Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

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Wishing or Washing? By Enrique Ruiz, CDE

Rick RuizAs a child I learned to wish upon a star, to heaven or to myself. I wanted many things near and far. I wanted easy tests, a game win, toys and work free days. All of this energy was forward looking with relatively static momentum. As the weeks and years progressed though, I found myself saying “I wish I had done…” My grades could have been better had I studied, my idea could have had my name on the patent, my skills would be more rounded, my relationship would have been better or I could have seen the world!

How did I start wishing forwards with HOPE and then later in life find myself wishing backwards with REGRET? In good time, I realized that the things we do not accomplish are a direct result of the momentum we apply at the time we express our wish. Childhood wishes were fine in the family circle, where parents could help me realize my dream, but as I got older that responsibility was clearly mine.

To be sure, momentum is fueled by our burning desire to achieve something but environment, finances, health, parents, work and a variety of other things temper that momentum. For some, the goals are lofty, and yet for others the goals seem well within their reach. In both scenarios though, many will fail to accomplish their goals. New Years resolutions will have a short life, commitments will fall through, and career achievements will be cut short as “life gets in the way.” As we grow older, most of us will look back with regret for the things we coulda or shoulda done.

The decisions we make, recognizing that indecisions are also a decision to not do something now, have downstream consequences. Wishing attitudes and procrastinating behaviors start early and have financial consequences too. A Civic Enterprises 2006 study revealed that “70% of high school graduates wish they had worked harder and taken more rigorous courses in high school” and the College Board in 2004 revealed that “a typical college graduate will earn $1 million more over a lifetime than a high school graduate.”

The dreams I have are mine to pursue yet there is a price I must pay of time, commitment and resources. To be sure, there is personal sacrifice required so with the help of my self-talk I found 5000 excuses for not accomplishing early goals but not one valid reason. I had to give life to these intangible mental thoughts and turn them into a physical reality. It is personal creation at its best!

One by one I started laying my ideas out and planning the how and when I would accomplish them. There was a broad range of goals from receiving a degree, Scuba diving, pilot certifications, international travel, million dollar real estate portfolios, business ownership and family goals. Money was a problem though as I was poor, even homeless living out of a homebuilt camper in my teens, so these lofty goals seemed distant.

Obstacles, hurdles and naysayers were plenty. Isn’t this what happens to us all? We want the roadblocks blasted and the debris washed away so we can see a clear path. Before we begin, a clean road would surely be a sign of the path we should take. Our trajectory is clear and straight. Yet this too is just a wish if there is no momentum. Where can we get the power necessary to wash away obstacles?

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is an example of what water in motion can do for landscaping on a grand scale. This canyon was formed by the persistent action of the Colorado River as it gradually eroded away every layer of rock, every boulder and every pebble that lay in its path to leave a 277 miles long, 18 mile wide and over a mile deep breathtaking view. Today, it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Could you and I wash away the naysayers and find our path like a river winding its way to the mighty ocean?

The truly successful people have all worked hard for their accomplishments. They have invested thousands of hours in the living daydream, taken risks, failed often and forged paths where others dared not go. They are no different than you and me. Like water they have continuously cleansed their path, washed away obstacles, nourished their commitment and given life to their thoughts.

Regardless of our age, it is never too late to see our wishes transformed into reality. Neither the gadgets we buy, nor the volume of entertainment we can afford to consume, can compare with the joy felt when we scale the mountain we were afraid to climb. The risks we take in life – and the amount of sweat we invest – prevents any regret from settling in had we not taken any action. The journey and risks we take will determine our level of fulfillment.

Almost every goal I have set, I have achieved (although never on my own timeline). Usually, my achievements are years or more beyond my original timeline, and some even decades later like my MBA and pilot certification. To be sure, I have failed a lot too but have become ever more wiser in the process.

