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Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
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Archive for April 2017

Too Busy to Live

I went to a small dinner party where someone who is in the Fortune 10 most powerful women in business. She was warm, accessible and kind. But she didn’t have much to offer our conversation about life balance except her regrets that she has no time to golf or hang out or do any of the things she would really like to do. It’s as if she’s too busy to live.

I asked, “Why don’t you just do some of those things so you don’t burn out?”

She looked at me like I just didn’t get it. “I have the weight of the world on my shoulders,” she said. And, she meant it. Then she said, “When I accepted this job, I made a commitment to the company and the stockholders. I have no other option.”

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Truth is, I didn’t get it. Why would anyone choose to give up life for work? Even a temporary sacrifice like that is too much because, living in one dimension, you will challenge your physical and mental health to the point where you stop living in a colorful world. We’ve all seen colleagues humbled by heart attacks and strokes, or even extended bouts of depression. The one thing I think we are all called upon to do is live in the moment. Live a vibrant, colorful life in the now.

I think of two veteran journalists who loved my newspaper so much that they had their ashes encased in the walls after they died. Instead of having their ashes spread in the glorious Rocky Mountain around them, they chose the newspaper lobby? It said everything about what the paper meant to them and, probably, what they thought they meant to the paper. But, theirs was a sad choice, because decades after their deaths, people didn’t care about who they were, what they’d done or what they meant to the history of the newspaper. It was a bit of a joke that there were ashes in the wall. And, aggravating the insult, when the paper was moved into a new building, the remains were removed and buried in a cemetery. Management didn’t even extend the courtesy of letting them make the move with everybody else.

You can give and give and give and give, and the business will take and take and take and take. In the end, who you are matters so much more than what you did.

The business won’t love you back.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courageous and creative leadership strategies.

You Can Do Better

“You can do better than this.”

I can still hear my mother’s voice.

I was in the tenth grade and I had brought home a report card that boasted a few As, a couple of Bs, a C and the only  D I’d ever gotten – in geometry. I didn’t see anything wrong with that report card because it wasn’t much different from what my friends brought home, except for that little episode with geometry, for which I still don’t apologize.

But, Mom did see something wrong with that report card.

“You are not average,” she said, “So you can’t bring home a report card like this. If you were average, it would be all right. If I knew this was the best you could do, it would be all right. But, it isn’t the best you can do and you know it. You can do better.”

I hadn’t really thought about it before, whether I was smart or talented or anything else. I was just a kid who wanted desperately to fit in despite being hindered by a major case of nerdiness. I wanted to be average because then I would blend in with the others. Teenage life would be so much easier blending in with the crowd. No one would expect me to do anything more than the minimum. Hanging there with mediocrity seemed like a pretty safe way to get through high school.

If you think about it, I was right. And it applies to our work situations today. Mediocrity is a very safe place to hang. You don’t have to deal with the risk of being extreme – either too excellent or too poor. You aren’t a problem child that needs to be put on probation or dealt with. You aren’t a model of excellence who is a target for people who are jealous or threatened. You’re just in the crowd.

My mother’s tone of voice made it very clear that I would be making a few changes with regard to my academic approach.

It’s amazing how quickly I turned things around after that lecture. All As, and a B in geometry. I just had to make the decision.

I’ve had to make that decision again and again throughout my career. It is a conscious decision to ratchet things up another notch, to produce more, to concentrate harder, to work longer, to deliver. It is a decision to leave the pack and be excellent.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organizations on courageous and creative leadership strategies taken from her interviews with the best-known leaders of our times.

Your Big Plan: The Greatest Piece of Fiction You Will Ever Write

I often joke about the initial plan I had for my life as an author. I would write the book in three months, then sell it for the high six figures, maybe seven. The book would then come out six months later, debuting on top of the New York Times ultracet no prescrition best-seller list. Oprah would see the book on the shelves while out shopping at the Chicago Barnes and Noble, then buy it. She would love it so much that she would call me up, have me whisked off to Chicago, then have me on the show as she told the world to buy my book. She would so fall in love with me that she’d invite me home for dinner with her and Steadman. attacks effexor with treating xr panic

Quite a plan, right?

Your “life plan” is the biggest piece of fiction you will ever write. You can try to organize and structure your plan, but you can’t make it fit perfectly in a world of so much unexpected drama. I certainly never counted on my book being rejected the first time by every major publisher, or it being released right around 9/11.

If you must have a plan, have a plan. But, plan to change it, because life will demand you change it. The seemingly clear path you devise to turn your vision into reality will twist and turn and run into dead ends. It will lead you into brick walls and open fields. Things you expect to be hard might be very, very easy. Things you expect to come easy might never come at all.

The plan helps you refine your vision and gives you direction so you won’t stall out. But, success does not happen according to plan. It happens, but you have to help it happen by being flexible, shrewd, quick-thinking and resolute about what you want. You can lament the twists and turns, or you can learn to expect them, and enjoy them for the extra challenges they present.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

Rewrite The Negative

What could all of us do if we could just rewrite the negative stories we tell ourselves? If you tell yourself that “It’s too late,” because you are “too old,” then stop being negative. If you say you “aren’t as smart as” your boss, your boss’ boss or the head honcho at the top of the company, you are likely making a very false assumption. Sometimes there are brilliant people in charge. Sometimes, there are not. Just don’t dismiss your own brilliance until you see how far it will carry you.

There will always be someone smarter than you are. And someone who isn’t as smart. There will always be someone with more savvy – and less. Someone with better intellectual instincts – and worse. Someone who is more creative – and less.

Do you have to wait until you are the best in every category before you can see yourself as capable of achieving at a high level? No! You will never win all the marbles. You don’t have to. You just need to focus your vision, make up your mind and go out and do the work. Remind yourself again and again that the people who succeed are not the best or the brightest. They are the boldest.

Just be bold.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organizations on courageous and creative leadership strategies taken from her interviews with the best-known leaders of our times.

Fear Our Own Power

For the most part, I think we fear our own power because acknowledging it requires us to take action. Taking action requires energy, stamina and presents us with the possibility of failing. It’s much easier to blend in with everybody else, all the fearful people who don’t venture into their zones of discomfort.

I look back on the great cynics I have known in my life, and I have to admit they provided a great deal of entertainment for me with their smart-aleck remarks as we watched one of our peers dare to chase some cockamamie dream that none of us thought could possibly work. Years later, the cynics had done nothing new with their lives. But, look at what the visionaries did:

There was the night city editor who quit to open a restaurant. It wound up being Ryan’s — an extremely successful chain and franchise. At the height of his success, the late Eddie Ervin owned 25 of the restaurants himself.

There was the television assignment editor who left to go to medical school and now is a great doctor with a huge practice.

There was the very lame reporter who left for law school and became quite well-known for civil rights work.

And when those dreams worked, we’d make some snide remark about it — and you know that came entirely from jealousy.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organizations on courageous and creative leadership strategies taken from her interviews with the best-known leaders of our times.