By: Toni Hible

As a new recruit to the Vanguard organization, I originally felt that I was too new to have something to share in a news article. After reading the terrific articles from past newsletters I definitely felt that I have much more to learn before tackling a demonstration article. Having said that, after recently reading “Monday Morning Choices” by David Cottrell, a book recommended to me by our very own Scott Johnson, I thought I could at least share some of the inspiring points written by Mr. Cottrell.

Every day starts with a clean slate and every work week starts with Monday. As Monday seems to be the day many people dread, I found it ironic that it was a Monday when I randomly selected this borrowed book to read. I felt this author did a terrific job covering a broad array of topics in the series of “choices” we make both personally and professionally on our road to be successful, including those evolving around our character/personal choices, our choice of actions and our choice of investments.

The author starts by stating that “it’s not what happens to us, but how we choose to respond to it” as it is easy to fall victim to negativity. Unfortunately, this is a pothole we all fall into at times since humans naturally like to complain (using far less energy than it takes working out a solution). Like a flu bug, this negative attitude can become very contagious. Our choice to handle it can be as simple as turning off the evening news when it covers yet another doom and gloom story or posting a positive message on a social media site. You may choose to list all the things that went wrong with our day or take a more personal approach by offering to listen or help a friend, neighbor or fellow co-worker as they deal with a problem they are facing.

As expressed many times in his book, the road to success means also making the choice to be committed. It is an attitude and requires passion to believe in what we are doing and is important enough to stay the course. Prior to joining Vanguard and even on my first day at the corporate office, several employees
shared their passion about what the Vanguard organization stands for and the services we provide in attempt to meet the individual needs of our clients. In achieving the success that Vanguard has experienced over the decades, a choice to do something different was essential along the way and is apparent by never being satisfied with the current performance and its ongoing search for ways to be even better.

Every success comes with many failures. Stumbling and falling are just part of life. However the author stated, with some irony, that the only difference between being in a rut and a grave is the depth. His implication is that intending to do something is not the same as doing it and that procrastination does not breed success. His theory that there are only 3 groups of people; “those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened” caused me to reflect upon which category I fall into at times.

The author takes another approach to handling choices by stating “courage is ultimately measured by how much it takes to discourage us”. He advises that most successful people find their success as a result of persisting beyond failures. I loved his reference to a favorite childhood tale “The Turtle and Hare” and thought is was a good illustration of persistence by showing this too is a choice we make. He also advises us to remove the words “I’ll try” from our vocabulary as it is often used as an excuse for not doing or completing a task.

Since my introduction to the rest of the Vanguard staff at our recent corporate meeting, I am prompted to be more proactive in regards to choices regarding investments. His statement that “strong positive relationships don’t just happen they require time, attention, understanding and willingness to see others’ needs to be as important as ours”. Essentially an “investment” of people. This investment includes not only getting to know our co-workers and clients but seeing those “angry” taxpayers as real people also.

Another example of this “investment of people” that he mentioned would be searching out mentorship opportunities to share your talents and skills with others. Upon making positive changes, learning how to be successful and forming new relationships, the proposal from the author is to give your gift, as sharing your legacy is a lasting choice that a person can make. Note that only time and wisdom are required to give this gift without a price tag.

In closing, the idea behind all these choices is that you cannot be successful in life unless you accept responsibility for your attitude and actions. Furthermore, by sticking to your objectives and investing in other people, it allows you to achieve personal and professional growth.

Shared below are just a few questions the author raised at the end of each section, along with several of my favorite quotes from others that were mentioned in his book.

Is it really possible to accept total responsibility for things that happen to us? Does the buck really stop with us?

Name a person who is an inspiration to you. Describe the traits of that person. Are “passionate” and “committed” two of the traits you described?

What prevents us from moving off “someday isle”?

What was the most significant “failure” in your life and how did you move beyond it?

What if everyone imitated our attitude? What impact would that have on the organization?

What can we do to develop a positive relationship with those around us?

Can you name a person you respect who has a negative, cynical attitude about work and life?

Is there a time when criticism can be correct but wrong and why is our natural instinct to become defensive about criticism?

Think about those who have shared their legacy with you; a relative, coach, a professor or current boss. What specific legacy do you think you can offer to another?

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

William Jennings Bryan

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

Henry Ford

“Courage is the resistance to fear, mastery of fear—NOT the absence of fear.”

Mark Twain

“Every winner has scars.”

Herbert Casson

“We make a living from what we get; we make a life from what we give.”

Winston Churchill

“The thing about dreams is sometimes you get to live them.”

Payne Stewart

“How far you go in life depends on being tender with the young, compassionate with the old, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak/strong as someday you will have been all of these.”

George W. Carver

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