believing. You just have to keep accepting divine guidance.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Secrets Two White Rats Can Teach Your Kids About Health!

By Susan Ford Collins

Mrs. Hepplewhite was my very wise second grade teacher who assigned us a class project that changed our lives forever! The first day of class, she introduced us to two identical young white rats that would be living in our classroom all year. She said they would teach us how to eat, and how not to.

We would feed the rat in Cage 1 a typical kid's diet—peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hot dogs and buns, pizza and spaghetti, donuts, cupcakes, cookies and sodas. We made signs that listed what he would eat...only.

The rat in Cage 2 could eat lean fish and meat, whole grains, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, but no pizza, spaghetti, donuts, cupcakes, cookies and sodas. We made a list of what he would have... only. We felt really sorry for poor Rat Number 2!

 

Both rats were fun to play with... at first. Sometimes we were allowed to take them out of their cages and put them in the rat playground Mrs. Hepplewhite had set up. They loved running around and around their exercise wheels for hours on end. They were gentle and friendly, sitting up on their haunches and wiggling their long-whiskered pink noses. We enjoyed stroking their smooth, shiny white fur.

But after a couple of months, we started noticing changes. The rat in Cage 1 was biting our fingers. He was snarly and snappy. So we started playing more and more with Rat Number 2.

In another few weeks, rat Number 1 began to lose his hair. It started falling out in large ugly patches. His eyes were all red, and he got fatter and fatter. Nobody played with Rat Number 1 any more... except the poor boy or girl whose turn it was to take him home for the weekend and clean out his cage.

Rat Number 2 was more fun than ever! He could run longer and faster. He could even do tricks, like jumping over his food bowl in one easy leap, while the other rat slept in a corner most of the time.

Mrs. Hepplewhite asked us to draw pictures of our rats and give them each a name. By unanimous vote, we chose the names Happy and Grumpy. The pictures we drew were great. Happy looked healthy with a smile on his face, and Grumpy was really fat with scraggly fur, long scary teeth and red eyes.

Next Mrs. Hepplewhite showed us pictures she had taken the first day of school, and we talked about what made our rats change so much, about the food we were feeding them, and what it had done to them. Then we talked about the food we were eating ourselves, and what it was doing to us! We also decided to change our eating habits and wrote letters to our parents to tell them what we had learned.

Now we felt sorry for Grumpy. It wasn't his fault! He hadn't meant to bite us. He didn't really want to be snarly and snappy. It was the food we were feeding him. Then Mrs. Hepplewhite had a wonderful idea. She said, from now on, we could feed Grumpy the foods that had made Happy happy.

By the end of the year, both white rats were healthy and happy again. And all thirty of us were far wiser too. Thanks Mrs. Hepplewhite. I still remember!

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

 $14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***
Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins



Remembering Bucky! Earth Day 2015

By Susan Ford Collins

When I spent time with renowned world-futurist Buckminster Fuller years ago, he saw the world quite differently than other people do. He saw us living on Spaceship Earth, journeying through the universe cycle by cycle. We are Earth’s crew, he said, responsible for tending our planet and one another, for managing its resources and environment.

“Think of it. We are blessed with technology that would be indescribable to our forefathers. We have the wherewithal, the know-it-all to feed everybody, clothe everybody, and give every human on Earth a chance. We know now what we could never have known before—that we now have the option for all humanity to "make it" successfully on this planet in this lifetime.”

Buckminster Fuller 1980

It is my hope that these 10 Success Skills will empower us to make Bucky’s vision come true for each and all of us… in the days to come.

Susan Ford Collins 2015

Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller ( July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer and inventor.

Quoted from The Joy of Success: 10 Essential Skills for Getting the Success You Want

by Susan Ford Collins

 

***

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

 $14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins


life isn't punctuated

 

life isn’t punctuated and broken neatly up into sentences it just flows along challenging each of us to make sense of it and occasionally someone comes along who puts a comma in here, or there, and pulls out a phrase and gives meaning as life rushes by

susanfordcollins

 

 

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***
Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

 

A Green Fly... Success and Higher Consciousness Day-to-Day

By Susan Ford Collins

Every morning for five years now on walks with my dogs, Mica and Mango, I pass a certain house about a block away and a certain very tall pine tree knowing that, at about eye level, a glistening green fly will be fluttering steadily mid air. And each day he is or she is or their progeny are... predictably. It’s something I’ve come to know and expect and I veer a little to the right or to the left to pass him or her, honoring.

