Category: Overcoming Adversity

When Being “Only Human” Can Lead to Catastrophe

As a national keynote speaker on workplace safety and accidents caused by stress and other factors, I am familiar with the worn excuse of “they were only being human.” I remember the accident that led to my becoming a quadriplegic.

Family and friends told me that my failure to wear a seatbelt was because I was only human and under stress. In the months after the crash, I wondered what might have happened had I the vision to see where my choices could lead and the determination to overcome my carelessness in the first place.

Human Factors

The American Institute of Stress (March 28, 2019) stated that “80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress.” In the same report it was noted that of all of the factors in the workplace that cause stress, the largest reason at 46 percent was workload. When a heavy workload is combined with stress, accidents occur. Those under stress usually think they can do more than they can safely do. They are too rushed and too stressed to ask for help.

The “Institute” reflected the ideas of Dr. David Spiegel, medical director of the Stanford Center on Stress and Health in Stanford, California in Safety + Health magazine:

“Safety professionals can play an important role in helping workers cope with stress.

It’s very clear that a big proportion of safety problems are due to human error, and some of that is related to stress. You need to be concerned as a manager for the overall health of your employees.”

Safety Consultant Dr. Michael Topf has spent a career working to help reduce employee stress. His observation about workers and the effects of workplace pressure have shattered a lot of myths. No matter the educational level, from Ph.D.’s on down, when stress is in play problems arise. You can’t overcome poor safety habits with intellectual thought:

“What I found was that…stress has an impact on safety. People learn to stuff their feelings. They hide their stress. They think, ‘You need to be bigger than it.’ So, it all goes in, but it doesn’t go away – it’s all stored in your body somewhere. It’s stored mentally and it’s stored physically.”

Topf gave a hypothetical example of a worker who had a sick parent in the hospital.

“You get to work and you’re climbing a ladder or you’re on scaffolding. While you’re walking along on the scaffolding, part of your attention is on where you’re walking and what you’re doing, but also part of your attention is on your sick mother in the hospital. Loss of focus or inattention is a major cause of injury.”

Overcoming Poor Decisions

As a safety professional, you must have the insight and the determination to see the connection between stress, workload and workplace accidents. Safety is a company-wide challenge. Safety professionals need the resolve to help workers under stress.

Finally, of the 46 percent of workers in the AIS study who cited workload as a major problem for causing stress (and accidents), in turn most of them saw stress as affecting their co-workers as well. Safety is everyone’s business. “Being human” is an explanation and an excuse we must avoid.

 

Contact Scott Burrows, National Keynote Speaker on Safety and Stress Related Workplace Accidents, through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

My Longest Race was One-Eighth of an Inch

As an overcoming adversity keynote speaker, I am frequently asked who the main influence was in helping me to overcome a major cervical spine injury that determined I would be a quadriplegic. My father lent me the wisdom to deal with adversity.

What do you visualize?

When my father taught me to play golf his first lesson was that I master the art of visualization.

“Scott, be willing to see complete success in your mind’s eye first. Now imprint that outcome over and over. Do it so frequently that your mind can no longer tell the difference between what you are fighting for and what is real.”

I thought of that advice as I awakened after an accident paralyzed me from the chest down. Through the weeks of constant therapy, I had only one focus: to move something. I knew if I could move a finger, just the joint of a finger, then I could accomplish anything. After a rigorous therapy session, I again focused on moving my hand. It worked! I moved my wrist one-eighth of an inch. It was like being the first-place finisher at the Boston Marathon.

The road toward recovery was tough, I won’t kid you, but with determination I went further than anyone around me imagined. This brings to mind a quote by author Robert Heinlein, “Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.”

Most people give up before they allow themselves to succeed. This is especially true with sales professionals who shy away from adversity rather than overcoming it.

How determined are you?

