Monday, November 29, 2010

The Power of Fulfilled Promise

Promises should be kept, not only during Christmas. The biggest challenge is to keep the promises that we gave ourselves. Voluntarily. Out of our best intentions. Improving our fitness. Improving our relationships with others. Or improving the way we give back to the society, to those, who are young and deserve our development support or who may not be as lucky as we are. We have to take our leadership, our personal initiative to surpass the hurdles on the way. We have to thrive to overcome our laziness or our hesitance to expose ourselves publicly. We have to be sure we can stand for our word. At any costs. Only then we will be able to look ourselves up in the mirror and feel relieved we have done our job.

Anthony Robbins (50), the American coaching guru, as a teenager lived for a while in poverty. When some stranger came to his family and brought food and gifts for Thanksgiving, Anthony has sworn that if he ever became successful, he wanted to share his fortune with others. Nowadays Anthony always does something nice for those in the need. Especially for Thanksgiving. He keeps his promise.

Bill Gates (55), famous philantroper and owner of charitable Foundation, several years ago joined the worldwide initiative End Poverty 2015. He is so committed to deliver on his promise, that he started in 2010 together with his wife Melinda and with Warren Buffet (80) an initiative ("Giving Pledge") asking top billionaires in the World to contribute at least half their net worth to charity, in their lifetimes or at death. And they were the first role models. Bill Gates donated 30+ billion USD already. Warren Buffet plans to give to charity 99% of his fortune i.e. 44 bil. USD at death. This kind of leadership is revolutionary and unheard of. The fact that Bill means it honestly and does not use it only as a self promo campaign, the fact that the second richest man in the world is ready to share his fortune with others to tackle AIDS, tuberculosis, polio or to fund famine-resistant crops to fight hunger, creates high social buzz. He stands for his word. He started to understand the reason why he had the gift to rule the world of the Rich. Because he can now give back more than others.

We do not have to commit as much as Bill Gates or as Warren Buffet do. We do not have to wait to be 50+. It is sometimes enough if we volunteer our time to the good cause or share just small amounts from our income. NOW. Immediately.

Different people live different lives, give different promises, have different possibilities. But only true leaders create the difference. They demonstrate their determination and are ready to give back to the society, to the people around them and to their family. They show they have not forgotten their roots. They have learned that by giving others they give something warm and nice mainly to themselves. They award themselves with self fulfillment. And they become instantly much more rich.

What promises do you plan to give yourself NOW? Or for the New Year?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Freedom of Speech

Have you learnt to express yourself during your life time experiences? Are you a born speaker of your mind? Are you honest with yourself and ready to stand up for your thoughts? In the end these questions can only be answered by action.Your action. Do it or don’t do it.
This dilemma came to many of us in the Czech Republic 21 years ago. Should we express our opinions and go to Albertov (in the center of Prague) on Friday, November 17th, 1989 and later next week each day to the Wenceslas Square, when armored carriers surrounded the crowds and police was beating people and filming everybody to assure consequences could be taken? What was the risk of participating for us or for our families? Are we able to stand for our opinions at any price? No-one knew what will be the response from military forces, from secret police or communistic politicians. Many of our parents have already paid their price 21 years before (1968) and thus may not be as optimistic about the outcome. We knew we have just our strong will and naked hands, lighted candles as expression of us being innocent and set of keys to make a symbolic noise. We have had enough of the current system.
Our inexperienced youth and our strong desire to change things for the better gave us the courage to participate in demonstrations and to express ourselves. Freely after so many years of suppression and no ability to raise our voice without punishment . Only an innocent singing of national songs walking home at night with group of friends resulted in being taken over by police and being questionned whole night at the police station, released in the end with a warning to be fired from the University next time. Only an innocent question during lessons of history could cause a trouble, as I realized even myself.  Many teachers themselves were proud to be loyal communists. On the other hand – to my surprise – even some of them were secret heroes. Like the one who was teaching me the subject of Scientific Communism at the University of Economics. He encouraged us already on Wednesday Nov. 15th, two days before the outburst started, to come with candles to Albertov. He said good-bye, see you there … and do not be surprised if our Scientific Communism subject will not continue next week anymore. He definitely had more insights than many of us had at that time. And he decided to speak out his mind and influence us, the 21years-old students. He transformed himself from teacher of communistic ideas to a leader who realized he has to make up for a mistake he has done when choosing this subject for teaching. He has helped to awaken our inner voice to say we have had enough.
We have expressed the courage in the streets of Prague, but we were scared when we heard from radio (the forbidden Voice of America) that one student was killed. We have learnt only several days later, that that this was just a provocation that should manipulate the masses. But our voices started to be much lauder. We felt the power of the higher purpose. We have represented an idea, a possibility. A possibility to live a normal life, a possibility to fight for the World to be a better place even in the Czech republic.
The outcome of these November days 21years ago are well known for everybody.  We have a democracy with its pluses and minuses. The fact that we can express ourselves anywhere anytime is not anymore a perceived value. People take it for granted and focus more on other - e.g. material things.
Many years passed and some Czechs have forgotten the true status of things that we lived during the era of Communism. They complain about current system and say that it was much better then, when everybody had a job and was materially equal (not true, but verbally often articulated by the Communists). They still continue to vote the Communistic party. To my great sadness.
I wish that the Freedom of Speech and Speeches of Freedom will continue to represent a value for us - the Czech citizens. I wish everybody will appreciate the freedom we have helped to establish.
I wish that people will continue to want to make a diference in this World despite possible negative personal consequences. Because if we are not thriving to make the World a better place, we are wasting our time.

P.S. The fact that I am writing this blog on Nov. 21st, about an event happening 21 years ago, when I was 21 years old, and my father that time had a 21st anniversary of his 1968 Prague Spring participance is really only a co-incidence :-).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In Between Jobs – Pain or Pleasure?