But, as John and I walk today and we approach that exact spot, he begins complaining about that green fly always being there, even buzzing in his ear a day or so before, and I reply: That green fly is holding that exact spot in the universe steadily and if he were knocked off, if he no longer held it, then perhaps the whole universe would implode, caving in and causing everything else around it to cave in too, changing everything and everyone in world order.

You too are like that green fly holding a space so essential that the universe can’t do without you. And so instead of swatting at yourself and your dreams and the space you take up and inhabit, you must begin honoring and savoring yourself knowing that, in truth, the universe could never be full and whole without you being exactly who you are, without you doing exactly what you do, without you buzzing and filling your own exact spiritual space... thank God.

Susan Ford Collins

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

The Inevitable Question... Where's Dad?

By Susan Ford Collins

I learned something life-changing as my mother lay dying in the hospital.

Her doctors told my two sisters and me that she was brain dead. There was nothing more they could do. There was no hope for recovery. All the specialists agreed. All the X-rays concurred. All their explanations aligned. We all cried and grieved.

A week later they told us they were going to move Mom to a minimal-care ward where they expected her to die in a few days. But as they were wheeling her down to that floor, they bumped her gurney hard against the elevator door and my mother sat up and asked, “What time is it?”

We were all amazed. Mom was back, a bit disoriented and asking catch-up questions like, Where am I? What happened? Will I be OK? Nonetheless she was back, and she was Mom.

All the doctors were red-faced. They couldn’t explain what had happened, or why. They kept relooking at their X-rays and rereading their reports but, given the reality sitting right there in front of us, their lack of explanation didn’t really matter.

Now her miraculous recovery presented another potentially life-threatening problem. When would Mom ask us the inevitable question, “Where’s Dad?”

Throughout the hospital we were referred to as “the poor girls who had both parents in comas.” Everyone knew what our mother didn’t yet remember… that our father had a stroke precisely twenty-four hours before she did. He had been sitting in the same chair. He had been taken to the same hospital, in the same ambulance. And now, two floors above her, he lay in a deep coma not expected to live either.

Dad was on life support. A noisy machine was breathing for him and plastic tubes were entering and exiting his body in all directions. His doctors told us he wouldn’t be able to breathe on his own, and this time they were right. Weeks later when he was finally unplugged from all this apparatus, as the three of us stood by praying for another miracle, his breathing slowed to a stop and he died peacefully. And once again we grieved.

Fortunately by then Mom was doing well. We were relieved that “the inevitable question” hadn’t come right away. Yes, she had asked us little questions like, Where’s Dad today? Or, What is keeping him so busy? But she never managed a full-blown assault... There’s something you three girls are not telling me! And I want to know now!

Some part of Mom must have known not to push so hard, some part that wasn’t ready for the full impact of our answers or the strength of the emotions and physical reactions they would produce. Over time she recovered fully and gradually adjusted to Dad’s death and all the implications it had in her life. And ours.

Once Mom was home again, tending her beloved dogwoods, daffodils and lilacs, her life began to bloom as well. She had always imagined herself as an artist, but she was “too busy raising us and taking care of Dad” to ever lift a paint brush or sharpen a sketch pencil. But during those “twelve divinely gifted years” she started studying art seriously. She bought supplies and practiced every day. The smells of oil paint and turpentine, as well as tiny piles of colorful pastel dust, were always somewhere in the house or yard.

And, just as she had always imagined, she was really good at art, so good in fact that she began having shows and exhibitions of her still life pastels and oil portraits, even earning a brief write up in the newspaper that declared her “an outstanding local artist”… a clipping she would always keep and treasure. She was colorful and passionate. She was loving and profoundly sensitive. Her portraits captured the personality of the person posing for her in a few brush strokes. Her drawings simplified and abstracted the essence of flowers and shapes, the patterns of light and shadow. Through these final works of art, I found my mother. And I loved her deeply.

Here’s what I learned from my Mom. No matter how bad the circumstances look. No matter how hopeless the situation seems. Even if all the experts agree that nothing can be done, that death is imminent and certain. As long as you’re breathing, HOLD ONTO YOUR DREAMS and KEEP LIVING THEM.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 7th Success Skill, read The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

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Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

And a Turtle Woke Me Up

By Susan Ford Collins

Childhood dreams seem to get buried in adult realities. Early passions and talents appear to get dulled and pushed aside as we rush about being responsible spouses, parents and employees. But it doesn’t always take life-and-death experiences to reawaken us. It could be something far more simple, like a small round-shelled creature.