Deep Patel writing for Entrepreneur magazine, “10 Ways Successful People Push Through Adversity,” reflected “How is it that some [sales] people can bounce back and find a way to overcome misfortune and defeat? They don’t allow themselves to become overwhelmed with negative emotions or thoughts. They take time to process what they’ve been through, then they resume moving forward. Their mental fortitude lifts them up to seek opportunities instead of dwelling in despair.”

When I was in the hospital, I could have easily given in to negativity but I developed the grit to find optimism in every sign I encountered.

The Harvard Business Review recently found that the annual turnover in some professional sales organizations had climbed to as high as 27 percent. The publication found that contrary to popular opinion, it wasn’t the poorest salespeople who quit, but those who were average. They lacked the ability to visualize themselves as taking it to the next level so they walked away.

Business News Daily in an article about the traits of successful salespeople said, “Top sales people while grounded in reality, focus on what they can control, stay on course with optimism about what they can achieve, and [don’t] let the rest drag them down.”

Once I knew I could move my wrist, I understood that with determination my arms and fingers and even legs could follow. I did not allow those around me to convince me to accept “just” one-eighth inch of movement as the best I’d ever achieve, nor did I ever minimize the accomplishment.

You can visualize yourself as “average,” and settle for that, or to overcome adversity to be greater than you ever imagined.

 

Contact Scott Burrows, Motivational Speaker on Overcoming Adversity in Sales through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

 

 

 

What Does It Mean to Be a Resilient Sales Team?

          When I speak to sales teams about resiliency, it’s not difficult to feel passionate about it. As the result of an accident that landed me in a wheelchair and quickly ended a successful sports career, I had to develop the mindset to climb back into the ring of life. I was forced to push through painful and often overwhelming physical circumstances with focus and resiliency, while at the same time reinvent my life and adjust my mindset to a new career in sales as an insurance and financial advisor.

You are more than words

Dr. Alia J. Crum is one of the world’s leading authorities on stress. In 2013, she co-wrote a brilliant article entitled “Rethinking Stress: The Role of Mindsets in Determining the Stress Response.” Her article focused on stress and negativity. To quote from her findings:

“Stress is [often] portrayed in a negative light…the intention of these depictions is to help prevent or stem the negative effects of stress: however, if the self-fulfilling nature of mindset exists, the result of such prophesy may be counter effective. Repetitive portrayals of stress in a negative light not increases the possibility that we form the mindset that stress-is-debilitating…”

This finding is important for sales teams who are facing challenges. What Dr. Crum is saying is that if a sales team wills itself to say, “We’re under so much stress to produce, we don’t know what to do. We might as well give up.” The team will come to believe that it can’t overcome the adversity it is facing; the team will lose its resiliency to find new solutions. It will, in fact, will itself to become crippled.

The American Psychological Association in its paper, “The Road to Resilience” gives 11 keys to overcoming major challenges. Among the more important keys to avoid seeing a crisis as an insurmountable problem is to develop resiliency, to accept that change is a part of living, to always be moving toward goals, and to not be afraid to take decisive action.

Your sales team may be confronted with major competitors, a shift in the economy, new technologies or even a shakeup in your organization. It doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions.

Resiliency is about finding a new way to take action. Your vision and mindset, combined with the determination to overcome the adversity of what is in front of the team will make you successful.

The sales professional website, Salesforce.com, sees resilience as the way to overcome negative messages. In order to overcome adversity, they advise that sales teams should build trust, build accountability, build commitment, and that you should build your team and most importantly work on building yourself.

I rose out of my bed because I trusted those around me, I made myself accountable for what I could do, I made a commitment to myself and to my therapists, I resolved to be a strong member of my sales team and I never let my mindset settle for anything less than my best. Sales people and sales teams can become more resilient.

Is your sales team ready to accept the task of becoming more resilient to the challenges you are facing? The best sales teams are the most resilient. Taking the first step may not be easy, but taking the first step never fails to lead to the next.

