Tag Archives: Leadership

The Classic Pamela Positive: “Make the Most of the Abilities We Have” – Jim Abbott

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“Never allow the circumstances of your life to become an excuse. People will allow you to do it. But I believe we have a personal obligation to make the most of the abilities we have.”
– Jim Abbott

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Jim Abbott is a former Major League baseball pitcher, who played despite having been born without a right hand. He played for teams including the California Angels, New York Yankees, and Chicago White Sox. In 1993, Abbott threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians, and in 1988 pitched the final game to win the United States an unofficial gold medal in the Summer Olympics. Throughout his career, teams tried to exploit the fact that Abbott played with one hand, but their tactics were never effective. Today, Abbott works as a motivational speaker, living in California with his wife, two children and their dog. His parents still live in Michigan, where he grew up. Abbott and his family take the summer off each year to stay at the lake and visit with family and friends.

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The Pamela Positive: Dag Hammarskjold Gives Hope to the World

Dag Hammarskjold was such a wonderful model of what the U.N. can be and do.  As Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953 to 1961, Hammarskjold was known for his unrelenting energy in striving to create fairness, harmony, peace and collaboration in many corners of our world.  He represented hope and reconciliation for so many.

Hammarskjold flew around the world to try to help so many countries needing support–and independent of whether there was an economic interest there, as it should be.  He acted as a force for the U.N., representing fair involvement for all countries: for example, during one Arab crisis in 1958, the U.S. and Britain sent troops to help Lebanon and Jordan. But Hammarskjold was able to get removal of these troops, and one-sided involvement in the crisis, to stop. He then brokered Egypt lifting its blockade of Syria (which would not join the Arab League.)

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In the 1950s he helped obtain the release of U.S. airmen held captive in China. In approaching the Suez Crisis, when Egypt nationalized the canal, Hammarskjold was able to broker French, British and Egyptian collaboration to keep it open.  Meanwhile, Israel attacked Egypt and the peace process was upset.  With Mr. Hammarskjold’s leadership, U.N. Forces were able to maintain a peaceful solution until a longer term solution was reached.  Laos faced extreme danger and he was able to place UN representatives there, which provided watchful protection.  He became part of a very longterm process against apartheid, meeting several times with the Union of South Africa and striving to open up attitudes of equality and fairness regarding race.

Hammarskjold’s last challenge was the crisis in the Congo where violent civil war was ensuing. Here he had brokered leaders to  meet in neutral territory to resolve the conflict.   Unfortunately, his plane was shot down and he did not survive.

Dag Hammarskjold was mourned by the world. He was seen as an extremely strong leader led by principles; absolutely tireless and needing little sleep. It was as if he were “on call” for the world.

“The world in which I grew up in was dominated by principles and ideals…I inherited a belief that no life was more satisfactory than one of selfless service to your country or humanity.  This sacrifice required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions.”

Hammarskjold also created a meditation room or peace room in the U.N.  It is a place only for thoughts, no words, and embraces all types of prayers.  There is a stone in the middle of the room with nothing on it, and yet a shaft of light shines directly there. It is dedicated as an altar to harmony and freedom that is worshipped in many forms, by different countries and peoples, in many varied ways all over the world.

The Pamela Positive: Olympic Trainer and Nike Co-Founder Bill Bowerman Tells Us, It’s Already Inside

Everything you need is already inside. Just do it.” – Bill Bowerman

I love Bill Bowerman’s quote, as he speaks to the potential and belief in each one of us…  We should always strive to be our best and to believe in ourselves, even if we don’t always achieve our immediate goal.  The importance is in the process and our motives.

We should treat ourselves and others with the utmost care, meaning, “we believe!”  The alternative is costly to our health, to what we can achieve, and to what the world will miss…

What I love is that Bill Bowerman translated this belief across many areas — personal values, sports training and business. Believing isn’t relegated to any sector!

Bill Bowerman was a track and field coach for the University of Oregon.  In his 24 year career he trained 31 Olympic athletes, twelve American record holders, 51 All-Americans and 24 NCAA champions.  One year he won 4 NCAA titles.   In 1964 he became the co-founder of Nike.  He and his wife Barbara were married for more than 60 years.

The Pamela Positive: Undertake Something So Great You Cannot Accomplish It Unaided

Phillips Brooks, an educator and spiritual leader, advised us to push ourselves into the unknown for a special reason: To become spiritual.

Well, you might ask, “Why is being spiritual so important? I simply want to create a great company, write a book, or scale Mount Kilimanjaro.”