A roadside reawakening

A turtle woke me up as he strode clumsily across the road when I was driving home one rainy morning. Seeing that turtle suddenly woke up the child-in-me, the one who had huge dreams, who couldn’t sleep when she was excited, who would take whatever actions were needed, who would get so involved in whatever she felt passionate about that she would wear herself out.

In that moment, the-little-girl-in-me wanted that turtle, remembering box turtles she used to pick up along the roadside when her family spent summers in Tidewater Virginia, when she begged her Dad to stop the car so she could pick that turtle up and take him home.

Her Dad usually said no, of course, but when occasionally he said yes, she would rummage around in their back shed to find just the right sturdy box or crate. She would scavenge bits of hamburger from the refrigerator and cut up juicy chunks of fresh tomato to offer its new-found tenant. Then the little girl in me would sit cross-legged in awe, watching that turtle’s sharpened jaw cut into her welcome-offering with great relish. At the beach, she would dig long winding channels in the sand, just deep enough for the ocean to start filling them, and then let her turtle sun, swim and explore. After a few days, she would let him (or her) go ceremoniously.

Caught up in these childhood memories, my adult heart started pounding just as it had all those years before. I pulled over to the side of the road, opened the car door and firmly (and albeit a bit cautiously) picked that turtle up and sat him down safely on the floor in front of the back seat.

When I slid in behind the wheel and headed home again, my adult mind came back on and, like a judgmental parent, it overwhelmed my excited inner-child. “If you take this turtle home with you and let it loose in your pond, there’ll be diseases. Besides this turtle will bite your Koi. Or eat your plants. Or dig holes in your yard. Or...”

The little-girl-in-me was shocked, catching my adult-self in this fear-bound declaration. And she shouted loudly enough for both of us to hear.

“STOP. STOP being so reasonable and practical and logical and delaying and busy... AND START LIVING AGAIN!”

And, in a moment of childhood defiance and adult recommitment, I picked that turtle up, with all its legs walking mid-air, and proudly took him in my house and let him loose in my pond.

He acclimated quickly and I would regularly catch a glimpse of him as he sunned along the edge of the pond. My Koi were fine and so were my plants. And best of all, so was I!

With that turtle living in my pond as a reminder, the rest of me “came to” from errands and tasks, credit cards and mortgage payments, pre-scheduled appointments committed to months before I knew how I’d feel when that day finally came. And something inside me danced once again. And dreamed and screamed and raced... I’M ALIVE! And what do I want? What do I really want?

What had I let go of while I was in that adult trance? While I was so committed to everyone else’s wants and dreams that I had completely forgotten about mine? While I was so predetermined and disciplined that I hadn’t even noticed that my energy for living had gone down... way down. Of course, next to others I always looked energetic, not needing a lot of sleep and always cranking out new ideas. But inside I knew the truth.

And the truth was that I had rheostated down from a 200 watt bulb to a twenty. Even though I was lit, it was barely. Until that turtle woke me up to vibrant life again... to choosing what I really want and taking action for it!

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills, read The Joy of Success, Success Has Gears, or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Success Quiz: Are You Using All 10 Success Skills… At the Right Time?

By Susan Ford Collins

Most people complain about not having enough time, but the truth is most of us spend time doing things that don’t really matter to our success. What does?

Take a few minutes to complete this Success Quiz. Then I will share with you how Highly Successful People (HSPs) answered these questions…

1. How often do you acknowledge yourself for what you accomplish?
Circle one:   daily          weekly              monthly            annually            

2. How often do you fall asleep thinking about what you didn’t get done or you’re afraid might happen?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

3. Are you able to maintain your confidence when obstacles and failures confront you?
Circle one:   rarely   sometimes        frequently

4. Do you pride yourself on doing “more-better-faster”?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

5. Do you make time to learn the basics of new skills before you start using them?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

6. Can you stand up in a meeting and say you don’t agree?
Circle one:   yes           no

7. How often do you push so hard that you can’t slow down to rest?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

8. Do you share your dreams with others or keep them to yourself?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

9. Do you spell out the details of outcomes you delegate?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

10. Would you rather ask an expert for input or figure it out yourself?
Circle one:   ask expert                   figure out

