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A glimpse at the real world, 2008

I’m looking for tenants for a lovely four-bedroom home that I purchased out of foreclosure and renovated recently. Interest in the house has been intense and immediate, and I’ve shown it so many times now that I am exhausted.

Every single person, save one, is coming out of a foreclosure or bankruptcy. I am seeing, up close, what the economy is doing to good, decent people who happily thought they were living their version of the American Dream, only to find they had to escape some kind of financial nightmare. I don’t judge them at all, especially since seeing the kinds of people I have been meeting as they try to pick up the pieces and rebuild for themselves and their families. These are good people with bad problems.

These are heartbreaking times for Americans who are truly struggling. I often tell people that it is in these moments of self-definition that we find our greatest opportunities to define ourselves and create our greatest successes. That may seem way too Pollyanna to say to someone who has just lost a home or has suffered the indignity of a bankruptcy, but I believe it so strongly.

You can either submit to adversity or overpower it. It comes down to mindset. There is more than enough bad news to convince you that the timing is bad, the economy is in the tank and the future is bleak. If you give energy to the negativity, you will fall victim to it — just like most people. But, if there is an amazing amount of opportunity and good fortune available to those people who keep moving forward, ignoring the bad news and zooming past those people who just give up.

free striptease Yes, there is serious trouble in our economy.

Yes, people are losing their homes and jobs.

Yes, we all feel pain every time we pay these gas prices.

But, the world has not stopped. There is still opportunity and fortune available for those who push past these obstacles and keep envisioning real success.

The message that has been most heartening from some of the potential tenants I have been meeting is that the finality of a foreclosure and bankruptcy is followed by a sense of relief. They have unburdened themselves. They are free to start over and succeed again.

I wish them so many great things.

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

Mustang Sally rides again

It amazes me how threatening it is for the status quo to embrace change. As a change agent, I’ve sure taken my share of hits for shaking things up in the business world. But, these battles happen everywhere.

My latest one is in my own neighborhood, but it serves as an example of the fortitude we have to have when we are mustangs sounding the call.

There have been several instances of violent crime in my very lovely waterfront neighborhood in Clearwater, Fla. This is a neighborhood that has one of the highest tax bases in the county, yet police back-burnered it for patrols when confronted with budget cuts. In recent months, we’ve had a handful of assaults and an influx of street crime.

So, I hosted a neighborhood meeting and invited the police to talk to us. Nearly 80 people showed up. I announced a blog where we would post photos and stories, and the reception was thunderously positive — except when it came to the people who have been running the neighborhood association all along. Tell me, what is so threatening about a neighborhood blog? Apparently plenty. One of the old-timers said the blog will reduce property values. Good grief. Street crime reduces property values.

Anyhow, I am relating this story because it is a template for what most change agents experience whenever they come up against the status quo. Remember, the status quo is the status quo because it does not like change.

The association called a meeting last night using the e-mail list from the meeting at my house. In recent years, only a handful of people have gone to their meetings, but last night, there were more than 70. The biggest item on their agenda: Telling us to let them run things because they know best. My favorite moment came when they said they would post times of future meetings on the neighborhood website. Someone asked what the web address was and they acknowledged they don’t have one yet. So, I volunteered to put the notices on my blog and I was told that my very popular neighborhood blog is basically unauthorized and has nothing to do with the change the neighborhood is seeking. I told them that it was my understanding that our neighborhood was still located in America.

I thought of something Miriam Reed said in my book, Mustang Sallies. Reed is the former division chief of the Denver Police Department who suffered blatant discrimination and harassment for many years. Her words are so powerful:

“Almost every idea that changes the status quo starts out with, ‘You’ve got to be crazy, it will never happen,’ ” Reed said. “But, if you can last long enough, there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Things move from, ‘You’re crazy,’ to, ‘We can talk about it, but it won’t work,’ to, ‘I guess we’ll give it a trial period, but it won’t work,’ to, having the trial period and it works well, to the person in power saying, ‘It worked well because I proposed this idea a long time ago.’ That has happened to so many women over the years. The accolades and recognition go to someone else when other people finally say, ‘Why did they do it the wrong way in the first place?’ ”

My little neighborhood. I don’t care who is in charge. I don’t care what website is used. I just care that we get on top of this troubling situation now, before it gets worse.

The next time others try to hold you down or put you in “your place,” remember this conversation I had with the legendary journalist, Helen Thomas, for Mustang Sallies:

I confided, “I keep being told that I don’t know my place.” “What is your place?” Thomas shot back. “It’s what you say it is. It’s not what they

say it is.” Thomas had been through enough battles to know she was and always will be a mustang woman. Until I met her, I didn’t realize that’s what I was. I’d just thought I was a misfit. An outsider. Instead, I was a trailblazer.

It doesn’t matter whether the battle is in the boardroom, the neighborhood association or even in your own family. Change is tough. But the rewards of progress are huge. Have confidence to hold your ground and keep moving forward.

Be bold!

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

Hormones, lunch and why life is simply awesome

I had lunch with a friend today who was a hormonal mess. First came the cancer. Then, the hysterectomy. Now comes the tug-of-war with her body as it adapts to a massively changed set of rules. She’s impatient. Can’t sleep. And the post-hysterectomy weight gain is making her feel terrible.

I was thrilled.

Not for her difficulties, but for the glass-is-half-full flip-side of the situation that is becoming more obvious as I watch so many friends deal with cancer. Suzann’s alive. She looks fantastic. Her acerbic wit is still intact and she remains one of my greatest confidants.