The qualities it takes to do any of the above, and anything miraculous, cannot be seen. They are:

Perseverance: Don’t ever think of giving up…
Thoughtfulness: Care in building a team…
Inspirational: Being able to paint your vision in a way that excites others and compels them to take action…

You must have these qualities to build successful relationships and enduring companies.  Yet all of these are qualities which are not required in school, home or job.  And yet they are the invisible glue which will allow you “…to undertake something so great you cannot accomplish it unaided.”
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They are not material or physical. They are spiritual.

“We never become truly spiritual by sitting and wishing to become so. You must undertake something so great that you cannot accomplish it unaided.”  – Phillips Brooks

Phillips Brooks was an American clergyman in the Episcopal church during the 19th century.  He published several books of lectures and sermons, as well as authoring the popular Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  He was highly regarded as a preacher and a patriot.

The Classic Pamela Positive: “Do All the Good You Can.”

“Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.”

– John Wesley

John Wesley (1703-1791) was the founder of the Methodist movement, along with his brother, Charles. Wesley went to Christ Church College, Oxford, and taught at Oxford’s Lincoln College. He preached in Georgia and throughout England, giving over 40,000 sermons in his lifetime. One of Wesley’s best-known doctrines is that of “salvation by faith.” He also emphasized striving for “Christian Perfection,” where the believer lived by the love of God. He was engaged with social issues such as prison reform and the abolitionist movement. Methodism is now considered a separate denomination of Christianity, although in Wesley’s lifetime it was within the Anglican church. At the time of Wesley’s death, there were 135,000 Methodists; today, they number some 70 million.

The Pamela Positive: “UnConference Room” Your Meeting with a Peaceful Banyan Tree

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There are many images that come to mind when we think of Asia, from dragons to beautiful beaches, spanning varied cultures. One of my favorite views is that of the banyan tree, for it must be strongly grounded in the earth, which also allows its larger branches and leaves to provide overreaching shade.

It was under a banyan tree where the Buddha felt his calling to a new level of enlightenment.  Under these same trees, Gujarati businessmen hold their meetings.  It is even used as a place for political meetings: recently in Malaysia, the state assembly met underneath the welcome atmosphere of the banyan tree.  So, for much of Asia, spirituality, entrepreneurship, politics are taking place in the outdoors.

The banyan tree represents solidity, rootedness, and strength.  At the same time, it also represents comfort, shade and welcome.  It is a source of power, balanced with peace.  It represents firmness, as well as welcome.

Is America’s Banyan Tree the Conference Room?

It is interesting how in America, and in many places across the world, most of our meetings take place in walled, sterile conference rooms.  Chairs are uniformly around the table.  The walls are usually plastered with notices about the company’s achievements.  Pens and pads are available so we can write and record and get our business done. Gosh darn it, I can hear the executives say, in this room we’re going to get to the solution, get down to business and ‘make it happen.’

Yet what if we looked at doing all of our business, or even holding all of our meetings, under a banyan tree?  This return to nature might help conversations flow more easily.

Perhaps this atmosphere would allow us to be more authentic. If we are surrounded by nature’s occasional stirring winds, visionary clouds floating across the sky, and brilliant beckoning sun, would we not also settle into a more authentic course of conversation? Could it lead to more natural, comfortable (and no less impactful, but rather moreso) solutions?   Within this reframing context of nature, we can discuss our goals and hopes and plans and perhaps achieve even greater goals.

Here’s a thought… We can replace the pen, paper and busy scribbling of notes, with more eye contact.  We supplant the flurried white board scrawls with more thoughtful listening. What a profound impact this has to have on any business relationship, business decision, and especially, with any personal matter.

Until we can “Unconference Room” your meeting space, perhaps we can imagine all of our conversations thoughtfully taking place under a Banyan tree.  A place where comfort, understanding, and right relationships result under its strong, rooted and peaceful presence.

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The banyan tree originally received its name from the merchants who gathered beneath it to do business; in the Gujarati language, “banya” means “merchant/grocer.” Western visitors to India observed the merchants meeting beneath the tree, and the name evolved to refer to the tree itself.  The banyan trees are given great symbolism in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Banyan trees can grow to cover hundreds of feet, and live for over a thousand years.

The Classic Pamela Positive: Leaders to Inspire Us: Frances Hesselbein

As a woman social entrepreneur myself, I find it exciting to see the strong women working in the nonprofit sector. There are so many inspiring stories. One of my favorites is Frances Hesselbein.

 

She was a mentee of Peter Drucker. This 90-something year old leader is still going strong, speaking internationally, and helping women leaders and entrepreneurs all over the world.

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She has written two very insightful books geared towards both non-profit/for-profit leaders: The Leader of the Future and On Mission and Leadership: A Leader to Leader Guide.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Miss Hesselbein in New York; she has already had a profound influence on me and my desire to become a leader. With leaders like Frances to inspire us, it’s exciting to think what can be accomplished in the future.