 

Contact Scott Burrows, World-Class Inspirational Speaker on Creating Resilient Sales Teams through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

As a motivational education speaker, I know how hard it is to change the mindset of defeat and overcome adversity. I was once a Division 1 athlete and a competitive martial artist. I thought I was indestructible. Then I was involved in an automobile accident that left me a quadriplegic. From my hospital bed I had an important choice to make: to get up and go on with my life, or give in to defeat. There were those who tried to convince me that my condition would be as good as it could ever get, and that it would be understandable if I walked away from my purpose and myself. I refused to accept the pronouncement and from that bed I developed the philosophy that propelled me to succeed.

Educators are facing many crippling challenges as well and many find it is easier to give up than go on. According to the Washington Post in an article entitled “Where have all the teachers gone?” it was reported that “teacher education enrollment dropped from 691,000 to 451,000, a 35 percent reduction, between 2009 and 2014 — and nearly 8 percent of the teaching workforce is leaving every year, the majority before retirement age.”

Why are so many educators giving up?

It was the great statesman Benjamin Disraeli who said, “There is no education like adversity,” to which I might add, there is no adversity quite like being an educator. Do you have the mindset to overcome the adversity of being an educator in today’s environment? I know you do.

The Challenges are Many

The website Classcraft.com listed eight challenges that teachers face. The challenges are often too much for some educators to bear. Teachers must perform many roles these days; they are often held accountable for more than they should; they face mountains of excessive paperwork; and they have trouble keeping up with the expectations of school administrators. The challenges don’t end there.

In August 2018, the National Education Association (NEA) ran an article entitled “10 Challenges Facing Public Education Today.” At the top of the list were a lack of funding, school safety concerns (since Columbine, almost 200,000 students have been exposed to gun violence), and stress as nearly 93 percent of elementary school teachers alone report stress as affecting their health and welfare.

Educators are also seeing widening gaps between policy and implementation, complex problems with applying one curriculum to students with different learning rates, and the influx of non-native speaking English students into school systems. No wonder the stress is overwhelming.

From my conversations with educators across the country, I know that teachers who used to love to inspire students complain of “no longer having fun in the classroom,” They feel emotionally drained, lacking even the ability to even attend to “personal needs” during the day.

Reconnecting with Your Vision

Are you determined to overcome the adversity you face as an educator and to re-kindle your vision and re-ignite your passion? Or will you be a statistic? Will you be another ex-educator who quit a profession they loved because they lost the determination to continue?

In virtually every market research study, teachers cited these top reasons for why they first entered the profession: they wanted to make a difference, they wanted to influence the personal development of children, they wanted to have a positive impact on the world. While many public forums exist where teachers and administrators gloat over leaving the profession, many more regret their decision.

How can you overcome the stress and the disappointment of adversity and come back stronger and more motivated than ever? You can do it by revisiting the same compelling VISION that first brought you in as an educator and focusing on the things you can control in the workplace and classrooms. Furthermore, you can summon the courage and grit needed to make changes to the system so that teaching becomes fun again by developing an unstoppable mindset and recognizing the kind of value you bring each and every day to your students and coworkers. Remember: the influence you have on one life will impact many others. Don’t give up too soon!

 

Contact Scott Burrows, Inspirational Education Motivational Speaker through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

Is Your Sales Force Resisting the Changing Marketplace?

 

The increased challenge of adapting sales to online business platforms has brought heightened urgency to sales teams to meet the needs of their customers in a way that is practical and relevant. As a change management keynote speaker, I teach organizations how to adapt and move through change as opposed to resisting it. The focus and mindset I employed to overcome my physical challenges after my accident later became crucial tools for success in my corporate career as a top sales agent in the insurance and financial services industry.

Buyers are armed with more information than ever; decision making is usually a complex effort; sales platforms are often digital, and unless you’re careful, your buyers will believe they know more about your product than you. Sales reps have never worked harder to make the sale. Experts agree that if the representative lacks product knowledge in the form of hard numbers, clear-cut advantages, and the sheer determination to make the sale, the sale won’t get made.

