Books by Martha
"Can you really find a career to satisfy your soul while it meets your career dreams? Yes! Click on the cover of this inspiring ebook to learn more!"
"This book touches not only the heart, but also the mind and soul of the HR profession. It's full of ideas with impact, tools and tips...and wonderful stories."
Professor, University of Michigan Business School
co-author, The Why of Work
"A fun and easy-to-read blueprint on understanding and creating engagement within a team. No high falootin' business jargon here -- Martha Finney tells it like it is."
Director Global Workforce Learning & Development
Save the Children
- How Joe Paterno Can Continue to Inspire
- They Lay Off HR Too, Don’t They?
- Have You Lost Respect For Your Boss?
- How to Build Passion Literacy at Work
- The Hope of HR: “People are fundamentally good.”
- Miles of Wisdom: The First Thing to Know About Inspiring Great Customer Service
- The Hope of HR: Prepare to Be Amazed…Every Day
- Five Ways to Beat “No Job/No Job” Discrimination
- The Networking Tool that Beats Facebook Hands Down
- Career Fear: Put Anxiety in Its Place
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How Joe Paterno Can Continue to Inspire
Let’s face it. There’s nothing good that is coming out of the Penn State scandal right now. And I was so saddened to read of the rioting that took place overnight in protest of the sacking of Joe Paterno. Let others talk about his blame and shame. I can’t help feeling very sorry for the 84-year-old man who dedicated his life to the school, more than $5 million of his own personal funds and who attracted an additional $1 billion from Penn State alum and fans who deeply love(d) him. And now the coda of his career is a riot upon his termination and disgrace.
I also feel bad for author John Locke, who wrote a blog a year ago celebrating Paterno as a father figure in absentia, as his own father died when he was only two years old. He wrote of the “squeaky clean” athletic program that Paterno ran, how Paterno was his role model while he was growing up and about a book Locke wrote that Paterno inspired, called The Qualities of Character. As a single-parent child myself, I know how desperately important it is to have role models to fill in the hole where a parent used to be. I find myself wanting to send my condolences to John.
We all need role models, even as we become big kids in business suits. But what happens when that role model falls so far so fast? So horribly? Just a couple of days ago I wrote an article about what to do when you lose respect for your boss. Now here I am writing a piece on what to do when you lose faith in your idol.
Remember that the idol may have plummeted from the pedestal, but that doesn’t mean the ideals are invalid. The ideals that your idol represented to you are still valid in your heart and within your reach. Just because your idol fell short on them, that doesn’t mean that they’re unrealistic. If they speak to your heart, that’s reason enough to cherish them – and to still give their inspiration the credit for making them come alive in your life.
Use the crisis to recommit your own dedication to being the person you thought your idol was. You really are the person you’ve been waiting for. And the good news is that you are much closer within reach than your idol is (or was).
Learn compassion for failings. I’m not about try to measure or take a stand on Paterno’s actions. I’ll leave it to the experts to sort that out. But in most workplace scenarios, when much admired leaders, mentors and teachers take a big tumble, it rocks the culture. But does it really have to destroy their standing as an inspiration of the kind of excellence is truly possible in your career and organization? Probably not. Separate the isolated action from the overall contribution. And, if you can, use the experience to show the younger employees that redemption, forgiveness and a welcoming back to the community are all still possible.
Recommit to your duty to represent your ideals to those who are following you, whether your followers are your children or your direct reports. I think an essential part of growing up is realizing that you’ll never be perfect, and, fortunately, being perfect isn’t a prerequisite to being valuable – and inspiring to others. The time has come to take up the work of showing future generations what really can be accomplished in the name of fair play, hard work, dedication to values and optimism.
I’m reminded of a story a former s/vp of HR told me of the time when her cherished boss and mentor suddenly died. At the funeral, she said to the new widower, “Who is going to lead me now?” His response: “It’s your turn to be the leader.”
Whether you know it or not, you’re probably the source of someone’s inspiration. Use that position to inspire yourself to excellence. Consider your own idols, specifically what characteristics they stand for, and keep your standards high. At the end of the day, it’s not about who your idol is. It’s about who you are. At heart.