Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas about personal and professional development.

Posts Tagged ‘goal

Why volunteering is an opportunity.

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VolunteeringActing as volunteer implies some qualities to benefit from such experience. Each volunteer has his own reason to dedicate a bit of time to contribute to any social project. But sometimes, it appears that some volunteers are feeding only their own ambitions. I noticed this by some attitudes, or by some remarks they do. These findings make me think about the qualities people need to have in order to succeed in a volunteering experience and gaining a positive feedback, similar qualities needed in entrepreneurship.

– A question of value: You want to contribute to a better world, a better society. You strongly believe that to subscribe to values is not enough, but you have to act in accordance with your values, that are common values in the project. In other words, you are an actor, not a spectator.

– Contributing to a common goal: Contributing as volunteer will bring you some satisfaction which is probably one of your goal, but your personal goal cannot be reached to the detriment of the common goal. It implies that you have to store your ego in the closet, and acting in a way that each member of the team will gain satisfaction and value, will have the feeling to be a stakeholder of the project, a way that maximize the chances of success. You are working within a team spirit, working with and not against a team.

– Showing interest for other people: Volunteering is an opportunity to meet different people with different horizons of competences and experiences. By sharing each other knowledge and experience, you catch an opportunity to learn something, but you will get also another perception of the environment in which you are acting, you will adapt your strategy, and you will perceive more in depth the finality of your action. Such process can only succeed if you bring interest to other and not if you work only on your own.

– Curiosity and creativity: By living new experiences, you can discover in you hide and unexpected passions. It is up to you to be curious and to use your creativity to realize new things, to build innovative solutions. Moving your own limits and sharing what you do with other is an opportunity for each people to move his own limits too. Remember this quote saying that the only thing you increase by sharing it each other is knowledge.

– Commitment and leadership: Volunteering implies a commitment. The success of a project is linked to the commitment of all the stakeholders. It means that you are volunteering not to pass the time but to make succeed a project and to operate in this way. When you are filling your diary, consider volunteering as a priority, that it means to have an appointment not only with other, but also with yourself. Volunteering has to be a life project and you have to make it work.
In this common activities, consider each people for what he does and for what you can share each other. No question to consider your work as more interesting than the work of somebody else. As said previously the work of each team member will bring sense to your work. Each member work is useful and contribute to the success. Develop and show talents of leadership. Appreciate and recognize the work of others, listen to them, and you will maximize your chance to be appreciated and recognized too.

There are many other qualities we could quote, but time to time, I notice that some people are volunteers for “bad” reasons. How often some people told me that I am “doing this for free”. Yes, the purpose of volunteering is to contribute to a social and common project, not to be paid. And such remark sounds very strange from people criticizing the capitalistic system, and mentioning this as a motivation to cooperate in volunteering projects, but expecting money as reward for a service. Sometimes, in my experience, I had more satisfaction and learned more things by working as volunteer for specific projects than some days in my professional activities.
These people are often too those who attributes the collective success to themselves, and put the guilt of failures to the others. If looking for recognition is legitimate, you cannot gain it to the detriment of the other. It is a question of ego, and often, ego is inversely proportional with knowledge and capabilities.
That is why volunteering is an opportunity when you integrated these qualities. Increase your experience, discovering new interest and passions is probably the best thing you can do to maximize your chance of catching new opportunities, or to face and launch new challenges. It is an opportunity to expand the fields of the possible, to build new projects in other areas. We are not far from what Steve Jobs mentioned in his unforgettable speech at the Stanford university, when he talked about to connect the dots, meaning that you can innovate by making a link between things that seems nothing to do with each other. See your volunteering life and professional life like two things that can feed each other. Consider such experience for the long term effect you can get from it, and contributing to your personal goal, it means to build an interesting and passionate life.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2015 at 19:03

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

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"It always seems impossible until it’s done." Nelson Mandela

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”.  I am not writing this quote haphazardly. This nice sentence was said by Nelson Mandela, who passed away a few days ago. I like this kind of quote we should repeat us every morning, front of our mirror. Nelson Mandela is the right person to pronounce such a quote. He spent 27 years in jail for campaigning against apartheid regime. The apartheid regime was suppressed in 1989 by Frederik De Klerk, president of the South-Africa republic, and Nelson Mandela was released from jail on the 11th February 1990. Mandela never gave up his fight against apartheid, and he paid a huge price with a large time of his life in jail, but he reached his goal by seeing the realization of his goal.

