By Rick Mullen, Maintenance Sales News Associate Editor
During a recent presentation to a group of cleaning industry professionals titled, “Be Intentional About Your Path To Success,” Gloria Strauthers, CEO of Exodus Management and Consulting, LLC, of Brooklet, GA, said “human potential” is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language.
“Human potential is only limited by what we believe we can accomplish,” she added.
Starting on her path to personal growth, Strauthers faced a daunting hurdle — at age 16, she was a mother. Her road to success was not going to be an easy one. Indeed, in addition to being a teenage mother, she would later have to overcome domestic violence, and she was even homeless for a time. Nonetheless, she was determined not to become just another statistic.
“Early on, I didn’t have a plan to grow in life,” Strauthers said. “All I knew was I wanted a better life for me and my son. I wanted to overcome the challenges I was facing.”
During her formative years, it had been bred into her that the road to being a better person and to accomplish her goals in life was to graduate from college and get a good job.
“I had a hope. I felt like working hard was going to get me to the destination I wanted to be in life,” Strauthers said. “I was anxious to change my circumstances. We are all anxious to change. We all want to overcome. We all want to be a better person today than we were yesterday. The truth is, in order to do that, we have to be ‘intentional’ in addressing our hurdles in life.”
In addition to serving as CEO of Exodus, Strauthers is an independent certified member of the John Maxwell team of global speakers, trainers and coaches. She specializes in cleaning for health implementation, leadership development, and youth programs. Dr. John C. Maxwell is an expert on leadership and personal growth. Throughout her presentation, Strauthers shared principles from Maxwell’s book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” concerning what he calls “the law of intentionality.”
The Law of Intentionality: ■ Growth doesn’t just happen; ■ Be intentional; and, ■ Be a person of significance rather than success.
“We all have room to grow. We all have causes beyond ourselves that propel us to go out and grab the bull by the horns,” Strauthers said. “Like you, I had to jump a lot of hurdles to get where I am today. The path to becoming a CEO was not easy. I had a child. I had rent and bills. I had money issues. Many of you will face some of those same challenges. Today, I want to encourage you to overcome those hurdles, so you will never experience them again.
“The reality is, when people go to the grocery store, they make a checklist. How many of you are making that list to better yourself professionally, and individually?”
From “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth:” ■ Personal development is not measured by financial, social or external success, it is determined by our efforts to develop our intellectual, physical and spiritual aspects, in order to reach our full human potential; ■ In the process of developing ourselves, we also should strive to express our talents and abilities for the enrichment of others; ■ Personal growth is the key that gives you the ability to meet your next leadership challenge and achieve the next level in your career; and, ■ It also highlights the gaps between where you want to be and where you need to be.
“Personal development is determined by the intentional efforts you take to develop your intellectual capacity, your physical capacity and the spiritual aspects of oneself,” Strauthers said. “You have to hone in on all three areas to develop yourself personally.
“It is in this process that you begin to express yourself and showcase your talents and abilities for enrichment to be beneficial to others, and not just yourself.”
Strauthers said the “why” of undertaking a path to personal growth must come from a place “bigger” than the individual seeker. “When I started, my ‘why’ was my child,” Strauthers said. “Now, my ‘why’ is the people I lead. My ‘why’ is the future generation. It’s my grandkids. What is your ‘why?’ Is it the next promotion? Is it the next contract?”
More on the Law of Intentionality: ■ Do you have a plan to grow?; ■ What are you doing to develop yourself?; and, ■ What are you doing to develop others?
“Do you want to be intentional? As a leader, you first have to improve yourself, and then improve the relationships around you,” Strauthers said. “In order to move forward, leaders must be intentional in helping subordinates, co-workers and family members to be intentional about their own personal growth.
“I had to be intentional in overcoming the fear of being a statistic. Nobody paid attention to Gloria. Nobody wanted to listen to Gloria because she was a teenage mother. They expected Gloria to fail, but, I proved them wrong because I was being intentional.
“Every promotion I received at my job wasn’t just due to hard work. It was because I took classes that were not required of me. I did things outside of work to develop myself. I didn’t aspire to a higher position for the title. Most people think influence is just a title. Influence is the capacity to lead others and get them to follow.
“Personal growth is not a natural process. You have to keep working on developing yourself.”