As the inevitable time comes to bid farewell to our earthly existence, the strength of the memories we create now will energize our successors with our own immortality. We should all be living examples of what we teach our children… “you can do and be anything you want to be.” Let’s all leave the wishing behind… and become a WASHER making full use of the power of water to cleanse, polish, nourish and sustain our purpose driven life!

Enrique Ruiz, President
PositivePsyche.Biz Corp
www.PositivePsyche.biz

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Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz is President of PositivePsyche.Biz Corp, a management consulting and training firm in the Washington DC area. He earned an MBA in the UK and has led teams in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and across the US. He is PgMP , CM and CDE certified, has managed operations up to 15,000 people strong, is an inventor with a family of six and an author of five books including the popular Wisher, Washer, Wishy-Washy, How To Move From Just Existing to Personal Abundance. Read more articles of interest at blog.AmericasDiversityLeader.com

Fear of Failure by Rick Ruiz, CDE

What is failure? To many it is a loss, a show of weakness, and a rejection of our persona so the world perceives an underachiever, or perhaps even a flop. Failure in this context can amplify personal insecurities that can be humiliating in our respective social circles. Not succeeding in something opens the door for criticism, mockery and even “I told you so” remarks. Failure is an emotional fear that strikes at our very core.

Are we born with this fear of failure or do we acquire it somewhere along the way in life’s journey by osmosis, lecture or learning as we interact in our daily social circles? Who have we given the right to have a say in our life?Failure

Babies’ fail hundreds of times as they learn how to walk. Intuitively they know that they can walk so they try, and fall down. They get up and try again only to feel the hard floor again. These babies know they have not succeeded but they also don’t let their unsuccessful attempt deter them from trying to stand up and walk again, and again, and again. As parents we look on, watching their progress with delight, even encouraging them to persist until their equilibrium and all of their tiny muscles are synchronized to maintain balance for forward movement on just two feet. Failure is not an option. These babies don’t have any fear in this process either. Why not?

Failure is a man-made concept. It is engrained as a personal evil in our social talk as we mature so we create barriers and self-imposed limitations to prevent any perceived failures. I often heard in my upbringing:

  • You lost
  • You can’t do that
  • That’s a silly idea
  • That was dumb
  • That will never work
  • You’re not that smart

These remarks can be self-fulfilling prophecies with terminal consequences for our dreams should we choose to take them to heart. Unfortunately, many of the people that we look up to convey these thoughts upon impressionable young minds that cannot put them into proper context. In time, these remarks begin to shape our thoughts, our motivation and our tolerance for risk. The world tells us that risk is bad yet, for the few who embrace it responsibly, it can mean the difference between ordinary and achieving the EXTRAordinary.

In our youth, we believe that we can conquer the world. We don’t know what we want to do but we feel as though we are invincible. Someday we will break loose and become somebody special. As time progresses though, our schools mirror back to us a portrait of how smart we are with our grades in comparison to others, our friends tell us what we can or cannot do and our family attempts to steer us clear into the tried & true patterns of their own experience.

Outside of our social circle, the media portrays successful people who appear to have achieved success overnight. With this imagery, we begin to question ourselves, as we don’t seem to have that magic formula for instant success. We yearn for stardom and acceptance yet our rhythm is not polished and our strengths are not yet honed. Others seem to DO what we want to do so much better and no one is laughing at them. We therefore wait for the right moment, the right idea or the right person who can make our dreams come true.

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will
Karim Seddikiseem

Social acceptance is often a personal goal. Being a maverick in pursuit of our dreams and freedoms is considered risky behavior that limits our popularity. Consequently, we invariably extract self-worth by being ‘normal’ within the social circle, without pushing the bounds. We are afraid of the risk involved should we fall short. Killing time and being cool are temporal rewards that do not threaten anyone. Yet, we will have truly failed if we do not try.

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case, you fail by default.
JK Rowling, Harry Potter Author and Billionaire

Failure is nothing more than a stepping-stone to mark where we are and where we are going. Each stepping stone gives us a new vantage point, a new perspective, a new learning and perhaps even a greater strength than we had before. Succeeding means getting in the arena to DO something. Are we willing to forge a new road, can we wash away the obstacles we encounter along the way and persist to reach our own desired promised land?

