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Current Business Reality: Do You Have the Courage to Confront It?

Courage to Confront the Current Business Reality

Martin Luther King eloquently shared his “I have a Dream” speech and inspired all of us to not just focus on what is possible but also the current harsh reality of racism in the 1960s in the United States.

Peter Senge, the noted management and leadership scholar coined the phrase, creative tension, to inspire all of us to focus simultaneously on both our vision and our current business reality. He said that if we only focus on vision, others could consider us to be too optimistic and naïve. Dr. Senge said if we, however, only focus on our current reality, we could become discouraged and doubtful of ever achieving our vision and goals. How does this affect our current business reality?

Dr. Senge encourages us to focus on both; our vision for what is possible for our teams and our organizations as well as simultaneously focusing on the current business reality so we are not in denial or delusional.

Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great, writes about a conversation he had with US Navy Vice Admiral and aviator, James Bond “Jim” Stockdale who shot down over Vietnam in 1965 and was a prisoner of war for the next 7.5 years. In this discussion, Collins asked Stockdale about his coping strategy during this period of captivity. Stockdale reported, “I never lost faith in the end of this story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

When Collins asked Stockdale who did not make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied, “Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, “We’re going to be out by Christmas.” And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. They they’d say, “We’re going to be out by Easter.” And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.” Stockdale then added, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end-which can never afford to lose-with the discipline to confront the brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Witnessing this philosophy of duality, Jim Collins went on to describe it as the Stockdale Paradox.

I’ve seen leaders who lack the courage to confront the current business reality. Sometimes they don’t want to deal with the harsh facts or they remain naively optimistic about other people’s capacity to drive positive results regardless of the situation.

I worked for a leader early in my career that was absolutely delusional about the professionalism of his key leaders. He trusted but did he not verify. He let some of them bully him. He did refuse to acknowledge the high cost to the organization. The new leaders at all levels did not feel safe to share their concerns or even observations but he could not connect the dots to his key leaders and their styles. He hired change agents but then he allowed their peers to withhold information and resources so their success was limited or painfully prolonged. He never found his voice with his key colleagues, or at least he never demonstrated this when I worked for him.

When we remain in denial or even delusional, we tend to create a lot of chaos and confusion within our teams. When we have the courage to confront the brutal facts and take action based on those facts, we are able to create alignment at all levels. Then we find our business reality.

The key to having the courage is to focus on the facts and the data. Without the facts, it’s human nature to make up stories and put our own spin on these stories. “I know next quarter will be more robust”. “I know Bob and I know Bob didn’t mean to blow up that way in front of the team.” “I know everyone is committed to the same things.”

In order to build alignment, grow organizations and exponentially increase shareholder value, we must:

  • Get the facts backed up by data
  • Articulate to ourselves our values, our vision and our commitment to this organization
  • Find our voice so we can articulate all of this to others clearly, concisely and consistently
  • Demonstrate the courage to install consequences for bad behavior.

If you are interested in an executive dashboard in a cloud-based platform that supports everyone in staying focused on the facts in a positive, productive way let me know. We’ve analyzed them all and can give you a balanced perspective on the best ones.

Katharine Halpin has been facilitating transitions and M&A transactions since 1995. Long before that, however, she was able to identify leadership and management gaps and became a change agent leading efforts to close all those gaps.
The clients of The Halpin Companies consistently report they make more money and work fewer hours as a result of using our proprietary, proven methods to build alignment at all levels and grow shareholder value by a factor of 2-3 consistently and quickly.

Happy Father’s Day Jack!

John F Halpin 01.10.1929.03.30.1984We lost our Dad 31 years ago on March 30. I joke about him and even mention him in my ‘speaker intro’. It says that I have 45+ years of work experience and the first 13 years were in his office, John F. Halpin, CPA, where he was my first people problem.

 

That’s all true!

 

Today, Father’s Day, I want to celebrate him and all the many gifts he gave his children.

 

But first, let me share a few things that did not translate well between the generations in our family.

 

A love of fishing was not one of the gifts he gave us. He loved to fish from the pier off Bonelli Road at Eagle Lake and we did that often (often for him was maybe once every year or so). We caught catfish big enough to eat once. For some reason, none of his five children ever go fishing….