Strauthers shared a quote from James Allen’s book, “As a Man Thinketh” — “People are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves, they therefore remain bound.” “Can you picture yourself being bound by change? Can you picture yourself being bound by educational limitations? Can you picture yourself being bound by your own supervisor?” Strauthers asked. “I had all of those obstacles. I purposely said, ‘I don’t want to be bound anymore.’”
GROWTH GAP TRAPS
Strauthers shared “growth gap traps” that can hold people back from being as intentional about their personal growth efforts as they would like to be.
■ The assumption gap. “I assume that I will automatically grow.” Strauthers said many people who have reached a particular milestone in their growth process think they have “arrived.” “It is common for people to assume growth is a natural process, because, ‘I have gravitated through the ranks. I have made it,’” she said. “Personal growth is not a natural process. You have to be intentional about overcoming obstacles in your life. Every day is determined by your daily agenda. So, when I’m not speaking with clients, I’m taking webinars. I’m going to conferences. I’m getting extra training to stay on top of my game.”
■ The expectation gap. “I thought it would be easier than this.” “I thought if I just got a college education, I would make it in life. That was my excuse,” Strauthers said. Indeed, even after earning her degree, she found herself homeless for a time. She added: “When I walked to the podium to receive my diploma, I thought that was it. I did it. But, it was just the beginning.”
■ The timing gap. “It is not the right time to begin.” “Mom has an illness. The dog just died. We just expanded our corporate territory. It is not the right time to send employees for training. It is not the right time to send her to get that certification. If you don’t just do it, it will never be the right time,” Strauthers said. “You have to be intentional about what you do with your time.
“A lot of times when I go out to the workplace, I hear, ‘The ‘man’ is holding me back.’ It’s not the ‘man’ that is holding us back, it is ourselves.”
■ The mistake gap. “I’m afraid of making mistakes.” “Growing can be a messy business. I ran track in high school, and then I joined the military and had to run some more,” Strauthers said. “Running was not pretty. I fell. I scraped my knees. You are going to make some mistakes. Be OK with those mistakes and get past them. It is the price you have to pay to be successful.”
■ The comparison gap. “Others are better than I am.” “People are better than me. I failed to get a high school diploma. This is the best I can do. Whatever it is you want in life, whether it is a 700 credit score, a business proposition, or a contract, you can do it,” Strauthers said. “You have to put in the work. You have to be intentional. “Don’t let circumstances intimidate you, because, if you do, life will swallow you. I don’t know any successful person who thinks growth comes quickly.”
Other growth gap traps include: ■ The perfection gap. “I have to find the best way before I start”; ■ The knowledge gap. “I don’t know how to grow.”; and, ■ The inspiration gap. “I don’t feel like doing it.”
MAKING THE TRANSITION TO INTENTIONAL GROWTH
Strauthers shared some steps that can be taken for people to transition out of the growth gap traps. They are: ■ Ask the big question now; ■ Do it now; ■ Face the fear factor; and, ■ Change from “accidental” to “intentional” growth.
“We need to ask the big questions now. What am I afraid of? What’s been holding me back? What is the fear factor that I have? The sooner you make the transition to become intentional about your personal growth, the better it will be for you and those who you lead,” Strauthers said. “Growth compounds and accelerates if you remain intentional. “When committed to an intentional act, or development program, the question in your mind shouldn’t be how long will it take, it should be how far can I go? How far am I willing to go to make this advancement in my career change, in my personal life, in my attitude, or in my finances?
“You can’t wait for everything to line up. What is your ‘pushing point’ to the next level? Is it when the boss gives you a pink slip, or when you lose your house, or when your child gets sick?” Strauthers said. “Something in your life is going to push you to your purpose. Something is going to cause you to say, ‘Look, I need to change the way I do things.’”
Strauthers shared a “fear factor” she has had to overcome is public speaking.
“I don’t like public speaking. Paul Martinelli, President of The John Maxwell Team said, ‘Do it afraid,’” Strauthers said. “I’m fearful every time I get in front of an audience. You might not be able to tell, but I’m shaking in my boots right now. However, I’m intentional about public speaking. I’m intentional about my eye contact, my body movements and my voice inflections, because I want to make sure I make a positive impact on you once you leave here. Being intentional is a key to success.”
Strauthers cautioned not to wait for other people to “grow you.” She talked about overcoming the negativity she encountered as a teen mother by being intentional in taking charge of her life. “When I graduated from college, I had my family there. I didn’t have the people who badgered me and told me I was never going to do anything with my life,” she said. “As a matter of fact, they expected me to have 10 more kids. They didn’t want me to make it. People I went to high school with ostracized me. They called me ‘dirt.’ They didn’t want to be associated with me, but, guess what, Gloria overcame.”