From this example, each of us we can learn a lot of positive things when we want to reach goals in our life. It begins with some dreams, and often we are thinking we will never reach such a goal because it is too complicated. Most of the time, we are the one who put obstacles on the way of our own objectives, and our dreams remain dreams. Most of the time we would like to have finished something before to start it. Today, everything is going fast, everything is ephemeral, and we lost the fact that great things require effort and pain to be realized.

I would like to take an example. I like to talk and to write in other languages than my native one. This blog is a real opportunity to do such exercise. It is obvious that most of you who are native English speaking, noticed that I am not one of you. Language is a marvelous tool to express ideas and to communicate them with other people. It becomes very interesting when you know some expressions that cannot be translated literally in your native language. When you know and pronounce such expression, it means that you have a good knowledge of the language but that you have also interests for the people you are talking with. Such interest makes that people are closer from each other. Often, I am dreaming to move to a job of translator-interpreter. Such goal means that I would have to learn and to improve significantly my language knowledge.  Is it impossible? Probably not, but it requires few things.  First, is to take the decision to realize that objective, by drawing a strategic plan, by following courses, reading books, watching to Tv programs. Second point, is to have a discipline, the discipline to study your vocabulary and your grammar on a regular basis, based on a work agenda. Third point is to take all the opportunities making that you will practice the language you are studying.  I mean that if you are French speaker who is learning English and you meet English native who speak very good French, take the opportunity to practice English and not your mother language. The language learning process is something long, that you can always improve.

Many things like to study a language take time. Most of us, we remember things we were struggling with at school, and today, we are wondering why we struggled with it. As to build a house, you will do it stone by stone. You will have to face difficulties you will have to solve. Such difficulties are opportunities to learn new things, to improve and empower your experience, to expand your knowledge. The experience make that you will be ready to face bigger challenges and, will become more confident. The fact that we will reach our goal is linked to our own decision to do it, by our courage to face difficulties and our perseverance to work hard. It is possible if our projects are driven by passion. As said Walt Disney, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”.

So, each morning, let’s think about this quote, and about the way to realize goals. Goals are the motor of our life.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 9, 2013 at 00:01

Sustainability and outcomes

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Non-profit, focused on outcomes

Non-profit, focused on outcomes

Few days ago, I attended the General meeting of the non-profit association I am treasurer of. As each year since 3 years now, I presented the financial statements to the attendees, and the budget for this year. These two documents were approved, and employees were happy about the good results of the association even if we are crossing difficult time.

I was happy of course of this, but I remember people did not have always the same reaction. When I joined the board of directors 3 years ago, some people did not see positively a financial consultant joining a non-profit association. There were probably scared about some confusion with profit and non-profit. Such reaction was understandable, as the finance people are often seen as non-flexible people, only focused on profit and performances. Here is probably a confusion that could be done by employees of a non-profit, but by financial people too.

My first challenge was to be accepted by the people of the organization. My ambition to join this project was not to have power or to tell people how they have to do, but only to join an interesting social project as volunteer, and bring some competences in order to contribute to the success of the common project. My first thought was that I had to learn about the different activities of the organization, the interactions between the stakeholders of the different projects, in order to have a global picture of the association, to understand the work of each people and to be aware about the difficulties they were facing. This was a first condition for an efficient and harmonious collaboration. By showing interest to the work of each employee and volunteer, by asking some question to them about the different aspects of they job, I was showing my real and sincere interest in this project, and people began to trust me, as they noticed also that I did not interfere in their job. Each people his own competences.

