Nina Spencer

Getting Around To It: (Story 2)

The Importance of the Follow Through in Work and Life

Wishes and dreams of what you might professionally do "one day" aren't goals until you take a little action. And those fledgling goals, born of a little action, don't grow up and truly manifest at work or elsewhere unless you persevere and believe.

A dear friend recently shared with me the following passage and philosophy, and applied it to the talent of fine and enlightened parenting:

I bring you the gift of these four words: I believe in you. -- Blaise Pascal

Whether as a parent, friend, colleague or boss, wouldn't it be teriffic if we all found the time and capacity to declare that sentiment to those we cherished in our personal circle? to those in whom we truly believed? And wouldn't it also be wonderful if you gave that gift to yourself a little more often, too...and really meant it (because, let's face it, sometimes there just isn't always the right person available to cheer you when you could surely use some encouragement).

"I bring you the gift of these four words: I believe in you."

I offer you the following three Working Wisdom tales, over three consecutive days, in the spirit (no pun intended) of Charles Dicken's, "Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future", from A Christmas Carol. All three are true stories shared to illustrate my point about the power of believing in your favourite others, and also in yourself:

Story Two (The Ghost of Wisdom Almost Present/2008): My Lady Dianna: An Eloquent, Funny and Insightful Communicator About Whom Most Have Never Heard, Nor Read

Dianna was my best friend of 30 years. We both started with the same large employer within 6 weeks of one another, back in 1979. From then until December 1, 2008 she knew all my stories...the good, the bad, the embarrassing, the top secret, and yes, forgive me, even the ugly; a true and honest witness to my whole adult life. She always believed in me when I periodically forgot to practice what I preached professionally--to believe in myself! And I believed in her. How many times did we have such amazing, insightful conversations, that we wished we'd left a tape recorder running to capture all the pearls? And how many times, when I was coming up dry for writing yet another Working Wisdom, I'd finally sprout a nut of an idea, chat on it a bit with Dianna, and, boom! Instant article would appear. She was an inspiration. She was my inspiration. Never before in my life, nor since, nor probably ever again, will I sit with a friend, talking and sharing ideas in one restaurant, at one time, so long that we ended up ordering lunch and then dinner, too! That was one scary bill come evening's end! When two chatty, head-in-the-clouds people get together...lookout! But that was Dianna. She loved great conversation and could stand up with the chattiest of 'em, and also bring out the most meek and mild.

Dianna was pure heart and entertainment. Because of this magical quality--and because of her amazing ability to turn a phrase in such a creative, imaginative and often uproariously funny way--I was forever encouraging her to professionally speak and write. And she'd often take the bait. "Oh my goodness! That's an article! That's a keynote presentation!", I'd cry when she'd yet again shared some blow-me-away insight. I'd bossily, but lovingly, insist she put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, to get those ideas down and out before they were lost to the ether. She'd be swept away with enthusiasm, too, and agreeably write the piece--even let me hear or see it--but would never follow through with that last step of submission to a magazine, newspaper or whatever. The same would happen with speaking opportunities I'd arrange. I know some would say that it was more my agenda for my friend than hers for herself, but I don't know about that. She really was enthusiastic at the start, but that rascal called "momentum" (once again) would get lost and off to the cursed ether those wonderful insights would go. So most of Dianna's powerful and poetic written and spoken prose ended up being experienced exclusively by the intimate and informal audiences of friends and colleagues. And that's fine enough. Although grander audiences sitting at her metaphoric feet, hanging off her every word, might also have been gratifying for both her and her participants (and, I confess, for me, too), I've learned to subscribe to the "breathing" line from this Ralph Waldo Emerson's offering:

WHAT IS SUCCESS?

To laugh often and love much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the approval of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give of one's self without the
slightest thought of return;
To have accomplished a task,
whether by a healthy child,
a rescued soul, a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm
and sung with exaltation;
To know that even one life has breathed easier because
you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.

My dear friend Dianna died on December 1, 2008, at 52, of her second go around with a rare form of (triple negative) breast cancer--my first experience of losing a beloved close friend. I miss her still now, and will forever. But, the good news for me is that I still hold her in my conscious heart daily, and hear her in my head any time I please (and also on a birthday greeting voice mail she left for me when I turned 50, two years ago-I keep rotating that beautiful message every seven days!). And, as right in this very moment, she's still helping me pen my Working Wisdoms. Dianna didn't write for publication, as I had pressed, nor did she speak "for fee", as I'd championed, but she sure made a whole bunch of lives more joyous and, "breathe easier because she had lived". Dianna/Dyavati Barrett was truly a most unique and successful woman, indeed.

The moral of this second story, as I see it, is this:

  • believe in your friends and other loved ones exactly where they're at, whether or not they "go big" or, rather, choose only to share their gifts and talents with an intimate circle of privileged friends and colleagues
  • if you sense they could go farther, however, and sincerely want to (but need a little push), support them enough to lovingly do just that; push; because sometimes we all need someone who cares enough to give a little push-yes?
  • it's a good idea, every now and then, to do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone; something that forces you to be a bit scared and unsure, to use parts of your brain you've never engaged before, to push out of your daily routines and predictable patterns, either physically or mentally...to get out there on those skinny branches and trust that the limb will hold
  • there's no time like now to tell your best of friends and loved ones just how much you do love them...how much they do mean to you and how much you do believe in them; use December as your excuse if you must (if you're too shy or reserved about being mushy for no reason); sometimes we don't have as long as we think to do just that; not everyone lives to 100--some only get half that number; so if it's in your heart at all, now is the time
  • and every now and then, with those extra special ones in your life, get "off the clock" and come together long enough that you sit and talk, or merely be in each other's face-to-face presence (maybe even through two meals...just like Dianna and I did once long ago); for, although electronics are often a Godsend for keeping in touch, nothing beats, nor really replaces, face-to-face time. Although we were great on the phone together, I now wish Di and I had fought for more face time through the years
  • and lastly, to maximize the highest probability of personal and professional satisfaction, commit to follow through, follow through, follow through with those hopes, wishes, goals and dreams that matter to you most

If your "Ghost of Wisdom Present" demanded that you commit to a positive action to move yourself professionally forward on to new and exciting opportunities and experiences in 2010 (which will be the "present "in four short weeks!), what would you answer? What one shift in thinking or action can you commit to, to improve your enthusiasm for your good work in 2010?

How do you see the moral of this particular story? What are your insights? I welcome your input and will gladly add your feedback, either anonymously or acknowledged, as a footer to each story, if you will kindly send me your thoughts via email at: nina@ninaspencer.com, placing the words "WW Story 2 Feedback" in the Subject Line.

If you would like to know more about Dianna Barrett, this amazingly insightful and remarkable woman and dearest of friends, and perhaps pick up a few extra "Morals of the story" of your own, click here to read my eulogy delivered at her Memorial Service on December 3rd, 2008:

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Tomorrow: Story Three (The Ghost of Wisdom Yet to Come): The Guy Who Took The Road Less Travelled, From Fisheries and Wildlife, Through Marketing and Communications, on His Ultimate Professional Way to World Religions and Cultural Anthropology

*But if you're impatient and keen to know what's next, today, rather than tomorrow, I invite you to "sneak peek" by going to my website link: "Getting Around To it: The Importance of the Follow Through in Work and Life" link at: http://ninaspencer.com

...and read the last of this trilogy on the theme of "believing", now--epilogue and all!