Tuesday, January 27, 2009

National Mentoring Month

     January is National Mentoring Month. This is a marvelous opportunity for leaders in all industries and careers to take stock and ask themselves:  Am I sending out the right message to my associates so that they will reach out for optimum performance and realize their great potential? Let each leader ask him/herself: if I were in the position of one of my employees, would I be likely  want to follow the example that I personally am setting?
    To be a guiding light in such times when greed, fraud and ego are served up to us as everyday behavior is no mean task.
    Today, I have done some preliminary reasearch on ALS also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This most probably will be the subject of my seventh Toastmaster speech on my journey to becoming a Competent Communicator. I chose this subject because I lost my older brother to this motor neuron disease which claimed his life at age 52, twenty years ago.  Are there any cures on the horizon?
Unfortunately, there are no cure-alls as I write.
    However, I did stumble across the life of Prof. Stephen Hawking famed theoretical physicist who has successfully lived with the disease for over 45 years. He writes on his website, "I have had motor neuron disease for practically all my adult life. Yet it has not prevented me from having a very attractive family and being successful in my works."
    Hawking is an anomaly. The disease is fatal to most of those who contract it. What accounts for his survival? I think the answer lies in his  simple statement:  "One's voice is very important.
If you have a slurred voice, people are likely to treat you as mentally deficient."
    Besides being brilliant, Hawking knew that people from all walks of life would be inspired by hearing  him.  The disease destroys partially or completely  the motor neurons in the brain that control not only most or all  limb movements but vocal vibrations as well. 
    Hawking makes use of a computer program called Equalizer that allows him to select words from a series of menus on the screen by pressing a switch in his hand. When he builds up what he wants to say, he sends it to the voice synthesizer that clearly projects his message in speech. Of course, he could save the writing on the hard drive.
   What a profound lesson we can learn from Stephen Hawking.  When you have something important to say, find a way to say so it is heard! 
   Prof. Hawking, thank you for being a wonderful mentor, for finding the way to speak to people. This ability to communicate orally is what  is saving this man's life on a daily basis. 

Small gestures matter

     It is the small things you do for other people that really matter. Gerry is a friend who I met at the Stamford synagogue shortly after moving here 3 years ago. He lives in Greenwich and has been seeking a spiritual connection. Danny , another friend, and   I have met Gerry at the JCC for lunch a number of times. So when Gerry called to say he needed Danny and I to be part of the evening memorial service for his father-in-law I said he could count on me. 
    Danny and I were so glad we went. The service was conducted by Helene Reff a cantor at the Kol Ami, White Plains synagogue and Gerry's children Josh and Amanda and their Jennifer participated. In all, there were 12 of us at the service. Most of all, Gerry appreciated our presence.