There was clearly a need to professionalize the financial and administrative processes, in order to manage things on an efficient way, but also to provide credible financial information to the requesting subsiding authorities and potential partners. It was important to deliver a clear message about this need to get a structured financial process and to explain why. The accounting and the production of financial statement are not only legal obligations, but they represent also a financial management tool. This tool allows organization and her management team to have a clear picture of the financial situation on time, but also to have a “business” decision support. We know all that the business environment is not always a quiet story, but the non-profit environment is not quiet at all too, when your sources of financing are non-recurring sources, and that you are facing some regular crisis situations. In such situations, it is important to show that you have things on control, but also that you are able to define alternative strategies and to express what precisely your needs are, when you meet some potential donator or sponsors. People need to understand that financial tool is needed to ensure the sustainability of the project.

Here again, we speak about the confusion done by some people about things that are totally different. Indeed, what I mean here is that financial management does not mean profit. A non-profit organization does not focus on profit, but it is important to keep an eye on the balance between the expenses and the revenues, in order to preserve the owned capital. The goal is not to earn money, but to avoid to loose money. If it is the case, some decisions need to be taken in order to preserve the funds of the organization, but also to ensure the quality and the continuity of the activities and the provided services. It is not financial performance that is the focus in such environment, but the outcomes. If we try to reduce some operating and administrative expenses, it is not to save the integrality of the money, but to invest in more projects, responding to a demand and contributing to the goal of the association. The saved money will not be distributed to some shareholders, but will be reinvested in future project. This is a difficult part of the equation, to be able to have a long term vision with short term financial vision.

A long term vision is necessary, and projects have to be defined to materialize this vision. An appropriate strategy has to be implemented, in order to reach your defined goal. With these criteria, you focus on the sustainability of your project and the outcomes. These two factors contribute to social cohesion and personal satisfaction of people.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 19, 2013 at 22:52

Never too late.

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Susan Boyle, she dreamed the dream..and the dream became reality.

Few days ago, I was reading this nice quote: You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. It made me think that often, we heard people telling the opposite. I am too old to do this or this. Is the reason of such thought the consequence of the way our society is considering life, and making believe us that there is only this way to see life?

The most common way to see life, is a life divided in three parts: the time we are going to school, the time we are working, and the time we are retired. The society try to make us believe that at a certain time, our life is changing and that at a certain moment, we have to change our activities, we can do certain things and we can not do other things anymore. It is of course, a good idea to change, to move to new activities, but age has not to be the reason of this, but our motivation to move to another goal.

Mark Twain said: “Age is a question of mind. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” . I was remembering that quote, when somebody talked me about a person she was following on Twitter who was 92 years old. I had a look to her profile, and I liked the comment she put on her profile: “I am 92 years..young!” . What wonderful words, but what an example also to prove it is never to late to discover new things, and in the present case, to use social medias and technologies. As I mentioned earlier, age is not the criteria to do an activity, but the motivation.

The motivation is driven by goals. I already mentioned that point at several times in previous postings: we need always to have a goal. By having successive goals in your live, you put another dimension in your life. You do not build your life in three part, I mean school, work and retirement, but you build your life as a range of goals, initiating life projects. You do not see life anymore as a linear process, but as the way taken by a sailing boat, determined by the winds and the tides. The winds and the tides are here your feelings, your inspiration, your wish to face new challenges, to find new passions. You do not switch from school to work and to retirement, you move from an activity to another. And by having activities, goals, you become the actor of your own life.

It is never too late to start new projects and you can read some testimonials about people who moved from an activity to another, in their professional or in their private life. Most of them learned a lot of such experience, discovered new interests and hide talents. I remember a manager of an important group of supermarket in Belgium who left the company when he was 55 years old and started studies in philosophy. He did a PhD, and was telling in a magazine that he would have regrets if he had not move to this new life. It was of course a change in his life, he did not earn the money he was earning before, but the satisfaction was there, and it was the most important to his eyes. Lets talk about Susan Boyle, this English woman who started a singer career after participating to the television broadcast “Britain’s Got Talent”. The song she song was named “I dreamed the dream”. She realized it. By acquiring knowledge and competences by moving to new activities, by using and developing a curious mind, by trying to more your limit foreward, you open new doors, doors to your freedom. As mentioned before, you build a non-linear life, because you build different projects, but you build also good memories. These projects, these memories are monotony breakers. You have the feeling to have a rich life, and a feeling of wellness to see all the achievements you did.

