This is the last post of chapters from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas.”
So I have laid out over twenty years of my professional lessons for you.
You now see the many mistakes I have made, and the arduous chore it
was to make the vulnerable decision to open up and be willing to learn
from them. I have changed for the better. Whether others believe that
statement or not isn’t important. It is how I feel about myself. I feel that
my transformation has made me a better colleague, a better worker, a better
leader, a better manager, a better teacher, a better learner, and, more
importantly, a better person. I feel less stressed each day that I come into
work, because I have the confidence to take it all on. I have my bad days
like everyone else. But, I have more good days than bad. I have a confidence
level that I have never had before and feel like I have built a network
of people who believe in my abilities.
I have to admit that my original thoughts to write this book were just
a dream—and not one of those childhood dreams that I always wanted
to do. I had just lost a big Toastmasters competition in Canada. I use the
word “lost” because it was a competition, but in reality, I won big. I had
great enjoyment around the conference portion of that weekend, during
which I met many great people, some of whom even thought I was a life
coach. I got caught up in telling people how much I had grown over the
years. I enthusiastically shared my transformational experiences based
on how much I had learned from my mistakes.
I was so impressed with my competitors. I asked the winner, Joey
Grondin, if he would be my mentor and help me develop my speeches.
He graciously said yes, and we continued to build on our relationship.
The next day, I also won a door prize: Joey’s book and CD. Call it fate or
coincidence that I won a prize that would provide me more confidence.
I am not talking about the material items. I am talking about the newly
forged relationship that would continue to evolve. As a result of that relationship,
I have been given more encouragement to go further than my
previous comfort level ever allowed.
I had already been planting the seeds of a book over the past couple
of years with many of my speech topics. I had also invested time in mentoring
more people and building my own library of teaching materials
designed to improve others’ communication skills, leadership skills, time
management skills, and other professional development needs. The book
became a consolidated view of all that I had been trying to share with
others. I went for a routine run one day, and simply ran through the door
to the computer and put together my outline. The outline turned into a
vision and mission, and turned into all the lessons I have learned in my
career. Let’s revisit both and see where we land.
My vision for writing this book is to provide a simple-to-follow, written
guide for professionals hoping to develop their skills in a multitude
of areas including communication, leadership, organization, and networking.
The lessons are based on my own professional experiences over
more than twenty years in a corporate environment. I want to utilize my
experiences gained from work, my membership in Toastmasters International
(a group of 270,000 world-wide members looking to improve
their communication and leadership skills) and the National Speakers
Association, and from the epiphanies I have experienced by teaching a
professional development series. In addition to my normal job responsibilities,
I started investing time with emerging leaders and experienced
managers a couple years ago in an attempt to teach my lessons to others.
I want to spread those teachings to a broader audience.
My mission is to create an easy-to-read guide that will motivate and
inspire you to take the steps to transform yourself. I want you to improve
your professional experiences and increase the positive impacts you have
on the people around you. Whether you are working in a small business
or a large corporation, you will be able to apply these examples and
teachings to your situation. Whether you are a manager, an entry-level
employee just joining a company, someone struggling to get through the
daily grind, or a professional striving to reach the heights of your career,
there will be something in here for you. The book will navigate through
key teaching moments from my professional life and offer you a simple
reference guide for better organizing your professional life and effectively
maneuvering through the complexities of communication, relationship
building, and organization.
I set out to teach you the wisdom left on my doorstep either through
self-awareness (over long periods of time in some cases) or through
shared lessons from people I now emulate. I intentionally wrote “now”
The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas What Now?
since I had thought cynically of many of them in the past or did not
respect them as I do now. Even in situations when there was a barrier I
could not break through with someone, whether it was due to different
styles or personality clashes, I have looked back and learned something
from that situation in my professional career.