We can build-up our own self-worth by committing to our own dreams. We stand tall in at least a circle of one while we hone our strengths. After all, it is a good day when you have invested all of yourself for the pursuit of your goal. We need to answer to ourselves first since we are, after all, our own boss forging the life we want to live. Failure is nothing more than a False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR). Our success rate will be the inverse of our failure rate. Increasing our failure rate invariably increases our success potential. Einstein failed a math class yet created one of the most recognizable equations in our century, E=mc2; Edison failed ten thousand times to make the light bulb but you and I use his invention every day; Walt Disney went bankrupt several times but his imagination continues to delight families worldwide; Colonel Sanders (in his 60’s) endured more than a thousand NO’s before someone said yes to his chicken recipe which now feeds millions worldwide. Can you consistently push the limits over time to become the next success?

Leave the naysayers behind who subconsciously try to keep you at “their level.” Hold your head up high and be proud of your accomplishments every day so that in the years to come you never look back with regret, whispering to yourself… “I wish I had.” Business and society need progressive leaders who are responsible, thoughtful and persistent risk takers. Don’t let people stand in your way and tell you what you can, or cannot do. You are the one who has the say on what you can, and will, achieve!

I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I cannot accept NOT trying.
Michael Jordan

For more information on failure and how to overcome this self-limiting fear, get my book Wisher, Washer, Wishy-Washy – How To Move From Just Existing to Personal Abundance available on Amazon or at www.WisherWasher.com
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Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz
President, PositivePsyche.Biz Corp
www.PositivePsyche.Biz
Blog: blog.americasdiversityleader.com

The Silent Minority by Enrique Ruiz, CDE

Rick Ruiz in High School

I was born in Colorado yet my name, Enrique Ruiz, implies a more Hispanic origin. As a child it was inconsequential with a nickname of “Ricky.” At the age of eight I went to live in Mexico City and stayed there for another eight years becoming a teenager, fluent in two languages (with no foreign accent in either) and adept with at least one culture. Then, I returned to the United States to live in Southern California and continue with my education.

Culture shock hit me in my home country. I had never seen so many African-American boys up close and personal. Their physical size was daunting compared to the more typical smaller framed Mexican. I then met “Chicano’s” who touted Latin identities with their dress, accents, tattoos and unmistakable “low rider” cars. This was a foreign sight to me even though I travelled extensively throughout Mexico. Chicanos did not represent the Mexicans I grew up knowing.

The cliques of skin heads, gangs, whites, Asians and multiple “birds-of-a-feather” groupings had their own unique way of communicating with you through visual snares, graffiti, the pounding of a bat or the shimmer of a switchblade to name a few tactics. The country of my birth, a country known for its melting-pot opportunity, was not what I thought it was going to be as an impressionable youth. We had insults, fights and stabbings between various groups all clamoring for survival, presence, recognition and identity.

Fighting for identity is something that is very much in my life.
Ang Lee, Taiwanese born American Film Director (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)


I am Hispanic American with a naturalized father from Mexico. My mother is from Virginia. Life brought my parents together yet in the background lurked smears for people of my kind as ‘spicks,’ ‘wetbacks’ and other sundry names. My “kind” had a reputation for being hard workers but we were directly, or indirectly, classified at the bottom of the social ladder in America.

 

Migrating across countries and cultures has an effect on your self-esteem and your identity. You want to fit in but you don’t want to be told what “bucket” you should be in. You feel you have something to offer but you don’t want to spend your time arguing why you deserve to be treated right. ‘White privilege” for the many seemed palpable, “reverse discrimination” rhetoric was disheartening. What does a young aspiring youth do?