11. Do you need to know how you’ll reach your goal before you take action?
Circle one:   yes           no

12. Can you comfortably move into the unknown when you have a clear outcome in mind?
Circle one:   yes           no 

13. Do methods and solutions come to you out of the blue?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

14. When you are stressed, do you spend time away from the task?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

So now let’s compare your answers with theirs…

1. HSPs make time each day to acknowledge themselves for the successes they’re having. But the successes they have in mind aren’t just the usual ones. For them, success goes beyond finishing “business to dos.” It includes things that keep their lives in balance… eating a good breakfast, exercising, spending time with family and friends, buying gas, dropping off dry cleaning and remembering to pick it up. Most people don’t acknowledge themselves for completing things like these, but what happens to your productivity when you leave them undone? For HSPs, success also means saying NO to actions that violate their values and dreams. Deletion Successes can be the most important ones of all! And how about acknowledging yourself for your creative ideas... even if no one agrees they're possible yet!

2. People who “succeed big” know that the last few minutes of their day are most important. Your brain is in the Alpha State so it’s the perfect time to think about what you want tomorrow and long term. And the worst time to beat yourself up for oversights and failures. As you fall asleep, plan how you’ll make corrections instead. Remember: What you think is what you get, like it or not… so focus on what you do want instead of what you don’t want. That tiny change in focus will enhance your ability to move your life and career ahead!

3. If you are Success Filing—that is, acknowledging your successes each day—you will have the confidence to continue to move ahead when everything goes wrong, when obstacles besiege you and everyone disappoints you. Remember: When your Success File is full, you feel Success-Full. When it is low, you feel dependent and needy… at the mercy of others’ opinions and in need of their agreement. HSPs are willing to put off low priority items, but making time to Success File each day is a number one item for them.

4. Constantly priding yourself on doing more-better-faster lands you in The Success Trap, constantly having to work longer and harder to raise the quantity-quality bar higher and higher. It can also land you in the hospital. For staying power, you need to acknowledge yourself for slowing down to learn new skills and technologies, for allowing your mind to wander into future possibilities and solutions. In today's business environment, creativity and innovation are becoming more important than productivity.

5. It is essential to slow down to a stop from time to time. Why? Because unless you do, you won’t be able to gear your mind back to learn new skills and technologies and so you'll slip behind. HSPs schedule time to learn the most efficient tools and approaches available, rather than slogging along with equipment, programs and procedures that weren’t designed to do what you need to do now. Make time to master the basics before you attempt to gear up into 2nd Gear production. Otherwise the mistakes you make will trip up you and your teammates and take more time in the end.

6. To stay ahead, you have to be able to disagree with the pack. For some people, getting others’ agreement is more important than getting their result. Not so for HSPs. They can stand up, disagree and then so powerfully communicate the details of the scenario they see, hear and feel, that other people take on their vision and team up with them. They lead the way by inspiration, not perspiration.

7. When you push so long and hard that you can’t slow down to rest, you’ve gone over the edge. HSPs use this over-the-edge feeling to signal when they’re overusing the 2nd Gear of Success. Yes, success has three gear-like phases and unless you know when to shift, unless you can use all three gears as circumstances require, you’ll burn out your transmission… and that means your body. And the time lost will set your business way back. Read The Joy of Success and Success Has Gears for specifics on the Three Gears of Success and Leadership.

8. Highly successful business people share their dreams with Codreamers, people who hold onto the details of their dream with them. People who contribute additional perspectives and information. People they can call when they come out of a meeting so devastated that their dream seems to have literally been erased from their minds. One phone call to a Codreamer can get you back on track. Who are your Codreamers? And who are your Codreaders (the ones who always tell you reasons why not?) Make sure you know the difference!

9. Going so fast that you can’t gear down to spell out the details of a task you’re delegating may seem expedient at the time. But in the long run it could ruin your business. To get the support you need from coworkers, customers and vendors, you need to share precisely what you have in mind. When you provide a sketch, others will automatically fill in the details they have in mind instead of the ones you have in mind. Beware of Sensory Fill-in! Who is responsible for the errors that result? You are of course.