Along with adversity in the sales climate, sales teams realize they may not have the internal support they had in the past to close the deal. Sales reps are often on their own and many organizations are unable to keep up with the changing landscape. It is up to each salesperson to be their own strongest advocate.

According to McKinsey & Company, in this period of expanding digital platforms and widespread use of online research by buyers, “up to 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support.”

In an article for Street Savvy Sales Leadership (July 13, 2018), several factors were listed that sales reps must be aware of when overcoming the adversity of change. The article makes it quite clear that “change management is here to stay.” When confronted with sporadic or even continuous change, the sales reps who lack the mindset and the daily grit to ride out anything that comes their way can get left behind.

Business writer Paula Bauab for Heflo.com (August 14, 2018) stated: “You can expect that your sales team may be resistant to new processes, technology, team restructuring and leadership, but the right change management can address their concerns. Even a reluctant sales team will likely get on board if they’re involved in the brainstorming and decisions; they can see the benefits when the changes are made gradually.”

At the end of the day, sales reps must sell themselves on the premise that they can overcome any adversity confronting them.

While resistance to new sales processes, restructuring, and the way in which decisions are made may be one part of the equation for sales reps, the most important take-away is to not let that change define them. The most successful are those who navigate through and manage change and not let obstacles block their success.

 

Contact Scott Burrows, Change Management Keynote Speaker for Sales Organizations through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

 

 

 

Is Healthcare Ready to Overcome the Challenge of Social Media?

 

Managing change has never been more difficult for all phases of healthcare than it is right now. Social media, whether Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other platform is representative of the challenge. As an overcoming adversity speaker for the healthcare industry, I know that social media and patient care can be either a supportive partnership or a treacherous interaction. It will take great determination for administrators to stand up to the unforeseen changes in managing social media priorities.

The vision to manage change

In February 2017, Mobihealth News ran an article entitled: “How social media can impact healthcare in the right – and wrong – ways.”

The article pointed out that social media is here to stay especially in regard to disseminating information, sharing research, patient experience and patient recruitment for clinical trials. However, healthcare is unlike any other industry. There are numerous compliance issues, especially around the FDA and HIPAA. The article states that navigating the doctor-patient relationship can be tricky:

“You can engage directly via social media with your patients about care, but don’t engage in a doctor-patient relationship.” It is a subtle but important difference. A physician can talk about a new treatment, where patients can read about the treatment, even where it’s offered, but there are risks in going deeper.  The article continues:

“Healthcare is the most regulated (of industries) and will continue to be so, and with the complexity of health laws and patient privacy, data protection will remain in the spotlight. So, as we look at these new opportunities, we need to also be thinking about active management of the new data. We have to build out the IT and compliance to evaluate the new risks of tools.”

As long as the healthcare industry keeps the conversation to IT, data protection and patient privacy, many of us might think of social media concerns as the limited domain of the computer geeks. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Professional and personal

In Health eCareers (March 2019), included an article entitled: “The Danger of Social Media for Healthcare Professionals.” It focused in the “people factor,” not IT departments or data storage.

The same HIPAA violations we talked about in general terms have gotten healthcare professionals into deep trouble. Such violations recently included a nurse who got fired for taking a selfie with a patient (at the request of the patient!), an ER physician who took a picture of a drunk patient, ER staffers fired for offering Facebook condolences to the family of a slain police officer.

In this time of rapid social media change, the majority of healthcare professionals are even confused about what constitutes their First Amendment rights. In a survey asking if being terminated over a social media post is an infringement of their First Amendment rights, 41 percent said “Yes,” and another 30 percent said “Not Sure.” Unfortunately, in a healthcare setting, any one of those 71 percent could be terminated for confusing their First Amendment rights with HIPAA privacy laws.

Incidentally, healthcare professionals are routinely being watched for social media posts. Social media monitoring takes place more than 55 percent of the time for those who are employed as well as those seeking employment.

