Archive for February, 2010


The New Common Denominator of Success

Everyone wants to be successful in life. For some, it is achieving status or accolades at work. For others, it is reaching a weight loss goal to increase longevity and health. Well, I’m going to tell you in one sentence how to achieve success.  First, I’ll tell you what it isn’t. The key to success isn’t hard work, birthright, or education. To be a success you simply have to form the habit of doing things that others don’t like to do. It’s that simple and it’s that hard. I learned this great truth from reading Albert E.N. Gray’s classic, The New Common Denominator of Success.

It’s tough to deal with problems, tougher to take action, and toughest to make decisions that stand firm on your principles. It’s difficult to be disciplined in your personal life when you’d just rather take the path of least resistance.

Throughout my career I’ve entered several organizations of various sizes and assembled a team to help me “turn them around”. In essence, I revamped the existing leadership, grew the revenue, and made the customer a raving fan. How did I do this? I did it by doing the things that the previous people in charge did not want to do. I addressed parochialism, unprofessionalism, and the damaging “us versus them” mentality. I shared information, held people accountable, and worked with the customer on a shared strategic vision.

What did that get me? Lawsuits, grievances, a target on my back from the 10% that were seeking to drag the organization down, and rebuff from superiors to just not rock the boat while they relished in the rising profit margins, higher cost savings, and increased business.

What did it also get me? Credibility, tenacity, strength, character, the respect of the people that you want the respect from because they know you’ll fight the fight and do the right thing. A reputation of looking out for the safety, upward mobility, and mentoring of the 90% of the workforce that is honest and wants to succeed.

Would I do anything different? No, I actually could not nor would I want too. Early on I had developed deep within me the habit of doing the things others didn’t like or want to do. It’s so easy just to kick the can down the road, but when you make doing what others don’t like to do a true habit, you make it a priority and an actual part of you. How do you develop this habit? There are several ways. The first is reading. Read everything from every great leader, manager, or life changer that you can get your hands on. If it is an autobiography, all the better because you can walk in the shoes of greatness and see all that they had to endure. Second, surround yourself with people that can mentor and coach you.

It gives me joy when I am faced with the negatives of working towards success to discover via a mentor, coach, or book, the fact that someone I admire had walked through the exact same fire as me! There is a great comfort and even more encouragement in that. For example, many people ascending the leadership ladder are often confronted with tough decision making issues. And since the buck stops with them, the stakes are highest. It’s at times like this that I would pull out a little book I kept in my top drawer on General Patton filled with his thoughts on making decisions. And if Patton could make life and death battle decisions with confidence, I figured I could make my operational decisions as best I could!


Growing up Tremendous

When I was growing up my Dad, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, would often take me on speaking engagements with him. When I was small enough for him to still pick me up in his arms, he would call me up on stage at the end of his presentation and, stepping up to the microphone, would ask me a couple of questions.

He’d say, “Tracey, how are you?” and I’d shout out, “Tremendous!!!”

Then he’d ask “Well, how are things going?” and I’d reply “I hope things don’t get any better!!!”

And he’d say “Why?” and I’d chime in “Because I’m so tired of being happy, it’s wearing me out!!!”

Needless to say, you can gather how important Dad felt that attitude was to every aspect of life. Circumstances were nothing! It was all about how you responded. And the older I get, the more grateful I am that he reinforced this lesson time and time again.

People would routinely ask Dad how he became successful.  He’d answer, “Good Judgment.” Then they’d ask how to get good judgment. Dad would reply, “Experience.” And they’d ask how to get experience, and Dad would say, “Poor Judgment!”

Even as a child, I always knew this was true. Do you know what it’s like when you approach life from a standpoint that to attempt something wholeheartedly and fail is the greatest thing that can happen? It gives you confidence; it means I attempted 100 things my peers wouldn’t have. It means I grew my experience bag at an exponential rate and gathered keys to unlock almost any door I try to go through. Now I’m not saying that you should deliberately fail. But if you do have the skill, don’t let a fear of failure prevent you from accepting the opportunity, or job, or relationship. The worst that can happen is that you’ll learn something! And in one of life’s greatest paradoxes…that is truly the best thing that can happen to a human being.  Living is learning and learning is living.


It’s All About Jesus

The last project I had worked on with my father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, before his homegoing was It’s All About Jesus, a compilation of hymns, scriptures, poems, and stories, as well as testimonies from Dad, Ken Blanchard, and Bob Phillips. I could tell that Dad was putting this off but was not sure why; however, with cancer in its final stages, the time had come to get this done.

I transcribed Dad’s testimony as he dictated. Although I had heard the story of Dad’s salvation many times before, this time he went further back into his childhood. I had never heard Dad talk in detail about this. I knew he was raised during the depression, that his education was lacking, and that his parents had split numerous times. But the impression Dad gave to me throughout my 46 years was that all had been made peaceful and, even though times were tough, they managed to be thankful like so many others of that generation.

Dad discussed in length the abandonment by his mother each time one of his siblings was born. He told me how embarrassed he was when he flunked the 8th grade and did not get promoted to high school with his classmates. He told me how embarrassed he was that he did not have “dapper” clothes to wear and a father to teach him how to play sports. He detailed how relatives, who were supposed to be taking care of he and his siblings, were actually quite cruel. He never once assigned blame or self pity. It just simply was circumstance.

Dad cried at the end of the dictation and I can only remember seeing him cry twice before in my entire life. He told me he was no longer embarrassed by the humiliation and shortcomings of his upbringing. It was cathartic for him to get it all out and it was nothing short of mind-blowing for me to hear. I had not realized how deep the pain was or how severe the abandonment was for Dad growing up. All I had ever known of my father was that he was a strong, tenacious, gregarious, Christ-driven man who had a star quality like no other.

It took a while for me to digest how these “bad circumstances” had made him all that he was meant to be with his Christ given talents…and more.  And then it was my turn to cry, although I did it in private. I cried because for the first time I saw how my Dad had been hurt as a child. I cried because he had carried so much of the details with him honorably inside so as not to damage a grandchild’s impression of her grandparents. I cried because I saw how much the suffering of a childhood devoid of loving parents could grow such a giver of love to all. I cried because I finally understood why he guarded this and how it could help others in similar situations.

Dad’s whole life was a testament to the fact that it truly, wholly, purely, and unconditionally is all about Jesus.

This book is scheduled for release Feb 25th, 2010.


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Tremendous Tracey

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February 2010

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