Kay Yow was one of the most positive and optimistic people you’ve never met.
She passed away on Saturday, January 24. She had been the Women’s Head Basketball Coach at North Carolina State University for the past 34 years. She coached two teams that won Olympic Gold Medals. She was an assistant coach in 1984 and the head coach in 1988. Her teams won four Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships; earned 20 NCAA tournament bids; and reached the Final Four in 1998. She was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2007, North Carolina State named their home floor “Kay Yow Court” in her honor.
She also battled breast cancer for 22 years. She was first diagnosed the year before she coached the US team to the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics. She had a mastectomy, underwent chemo and kept coaching.
Kay Yow’s cancer returned with a vengeance in 2006. She took a 16 game leave to focus on her treatments during the 2006-07 season. She returned to coaching and she won 12 of its final 15 games beating women’s basketball powerhouses – and big time NC State rivals Duke and North Carolina. Her players wore pink shoelaces in honor of their coach. That team got into the NCAA tournament and made it to the Sweet 16. She was so weak during those games that she spent most of her time sitting on the bench. Her assistant coaches stood to shout instructions to players, and helped her to her feet during time outs.
In an interview after the 2007 sesaon, she said,
“I have to go through it. I accept that, and I'm not panicked about it because the Lord is in control. But it just would be so saddening if I had to go through it and I couldn't help people. But then I see I'm helping others in a greater way than I ever have. That's the amazing thing, you know?”
Pat Summit is the Women’s Head Basketball Coach at the University of Tennessee. She also has more wins and more national titles than any other women’s basketball coach. Kay Yow was her assistant coach in the 1984 Olympics. She said,
“Kay has just been a great friend to so many people; obviously left her footprints all over the place with the kids she has taught and molded. And she is a woman that had fought such a hard fight, but it was always about everyone else, never about Kay. In the two decades she fought the disease, Kay never allowed herself to be victimized by cancer. Kay never pitied herself.”
And that’s the common sense point for today. Stuff happens, bad stuff like cancer. None of have control over what happens to us. We do, however, have control over how we react to the things that happen to us. Self confident people like Kay Yow use the bad stuff that happens to them to set an example for others. They remain optimistic. They face their fears and go on with their life. They set a positive example for others. As the Optimist Creed says, they are “too large for worry, to noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.” I remember watching Kay Yow coach during the 2006-07 season. It was clear that she was very sick and weak. It was also clear that she was an inspiration to her assistant coaches and players. She was an inspiration.
Self confidence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success. If you want to become self confident you need to do three things. 1) Become an optimist. 2) Face your fears and act. 3) Surround yourself with positive people.
If you want to honor Kay Yow’s memory, you can make a donation to the KayYow/WBCA Cancer Fund at www.JimmyV.org. If you want a copy of The Optimist Creed to hang in your office got to: http:/
That’s my take on Kay Yow and self confidence – and optimism, courage to face her fears and being a positive person. What’s yours? There are many others who have fought cancer with dignity, most not as well known as Kay Yow. Please leave a comment sharing the cancer story of anyone you would like to honor. We all can benefit from hearing others’ stories of tragedy and triumph. As always, thanks for reading.
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No matter how uncomfortable networking events make you, staying away from them hampers your long term prospects for personal and professional success.
Among other things, conversation skills are important for networking. Networking, whether formal or informal, is an important way to build the relationships that can greatly enhance your personal and professional success.
I read a funny/sad article in the January issue of “Harvard Magazine” called “Making Mingling Manageable” by Christian Flow a Harvard Junior. In the article, Christian describes “the strange science of mingling: a discipline that demands moving through a room full of people you don’t know, minimizing silences, and somehow contriving that a few of those present remember your name” – in other words a networking nightmare.
Christian is pretty witty. Early on in his college career he decided he didn’t like mingling events. But he had to attend some. Here is what he has to say…
“I tried to steer clear of mingling events. If I did have to go, I skipped the pleasantries and started asking questions that were calculated to throw the conversation off the beaten path…I tried to go no limits. I was Ken Kesey and his bus full of Merry Pranksters, but instead of doing LSD and messing with policemen, I was speaking a little too directly and messing with the bounds of conversation. And, like the Pranksters, I cultivated a disdain for smooth operators and politicking. If you played within the system, you perpetuated the system. And that meant more terrible mingling events.”
Christian is a pretty introspective guy though, and he soon came to this conclusion…
“When I look hard at my conversational boundary-pressing, it occurs to me that, in its own way, it has the contrived and strategic air I claim to detest in standard cocktail party conversation; that its benefits were somewhat limited, and that it was, at its root, nothing but a calculated defense mechanism. Instead of confronting awkwardness and inanity, I had been finding my own inane way to run away.”
Good for Christian. He realized two important things: 1) sarcasm and cynicism don’t make one a dynamic communicator, and 2) in order to become a personal and profession success, he need to become a good conversationalist, even in situations where he knows no one or only a few people.
The common sense point here is simple. Networking and mingling events are meant to help people connect and build relationships. No matter how uncomfortable they may be for you, staying away from them hampers your long term prospects for personal and professional success. And, as Christian Flow found out, approaching them as a smart ass doesn’t do you much good either. If you want to become a good networker you need to become a good conversationalist. The best conversationalists ask a lot of questions. They really try to get to know the other person. They listen carefully to the responses to their questions and they respond appropriately and with empathy. Try this – ask, listen, respond with empathy -- approach to conversation and networking the next time you find yourself in a group of strangers. It works. I guarantee it. It’s only common sense.
Dynamic communication is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success. If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to master three skills: 1) conversation, 2) writing, and 3) presenting.
That’s my take on conversation skills and networking. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing any of your funny and/or embarrassing networking moments, and what you learned from them. As always, you have my deepest thanks and appreciation for taking the time to read this post.
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"He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted" Lao Tzu, philosopher and founder of Taoism
In The Little Teal Book of Trust, Jeffrey Gitomer says, “Trust is the basis for all relationships.” I agree. It is very difficult, if not impossible to build solid relationships without a foundation of trust.
I have built my consulting on business on a simple process. First I focus on getting people to like me. Once they like me, I work on getting them to trust me. Once they trust me, I work on selling them my consulting, coaching and speaking services. This simple three step model has served me well over the past 20 years.
Here are the ten suggestions Jeffrey has for building trust:
I particularly like Jeffrey’s last point. One of my first mentors once told me to “give away what you want.” If you want respect, give respect to the people in your life. If you want love, give love to the people in your life. And, as Jeffrey Gitomer points out, if you want people to trust you, trust them.
By extending yourself and giving trust before you know it will be reciprocated, you will brand yourself as a trusting person, someone others will be more inclined to trust. This is the same idea that Roger Fisher and William Ury express in one of my favorite books, Getting to Yes. In negotiations, they advise their readers to, “Proceed independent of trust.” In other words, act as if you trust the other person and what he or she says. This is just another way of saying, “Give trust.’
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are interpersonally competent. If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to build strong relationships with the people in your life. Trust is the basis of all strong relationships. Jeffrey Gitomer’s new book, The Little Teal Book of Trust is must reading for anyone who wants to learn how to build relationships through trust. The single most important point in the book is to gain trust by giving trust. This may be difficult for you at first, but as you go about building relationships by extending trust to others, you’ll find that the vast majority of people are trustworthy and will not take advantage of your good will and trust.
Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success. If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things. 1) Get to know yourself, use this self knowledge to better understand others. 2) Build and maintain solid long term relationships with the important people in your life. 3) Learn how to resolve conflict with minimal disruptions to your relationships.
That’s my take on building relationships by extending trust. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts and stories. As always, I thank you for reading.
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