10. Would you rather ask an expert or figure it out yourself? Well, that all depends. If you're climbing up the learning curve, then asking experts and following their directions is what works best… with one exception. When you know next to nothing about something, using a salesperson as your expert may set you up to buy what’s best for him or her, but not for you. Consult an independent expert before you make a major purchase. On the other hand, depending on tried-and-true experts when you are creating something new, may take you back to how it’s already been done. Listen to their input but, as its creator, know that you are the ultimate expert when it comes to your dream!

11. When we were kids, we were rewarded for doing things by the book. But as the head of your own business or life, that simply won’t work. These days, having-to-know-how upfront will hold you back. What you need is a thoroughly detailed outcome… then the appropriate method will find you. Powerful life changes, inventions and new businesses frequently start out as hunches or middle of the night Ahas! Most leaders I interview tell me they rarely know how, but they always know what.

12. The ability to venture into the unknown is essential today. The marketplace is changing so rapidly that top CEOs say they don’t have a ten-year plan or a five-minute plan either. Flexibility is key. Can you think on your feet? Can you seize an opportunity that others fail to notice? Can you abandon your ten-year-ago or five-minute-ago action plan and take the next step to your dream when it presents itself?

13. For years I interviewed inventors and creators and over and over I heard the same comments. I woke up in the night with a clear image in my head or a voice telling me what to do. Or I was taking a shower when my idea hit me. Jeff Bezos, creator of Amazon.com, was so sure about his hunch that he packed up everything he owned and moved across the country in pursuit of his dream. And we all know he found it!

14. When you’re stuck, instead of sitting and staring at your computer screen, get up and do something else. Go for a walk or switch to a project that requires another mindset altogether. HSPs constantly tell me their most creative solutions come when they walk away from their desk and WHAM! The solution comes out of the blue… or out of the right brain. They say they strategically use the Alpha State to “program in” their problem at night and they trust their mind to deliver a solution when they first wake up. And it does.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills, read The Joy of Success, Success Has Gears or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***
Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins


The Rite of a Leader

The Manager Was Tied Up... Literally... Till He Learned To Lead

By Susan Ford Collins

It was time for a promotion and Jim was called to his manager's office for a chat. Bob smiled warmly as he congratulated Jim. "You've been successful doing your work so now I am going to promote you to leadership." But what followed next was unexpected. 

Bob pulled a sturdy rope from his top desk drawer and tied Jim’s arms together securely in front of him saying, "Every morning for the next week, I will tie your arms in front of you to remind you that your responsibilities have changed. To get ahead till now, you've relied on your doing. But from now on, you must learn how to rely on others' doing. You must rely on your team. You are becoming a leader.

If your team members don't know what to do, you are responsible for explaining it to them or finding others who can. If they don't have the skills they need, you are responsible for helping them develop those skills or find others who already have them. Whatever your people need, it is your job to provide it. From now on, you will be evaluated on your leadership results and how well you facilitate your team.

As a leader... your team's failures will be your failures;

your team's successes will be your successes;

your team's results will be your results;

your team's creativity will be your creativity. 

That first day was tough! It was busy and the rope clearly held Jim back. Oh how he wished Bob would untie it for an hour or two so he could do the job right and more quickly. But no such luck!

The Rite of a Leader was working! Now Jim could clearly see what Bob had already seen... he had "great doer skills" but "underdeveloped leadership skills." It was frustrating to have to explain in detail what he wanted his people to do. He knew how to do it himself, but he didn't know how to effectively teach it or coach it.

Jim started making changes in his thinking and communication. Day by day Jim's team successes were piling up. By Friday he realized that his successes were being multiplied, not just by hisdoing but by the doing of his whole team. Excited, Jim enthusiastically stepped into into his expandedpower as a leader.

We must each choose to "tie" ourselves to leadership, understanding that it no longer matters that we can do it all by ourselves." The challenge now is... can we do it all together? And how?

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills as well as how and when to use them, read The Joy of Success, Our Children Are Watching or Success Has Gears.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Why Couples Argue… Relationship Gears are Clashing!

By Susan Ford Collins

Happiness and satisfaction, as well as upset and disappointment, are sourced in something very few people understand… the Three Gears of Relationship!

Like cars, romances start in 1st Gear. Connecting with someone new is scary. You don’t know that person’s rules yet… his or her rights and wrongs, goods and bads, have tos and musts, preferences and dreams. You slowly get to know each other, spending hours together learning what each of you likes and dislikes, wants and doesn’t want so hopefully you will be liked or even loved. And your relationship will last.