 

He took us camping, and none of us are campers as adults either. He only bought a camper when we got so big that the entire family of seven could not sleep in one Holiday Inn room. He bought a pop-up camper when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. I can remember taking my best friend, Kelly, with us on a camping trip to a Mississippi State Park. The camper slept eight, so why not take eight people, right?

 

Momma had to drive our big Dodge Station Wagon with the newly installed trailer hitch pulling our pop-up camper. Dad wasn’t a good driver around town because he was always focused more on keeping his pipe lit than watching the road. They seemed to have some secret agreement that she did all highway driving.

 

Of course, she could not back up our station wagon with the camper attached. That was not a significant issue during our treks. We didn’t make a lot of stops en route and when we did, for instance at an IHOP for breakfast after she had driven all night, she would find a way to pull into a parking lot next door to the IHOP where she could park without backing up during either our ingress or our egress.

 

When we would finally arrive at our destination, often at dusk during the on-site campground manager’s supper, Momma would insist we be assigned to a spot positioned at the end of a triangle so she could ‘pull through’. When that option was not available – which was often – she would then insist that the campground manager drive our station wagon and back our camper into our assigned spot, even if he was in the midst of eating his supper.

 

This is when my Dad would disappear to entertain the other campers.

 

As soon as we arrived at the state park or KOA Camp Grounds, he got out of the car wearing his usual leisure attire: shorts with a dress shirt (no worries – he only wore short sleeved dress shirts), black socks, and black dress shoes. He would then go from campsite to campsite looking for people he could meet and entertain with his stories about Vicksburg, MS.

 

The rest of us were left to set up our own campsite.

 

Setting up a campsite was fairly simple except for one important task: leveling the camper. With a pop-up camper, it’s critical that the camper be level, because four people were sleeping on the beds that ‘popped out’ after popping up the entire camper. If the camper were not level, one side could tilt and those two sleepers could have easily been injured as they slipped through the canvas sides.

 

I don’t recall much discussion about this at home. I imagine our Uncle Bubba came over to check out the camper and most likely would have pointed out the importance of this task. I imagine my baby brother, Willie Boy, was probably taking note. Regardless of whether or not any of that happened, I do remember vividly how we got our camper level once we arrived at our destination.

 

If I was in the sixth grade, that would have put Willie in the second. I can remember this as if it were yesterday. At this point Willie was just a little fellow. But he would go from corner to corner of the camper adjusting and re-adjusting each bar that, as I recall, dropped down from the underneath of the camper and could be adjusted based on the ground and sand where we were parked.

 

He worked meticulously, as if he were an engineering genius. He never failed to get the entire contraption level. Willie would later demonstrate this engineering genius in lots of ways but in the second grade that had not yet emerged.

 

But here’s what my Dad did give me that remains with me every day.

 

He gave me an example of living by faith. He was never much of a church-goer, but our friend, Marian Alvarado, badgered him incessantly until he attended a Charismatic Prayer Meeting with her. These were held at the Carmelite Monastery on Terry Road in Jackson, Mississippi. He only had to go once to experience a full conversion and a peace that he had never known. He then went about sharing this experience with anyone who would listen. Momma and I attended those prayer meetings with him. We all loved that faith community, the music and the experiences. What an amazing thing to be able to experience with your parents when you are still in your formative years.

 

He gave me a love of people. He loved connecting with people and swapping stories. He loved meeting people and then reporting to his friends about the interesting people he had met. He was curious about everyone and, with his photographic memory, would remember details most everyone else forgot immediately.

 

Jack loved his friends. He loved having high-balls with them. He loved competing to be the center of attention with the funniest stories with the most outlandish characters.

 

Dad gave me a love of storytelling and he taught me the power of telling stories. I remember so many of his stories he shared with me in his office on Saturday mornings. He told me stories about his clients and their businesses.

 

He also gave me a love of business. How revenue was generated, where customers came from, what were the driving forces in the success of his clients. He talked with reverence about each person because he loved and respected everyone.  He considered everyone a good friend; from the elevator operator to the bank president.  He never met a stranger.

 

He instilled a love of community. He volunteered for over 35 years as the Board Chair of the Warren County Welfare Board. He served as a founding Board Member of the federally funded Children and Youth Clinic.  He worked to build community and ensure everyone had access to basic human rights regardless of race or financial ability.

