- choose a path over a plan,
- use problems to propel yourself and your organization forward,
- overcome fear and procrastination,
- make smart decisions, and
- reclaim your power and use it for good.
|Tyndale House Publishers
|5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Read an Excerpt
The Only Limitless Asset Around
No matter where you are in your life right now, and no matter where you've been, you are not yet all you can be. If I were to net out the big idea of this book in one neat line, that's it: You are not yet all you can be. Life can shift. Circumstances shift. You can glean fresh understanding. You can change. You can grow. And as you seize the opportunities that are within you and right in front of you, you'll find a certain steadiness in your life that perhaps you've never known before.
You see, though my undergraduate degree in medieval history (yes, I know) didn't exactly point me toward a lucrative career after graduation, it provided me with a gift that has proved invaluable throughout my life: perspective. To study history is to be reminded that one thing has remained the same down through the ages. Amid all the changes in culture, technology, and knowledge, the one thing that has stayed the same is us.
People never change. Sure, we change our hairstyles, fashion trends, home décor, exercise regimens, parenting approaches, spending patterns, modes of transportation, preferred forms of entertainment, culinary tastes, and relationship patterns all the time. But behind and beneath and alongside all that window dressing is the same human soul that has always been there, longing for the same things we've always wanted: meaning, purpose, fulfillment, dignity, love, and peace.
* * *
I started a foundation called Unlocking Potential to provide an opportunity for staff of nonprofits to get better at their work. Many nonprofits are solving — or seeking to solve — some of the most severe and intractable problems in human society; and yet, historically, precious little investment has been made to lift up these people, provide them with the training they need, and celebrate the important contributions they make in communities around the world. Specifically, I wanted every nonprofit we worked with to learn how to magnetize and retain strong leaders who would consistently take personal responsibility, better navigate critical transitions, speak a common language of leadership, and help others in their organizations to grow. When these groups were reminded of the power they already possessed, they felt inspired to thrive. We saw this potential unlocked through our partnerships.
These results are tremendously gratifying to me personally because they validate two of my most fundamental beliefs: (1) Every person possesses astounding Godgiven potential, and (2) their potential can be unleashed.
Think about it: Human potential is the only limitless resource in the world. Not time. Not money. Not skill. Not fame, beauty, or charm. I don't care if you're jaw-droppingly gorgeous, at the top of your vocational game, or have more money than you know what to do with — at some point, those wells may run dry. Wrinkles will show up, and your vitality will begin to wane. The needs of the marketplace may shift. The stock market might plummet, leaving you with an empty or depleted portfolio. But that is never the case with human potential. Who you might become is forever before you, beckoning you onward. What you might accomplish keeps whispering your name. However much of your potential you unleash, there is always more, just waiting to be tapped into.
You and I have both heard heard stories about children whose potential was recognized early — as a dancer, a chess master, a debater, or a lawyer — and who grew up surrounded by people who helped them realize their potential and live a full and fulfilling life. But for most of us, life isn't like that. I have known people who, even at the end of their lives, felt as if they never found their calling or realized their potential. Perhaps you know some of these people too. My hope is that by the time you reach the end of this book, you will be on the path to unlocking your full potential and reclaiming your own power.
* * *
If you're like most of the women and men my team and I have worked with, this process of realizing your fullest potential will feel as if something inside you is being unlocked.
We've all had the experience of feeling "locked up." My latest visit to the dentist's chair comes to mind. It must be part of a hygienist's formal training, this knack for asking indepth questions of their poor patients who sit with water spigots, tiny vacuum cleaners, and a stranger's hands stuck in their mouths.
Can't you tell that we're all locked up down here?
I also think of being wedged into an airplane seat at thirty thousand feet, flying through the middle of a thunderhead.
Perhaps nothing has improved my prayer life quite like running for president. Let me tell you, all those cross-country flights on minime airplanes that require you to duck your head as you make your way to your seat, lest you crack your skull on the ceiling, force a deep faith. When we would hit turbulence, I would reflexively flatten my palm against the window, as if I could singlehandedly keep the plane aloft.
Just get this thing on the ground safely, I would silently will the pilot, who was seated only six feet away. Locked up is precisely how I felt.
Or what about when you're stuck in bed sick while others are out having fun? I was due to fly to Chicago not long ago for a series of meetings that mattered greatly to me, but on the morning of my departure I awoke with a bad case of laryngitis. When I tried to greet my husband, I sounded about as smooth as a Texas bullfrog. Wanting to verbalize but having no voice? Yes, that's a bit like being locked up.
And then there's dieting. If you want to experience a locked-up sensation, give the Whole30 plan a try. No bread. No cheese. No ice cream. No fun. But to the diet creators' credit, at least it's only for thirty days. I have heard of people who eat like cavemen for a lifetime, which makes me wonder: Do they sneak doughnuts from the office breakroom when nobody's looking?
Surely a few of them must.