A key factor is of course a good health. Some studies showed that people having activities were in better psychical and physical health. And even if you are not in a perfect health condition, you have always the choice to do things following your own rhythm and capabilities. As member of the board of a small non-profit organization, I often meet people investing their time as volunteer. This activity is important for these people. Some of them, can face difficult time in their life, and such activity allows them to have social contacts, to have not the feeling to be alone. They have a positive feeling by doing something useful and rewarding.

It is never to late to start a new project or to dream to another dream. Our world is moving, we can continue to move with the times, and so, to stay actors of our society, of our environment. We can continue to interact with other people through several projects, several dreams. We can not imagine a society without group of people sharing same interests. Each of us, we have to stay actors, actors of the society, but first the actors of our own life. It is probably what makes the difference between to be and to exist.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 11, 2011 at 22:38

What is success ?

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Success and perseverance.

Everybody wants to reach success. The question is to know what is precisely success. Have we each of us the same definition, the same view of success? This question needs to be answered in order to know what success is, but also where success is. We reach success when we are realizing a dream. We have dreams we want to realize in our personal life. There are different kind of dreams, and the ways to reach them will probably be different. We can dream to have a family, to have children succeeding in their studies, to travel around the world. We would like also to succeed in our professional life, to have an enjoyable work and to earn enough money to cover our daily needs. This is an overview of what could be success, but does it mean that these things we are dreaming are successful on themselves ?

The success is a question of values. What are the value we are sharing? In our society, most of the time, success is associated to wealth. Bill Gates, for instance, is seen as a successful man by founding one of the most large software companies, Microsoft. But does it mean that the creation of a company is a dream shared by everybody? This is a question of value, of interest. To meet the success, is to meet the goal you are dreaming. Your goal will be function of the value you are believe in and the activities leaded by your values. There is no success, there is only your success, and your success will not be necessarily the success of somebody else. I already talked in another post, about this Belgian theater founder and actor, Michel Kacenelenbogen, who was first owner and founder of a company. His initial goal was to create a theater, and he founded first a company in order to earn money, to be able to create this theater, to realize his dream. He realized his dream, by founding “Le Public”, a theater with an innovative concept, financed by his own revenue and a part of public subsidies, and where you can find a restaurant after or before the spectacle. This was his dream, and this is his success, but his dream is not probably yours and your success neither. The question of values and goals is important, because what you are considering, or what is the society considering as a success, could be only an illusion. I want to mention here an article I read recently in a magazine, about a business man who was dreaming to drive a Porsche. He made a bet that he will have a Porsche when he will be 30 years old. On way, he bought the Porsche, but he realized after that, that he put a lot of pressure on his shoulder and on the shoulders of his collaborator to maximize profits and to reach his personal goal, and that finally, the car he bought was an illusion of success. The success was more in the business he developed and in all the things he learned by building it every day.

By definition, success is something positive, and because success looks like positive, people are dreaming of success, but are often considering the positive side of success. Regarding the two case I explained before, we have not to underestimate the challenges and issues people had to face to reach their goal. To build a company, or to found a theater remains a challenge and a risk. As Peter Drucker quote says: “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Some entrepreneurs failed in their projects, learned about that failure and restarted new projects in another way and reached the success. The failure you can meet could be part of a success, if you learn from your failure.