The changes that social media has brought to healthcare are part of a much bigger picture of the challenge that technology presents to every healthcare setting.  The changes that are coming are stressful and confusing. Is your healthcare organization ready to rise above the challenge and overcome adversity, or will you become a victim to it?

 

Contact Scott Burrows, Overcoming Adversity Motivational Speaker for Managing Healthcare Change, through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

 

 

How Will the Florida Panhandle Overcome Hurricane Michael?

Hurricane Michael approached the Florida Panhandle on October 6, 2018, and did not fully scatter until October 16, 2018. It was the third most intense hurricane ever documented with the wind speeds the strongest ever recorded at up to 155 miles per hour.  In its wake, it left nearly 60 dead in the United States alone, along with countless injuries and more than $25 billion in damage. As part of the damage, agriculture was virtually wiped out including more than 3 million acres of valuable timber.

Adversity Isn’t a Statistic

Statistics tell only a small part of the story. Adversity is much more than numbers. Before my accident I was a Division I Florida State University football player and a martial artist. I read the newspaper every day. News of accidents and natural catastrophes were just passing statistics to me as they are to most of us. After the accident, when I was left with a diagnosis of quadriplegia, there was nothing statistical about it. Initially, I was overwhelmed.

Over time my medical caregivers and personal support team dwindled down to a precious few. For the most part, I was on my own. I realized that if I lacked the outlook to get better, I could remain physically confined and emotionally depressed for the rest of my life. I was determined to not let that happen.

Cities are made up of people. Psychologists reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 said that serious mental illness doubled and more than 40 percent of the New Orleans population showed signs of PTSD. Panama City and the Florida Panhandle have reported similar statistics.

In an article appearing in the Panama City News-Herald entitled “Trauma, stress, anxiety: Hurricane Michael taking a toll on residents’ mental health,” Panama City Psychologist Joel Prather noted “I see a lot of trauma, stress, anxiety, depression. People have lost everything (but) I also see a lot of resilience in the community.”

As with my experience after the accident, Panama City has mostly been left to itself. FEMA has pulled out, many people still live in tents, roads are treacherous, and in fact, automobile accidents have skyrocketed. Many of the businesses and landmarks disappeared, and beaches were swept away. The lack of basic human requirements forced many of the residents to flee and worst of all some have lost the will to rebuild, to hope, to overcome and to continue.

“Hope for The Florida Panhandle”

Recently, I was asked to be the Florida overcoming adversity keynote speaker at the “Hope for The Florida Panhandle” event on April 19, 2019 in the Gretchen Nelson Scott Fine Arts Center in Lynn Haven, FL.  I will be honored to bring a message of vision, mindset and grit for residents who are still facing overwhelming challenges and adverse conditions in their communities.  This event was initiated by a Panama City resident who heard my keynote at a pharmaceutical sales conference earlier this year and has been tirelessly seeking sponsors and backing the event with his own funds in order to offer it free to surrounding communities. His passion and commitment is the kind of true grit and perseverance I find both humbling and life-affirming. I am grateful for the opportunity to help encourage these communities to stand up to their challenges.

When I initially felt devastated by my condition after awakening from the accident as a quadriplegic, I had no choice but to change my mindset from despair to a vision of wellness while gathering the personal strength and inner resources to rebuild my life. I was in it for the long haul. I needed the sheer grit to see it through. My challenge to Panama City and the Florida Panhandle is to rise up as one to overcome adversity.

I am a Floridian by birth and I know we are a resilient state with the courage to face any hardship that comes our way. We are caring and strong. Just as I needed to reach down deep, so too will the entire Panhandle rise up in this time of challenge and promise.

For more information on “Hope for the Florida Panhandle” please contact Douglas Carpenter, 850-714-2515.

 

For other events: Scott Burrows, Florida Overcoming Adversity Motivational Speaker, Denise@scottburrows.com or call: (520) 548-1169.

