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Seeking inspiration through self-reflection

You might be surprised to learn that running a newspaper isn’t all rainbows and high fives. Like any business, there are challenges every day, and the fact that some of our challenges are very public can be stressful.

It’s easy for me to get dug into problem solving mode — lost in a spreadsheet or report, or trying to craft the perfect words to say for a staff meeting. Completing these tasks are both necessary and important, but I also know that leadership requires a degree of big-picture thinking.

I have found studying leadership and seeking out inspirational quotes help me think on a different plane. Maybe it is trying to give myself every advantage to succeed amid a challenging landscape. Maybe it is my desire to help others achieve contentment and fulfillment. Or maybe it is because my kids are now at the age where they soak in life lessons, and I’m careful about what my behavior and words teach them.

At any rate, here are a couple of quotes that inspire me. Perhaps they will you too.

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails,” — John C. Maxwell.

I am far from a pessimist. I’ve always had an optimistic disposition, and it has helped me rise above frustration. I’ve carried a hunky-dory attitude through much of my life, which I figured was all the elixir I needed to be successful.

But as I’ve delved more and more into the leadership world, I have realized that hope simply isn’t a strategy. I’ve worked on attacking problems head on, trying to realize that momentary discomfort can give way to long-term success. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a work in progress in this area, but I’m now learning how to adjust my sails.

“Keep your head where your feet are.”

 Looking ahead is human nature. My wife teases me because I could walk by the same sweater on the floor for days on end without really noticing it. It is because my personality is such that I am always trying to think one or two steps ahead, which literally can cause me to not see what is right in front of me.

I know that strategizing and thinking ahead are both very important, but one thing I now believe in is that there is a time for everything — digging in on a job, thinking, playing, relaxing, sleeping. Trying to be in the moment for every occasion is helping me to notice that proverbial sweater — especially when it’s time for laundry!

“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes — then learn how to do it later,” — Richard Branson.

I love this one because I have seen the power of yes.

When I was in my mid-20s, I was a happy sports editor of a small-town paper not unlike the A-T. I was able to write every day, and loved getting to know the athletes and coaches I was covering. I saw myself possibly doing that job forever.

One day, my boss took me to lunch and blindsided me. “I think you would be a good editor, and I’d like you to consider taking the job.” I hadn’t really thought about something like that. But recognizing it was an opportunity, I took it. Not once did I regret that decision. I kindled a love of leadership in me that I didn’t knew I had, and learning to say yes launched me to this very moment at the helm of the A-T.

I’m smart enough that on each step of the journey, I did not know it all, and never will. I strive to be a lifelong learner, and try and grow my knowledge every day, but if I realize that if I hadn’t taken a leap of faith here or there, or tried to wait until I was 100 percent ready, that I would be passed up by incredible opportunities.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” — Phillippians 4:13

I am a man of faith and trust God’s direction in my life. I have seen seemingly giant mountains in my life moved aside by a providential hand. Prayer and support of my friends and family helps to both ground me and grow me. I take comfort in knowing God is with me — in times both good and bad. I believe I don’t have to fight my battles alone.

Leadership quotes and sayings aren’t for everybody, but they are something that helps me frame my momentary problems and helps to make me think at a deeper level. I’d challenge all to build reflection into your daily routine. I’ve found it’s amazing how many strides we can make — both mentally and practically — when we focus on understanding ourselves.

Jeremy Speer is the publisher of The Advertiser-Tribune. He can be reached at jspeer@advertiser-tribune.com.

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