Years later happy couples look back to 1st Gear nostalgically…“Honey, do you remember when we first met, when we talked half the night and spent all our free time together.” They keep pictures of their precious 1st Gear startup memories in scrapbooks or on their computer screens.

When the relationship shifts into 2nd Gear, things speed up. You’ve been obsessed with each other for months. Your friends have been asking whether you’ve fallen off the earth or moved out of town. But all that initial time and conversation was well worth it! You are happy together, compatible and in sync. Now it’s time to de-focus on each other and re-focus on the rest of your lives. Time to straighten up your homes, reconnect with friends, catch up on your workload, finish your now-dusty sales proposal or mid-year review. (Thank heavens relationships don’t stay in 1st Gear forever. We’d never get anything else done!) In 2nd Gear it's more-better-faster and more-better-faster still. Productive, efficient, competitive, you work longer and harder to afford your upcoming wedding or trip, to establish your home, to afford children, fund IRAs or 401Ks, buy stocks and put aside money for college or retirement. Wow, you’re accomplishing so much together!

Well, not really together. Now you're spending more and more time apart… living in different worlds, roommates passing in the night, picking up kids from school, babysitting so one or the other can attend a meeting or take a client to dinner. You continue moving farther and farther apart, spending less and less time in the same place at the same time.

Until Boom! You hit a shifting point. That 1st Gear feeling is gone! Do you love each other anymore? Do you even like each other? (Ironic, isn’t it, since all relationships shift up and down through these three gears? So, even if you start over with someone new, sooner and later you’ll be accelerating ahead in 2nd Gear in that relationship, too.)

What do you do now? Do you stay in the relationship the way it is and sink into anger or depression? Do you separate and start again with someone else? Or do you shift into 3rd Gear and get creative together? Honey, I do love you. What can we do to re-new our relationship? To make time to talk again, to get to know each other again, to plan and dream again? Maybe we need counseling?

Oversimplified but nevertheless true. Let’s look at an overview:

1st Gear is for starting anything new.

2nd Gear is for doing more-better-faster, for accelerating into efficiency and productivity.

3rd Gear is for dreaming, innovating and renewing, for becoming creative.

In every relationship, understanding the gears matters! Sometimes you’ll be in the same gear at the same time… learning together, producing together. or creating together. But sometimes you won't, and there'll be Mis-Gear-Matches... or upsets. Like when you’ve slowed your energy down to a quiet purr and finally gotten your baby off to sleep and your husband or wife rushes in (still in high 2nd Gear from his or her work or workout) and wakes up your sleeping child. Arggg!

Special note... upsets between you and your spouse frequently occur when you’re in 2nd Gear and your kids are in 1st Gear. When six-year-old Sally needs you to slow down and listen to the upset she had with a friend who didn't speak to her on the playground. Or three-year-old Tom’s frustration over not being able to fit his puzzle together. Or thirteen-year-old Harry who has just come up with a new way to run your business. Keep in mind, his creativity might even work!

Here's an important heads up... don’t expect your kids to shift gears. The responsibility for gearing up, or down, is always on you! That's what makes parenting even more gear-challenging than romance and work.

Slowing down and gearing down is challenging in today's more-better-faster 2nd Gear world. It takes high intention and tremendous caring to manage the 2nd Gear pressures Corporate America exerts on us, to constantly push longer and harder, to produce more quantity and quality and profits, to stay revved up day after day, quarter after quarter... not just 9 to 5 but 24/7!

Remember, to avoid arguments and disappointments, it’s important to truthfully and sensitively acknowledge what you can’t do, or haven't done, and arrange a time when you can do it. “Honey, I know you want me to slow down and talk right now. I know you asked me yesterday and I was busy then too. But I promise I’ll make time this weekend." Yes, that's a great start! But be sure you keep your word… or the upset will get worse. Much worse! And you won't be believed next time you promise anything else!

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on Success Skill 2, Shifting Gears, read The Joy of Success, Our Children Are Watching or Success Has Gears.

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Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

 

 

Would Fear Prevent Me from Achieving My Outcome?

By Susan Ford Collins

Several years ago, I bought gas at a neighborhood station and headed home. The light was green when I entered the intersection but immediately turned yellow then red. Cars in front of me stopped short. Cars on either side came at me like raging bulls. My only safe choice was to turn left, even though I had been going straight through that no-left-turn intersection for years.