 

I became a “silent minority.” I contemplated changing the name given to me at birth to something more American to avoid being classified by others. Instead, I did other things to keep myself “American looking.” As I entered the workforce after High School for example, I didn’t let the world know that I could speak another language. I silenced my voice more often than not to avoid critiques. I was very pleasant but usually ate and worked alone. I did not want any racially pejorative words to be associated with my name. I was an American, or so I wanted to believe.

 

Stereotypical dialogue provides ample fodder to pigeon-hole people into “buckets.” The number of people who change their name (from any culture) to fit in America indicates that this is not an isolated scenario; it is just one symptom of a larger problem, suppressed engagement. One day, after a dozen or so years of silence with regard to my Spanish speaking ability, I was asked to be a liaison between a manufacturing firm in California and a maquiladora in Mexicali. Finally, my long repressed language came back to life. I have since used this skill in every position held since then leading up to the massive 2010 Census data capture operation.

 

Racism continues to exist in America impairing the rate of progress we can collectively sustain. Whether it be for a presidential race wanting either “black” or “white” representation to the diatribe last month from the Republican Representative Don Young (a Congressman for 41 years) who stated in a radio interview that when he was a boy in California, his father “used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes on his farm.” We continue to persist in misinformed, derogatory racial undertones to define a populace.

 

Many individuals are afraid to speak out, and share their thoughts or their backgrounds. Humiliation and slander is painful. How many individuals in your organization have repressed skills, or backgrounds, and are walking the hallways? Being bilingual is an asset for most organizations but I didn’t advertise this skill, and others. “Silent Minority” individuals are everywhere and they have different identifiers depending upon their culture, background or persuasion (i.e., “closeted”). They withhold, yet they are on your payroll. They do as asked but don’t expose all of their thoughts. Your organization may have hidden intellectual capital that has not been exploited for a win-win outcome.

 

Human nature can be divisive. Denigrating others to uplift us can be a quick elixir of “feel good” rhetoric but all too often our ideas, norms and ‘facts’ are outdated. We have an obligation to stay informed and dispel “old thinking” which impairs social progress. Diverse people offer an unparalleled diversity of thought. We revel in the advances of Mexicans, Asians, Africans, Europeans and yes… Americans. In this country, we are all Americans!

 

By Enrique Ruiz, CM, CDE, MBA, PgMP

Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz, is President of PositivePsyche.Biz Corp, a Washington DC based consulting and training firm (www.AmericasDiversityLeader.com). He is an accomplished Program Manager that has led large scale IT operations over the past decade involving teams up to 15,000. His credits involve Census Operations in the UK, Canada and the United States plus military/commercial manufacturing (including a maquiladora in Mexico).
He serves on the Society for Diversity board and the worldwide Institute for Certified Professional Managers (ICPM) Board of Regents. He is the author of four books.

Micro-Managing: Keeping a Lid on Your Organization’s Growth! By Enrique Ruiz

Rick Ruiz

 

Could the idea of keeping a lid on your organization’s growth be a real sustainable paradigm? Today’s economic climate demands innovation and greater creativity to solve current problems. Fortunately, all of our organizations can tap into the diversity of thought that resides within our human capital reservoirs and find new solutions, new products, and new markets.

All too often though, personal insecurities, lack of training and management misconceptions suppress creativity, motivation and efficiencies. Do you know of a manager that closely observes or controls the work of subordinates? Merriam Webster indicates that the term micromanage is “to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details.” This may seem like a good management focus area but people are obviously different from machines where constant monitoring is required to ensure variables do not get out of hand.

As the organization was built, we hired our team members for a specific skill set that they could fulfill. Their particular contribution complements and supplements other areas of the organization as well. As a manager, we certainly know some things BUT we do not know what we do not know. What will our employee’s be able to enlighten us on that can be done better, faster, cheaper?

Google reports that the term “micromanager” is searched an average 22,000 times a month and a parallel term “the control freak” 74,000 times a month. These observables indicate that micromanaging is a topic of concern and if it is not arrested in time… some elements of personal motivation is bound to be squelched within the organization. Would you pay for a performance car only to put a governor on the vehicle? That is in essence what happens when we are dealing with genius capital.