 

He loved being from Vicksburg, Mississippi and loved that his great grandfather had been the first Mayor of Vicksburg after the Civil War, during reconstruction. He spoke with authority about those who did harbor prejudices based on race. He explained to me that if people are insecure, they need someone, a group of people, or even an entire race, to look down upon.

 

He loved that so many people remembered his own father, who was killed when he was eight years old. He relished in the introductions that those people made for him when he returned after college and established his CPA practice.

 

Because he did take me to work with him on Saturday mornings he gave me a love of all of these things – business, storytelling, and community – though it might not have been the best way to raise a child! These experiences did cause me to hurl my way into my own CPA career with a lot of unproductive baggage. However, I’m grateful every day for Jack and for all the gifts he gave me. My love of business, people, story telling and my own faith are my critical success factors today in my life and in my own small business.

 

Even in Mississippi it’s not a good idea to put an eight-year-old child to work on the family farm or in the family CPA firm. But it’s all good!

 

Happy Father’s Day Jack!

 

 

 

 

Why Some Executive Demonstrate Bad Behavior

Brian Evje had a recent piece in Inc. Magazine titled, “Why Executives Are So Bad At The Behavioral Side of Management”.

After a 40-year career, I certainly do not believe that all execs are bad at the ‘soft’ skill issues (which we all know are really the hard issues to address).

Mr. Evje states that “In reality, there is nothing ‘soft’ about the skills need to relate to people well enough to lead them.  True leadership involves both hard skills and harder skills”.  I love this quote.

He summarizes that there are ultimately 3 things leaders have to do to be more effective:

1) Admit that inter-personal skills are important.  He even posits that we must be able to lead ourselves.  I call this self-management.  Being able to bring the required perspective to every situation and to do this ‘in the moment’ requires presence, discipline, thoughtfulness and a feeling of being grounded.  Humans don’t gain this ability without getting exercise, getting out in nature, taking think time, and having a variety of reserves of time in place every day..

2) Rethink your definitions of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills.  He’s got great questions to ask yourself.  See the full article here:  http://www.businessinsider.com/successful-leadership-skills-2012-11

3) Get some help.  As a Leadership Strategist for almost 18 years, I, of course, love this idea.  Just like in sports, we don’t know what we don’t know about our levels of effectiveness. An outsider can help you raise your awareness and ultimately, make different choices.

When I re-tweeted this article yesterday, one of my Facebook friends added a comment that most execs put their self-interest over the interest of their employees, companies, communities.  Again, I don’t agree with the broad generalization.  I have seen more execs do this than I’d like to admit. However, the key here is to only hire values-based people and people who share your values.  If you value transparency, figure out what questions to ask in the interview to assess the applicant’s perspective on transparency.  If you value integrity, ask them to share an experience when they’ve been asked to compromise their integrity.  The interview might  be very short based on their response to this question.

If you enjoy these posts, you probably would enjoy our free report, 7 Secrets to Making More While Working Less at www.teamalignmentstrategies.com

 

 

 

Self Awareness – A Key to Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

In Sunday’s NYTimes’ Corner Office by Adam Bryant, Tony Tjan, Founder and CEO of Cue Ball, a Venture Capital Firm in Boston offers extraordinarily valuable insights.

I thought his most poignant point, in talking about the dot-com buts of 2000 was that “…self-awareness trumps all.  You need to know what your superhero strength is, but you really learn at tougher times what your and others’ weaknesses are.”

His point is like that Hallmark Card that says something like people are like tea bags.  You never really know them until you put them in hot water.

What does it take to have a level of resiliency that allows us to bounce back from setbacks and obstacles?  What kinds of self-management tools do we need to practice consistently so that when an obstacle arises we can easily circumvent it?

A key self-management tool for many of us is Strategic Think Time.  I’d encourage you today to give yourself this gift to read and reflect on this piece.  Here’s the link:  http://nyti.ms/YOzNGN

 

Gratitude Week – Be Thankful for Real Rejuvenation

Thanksgiving week is ending and we have the benefit of moving from 2-3 days of Holidays into a weekend . For me, I am on Day 3 of 5 of my Holiday Weekend .

Today I am grateful for this time away from my normal routines and obligations . I am grateful for time to be in nature and for a beautiful mountain setting. I am grateful for my health and mobility that allows me to move and breath in the mountain air.

How much time have you given yourself this holiday weekend for real rejuvenation ? How much time could you carve out today ? What would have to happen to allow you to give yourself this gift?