My cynicism held me back. The concepts in this book are so simple
in nature, yet were so complex to add to my everyday thinking and everyday
belief system. I know that I am no rocket scientist, but I am a proud
employee of twenty plus years. Hard work has not paid off as much as
smart work. I am so appreciative of the people who have touched my
professional life, including the individuals bold enough to stare me in the
face and say I needed to improve. That includes the person in the mirror
who became strong enough to say, “It’s time for a change. It’s time to
make a difference for myself and others. It’s time to transform.”
The list of my lessons is not all-inclusive because I don’t know where
it is going to end. Learning is a constant process and should never cease.
I was convinced I would never need to take another class after I left college.
In a conversation during one of my rotational mentor programs,
I was told that my thirst for knowledge could take me to my MBA and
beyond. I was being pushed to take the next step in my education. I spent
several days thinking about my response to him. I came back and said,
“Thanks, but no thanks.” My response was not because I wouldn’t gain
from additional scholastics, but I felt I would sacrifice putting my heart
and soul into learning as much as possible of the business I had sitting in
front of me. I had an entire ocean of learning and I was only at the shore
about to dive in. The concept of transforming me further was starting to
gain momentum at this time, and I still feel I made the right decision, for
now. I am not done because I am far from perfect, but I am excited for
the road ahead. I have grown from a cynic to someone thirsty for what
I have found a long career with the majority of it with same company
to be a great reward. Whether you have had the same job, worked with
the same company, or moved around regularly, you are doing it to find
the right moves for you. Even if a decision was made for you, I am a firm
believer that things happen for a reason. The reason is usually dictated by
the fact that you have done the right things leading up to it, whether it is
through your own preparation or meeting the right people.
I had an uncle who worked for a company in system technology for
many years. Besides being an extremely loyal person, he was a nice guy.
The economy caused his job to be eliminated. He graciously went out
without stepping on any toes, and actually took calls from his previous
colleagues on “how to do more with less” for jobs in which his old peers
had no expertise. He had lain the groundwork years before with his leadership
and job knowledge. He knew patience and timing would eventually
pay off. They did. He was offered his old job back because they
couldn’t do it without him. However, the nice guy took some cues from
the “you not only want me” mentality; he went down the “you really need
me” path and asked for more than he originally had. It was a fair assessment
and he knew he did not need to roll over. He learned a little about
himself and the corporate world during his time off and deserved everything
on top of what he’d had when he left.
I also had a friend who was caught up in job cuts. He was told he
needed to either find a position he was qualified for in a department
where there were openings within the company, or he would lose his
existing job within forty-five days. He had the support of friends and
colleagues convinced he was good for the company. Together, the whole
network was on the move to ultimately find him something that ended
up being a position where he had greater responsibility. It is funny how
things work out with a little effort and a great support system. Although
we all have 20/20 hindsight about mistakes made in the past, we still have
luxury of looking forward to the next challenge of the unknown that may
have previously caused fear.
Personality, emotion, politics, and corporate culture may get in the
way of our transformation, but we can eventually get there. Regardless of
your generation, experience, or current position, you are in a position to
become better and stronger. The vision and mission were to provide you
with some tangible examples and lessons to strengthen yourself in a way
that was easy to grasp. I have had my vision clouded in the past, but feel
the importance of this mission to move it forward. When I ask, “What
now?” I am asking myself and you. I’m sure I have plenty of new lessons
I could toss into a new book, but the path has yet to be shown. I will continue
to teach, and more importantly, learn.
I will be impatiently patient in driving my performance, my growth,
and my lessons learned. I even have to ensure I take my own advice. In
2010, I was tapped on the shoulder as a potential candidate in a business
that I had never been in before. I was excited to learn a new business. I
was pulled in two directions, since I had been in my current role for less
than nine months. I loved what I was doing. I loved my boss, and I found
myself fascinated by the dynamic nature of the current business.
