Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Profiles in Passion: Act Locally, Think Globally

Most everyone’s bucket list includes some aspect of world travel. For Brad Bodenhausen, Executive Vice President, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, a Rotary International  trip to Sweden was the catalyst for career opportunities he had never before considered. Brad is responsible for spearheading the international program at the Chamber in addition to his regular VP duties.

After just three years working at the Chamber, Brad was approached by his boss, President Jim Anderson, about a Rotary group study exchange program to Sweden. “It was a life-changing experience,” says Brad. “I spent five weeks in Sweden with a group of four others from neighboring Rotary clubs serving as ambassadors for our state.”

“The experience offered connections to people that I have kept in touch with over the years and sparked my interest in the international field. I’ve followed that path ever since with my masters degree program, with Rotary and professionally with the Chamber,” explains Brad.

Since  the time of his first overseas trip with the exchange, the Chamber began considering ways to help its community with global connectivity. It wanted to offer new opportunities and resources for businesses already doing business worldwide and to expand the resources for those interested in a global market. In 2004, the Chamber launched its international program and three years later, organized the International Business Council, a panel of 60  of internationally-minded businesspersons.

“There are many more companies in Springfield doing international business than those currently involved in the program,” explains Brad. “We’re always looking for more businesses to participate. We put together programs highlighting things going on in the world, and keep our Chamber members abreast of current international trends and business opportunities.”

Brad feels strongly about international connections and sharing those connections with organizations that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to make them on their own. “My most fulfilling contribution is to understand people in other cultures for who they are, and to take the opportunity to share the true Midwest as it is, dispelling preconceived notions others may have.”

Though it’s grown to something much more, Brad still attributes his international career opportunities to his first overseas trip. The Rotary Group Study Exchange is always in search of young professionals whose employers would support their international professional development. The program offers professionals an opportunity to learn about their vocation as it is practiced in other parts of the world.

“Jim encouraged me and gave me the opportunity 14 years ago to gain an international perspective,” expressed Brad. “What’s neat is years later, I’ve been able to do the same for another co-worker (Emily Denniston)within our organization. These days we’re so interconnected. The opportunity to learn from other cultures and countries is huge.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Are You Willing to Die For ? – A Salute to Our Soldiers

The life of a soldier is an interesting one. They voluntarily give up their own life for a cause or purpose that is much larger than themselves. After signing on, new recruits are sent to basic training.  They are pushed beyond any reasonable bounds and systematically broken down so that they can be rebuilt into effective soldiers. To be an effective soldier one must be willing to put others, their unit, and ultimately their country in front of self-interest.

Why do we have such respect for soldiers? Because they're willing to die for a worthy cause.  As humans we give our highest respect to those who have died for something of lasting value. Physical life is not the ultimate; a life of meaning and purpose is. If you are searching for happiness you will not find it apart from a worthy cause -your own calling something that you are willing to die on a hill for. I tell people all the time in my coaching practice that there's nothing wrong with dying on a hill you just want to make sure it's your hill not somebody else's.

In one of the top selling books of 2006, Success Built to Last-Creating a Life that Matters, resoundingly confirms this notion.  The book researches the lives of people that we as humans consider to be the most successful. People like Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa. Their extensive research concludes what we already intuitively know.  People who live their lives built around a compelling cause or purpose are the healthiest, happiest, and most respected people on the face of the earth.

The story of dying for a worthy cause is not a new one. Irrespective of your personal beliefs and feelings about Him, no one has had a greater impact on civilization than a small town carpenter named Jesus. The Scripture tells us that he willingly laid down his life so that others might live. He was totally plugged into his God-given purpose and calling. I am personally thankful that he was willing to die on a hill for me and the rest of humanity.

I would ask you, have you identified your own cause worth dying for?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Are You Spamming Yourself?

I recently found a message from myself in my spam folder?  It had never occurred to me that I could spam myself.  I then stopped and asked myself how else might I be spamming myself?  What kind of preprogrammed garbage have I allowed to be stored on my mental hard drive? 

Some words are so apropos.  When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, spam was this slimy meat like stuff in can.  I can eat almost anything but spam is not one of them.  Today spam is that flood of unwanted, slimy stuff that someone else wants to dump on us.  What kind of mental spam do you have running around in your head that doesn’t need to be there?

Spam, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad. What make it bad is that it is not something you want.  Someone else is arbitrarily imposing their agenda on you.   If you haven’t clearly defined your own agenda you will by default have little choice but to accept someone else’s agenda for you.  The best defense against head spam is to get clear about who you are at your core and then align your conduct or behavior with that identity.