Indeed, the thing that helps us move through these experiences of feeling locked up is just that: It's only a feeling; we're not actually locked up. We know that eventually the dentist appointment will end, the plane will land, the sickness will abate, and we'll eat bread and cheese once again.
But what about being endlessly locked up? How would we cope with that?
Consider those on death row, or elsewhere in our prison system, with no chance for parole. What does being locked up mean to them?
Or those who suffer a life-changing event — a stroke, a traumatic brain injury, a devastating car accident — that forever alters their mobility, their personality, their ability to function. Would they say that they feel locked up? When I went through treatment for breast cancer — the chemo, the hair loss, the ensuing surgeries and infections and pain — I wondered about things like permanence. Would I ever feel whole again? And when my husband, Frank, and I lost our younger daughter, Lori Ann, at age thirty-five, only eight months after my devastating cancer diagnosis, it made my darkest days even darker.
Lori Ann knew well the feeling of being locked up. She suffered from addiction. And then, in a moment, her astounding potential was gone.
You and I both recognize these two types of being locked up — the temporary and the permanent. And yet there is a third, more tragic, form of paralysis we often overlook — that is, the locked-up states we choose for ourselves.
Just off Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco Bay, between the Golden Gate Bridge and Treasure Island, sits Alcatraz Island, home to the infamous federal prison where, between 1934 and 1963, the most hardened criminals in the country were sent. Chicago Mafia boss Al Capone and violent murderer Robert Stroud, better known as the Birdman of Alcatraz, both did time there. Yet, even within the walls of this notoriously harsh prison, there was a place where even the roughest, toughest prisoners admitted defeat: D Block.
D Block was where the solitary-confinement cell was located, a soul-crushing "time-out" for prisoners who misbehaved.
Known as "the hole," the solitary-confinement cell was a soundproof, six-by-eight-foot space outfitted with only a bed frame, a toilet, and a small sink. General-population prisoners who were viewed as an imminent threat to others, or who violated prison rules, were placed in solitary confinement for up to nineteen consecutive days, during which they had no human contact and no exposure to light, except for the three-times-daily checkins by a guard. During those meal breaks, the heavy outer door would open, allowing a shaft of light to stream through the room's inner metal bars, and a tray of food, all lumped together, would be slid through a special opening. After about twenty minutes, the tray was returned, and the doors were closed, casting the cell back into pitch darkness.
Still today, if you visit Alcatraz as a tourist, you can opt to experience one of these isolation chambers for a few minutes, along with several others in your tour group. After being ushered into the cell, you are given a quick overview, and then the heavy door is slammed shut. There is nothing quite like the sensation of being in a space so dark and desolate that you can neither hear the outside world nor see your hand directly in front of your face. Whatever good you might bring to the world around you fades to black as you stand there hopeless, helpless, and afraid.
Now imagine choosing this fate not as an hour-long tourist attraction, but as a way of life. Real life. Your one and only wild and precious life.
My attempt at law school wasn't the only time I did this to myself. When I was in my twenties, I entered into a marriage unsure of who I was and what I wanted out of life. The man I married was interesting, charming, and more experienced than I was. My mother was suspicious of him from the outset, and she tried to warn me, but she couldn't articulate her concerns in words I was able to hear at the time. So I said "I do" to someone who would betray every one of our vows.
This locked-up feeling I'm describing? That's exactly how I felt after just a few years of marriage. In my heart, I know I did everything I could to make our relationship work, but I was unsuccessful. After six and a half years, when the truth about my husband's disloyalty had become plain for me to see, I knew I had to get out of this irretrievably broken relationship. Despite my best efforts and intentions, I found it impossible to stay married to someone who shrugged off commitment and everything good about married life. I remember standing with him in the kitchen one night, asking him for the umpteenth time to sign the separation agreement my lawyer had drawn up.
I politely asked him to sign.
I impolitely asked him to sign.
I then pleaded with him to sign, rationally enumerating all the reasons that showed our marriage had already died.
Again, he stubbornly refused.
Silently, calmly, I stepped to the cupboard, opened the cabinet door, and removed a single plate from the shelf. I threw the plate at the kitchen floor and stood perfectly still as the china shattered into a thousand pieces. Now that I had his attention, with jagged shards of china all around us, I drew upon the only remaining leverage I had. Yes, I played the mother-in-law card. I looked at the man I had once loved dearly and said with steely determination, "If you do not sign this agreement, I will call my mother. She will come to visit, and she will stay with us, here, under our roof. And she will not leave until you sign these papers."
Whether we're talking about an introvert in a sea of type A personalities, a thoroughbred trying to survive in a donkey-paced work environment, an imaginative dreamer tucked inside an accountant, a willing friend who finds herself friendless, a contributor who questions her ability to contribute, or a would-be success story needing assurance that she won't fail, nobody in their right mind stays locked up voluntarily. And yet this is exactly what I see countless people do each day, in every imaginable vocation, location, and walk of life, when they forfeit the freedom that can be theirs. To keep your potential locked up is to look at the offer of all-encompassing liberation and say, "Thanks, but I think I'll pass."