I went through the interviews quickly because there seemed to be
an urgency placed on the requests. Yet, after those interviews, which I
personally thought had gone well, the communications went silent. It
did not make sense. Although putting my name in the ring was a well thought-
out decision that included discussions with my family about the
potential impact to my hours (most likely having to work West Coast
hours while on the East Coast), there was still some excitement attached
to the potential of fulfilling a goal when it came to the level of responsibilities
I would have taken on.
The extra time allowed me to rethink my decision. I had to repeat
to myself: I loved what I was doing. I loved my boss, and I found myself
fascinated by the dynamic nature of the current business. I had just
answered my own question. Although I felt surrounded by great people
in the current role, they had made it clear that they would never hold me
back from growing. This felt good to hear. They had my back and had
even offered to make calls on my behalf to get me the new position. I
felt that I would be cutting my learning curve short if I left at that point.
I decided to stay for selfish reasons, because I was surrounded with a
cast of people dedicated to becoming leaders in the industry, all of whom
were seeing the bigger picture. I wanted to be a part of that vision. I was
willing to take my chances to grow and be a little more patient. This one
was a clear decision in staying to do what I love while allowing myself
to continue to be challenged. Ironically, in a “Wait three month” sort of
way, I was offered an expanded role that I couldn’t refuse shortly after
that decision. It was in a field in which I was an expert, it was a start-up
operation, and I could build my own organization. I left my old team
behind with a sense of loyalty and pride, knowing that they were there for
me, and I approached the new job with fervor for making a difference in
the overall organization. I saw a bright future in my new role, in which I
could use my strengths and play off my past lessons.
I now have an inside-out view of my future. I have spent too much
time in my past pushing people away and blaming the powers that be for
my failures. The internalization of assessing my own failures is enlightening.
I have become addicted to making myself better, and have taken
to asking advice of anyone willing to hear the question, “What can I do
to make myself better?” I am dependent on co-workers, family, friends,
mentors, Toastmasters, strangers (rotational mentors), and people who
work for and with me to provide critical feedback that I am responsible
for integrating into my growth. I am the proud owner of feedback and
carefully have to take the actions necessary to truly benefit from it.
You have just taken part in the journey of who I am professionally. I
get the luxury of the therapy attached to draining all of my thoughts, opinions,
stories, and lessons learned onto the blank page. Many of my frustrations
bubbled up after years of repressed memories, while others flooded
out way too quickly. I hope the common sense aspect hits home—though
I know that “Hope won’t win the game without a game plan. Take action.”
My action plan is the book. It is my guide to reinforcing what I need to
practice each day. I am not a shoot-to-the-top employee. I am a loyal, dedicated
senior leader of a company, who is confident enough to say I have
earned everything I have gotten, and earned everything I didn’t get.
The experience in organizing the many random thoughts that have
filled my mind for years was a lesson itself in ensuring I believed what
I was saying. The experience will have a lasting impact in understanding
whether I can effectively influence and persuade just one person to
take action. I already have, because I am moving forward more effectively
than before. I am appreciative of everyone who helped me through my
personal and professional life to realize I have not peaked yet and my
potential is still waiting to be fulfilled.
Cynicism is contagious, if you allow it. So is inspiration and motivation.
I had two roads to look down, and I chose the path of transformation.
I am not a life coach, nor do I want to pretend to be one. I am
someone who has passion burning in me that needed to be released in a
targeted fashion that would do well for my own self-motivated reasons,
while at the same time being good for any business and people within
an organization. I am the former, or recovering, “Doubting Thomas”
who now believes in the ability of people to transform their negativity to
something positive. I am humbled to admit my mistakes and willing to
shout what I have learned from the rooftops. I still haven’t answered the
question, “What now?” What I want to do now is be better today than I
was yesterday, and continue to make the transformation toward someone
I want to be. When I am done, I’m going to do it all over again.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job (Honorable Mention at the 2014 Paris and New York Book Festivals), The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival), From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention). Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com. Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com
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