Here is the story of one CEO who completed my executive effectiveness course Genuine Success: Vitality, Service, and Outstanding Performance in 1997. Notice how contemporary her concerns sound, twelve years later.
“Everybody is fearful about their jobs,” reports Genuine Success: V.S.O.P. graduate Marta Swymelar, “What will I do if this job gets downsized? We keep hearing: Social Security won’t be there, you can’t depend on your pension plan, you can’t be sure of the stock market…” Like many people sharing these concerns, Marta had some ideas about what she should be doing to protect herself in this insecure era. Returning to school to get an MBA, for example, was high on her list. Now, after V.S.O.P., it is not. Ask Marta Swymelar about the rewards of participating in Genuine Success: V.S.O.P. and much of her response will be about the things it removed: clutter, fears, and obligations. Clearing those burdens made room for some wonderful new things: a boyfriend, greater power and influence at work, and a more frequent experience of joy and fun.
Years ago, Marta graduated from Georgetown University and set off to Germany on a prestigious Fulbright scholarship. Her language skills and interest in global cultures lead her to join one of the best language training, translation, and interpretation firms in the US. She is now its Director, running the business as a division of a large multinational company. Along the way she became an expert at managing time and producing results, even qualifying to teach a popular time management course.
She decided to participate in Genuine Success: V.S.O.P. because she had some long-held personal goals which just did not seem to be progressing. Her business was also presenting some big opportunities which clearly were not going to happen fast enough unless she did some things very differently. Marta had a lot of experience with the power of written goals before she walked into Genuine Success: V.S.O.P., yet she learned something valuable about goal setting in the course. Each participant designs five to nine Specific Measurable Results (SMRs) to achieve in the course. Like many people beginning Genuine Success: V.S.O.P., Marta included in her SMRs plans to exercise vigorously and to get an advanced degree. During the three months of the course, as she worked on these goals she also took a closer look at why she wanted to achieve them.
The need for the MBA came out of the same general lack of security so many people are experiencing today. Upon further examination, she saw that it wasn’t an MBA she wanted, it was financial freedom and security. And she certainly did not want to run four or five times per week; she wanted to feel energetic. Many people go through life kicking themselves for not doing certain things, while those are not what they genuinely want. The stated goal is often just one possible way to get what is truly desired. Thanks to this insight and the support of other participants in the executive coaching program, Marta discovered other, more attainable methods for achieving her core goals. So night school and early morning runs fell off her guilt list.
A few simple questions
When considering a project, Marta now asks herself a few simple questions: “Why would I want to do this? Am I adding pleasure to my life, or am I just adding further complications? If it is just a complication, I say ‘Get rid of it.’” Getting rid of fruitless complications makes more time available for “joyful activities: dancing, reading, getting outside. Most important, lots more time with her boyfriend, family, and friends … There’s more to life than just the job. It helps me keep the job in perspective.”
That perspective still allowed for impressive job performance. Marta set aggressive business goals at the start of Genuine Success: V.S.O.P.. She reports that many of the goals were achieved and all moved faster than they would have without the support of the course and of the other participants. Marta hired several people during V.S.O.P. and accomplished the recruiting, “much more quickly than I normally would.” Her experience echoes that of an earlier participant who increased his staff by more than 30 people during the time he was in the executive coaching program, while also satisfying his goal of spending more weekends at home with no office work. He did it by empowering his subordinates to do more of the hiring than ever before.
Three months after completing Genuine Success: V.S.O.P. one of the most visible results of Marta’s participation is a cleaner office. “The way my desk looks when I walk in each morning has a big impact on my state of mind for the day.” Some participants have boxes and even rooms of clutter to remove during the course, others just need to renew habits of clearing their desks and “To Do” lists daily. All report surprising results from using the “Clutter Buster” techniques taught in Genuine Success: V.S.O.P.. One example from Marta’s experience is the simple realization that habitually reading a daily newspaper contributes nothing to the quality of her work or her life, thus liberating tremendous time and mental energy.
An experienced practitioner of yoga and meditation, Marta welcomed the guidance Genuine Success: V.S.O.P. offered for supporting work results with the wise use of the body and mind. “I enjoyed the relaxation and focusing techniques. I still use them, sometimes in the office before an important meeting. I never would have thought of that before.” She reports a greater awareness of power and leadership, a wiser use of her position in the organization, and being “a lot more joyful, with more of a sense of humor about the way things go, which is sometimes awry.”
A key reason for the impact of the executive coaching program is the structure it provides for participants to help each other and the training it provides for getting people involved in our projects. “Everyone had something to offer,” says Marta, “which was simply amazing.” Help she got from fellow participants included advice on her sales force from a sales trainer, on fitness from a wellness practitioner, public speaking from a Toastmaster, and dancing from an avid ballroom dancer (Marta met her new boyfriend at a dance!). The course also led her to gain assistance from friends outside the course on topics like computer spreadsheets and the Internet. Almost every participant can point to several achievements gained from interactions, accomplishments which would not have occurred without Genuine Success: V.S.O.P.. Not to mention the satisfaction of helping others achieve their dreams.
The biggest, most treasured difference Marta notices in her life since completing Genuine Success: V.S.O.P. is the ability to, “actually relax and be with friends. I can now have fun without a thought for ‘what I ought to be doing’ instead.”
For a person considering participating in Tony Mayo’s executive coaching program Marta suggests, “It’s about having what you want to have in your life show up. If you really want to get a certain thing done and find by the end of the course that you are not in action on it, you will realize it is not something you really want, so drop it.” Drop it — not in the sense of failing or quitting but in the sense of removing what is unnecessary, the way you would remove a rain coat when the sun comes out. To set yourself free, free to experience Genuine Success.
Update: August 4, 1998
Marta writes: “I’m attaching the press release announcing the purchase of the Comprehensive Language Center [which I have managed for several years] by Bob & me. I’d count it as a result of your VSOP program.”
Update: Not sure of the date, but I later received a “Thank You” note letting me know that Marta had married that boyfriend.
See free, easy Meditation Instructions on this blog.