Steve Jobs asked in 1985 a simple question, “How can you get fired from a company you started?” About one year ago I asked myself as well: “How could I be fired as CEO from a Company, which I have re-started for growth and over-delivered results despite the economical crisis and winning all 340 employees’ motivation?” Big shock after collecting official awards for the Best Employer, for the Best Innovation and for being the Discovery of the Year and one of top most influential women in the Czech Republic just few months before.
Steve Jobs said that he understood only few years later, how the dots needed to connect themselves: "The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods in my life." Steve Jobs reinvented himself. Today he is an icon and people remember just him. Those who removed him are professionally “buried” alive.
It is too early for such breakthroughs or announcements in my case. I am happy I am mastering the journey that has surprisingly opened itself in front of me and that has led me to new highs.
First days were like shock. I thought I never want to work again, when the performance plays no role and success is disadvantage. My thoughts were going in the direction I want to live an “ordinary” life, maybe it is more fulfilling. My loving father had another view: “You cannot live an ordinary life, because you were not born for it, you are special and you have to take your skills and further develop them. Do not try to be ordinary, when you have the gifts to influence the world.” It was meaningless to argue with him. I got the message in few weeks to come.
Life went on. I have attracted great people to my life.  I have had several intensive special experiences. I got virtually introduced to Anthony Robbins and to Rhonda Byrne by a friend, managing director of a leading multinational Company, Jirka Pavlicek, who I have met by co-incidence after many years. I have also attracted to my life a great coach, Radvan Bahbouh, who helped me to deal with the death of my young sister. The pain of her five-years- struggle for life and then actual death from cancer in our presence bothered me for a long time. I started to understand the laws of the nature, the laws of this Universe. I got inspired by many clever books and by many hi-profile people I met during consulting, special occasions or in a Business club. Soon I started to feel content and happy inside. I started to smile like a kid and enjoy every small moment of each day. Those who see me playing golf that I enjoy ever since, may be surprised how naturally happy I can be with Par. That is still not so frequent for me, but improving. And I am committed.
Some people are suspicious, because my positive mind goes directly against their beliefs. People without jobs should feel miserable and depressed, some of them thought. The typical question I used to get was: “How could you be so happy, not working - you – workaholic?”
I am now only in the process of finding the pieces of my life destiny, the dots have still to be connected. I have stayed firm and decided for myself. Do I take this event as a professional funeral of myself or do I take it as a huge opportunity to finally devote my time to meaningful things? The hot high profile CEO jobs are not nowadays in high supply due to crisis, but this cannot stop me from working full time from home, as a freelance strategic consultant, speaker or writer. I love to contribute and to improve the status quo. I love to move things forward.
The road in front of me is unknown. I still try to figure out how I can impact this world in bigger scale. But I am happy and content. I feel again I am myself. I am able to smile and to find the source for laugh from small things in life. I am able to give the meaning to the message I have been sending during the previous years to everybody: “Enjoy your day!”
The pleasure is waiting, even for you, at any circumstances.  It is just up to you if you take it!
 “Your purpose is what you say it is. Your mission is the mission you give yourself. Your life will be what you create it as and no one will stay in judgment of it now or ever.” Neale Donald Walsch.
“Your inner happiness is the fuel of your success.” Dr. John Hagelin PhD

"Sometimes life's going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love." Steve Jobs

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Is Vulnerability in CEO Leadership Desirable?

The more successful we become the more vulnerable we are. It comes with the higher visibility at the top. It is a great time to share our successess with the audience, but what about our failures? Are we ready for the critique? Are we ready to stand out in confidence and act decisively even when others stand still in doubt?
Being vulnerable means not to hide ourselves, go beyond our doubts and fears, beyond our comfort zone. Opening ourselves, opening our minds to others. Acting authentically. enables us to match our challenges and ambitions with the audience and find the common ground needed to do great things together.  Vulnerability inspires and guides. It shows human nature of each leader. It puts energy into giving more than expected to people.
When leaders are perceived as human and vulnerable, employees identify with those attributes and begin to see the potential for success and leadership in themselves. So do not be afraid to be perceived as vulnerable.  Show that you are a real person and you'll be amazed how a Company culture can change from one where people hide everything and focus on covering up mistakes to one where mistakes are considered to be a key step in learning and mastering the skill.  People will begin to ask for help before they bury themselves or the organization.
When employees have the unshakeable belief that their manager’s intentions are reasonable and pure, without any hidden agenda, they do not feel guarded or protective when being around. This promotes a stronger feeling of their trust. They feel secure because their vulnerabilities will not be used against them in any way.
People sometimes believe that if they admit a weakness or fear, if they acknowledge their uncertainty they’ll never be taken seriously. No one wants to be considered weak. However vulnerability and weakness are two different things. People who are weak avoid direct conflict, they are ineffective and not inspirational. They manage others by spreading rumours, fear and uncertainty. This is very different from being vulnerable. A vulnerable leader may be an extremely nice individual, but his niceness doesn’t get in his way to make tough decisions or to hold others accountable, he is more tough than anybody else when necessary.
The challenge of vulnerability comes with the first failure. Are we able at any circumstances go beyond our comfort zone, stay authentic and trusting others? Are we able to understand that ackwnowledging our weaknesses leads to success and growth?
IT TAKES STRENGTH TO ADMIT OUR VULNERABILITY. But it pays off because it builds trust and inspires performance.
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, for Fortune Magazine: “The hardest thing about being a leader is demonstrating or showing vulnerability. And that has a lot to do with trust. ..When the leader demonstrates vulnerability and sensibility and brings people together, the team wins.” 
P.S.  Teaser for my next blog: “ In Between Jobs – Pain or Pleasure?“