And let us talk about your talent. You can reach a goal or a success by expressing and developing talent. Your talent is one of the key components of success. There are some people saying that everybody can do everything if we want. Personally, I do not totally agree with this statement. We can only succeed by doing things we are motivated by. We have also to reach a level of talent which depends of our capabilities and abilities to acquire the knowledge. There is a huge difference between to be able to play piano, and to play as Mozart was playing. Let us remember also another Peter Drucker quote saying that “It is better to work on your strong points to pass from competence to excellence, than to work on your weaknesses to pass from incompetence to mediocrity.”

But finally, what is success ? Success is the realization of projects you are dreaming. It is only you who can decide and determine what will be a successful life. Maybe you will not see it immediately, maybe you will note that things you were believed as success are just illusions. But each goal we are fixing is function of our passed experiences and of an anticipation of the future, based on new values we discovered and acquired. It is only you who can see yourself as a successful person and not the others.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 2, 2011 at 21:11

Lack of talents or lack of motivation.

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The "Motivation machine"

Professional organizations are publicising figures about employment on a regular basis. Even these last times, things seem to be going better because the economy is recovering from the financial crisis, there is always a same finding. This finding is the difficulties that companies have to find and recruit some specific profiles. The lack of talents is a brake for the local economical development, and the problem will probably be more important in the coming years with the baby-boomers who will be retired. What are the reasons of such situation?

A first reason could be a weakness in the performances of the education system. An inefficient education system induces a lack of qualified people. Let us remind that a strong education is the basics of an harmonious personal development for people. Before to be workers, we are first human being and we are going at school to be first educated people, to be ourselves. By benefiting from a strong basic education, we increase the possibility to move to a larger range of studies at high school or university, and to have access to a larger range of jobs.

But is the education level the only reason of lack of talents? And what about remunerations? In this particular difficult time, it is often told to people that the salaries level has to be maintained. I know people around me applying for new job, who were asked to work with a salary decrease around 30%. As freelance consultant, I received some assignment proposal for a rate lower of 36%, and one of them was for a large company in the banking sector where the bonuses allowed to the top management did not know such decrease. By mentioning this, should not we allowed to think that the problem of missing profiles is not due to a lack of talent but to a lack of motivation from talented people. Some studies show that salary level is not the most important thing people are looking for, but they hope to have a decent salary for the job they are doing and for the related constraints they have to assume. Some people want one job or another, and are choosing the one that is well paid, what is understandable. But if there is no salary difference between that job and the one they really would enjoy to do, why would they continue to do it? Sometimes ago, I read some testimonials in such way about people launching their own activity, and telling that they will not probably earn more money but they will have the advantage to be their own boss.

The lack of motivation and lack of talent induce negative consequences on the economy. When some profiles are missing, companies are relocating activities in other countries. The fact that salaries are always dumped, induces a negative impact on the local economy. When people have a lower purchase power and that they are pushed and encouraged to consume, they begin to contract credits they cannot reimburse. We have seen the consequences with the financial crisis of 2008. But apparently, some people have a short mind.

The talent development is an ongoing process, producing short, mid and long-term effect. The talent development is a process having to be improved and worked on both sides. Ourselves, we have to develop our talents in order to evolve, to increase our potential and our knowledge, to get more opportunities. But we have to know that we will have possibilities to use our talent and that our talents and efforts will be correctly rewarded. That is the reason why companies, managers have to promote talents and to define clear goals and challenges, as opportunities where people can express their talent and be part of a nice project. It will make the difference between to have people who are doing their job because they have to, and they have to earn money and the one’s who have the feeling to contribute to a common project. In the second case, there will be clearly added-value for people and for the company.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 25, 2011 at 15:28

Those who created their job.

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Luc de Brabandere, enterprise philosopher.

Most of you already heard about that quote from Abraham Lincoln saying that “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” This quote have more and more sense in a fast moving environment where we don’t know what will be our future. Today, job security is an oxymoron. As already written in a previous posting on this blog, the only existing job security is to expand our knowledge and capabilities. All what you can learn will probably be helpful for you in order to find and to get new opportunities. More than this, when something seems to begin obsolete, it is time to invent something, to find other solutions, to be creative. It is true for business, for product and services, but also for our career.