The more we can create an experience of real rejuvenation during our time ‘off’, the more likely we will be to build this into our regular routines .

This week I have been writing about other aspects of gratitude that are important and useful for us all. I hope you will read all my posts this week.

If you are enjoying these posts, I’m confident you would enjoy one of our free webinars on Total Team Alignment.  These webinars are filled with useful, practical and easy to implement solutions that produce record results right away.  I hope you’ll join us for one.  Here’s the link to register:

www.HalpinCompany.com/webinars

Please have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter and real rejuvenation!

Gratitude Week – A Powerful Example of Using Gratitude to Control Our Own Destiny – Karen Perry’s journey from loss to gratitude

In an effort to not offend my friends and colleagues who chose not to celebrate Thanksgiving, but focus on celebrating with their loved ones a Fall Harvest Celebration, I hesitate to say, “Happy Thanksgiving”!

I am with family and friends in the mountains of Northern Arizona with amazing weather and time for real rejuvenation.

This week I have been writing about aspects of gratitude that are important and useful for us all. In yesterday’s AZ Republic, Pulitzer prize-winning, columnist, Laurie Roberts, shared the amazing story of Karen Perry. Karen is the mother from Mesa, AZ that lost all 3 of her young children last Thanksgiving eve.

Her story is a powerful testimony to resiliency, gratitude and moving forward powerfully. She really is controlling her own destiny after devastating losses.

Please take the time this holiday weekend to read the full article at www.azcentral.com to read Laurie Robert’s 11/21/12 column on Karen Perry.

A search for Laurie Roberts will bring up yesterday’s column. Give your self the gift of this inspiring account.

If you are enjoying these posts, I’m confident you would enjoy one of our free webinars on Total Team Alignment.  These webinars are filled with useful, practical and easy to implement solutions that produce record results right away.  I hope you’ll join us for one.  Here’s the link to register:

www.HalpinCompany.com/webinars

Please have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter and real rejuvenation!

Gratitude Week – Are we controlling our own destiny?

Sometimes life is hard.  Our loved ones become ill or even transition on.  We have health challenges ourselves.  People we care about lose their jobs and their homes, often for no fault of their own.

Sometimes, we just can’t sleep or relax.

Whatever we are faced with we still retain the opportunity to look for the silver lining.  While hokey, this is really our only productive approach.

When we adopt the victim mindset, we give control of our destiny over to someone else.  When we maintain a productive mindset and look for the growth opportunities and even the blessings, we remain effective and we move forward.

This week I’ll be writing about other aspects of gratitude that are important and useful for us all.

If you are enjoying these posts, I’m confident you would enjoy one of our free webinars on Total Team Alignment.  These webinars are filled with useful, practical and easy to implement solutions that produce record results right away.  I hope you’ll join us for one.  Here’s the link to register:

www.HalpinCompany.com/webinars

Please have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter and real rejuvenation!

Gratitude Week – Be Grateful for the Little Things!

My older sister and I received a text on Sunday from our baby sister who was attending a bi-annual Women’s Retreat.  She acknowledged us for the ways we had contributed to her life when she was a child and now as an adult.

The text meant a  tremendous amount to me.  I believe we all have a basic human need to feel valued and appreciated.

Further, I believe that need is so great that it is just above food, shelter and safety.

Who in your world could benefit from an expression of gratitude and acknowledgment?

How might you provide that acknowledgment?  For me, the key is to first put pen to paper and to make a list of all the aspects that I can be grateful for.

From this, I typically find a theme. With or without this level of ‘think time’ and preparation, I am confident that your connection with this person will be strengthened.

More importantly, you will be helping this person get this basic human need met in a powerful and effective manner.

This is a powerful way to experience the full power of gratitude.

This week I’ll be writing about other aspects of gratitude that are important and useful for us all.

If you are enjoying these posts, I’m confident you would enjoy one of our free webinars on Total Team Alignment.  These webinars are filled with useful, practical and easy to implement solutions that produce record results right away.  I hope you’ll join us for one.  Here’s the link to register:

www.HalpinCompany.com/webinars

Please have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter and real rejuvenation!

Gratitude Week – Try Post-it Note Coaching this week!