May this never be said of you — or me.
May we instead be the kind of people who welcome our better, stronger, sturdier selves with arms opened wide — no excuses, no apologies, no regrets. In the coming pages, I'd like to show you how.
* * *
When working with partners and clients, my team's approach is to guide them through an intensive two-day Leadership Lab, which involves thoroughly, and at times painstakingly, introducing the key characteristics and tools of leadership, and showing them firsthand how to apply those tools to the most vexing problems they face. Invariably, the women and men who join us for these sessions leave energized and refreshed in their belief that they have the capacity to make a positive difference in their own lives, in the lives of others, and in their communities. They are emboldened to size up and solve future problems. And even more important, they are awakened to the potential inside themselves that has lain dormant for far too long.
They learn to recognize their power.
They learn to multiply that power.
And they learn to apply their power to bring about good in the world.
In so doing, they come alive.
I want you to come alive as well.
Here's what I've discovered: As you learn to harness the power within you, you will begin to make more sense out of life. You'll find that you really can patch up the brokenness of your past. You really can find purpose and meaning here and now. You really can make a positive impact on the world for decades to come.
It's time to stop unwittingly giving away your power.
Choose to invest it, on purpose, instead.
The late great poet and playwright Maya Angelou never fancied herself a writer in the traditional sense; but all that changed one night at a literary dinner party to which she had been invited by her friend the renowned author James Baldwin. Once the guests had enjoyed the meal together, talk turned to stories of each person's childhood. When Maya's turn came, she held the other guests in rapt attention with her lyrical stories. The hostess of the party was so entranced by Maya's experiences — and by the way she poetically depicted them — that she placed a call the following day to a publishing friend of hers.
"You ought to pursue this Maya Angelou!" the woman said to the publisher. And pursue her the publisher did. The result of that chance encounter at a dinner party was the release of Maya's first autobiographical work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Not only did Maya Angelou experience what she referred to as great relief in "telling the truth" of her story, which tragically involved sexual, emotional, physical, and racial abuse, but she also helped liberate countless other young black women, who read Maya's book and felt understood — perhaps for the first time in their lives.
I had the privilege of serving alongside Ms. Angelou on the faculty of several conferences throughout the years, and the thought that she might never have had the opportunity to share both the revulsion and the redemption of her experience sends chills down my spine. What a colossal loss that would have been! Each time we crossed paths, I found her to be a woman of great composure and peace. After all she had been through in her life, it was amazing to behold.
Patching up our past brokenness brings solace to our souls. You might say that is the backward-facing benefit of full-potential living. On top of that, the power that emerges from living out our full potential brings purpose to life today.
* * *
As I said earlier, the most profound outcome we see in clients who work through our two-day Leadership Lab is their growing realization that they possess potential far beyond what they thought or knew. I find it profoundly gratifying to see the testimonial videos our team shoots after the final Lab session and hear participants say something along the lines of "Until today, I had no idea how many resources were at my disposal for doing good in my home, in my job, and in the world. And who knew that those resources were right here, inside me, and in the people all around me, all along?" I experience a deep delight every time.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Find Your Way"
Copyright © 2019 Carly Fiorina.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Dr. Henry Cloud, ix,
Moment of Revelation A Word on Your One Wild and Precious Life, xiii,
PART ONE: The Purpose of the Path,
1 Future You The Only Limitless Asset Around, 3,
2 The Tragedy of the Termite Choosing the Path over the Plan, 19,
3 What's Wrong Is Also What's Right Problems as Pavement under Your Feet, 39,
PART TWO: The Pursuit of the Path,
4 Decisions, Decisions Your First, Most Important Move, 65,
5 What Are You Afraid Of? The Courage to Reclaim Your Power, 77,
6 Who You Are When No One's Looking Multiplying Your Power for Good, 107,
7 Becoming a Better Us Sharing Your Power, 129,
8 Think of the Possibilities! Harnessing Your Power, 163,
PART THREE: The Promise of the Path,
9 No Gimmes Here Promise No. 1: Problems Will Get Solved, 187,
10 To-the-Brim Living Promise No. 2: Potential Will Be Unleashed, 209,
About the Author, 233,
What People are Saying About This
I have spent more than 40 years learning and teaching about leadership, and I’ve met countless people who either identified themselves as leaders or hoped to one day become one. Of all those leaders, few have seen eye-to-eye with me on the subject and philosophy of leadership like Carly Fiorina. Having worked with her, I fully believe that she and I are two sides of the same coin.In my work, I’ve given people the permission and principles they need for developing their leadership. Carly’s new book provides disciplines and tools to help leaders execute and elevate their leadership. Leadership is influence, and the fastest way to gain influence is by solving problems. Find Your Way will give any reader the skills to become a leader who solves problems and grows in influence.