SOME ‘ACTION’ STEPS
Strauthers shared some “action” steps a person can take to develop a growth plan. They are, as follows:
■ Make a commitment to intentionally grow. “When I signed up for the John Maxwell Team, I told my whole family,” Strauthers said. “There wasn’t anything I did in secret. I said, ‘This is the direction I want to take this family. I think this is where we can make things happen.’ So, I made a commitment. They knew I had to take those modules. They knew I had to study. They held me accountable. Even my son reads John Maxwell books. He has the T-shirts. John Maxwell is all over my house. What’s all over your house? Do your children know what your vision is?”
■ Make your commitment public. “Do your employees know what your vision is? Write your vision and make it plain so those who see it can run with it. If they don’t know what you’re trying to do, how are they going to bring it to pass? How are they going to work the system? How are they going to institute processes and procedures that are going to help you bring your vision to pass?” Strauthers said. “You have to get everybody involved. Make that commitment public. People will buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. What is the vision for your life? Where do you want to see yourself in five months, in five years, in 10 years?”
■ Identify the areas you want to grow in — an area of choice and/or an area of skill. “What is a ‘choice’ area that you would like grow in? Is it your attitude, interpersonal skills, ability to manage your checkbook, get up on time, get to the office on time? Whatever the area, be intentional about it,” Strauthers said. “What is a ‘skill’ area you want to grow in? Do you want to be a better accountant, a better supervisor, or manager, or mother, or father? The sky is the limit, but you have to make a commitment, and you have to make a choice that today is your time to be intentional.”
■ Invest one hour a day in both areas. “Be intentional in your agenda. I have a daily calendar. I have an iPad. I have my John Maxwell planner. I check them every day — at 10 o’clock, I’m doing this, at 1 o’clock, I’m doing this, etc.,” Strauthers said. “This holds you accountable for how you plan to spend your time.”
■ Prepare, practice, reflection. “The more you prepare, the more you grow. The more you practice, the more you acquire skills,” Strauthers said.
■ Share your growth with someone else.
“I told all my friends when I paid off my credit card bills,” Strauthers said. “Of course, at that time, they were in boatloads of debt and they asked me, ‘How did you do that?’
“I told them, it is simple. The money I used to go shopping with, I applied it to the debt. When I got promoted at my job, I applied more money to the debt. That is how you get out of debt. You can have those same results.
“Is your goal to pay off that mortgage? Be intentional about it. Ask, what can I cut back on? What can I do without? I believe a person can accomplish the most in life when there is nothing over his/her head. If you have no mortgage or no car note, etc. — that is real freedom.”
FOUR EFFECTIVE QUALITIES OF A GROWTH PLAN
How does one go about creating a growth plan that actually works? Strauthers shared four effective principles.
■ Based on proven guidance. “You are going to have to have a ‘coach’ in life,” Strauthers said. “If you think you can accomplish anything on your own, you are sadly mistaken.” A “coach” can help identify strengths and weaknesses. People creating their own growth plan can benefit greatly from having a mentor/coach who has “paved the way” in dealing with issues and niches that you want to become successful in, she said.
■ Implemented in achievable steps. “You might not be able to pay off $20,000 is six months, but put a plan in action,” Strauthers said. “You may not be able to buy that auto-scrubber your employees need, but put it in actionable steps. Start putting money aside in your budget, cutting somewhere, doing something so you can give them the tools they need to be effective in their workplace.”
■ Created with others. “Involve people. Create your plan with somebody who is going to hold you accountable,” Strauthers said.
■ Personalized to your circumstances. “If you work 60 hours a week, make whatever time you can to be intentional,” Strauthers said. “There is no excuse. Everybody has 24 hours each day. The time you are intentional during those 24 hours will determine how successful you can be.”
In closing, Strauthers shared a quote by Maxwell: “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
She added, “If you apply the law of intentionality and other laws of personal growth to your life to gain both depth and wisdom as a person, those laws will give you a road map to develop your intellectual, physical and spiritual aspects in order to reach your full potential. It will put you in a pattern of growth that you’ll never want to get off.
“Growing is not a goal, but a life-long process that must start with being intentional. While scheduling growth time may seem simplistic, it is the beginning of action intention.”
For more information, visit www.exodusmanagementconsulting.com.