To be sure, micromanaging can be beneficial in the short term if we are the experts on a given task and need to create successors that can carry the baton. In time though, we need to step back and realize that there are many ways to get a job done and ours may just be up for a renewal.

Micromanaging on a long-term basis is a survival ploy for self-preservation and a means to perpetuate a “keep the status quo” mindset within the organization. It does not communicate a synergistic tone where cooperation germinates shared ideas that may yield a better solution than any one contributor could offer on their own. Overt and continuous micromanaging will soon translate into personnel mismanagement.

Micromanagers actions communicate one, or more, of the following subliminal messages:

 

  • I don’t trust you
  • You are incompetent without me
  • I am insecure
  • I don’t care what you think
  • It better be done my way
  • I need to show my power
  • I don’t have anything else better to do
  • I want the credit

 

Individuals want to be a part of a winning organization but when their own sense of identity is robbed, their spirits diminish and the marketplace becomes an attractive pastime in search of better opportunities. In time, the organization will experience unnecessary turnover, high recruiting costs, additional training and the loss of the original investment made in a former employee.

Isolated incidences of micromanagement can be construed as a benefit when one is pushing the envelope of normalcy forging into new arenas that are visionary for the very few. Steve Jobs (Apple), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jeff Bezo’s (Amazon) and Walt Disney (Disney) are all reported famous micromanagers that took on high-risk ventures but their vision was ahead of its time. An accommodating, complacent business paradigm would not have catapulted these companies into stardom on a global scale, and most of their employees understood this concept going along for the ride until they became part of the vision.

For most organizations however, moderate risk taking is the norm with controlled incremental growth being the desired outcome.  Employees will perform their best when they have a sense of autonomy, they understand the purpose of their task (and the organization’s mission) and they are given the opportunity to master their role. As a manager, realize that you can actually achieve more by doing less yourself when you empower your employees. Give credit where credit is due and show your appreciation for novel approaches that are just as effective, if not more. Harry Truman, 33rd US President, encapsulated these thoughts best when he said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

If you are an employee working for a micromanager you can help the micromanager reduce their stress level by:

 

  • Saying What you Are Going to Do
  • Doing What you Say You Will Do
  • Informing Proactively When Things Change

 

In business, there is a symbiotic relationship between managers and employees. Mutual respect is a common thread that must flow across layers of our collective human capital in order to maximize potential on both personal and organizational levels. Where could you be tomorrow if you remove the micromanager control lid and enable your organization to perform at its peak?

 

By Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz, CDE, CM, MBA

www.AmericasDiversityLeader.com

Olympic Diversity

By Enrique Ruiz, CDE, CM, MBA, PgMP  ~ www.AmericasDiversityLeader.com

Organizations want to hire the best of the best. Individuals that not only have talent but an inner drive to do more, achieve more. They are the leaders of tomorrow who have an enviable self-motivation that inspires the team and models excellence. If these individuals are given a firm foundation and the leeway to pursue greater feats… they will take it. They are not satisfied with the status quo, nor the routine. These individuals are the leaders we aspire to have in our organization whom we can entrust to lead us into new realms of possibility.

Inner drive cannot be purchased and tacked on like an accessory on our vehicles. Self-discipline is an intangible attribute that represents the best of the human spirit. But who acquires this inner drive, and why? Why would anyone endure countless hours of gruelling pain, sacrifice, training and learning to become the best? Yes, Olympic athletes compete along with many other top performers in the world arena to become the best but – first and foremost – they compete with themselves. Every race and every match is an opportunity to hone their skill and beat their own time.