Each of us, we hope to meet success in our professional and private life. Some years ago, the success was to join a known company or group, and to make a whole career, joining a stable environment where you were benefiting from a good salary with a range of benefits. Today, such career perspectives are more improbable, in a fast moving economical environment where restructuring processes in companies imply jobs cutting as negative effects. Does it mean that success became also something improbable? It depends how we are defining success.

In our society, work is often considered as a constraint. By seeing work in such point of view, people will choose a job for bad reasons. Is it forbidden to believe that job could be something very enjoyable? It is up to us to decide it. Some people decided to do their job enjoyable, and some of them came to invent, to create their own job.

I will take the example of Luc De Branbandere, a Belgian consultant in creativity. This man has a diploma in mathematic sciences and started his career in a bank. He was quickly interested by all what is related to creativity. In order to move further in that subject, he made studies in philosophy. He wrote several books about ideas and creativity, books that I highly recommend. Luc De Brabandere is defining himself as an enterprise philosopher, coaching and helping companies in creativity processes.

 

Marc Ysaye, director of Classic 21

Let us take another example. Marc Ysaye, who is the drummer of the Belgian rock group Machiavel, made several small jobs during his youth, from taxi driver to trucks driver. He is passionate by rock’n roll music, and his knowledge of the rock’n roll is impressive. He joined the Belgian radio (RTBF) in 1982. In 1988, he created a radio broadcast, “Les Classiques”, presenting a rock’n roll group every Sunday morning on Classic 21, a chain of the RTBF. This radio broadcast is still a success today, and Marc Ysaye is the director of Classic 21 since 2004. Classic 21 is one of the most successful Belgian radio station dedicated to rock’n roll music.

We can find numerous example of self-made man, people meeting success by creating their own job, their own project. There are several reason why they meet such success, and some of them are the following:

  • The passion. Somebody who creates his own job is moved by a passion. Of course, he has to work hardly to build his project, but this work driven by passion make that he is considering his job as a hobby, as a game and not as a binding job.

  • The curiosity and the passion to learn. A self-made man wants to discover, to learn every day. His passion is a never-ending story, and by knowing that he can learn everyday, he has a feeling of happiness and is conquering his freedom day-after-day. All what he can learn and discover will be a strong row material to develop new projects and ideas.

  • Be the original instead of the copy. Oliviero Tuscani said that “We have not only to be the best, we have to be unique”. It is when you build your project based on your own experiences and passions that you build something unique and original. Of course, we are often inspired by other people, but this inspiration has to be only the needed energy to build our own project, our own legend as Paolo Coelho says.

  • Goal and conviction: Building your own project means that you have a goal, your own goal, and that you are convinced by what you are doing. Conviction is close to passion. It is only when you are convinced yourself that you will convince the other people. It is also when you are convinced by what you are doing that you maximize the chance to reach your goal.

  • Pay attention to opportunities: we are used to say that an opportunity is coming one time to you, not twice. It is important to pay attention to each opportunity. Meeting the right people at the right time and in the right place is not something that happen everyday. You cannot miss such chance. We are responsible of our successes and of our failures.

  • Work and perseverance: The most important and main project we have is our own life. It is something we have to build everyday in order to get long term results. By facing challenges and issues, and by working hard in order to find solutions and to reach your goal, you will learn about yourself, you will be more self -confident. It is by learning everyday, by increasing your skills and capabilities that you will be able to move your limits and face bigger challenges.

Is it possible to create our own future, our own job? Yes, it is, but a major point is to know how we define the success. Our definition will be related to our value. Is the success related to the money we are earning, to the projects we are winning, to the satisfaction level we are gaining from our activities? Success will be defined differently by each of us. But success will have to be integrated and found in our moving environment. It will be related to our value, but also linked to our capacity of change, of adaptability. As entrepreneurs of our own life, we need to have always a project in advance, to have always different interests, and to make them growth everyday. Is it impossible to create our future. Some people will answer they did not know it was impossible, so they did it !

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 3, 2011 at 22:34