So despite how much the new reality of her body affects her, I chalk her story up as a victory. There have been a lot of victories in the decade since the first of my friends was diagnosed with cancer. All of them have had to fight so hard to get beyond their obstacles. All but one of them is still alive.

I lost my friend Bette to ovarian cancer in 2002 and have thought of her almost every day since. She taught me so much as I watched her fight to live while she was dying. Thinking of her grounds me when I get caught up in my day-to-day worries. The hassles of work or daily living are nothing

compared to cancer. The simplicity and reward that she found in her last year by creating a butterfly garden for her neighbors in her condo community showed me so much about life. One day, we went kayaking out to Caladesi Island. It was in the winter, yet she dove right into the Gulf because she thought the water looked beautiful.

So much of us fear diving in because we know it is cold. We miss so much living by holding back. But, Bette really lived until the end. Still, in the end, there was an ending. I miss her. I wish we could do one more lunch.

All these years after her death, I sat with my friend Suzann and thought about how much fun it was to just have lunch and download all of our stories and thoughts. I hate that she’s got to deal with all of these hormonal hassles, but I love that she is here to keep going. I love that we laughed about the mini-hamburgers she ordered for lunch and that we talked endlessly about everything from dogs to sales at Macy’s to our crazy siblings. Lunch was simply great.

It’s that simplicity thing that I learned from Bette.

Persevere. Keep moving forward.

Looking back on it, it seems like a bad dream. I was on my bike, climbing more than 6,000 feet to the 10,800-foot summit of Colorado’s Grand Mesa. I was in really lousy shape at the time – and it was the first day of my annual cycling vacation, The Grand Mesa was the most brutal mountain climb I’d ever experienced, and it was beating me up.

My gang had a saying, “Death before sag.” The “sag” was the vehicle that would pick up the riders who just weren’t up to the challenge. I’d never sagged in my life, but I felt like the time had come. I felt terrible. I hated that ride, I hated those mountains. It did not feel like a vacation, not at all. ohlsson clas

I knew I had to quit.

But, before I did, I came up with a quitting strategy, and it went like this: I had permission to quit, but I wouldn’t until I had depleted every bit of energy I had. I would stop at the next rest stop, and take a very long break. It wound up stretching to an hour and a half – more than I’d ever stopped on a day trip. My plan was to wait it out, then get in the sag car.

After the time passed, I felt like I could go a few more miles. I decided to just keep moving until I could not move anymore. I told myself, “This is not a race. I have all day. I have eight hours until the sun goes down.” I rode four miles, then stopped for awhile. And then, I made up my mind that I would do it one mile at a time. Ride a mile, stop for a few minutes. Ride another mile, then stop for a few more minutes. As I did this, one sag vehicle after another passed me, filled with cyclists who had given up.

One mile at a time, I moved toward the summit. It was not fun, I did not take in the breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery, I did not enjoy any of that experience, and I am not going to pretend that the life-changing lesson left me with feel-good memories all these years later. I still look back on that day and grimace, and I never went back to ride that route again. But, the moment came when I looked down at my bike computer and saw that I was within two miles of the top, Two miles, and the I knew I’d licked the mountain.

I remember summiting the Grand Mesa in the early afternoon, getting off my bike, pouring an entire bottle of water over my head, then stretching out, flat on my back on the ground.

When I think back to that day of cycling, I am still not sure who was smarter: those who quit or those of us who kept fighting the mountain, despite our misery. I mean, who is smarter? The cyclist who said, “This is my vacation, this ride sucks, I am going to quit riding so my vacation doesn’t suck,” or someone like me who said, “This is my vacation, this ride sucks, but I am too stubborn to stop and so – even if I don’t enjoy one minute of it – I am not quitting.”

The point here is that quitting is sometimes the right decision for the right person in the right time. Timing counts.

Keep moving until it is time to stop. If you quit something when you’ve done all you can, then you really can’t feel like you have failed yourself – only that some of your efforts may have failed.

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

So, Fawn Germer starts a blog…

This was my very first blog post. Please visit www.hardwonwisdom.com for daily motivational posts.

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It’s 10:29 p.m. and I’m sitting here writing, thinking about how many times in the last year that the day dissolved into the evening which dissolved into the late night with me sitting in front of my keyboard doing exactly this: writing. This is my job, because I get paid for it. But it is not my work. It is my world. I would rather sit and write than do almost anything else on this earth. zelnorm recall cipro throat will infections treat

I rail against workaholism, but I wonder if you are a workaholic if your work is your passion, and something you would do even if you weren’t getting paid for it. I love cycling and kayaking and taking pictures and talking to strangers. I love being with my family, connecting with my soul mate and hanging out with my friends. And yet, it is this — writing to inspire others to dare to bet on themselves — that calls me and fulfills me and makes me whole.

I begin this blog wishing for you the kind of clarity and reward that came to me almost nine years ago when I found the courage to leave my job, my paycheck, my five weeks of vacation and the great benefit package to dive into the unknown and bet on myself.

Many of you know me through my speaking or my books and have heard the story of how I left my secure career as a Pulitzer-nominated newspaper reporter and editor to become an author. My first book was rejected 15 times, and when it was finally published, it came out the day before Sept. 11. I pushed and persevered past so many obstacles that Hard Won Wisdom became a best-seller and Oprah told the world it was “very inspiring.” My speaking career exploded, but I still encountered (and continue to meet up with) obstacles. I’ve come to love those obstacles, because they always become defining moments that propel my success. That which comes easy isn’t worth it. The things I’ve fought for have come through great sacrifice and resulted in even greater reward.

Anyhow, this is it. My blog. It is the beginning of my ongoing, regular relationship with you. I hope you will enjoy it.

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

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