In an effort to not offend my friends and colleagues who chose not to celebrate Thanksgiving, but focus on celebrating with their loved ones a Fall Harvest Celebration, I hesitate to say, “Happy Thanksgiving”!

However, regardless of our beliefs and traditions, we can all benefit from more gratitude in our lives .  Gratitude is the single most powerful tool according to experts like Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman in the new field of Positive Psychology.

I know that when I have been feeling anger and intensity and literally feeling the adrenaline pumping through my veins, gratitude washes away those feelings in an instant.

I call it my Post-it Note Coaching Program.  If you know me, you know that I say my job is to work myself out of a job.  I believe that because I want my clients and their teams to coach themselves and each other.  This Post-it Note Coaching moves people in that direction with velocity.

Think of a situation where you are NOT getting the results you need or want.  Think about the people who have become obstacles to those results.  Think about the circumstances that have allowed this situation to fester.

Now, take a Post-it Note and write down 3 learnings for yourself from this experience. Think of mistakes you’ve made that you will absolutely not make again.  Think of things you’ve learned about yourself, your colleagues, and the situation.

This exercise only takes about 10 nano-seconds.  Once you’ve written down the learnings or gifts, the frustration will melt away nano-seconds later.  This is a powerful way to experience the full power of gratitude.

This week I’ll be writing about other aspects of gratitude that are important and useful for us all.

If you are enjoying these posts, I’m confident you would enjoy one of our free webinars on Total Team Alignment.  These webinars are filled with useful, practical and easy to implement solutions that produce record results right away.  I hope you’ll join us for one.  Here’s the link to register:

www.HalpinCompany.com/webinars

Please have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter and real rejuvenation!

Get Your Growth Opportunities or They Will Get You!

When I was a struggling CPA/Management Consultant, I changed jobs about every 18-24 months. It did not matter if I was in tax, auditing or consulting. It did not matter if my Boss was male or female. I had a daily conversation in my head that when something like this. ” Bob (Fill in the blanks with the Boss’ name) is an Idiot”.

You can imagine that with this perspective and negative mindset, I was not able to win a lot of friends or influence many of my bosses.

The growth opportunities were always therefore me. The problem was that I wasn’t picking up on these opportunities. I was in a victim mindset. People like my Mutha supported me in staying stuck. She said…”it’s not your fault you are really smart!” and she went on to say, “it’s not your fault you are a really hard worker!”. I would say “…you are right! It’s not my fault”.

That mindset kept the growth opportunities coming my way with more and more velocity. By the time I was 32 years old I had been diagnosed with a stress related chronic illness.

We can either get these growth opportunities when they come to us as a whisper, floating by our ear. Or we can wait until they feel like a rock in our shoe. If we continue to run from meeting to meeting in maniac mode, we will not be able to connect the dots or see these escalating patterns. Eventually the growth opportunity will be like a brick, hitting us on the side of our head!

Timothy Gallwey, Author of The Inner Game of Work, says that we all have to be a Student in the greatest seminar on Earth. The seminar is called: My Life. He goes on to say that maintaining this mindset of a student exponentially expands our intellectual, creative and emotional capacities.

Let’s all commit to take time today to give ourselves the gift of think time to reflect. Let’s start to put the pieces of our puzzle together. What are we putting up with? Where are we feeling frustrated and when have we felt that frustration before?

Don’t do what I did, spend almost 20 years of my life in a reactive, victim mindset, where the Boss du jour was controlling my career success and my quality of life.

What Does It Mean to Get The Right People In The Right Roles Doing the Right Work?

A few weeks ago during a radio interview, I had an aha moment.  The interviewer, Carol Blonder, was excellent and was really pounding me about this topic.

I shared my perspective on this critically important issue.

Not only do we, as leaders, have the mandate to help our colleagues identify their strengths  in order to align their roles with those strengths, we also must be willing to address their greatest vulnerabilities too.  If we want significant improvement in our teams’ productivity, we must be open to this level of forthright communication.  We must also provide ongoing encouragement to build in support structures to minimize the risk of those vulnerabilities becoming obstacles.  All of this is  critical to significant improvements in a team’s productivity.

I know that’s a mouthful so let me break it down so it can be easier to understand.

We all have these strengths that we are born with, like our thumbprint.  Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman, the founder of the new field of Positive Psychology, says that our strengths are our ‘core values in action’.  For more about Dr. Seligman see his website at www.authentichappiness.org.