Are these Olympic athletes the gifted ones among us or are they the ones who have the strongest motivation to be the best? Invariably, it is the latter. Many years ago I was influenced by a book called the “Heart of a Champion” by Olympic pole vaulter Bob Richards who says “it’s the will to win no matter the odds.” I was amazed to learn that the athletes I admired were the skinny, scrawny, weak ones that were often a source of ridicule. Scott Hamilton who is an Olympic Gold medalist has overcome cancer and brain tumors; Jackie Joyner-Kersey, ranked as one of the greatest women athletes in the world competing in the heptathlon, came from “the other side of the tracks” in destitute poverty.

Many may think that it is money that drives these athletes to compete, or maybe it is the appeal of sponsorships and government assistance to keep them afloat but these perks are few and far between for most. A July 2012 CNN Money article entitled “Olympians Face Financial Hardship” notes that only 50% of American track and field athletes who are ranked in the top ten in the nation in their event earn more than $15,000 a year in income from the sport while most fare much worse. The US Olympic Committee’s $170 million annual budget, which covers ALL sports, can only afford to offer health insurance and stipends to a limited number of competitors. Yet many of our competitors get up at wee hours of the morning to train before the day begins and they juggle studies, part-time work, personal injuries and family matters to pursue their dreams.

These athletes will perform their best and represent their country in the best way they can. A marathon runner in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics named John Stephen Akhwari from Tanzania was injured in the race yet refused to quit. As he crossed the finish line limping and on bloody and bandaged legs, and the stadium lights were being turned off for the night, he answered a reporters quizzical question why he did not quit earlier knowing he was in last place…”My country did not send me to the Olympics to start the race… they sent me here to finish it” was his reply. In 1976 the Japanese athlete Shun Fujimoto helped his team win the Gold in Gymnastics when he lunged his body into the air for his final dismount on the rings knowing he would have to plant a vertical landing on a broken kneecap which he had sustained a few days earlier in the competition.

Watching the Olympics is inspiring.

The Olympics embody phenomenal human diversity with minds that are trained to visualize the future. Athletes can envision their every step, their every stroke, their every shot – in slow motion – watching their own success unfold. Will they be better today than they were yesterday? Will they be good enough to be proclaimed the best in the world on this day? This is the spirit our organizations need to foster. It is a competitive spirit that strives for greatness.

We witness generational diversity in its best form from the young gymnasts to our mature countrymen in such events as the bobsled or Olympic shooting competitions. Will Michael Phelps add to the 8 gold medals he earned in Beijing 4 years ago and become the world’s most decorated Olympian of all time? Our women and men come from all corners of the world and in all shapes, colors and sizes giving us vivid examples of what race, ethnicity, faith and culture can deliver. They come from different socio-economic backgrounds, they have different educational backgrounds and aspirations, they have their own trials and tribulations to carry and they have their own disabilities, visible and invisible, to work through. Our accents and heritage differ but our commitment to be the best, and perform our best, does not waiver. Olympic athletes represent inclusive diversity at its best. Let’s model their interactions, and their spirit, in our organizations today and see where we can go next.

Although an exact mile is not run in the Olympics, the seemingly impossible was achieved in 1954 by Roger Bannister when he broke the 4 minute mile in a record setting time of 3:59.4. This feat captured the world’s attention and is still a centerpiece for conversation, especially when multiple individuals since then have continued to break the record in their quest to do more, achieve more; the current record holder is Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco at 3:43.13 (a speed of roughly 15 miles per hour).

“Those who can see through the visible can achieve the impossible”

Listen to the sports commentators as they tell the personal stories of select athletes and observe how they have practiced articulating the names of each individual with precision conveying that unspoken element of respect for whom these individuals are at their core. Let’s cheer and root for the African-American, Latino, Asian, American-Indian, European, Middle-Easterner et al who have made America their home, are pursuing personal excellence and record-breaking feats… and more importantly, those who have volunteered to represent us all in the world arena carrying our flag. Thank you!

 

Watch:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFTnvymsQA8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

By Enrique Ruiz, CDE, CM, MBA, PgMP

www.AmericasDiversityLeader.com

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