Just Believe!

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I wanted to be a great orator. 

A secret, and seemingly impossible dream for such a shy kid.

I admired great speakers that could capture people’s attention from the first word.  I wanted what seemed impossible to achieve.

Imprinted on my mind were my primary age days, hiding on the back bench of the church primary room, dreading the talk I was supposed to give.

I was scarred in Junior High when I couldn’t remember a single line of an 11-line poem I had to recite in front of my class.

In High School, I chose to write out the 108 lines of the famous poem “The Raven” rather than risking a repeat of my Jr High experience.

As a 20-year-old serving a church mission in Virginia, I was asked to lead a small zone.  In an effort to improve effectiveness as missionaries we spent time learning about the culture of the people.  In one such meeting I fumbled my way through a recitation and re-enactment of Patrick Henries famous speech “Give me Liberty or Give me Death”.

As a professional, I dreaded the networking lunches and dinners and migrated to the edge rather than strike up a conversation.

Being an orator didn’t seem part of my future.

So, in 2004 as the new COO of SymbolArts, it was my job to inspire, lead, and motivate a group of 20+ employees.  After all, I had promised the owner $10 million in sales in 5 years, and I couldn’t do it myself.

What I didn’t know was my past was my past, and my future included skills and confidence developed from those failures.  Or, maybe the need to succeed far outweighed the anxiety of being the motivator of this company.  Either way I was determined.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggled with impromptu situations, but finding a voice and a passion for speaking was there when I enjoyed the topic and the observations made through a life of watching began to surface.

I developed a vision for SymbolArts (2004 to 2008):

  • Achieve $10 million in annual sales
  • Achieve 15% pretax profitability
  • Become one of the top 3 badge insignia manufacturers in the country as defined by:
  • Quality of badges produced
  • Quantity of badges produced
  • Brand awareness
  • Customer care
  • Create a culture/environment of trust, empowerment, efficiency, teamwork, fun and accountability.

But a vision is only as good as the people implementing it.  And, it was a big goal, so it required a delivery as passionate as Patrick Henry. 

As I often did to gain confidence, I pondered the situation on a long wintery run.  I can still remember running north on highway 89 as the presentation started to unfold in my mind. 

I remember as a 13-year old listening with a single ear bud to the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey team winning the gold medal.  It inspired me then, and the movie “Miracle” still inspires me today.

Maybe the idea of an unlikely amateur group of boys taking on and beating the best of the best seemed to chronicle my own journey and a fitting presentation to motivate an average group of employees faced with a task of delivering $10 million in sales.

The presentation went well, and the vision became believable.

I soon realized that the fourth bullet point in the vision was by far the most important.  Without the people, nothing else mattered.  So, most of my efforts focused on them.

I hired two notable consulting groups to focus on the people.

Tim and Doug and their “Take the Helm” approach to motivation and change and “The Game of Work” which focused on bringing the principle of game to the work environment such as:  scorekeeping, feedback, goal setting, and coaching.

Each of these courses ultimately focused on individual people, inspiring them to change weaknesses and believe in their own success.

I’ve discovered through my own limiting behaviors that fear most often is the culprit.  Fear of failure, fear of looking stupid, fear of lack, fear of letting down, and any other fear we might conjure up stops our full potential.

Today, I don’t speak in front of big crowds, I still dread being a guest on a simple podcast, and frankly don’t seek out speaking opportunities.  But today I do have a confidence in my voice and in my ability to speak, and write, and have a voice much closer to an orator than when I was the 5-year-old hiding on the back bench of the primary room.

So, if I have learned one thing in my quest to being a great orator, believing is the start and the biggest hurdle to overcome.  Just believe and the miracles will follow.

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About ME

I was convinced for years I wasn't a writer - so I didn't. Now I'm older, and I have a strong desire to write - so I do.  The blog Craig A Fry is my way of sharing with the world (but mostly just documenting my thoughts) things I've learned from Business, Personal Life and Spiritual Insights.

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