When we get the volume turned up too high on these strengths they become vulnerabilities.  Here at The Halpin Companies we have a program to help individuals grasp all this.  The program is called The Gifts and Gaps Program.  When we over-utilize a strength or an asset, it becomes a liability.

The key is to be willing to be vulnerable and share our own Gifts and Gaps so that others feel safe to share theirs.

The aha for me this morning is that there are still opportunities for me to be more vulnerable in my life, career and within The Halpin Companies.

Who might benefit from your sharing about your own vulnerabilities?

How might this level of authenticity aid in helping others see their own strengths and vulnerabilities?

How might these conversations help better align roles, responsibilities and expectations?

What would it take for you to create a work environment where people felt comfortable addressing these critically important issues?

How big would you want to play?

For our E-Book on Making More and Working Less click here: www.teamalignmentstrategies.com

We All Have Issues, The Question is….Can We Laugh About Our Issues?

For some decades now, I’ve been saying to clients, colleagues and friends, ‘We all have issues….the question is…are we working on our issues?”

About 6 months ago I had a shift and I realized the opportunity for growth for all of us, individually and as teams, is not to continue to beat ourselves up, working on our issues. The real opportunity for growth is to be able to share our vulnerabilities freely and with lightness and humor.

We all have vulnerabilities. If you’re breathing, you have them. We over-utilize our strengths and get the volume turned up too high. We move too fast and can’t think strategically. We clam up and withhold when we need to find our voice and share our needs, preferences and objectives. We confuse activity with results.

As Brene Brown, PhD shares in her TED Talk, vulnerability is the birthplace of Joy, Creativity, Belonging and Love. In a business setting, think of your team’s need for greater alignment, clarity, innovation and connections. Being able to laugh about our vulnerabilities and issues is the key to creating an environment where others bring their best selves and thrive. Record results will follow.

If you’d like to watch Brene Brown’s video, click here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

Total Team Alignment Daily Question

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering a Daily Question.  In my opinion, the person asking the questions is the person being the Strategic Leader.  I hope you enjoy these questions.

If “Bob” is not meeting our expectations, what is missing?

Skills?

Commitment?

Structures?

If you find this question and your  subsequent ponderings valuable, you might want to participate in one of our complimentary public Webinars on Total Team Alignment.

Here’s the link to find the schedule.

http://halpincompany.com/webinars/

This link provides the opportunity to register and the opportunity to be interviewed during one of these Webinars.  Please feel free to share these links with your colleagues, team members, and leadership team.

What Does Total Team Alignment Take on a Daily Basis?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering a daily Question.  In my opinion, the person asking the questions is the person being the Strategic Leader.  I hope you enjoy these questions.

Who are we being that is giving “Bob” permission to not meet our expectations?

If you find this question and your  subsequent ponderings valuable, you might want to participate in one of our complimentary public Webinars on Total Team Alignment.  Here’s the link to find the schedule.

http://halpincompany.com/webinars/

This link provides the opportunity to register and the opportunity to be interviewed during one of these Webinars.

Please feel free to share these links with your colleagues, team members, and leadership team.

Honoring Our Elders

In some spiritual and religious traditions, today is All Soul’s Day.  While I no longer subscribe to those belief systems espoused by these traditions, I do love the rich heritage and rituals associated with days like today.

As someone whose life as been heavily influenced by my Dad, I can’t help but think of him today.  He died at the age of 56 in 1984.

He looked around the breakfast table one Saturday morning when I was about 8 or 9 years old and saw me among my siblings and said, “why don’t you come into the office with me this morning?”.  He owned a sole-practitioner CPA firm, John F. Halpin, CPA, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  The firm had about a half-dozen ‘girls in the office’ and I became one of them that day.

I started my career that day by operating the microfiche machine to maintain permanent records of his client’s bank statements.

I continued to work with him after school and on week-ends through college.  He’s why I became a CPA.  It took me 20 years to determine I was not well suited for that work.

I can’t help but think of Melody Beattie’s quote today as I think of my Dad and am grateful for all the bad things he taught me workaholicsm, putting the clients’ needs ahead of my own and being a hard worker.  He taught me many good things too.  I learned how to laugh and tell a funny story from my Dad. More importnatly, I learned how to engage people in a way that makes them want to be forthright about their deepest concerns.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”                                                                   Melody Beattie