 

 

 

Scott Burrows: Change Management Speaker

Not long ago, I was in my office working on a keynote presentation when a meeting planner called me rather late at night. I picked up the phone and I know I surprised her.

“Oh, I thought you would be voicemail,” she stammered. She looked for the right words. “Are you Scott Burrows, the overcoming adversity speaker?”

I assured her I was, that I had overcome a lot of adversity in my life but that it didn’t define me. She gave me the name of her organization. She was in the healthcare industry and was considering a keynote motivational speaker to talk on corporate change and the management of change.

“I have done many keynotes on change for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.”

She confided that her industry was facing several major challenges. There was much concern throughout her association as to whether executives could adapt to some of the uncomfortable adjustments coming that would include initiating sweeping rules, being mindful of pricing and insurance regulations and the increased need for transparency. There were already a number of disagreements and foot-dragging among the association members and the companies they represented. They needed to understand the importance of change or get swept away.

She asked me if I had experience motivating executives to change their mindset. I asked her if she had a few minutes. She was stuck in the airport and she laughed that she had plenty of time!

Scott Burrows: Speaker on Corporate Change

I told her that I developed my life’s philosophy of VISION, MINDSET and GRIT out of my personal challenge and ultimately triumph. I wondered if she knew my story and she said she was only vaguely familiar with it.

I quickly summarized that when I was in my late teens, I was already playing Division I collegiate football and I was a kickboxing champion. I thought I was invulnerable and that I would be a champion kickboxer forever. A few weeks after ESPN broadcast one of my fights, I went out celebrating my victory with friends. Even though I was trained to engage a safety mindset working with hazardous materials and heavy equipment at a former job, I made a poor split-second decision to not put on my seatbelt. My friend lost control of his car. He ran off the road and crashed. I broke my neck and I was paralyzed from the chest down. They told me I would be quadriplegic. I could hear her gasp.

“I had no choice but to accept change,” I said. She told me she could understand that.

My challenge was a lot like what her organization was facing. Unless the members of her organization were willing to overcome their obstacles, unless they were motivated to find a new vision for themselves, to develop a mindset that was more powerful than any of their challenges, they would not get off the mat.

I added that as a speaker I knew that corporate change can’t occur without a daily dose of GRIT, the ability to grind things out every single day to achieve success. Commitment to really change is an extremely powerful weapon, but if it is haphazard little will be accomplished.

Keynote Speaker on Organizational Change

My own story is a story of rising above adversity through VISION and MINDSET to overcome paralysis and to rewire my brain and body. It led to a transformation in my physical and emotional status. I went far beyond what any of my physicians ever thought I could.  It did not and could not happen without GRIT, my forcing myself to literally rise out of my chair and to not accept the easy road but to be the best I could be. Modern day medical science tells us that we can go far beyond our initial prognosis if we put our minds and bodies to doing so.

“Using my own true-life story as an example,” I reassured her, “I can teach the members of your organization to prevail over their resistance to change and to empower themselves to be better and to be more successful than they ever believed.”

I am no longer a kickboxing champion, but I have been blessed to be able to show organizations to change their mindset from “Can’t do,” to “Can do!”  That is, to rise above their situations.

The meeting planner and I decided then and there to work together and I am happy to say my keynote address got through to the members of her organization. They rose above their fears, individually and collectively, and put plans into place to elevate their industry. They are better prepared for the years ahead and for whatever challenges will come. As a speaker it is impossible to say how proud it made me feel.

Want to be inspired to change?

To learn more about Scott Burrows, Keynote Motivational Speaker on Corporate and Organizational change, contact us today through this website or call our office at: (520) 548-1169

 

As I watched the news and read the paper about the school bus driver charged with rape and kidnaping Michele Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina Dejesus, my heart, like yours went out to them and their families. For so many years they were in prison, held captive, chained up in a basement, raped and beaten, yet they survived the unimaginable.

How do ordinary people survive unimaginable circumstances? (more…)