by Greg McClanahan
(Editor’s intro: Greg has coached some 150 manufactured home retailers and served firms such as Fleetwood Homes, Sam’s Club, Conoco Philips and others with his success strategies, soft skills insights and training programs. Organizations large and small listen to Greg’s gracious insights! If you want a professional development/training system that will truly produce lasting results, you should take a minute to see what is different about his approach. When you don’t have time to continually provide personal development material to your staff, enlist the help of someone who has been and still is in the industry.)
The “Around the Campfire” Organization
A Unique and Effective Training and Development Approach
by Greg McClanahan - President
We all want to be better, do more, and make a difference. Desire does not stand in our way of becoming better; the problem generally is a lack of time to devote to improving ourselves. We truly are busy and even though we know it is time well spent, our own self-development often takes a back seat to other demands. To inspire a student, we must be inspired. To provide excellent patient care, we must maintain a compassionate heart. To be a great leader we must be an effective communicator of our vision and know how to inspire others. In other words, in order to give our best in any endeavor, we must be our best. When we are continually growing personally, we can ‘give’ up to our potential.
There are laws and principles that govern us. The law of the harvest is that we reap what we sow. If you plant corn, you will never harvest wheat. The law of gravity tells us that if you drop a rock off the roof of a building, it will always go down, never up. The law of maintaining our health requires, exercise and good nutrition. When we understand these laws, we can work within their boundaries and apply them to our advantage and success.
There are laws, patterns, and principles of success pertaining to human behavior and human interaction as well. Universal rules and roadmaps that, if followed, will help us achieve the highest levels of success in our career – no matter what career we’ve chosen. None of these laws and principles are kept secret; we just have to discover them and then use them to enhance our success.
In The Contended Achiever by Don Hutson, George Lucas and Chris Crouch, they state; “You must have a profound understanding of the principles that influence your life. And, if you are serious about creating the life that you desire, you must become a master at applying your knowledge to daily events. By [so] doing, you can get from where you are to where you want to be.”
Because our free time is limited, what we need to discover is how we can improve our efficiency at uncovering, understanding and applying the principles that influence our lives. We need to find a way to help us internalize these principles so that they become a part of our character and thus automatically be applied to daily events. By utilizing the available tools of discovery we can improve ourselves today and reduce the number of missed opportunities or costly mistakes tomorrow. Each day we can better our previous best.
There are organizations and individuals who have dedicated themselves to exploring, discovering and documenting specific human behavioral characteristics and professional development skills. There are seminars, books, workbooks, CD’s, and DVD’s that can accelerate our understanding of a specific skill. There are corporate retreats and in-service meetings devoted to teaching a new skill or to reinforce the importance of existing procedures. It is estimated that there are over 100 new professional development books published each month.
Availability of information is not the problem. The problem often times is that there is too much information. Thus, what ideas are the most beneficial to you and how can you possibly sift through all of the authors in a timely manner so that the information becomes meaningful, manageable and useful? Being overwhelmed with these choices legitimately prevents us from knowing how to use these valuable tools, and where to even start. The reason many of us don’t devote time to ourselves is because it takes too long to sift through all the sand to find the nuggets.
The Around the Campfire Organization
The Around the Campfire organization was formed out of a desire to provide a simplified means of communicating and encouraging an understanding of the principles that influence our lives. To inspire greatness and encourage the mastery of the skills that promote personal excellence.
First, we needed to improve the means of distribution of, and accessibility to, the principles, patterns and pathways to the character traits associated with successful individuals. We make it possible for even the busiest individual to have time to be inspired by positive, reinforcing personal development ideas. We accomplish this by consolidating the ideas of the best authors and present them in short messages that allow the information to be more manageable, meaningful and useful. We sift through the ever growing library of material and topics so that we can refine them into bite-sized messages where you can quickly learn the best parts. The crowning effort we make to reinforce these ideas is in finding and presenting stories of individuals that have exemplified the particular character traits we are studying. We therefore connect the instructional information to a practical example and thereby make the skill more applicable to the ‘real world.’ Information is great but application is king.
Secondly, we wanted to create an environment that supported consistency and discipline in the participant’s exposure to these success principles. According to Steve Siebold, author of Secrets of the World Class, “Discipline is the watchword of great performers. Discipline makes the difference between the good and the great.” A seminar, for example, is a good jump-start, however, consistent exposure to success principles and patterns is required over an extended period of time in order to support the mastery of that skill and thereby form new habits. We provide the extended exposure, at a consistent frequency, so that mastery can take place. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.
If you hired a personal trainer to help you get in shape, you could more easily meet your goals because you would be forced to maintain consistency and discipline. The trainer spends hours behind the scenes creating, monitoring and adjusting your work out program and planning your meals. Your success still depends on you. You must follow the plan, but the work has been done for you so that implementation is manageable and achievable. In like manner, our organization is your professional development trainer. Our “soft skills” consolidated curriculum is now presented in multiple graduate level, college-accredited courses. While many organizations do not engage our organization for college credit, enrollment is available for professionals that require continuing education units to maintain their licensing. Our curriculum provides the ideal format to enhance the mastery of skills. One idea builds upon another and continues to reinforce the previously discussed ideas. We reveal the constants in human interaction and continue to reinforce their significance and application until they are mastered and become an inherent part of our character.
The Education Format
Our program is Internet based. An e-mail is sent to each participant every Monday and Thursday morning. Within the e-mail is a link that takes them directly to a client specific customized website and displays ‘Today’s Message.’ The reading and study of the message should not take more than 10-15 minutes. Monday’s message is instructional and defines the specific attributes associated with a particular principle or skill. Thursday is a story of ‘Everyday Greatness.’ Each story reinforces the Monday message with a practical example of the defined principle in an everyday life setting. We show an ordinary person exemplifying extraordinary greatness.
An Indian Proverb says: “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”
The power of stories is integrated into our curriculum for the simple fact that for a principle or skill to take life and have meaning, we need to know how to apply it in an everyday setting. Stories help us own the principle because we can more easily remember a story and thereby, it will live in our character forever. Through our weekly story, we will likely describe a situation that a participant may find him or herself in at some point in their own life and career. Through these examples, the participant will have the right thoughts and the right words at the just the right time to act in a manner of greatness.
We also archive all previous messages so that they are readily available on the website under an ‘Archive Messages’ tab. Our hope is that a message may be referred back to when an event demands a reminder of a particular skill or to re-familiarize ourselves with the details of an applicable story.
In Tiger Traits Dr. Nate Booth writes; “In business, we must learn again and again what’s important in any situation, so we can pay attention to the small things that will have the biggest impact.“ There are things that we know about the way we learn as well as the way we forget. Mastery of a skill or talent comes from continual repetition and practice. The longer it has been since we have had exposure to, or use of, a particular skill, the less likely we are to remember it at the very moment when it would have made all the difference. Because we forget, we have to set in place a method of reminding ourselves. The Around the Campfire program assists in encouraging the discipline it takes to support this ‘remembering’ process. Vince Lombardi said, “The will to win…The will to achieve…Goes dry without continual reinforcement.”
Supplementing With The Campfire Program
The Around the Campfire Organization also works with companies in a “private label” arrangement. We take your existing curriculum, combine it with ours, and convert it into a series of manageable messages designed to reinforce what your employees have received in other company-produced training programs. Our website programming will be made to look like an extension of your company and can then assist you in enhancing the retention and mastery of each skill. We will provide the ongoing “reading and doing” messages and stories that inspire and encourage personal excellence. We will help your employees be their best so they can give their best.
In the spirit of excellence, we invite you to explore what we can do together to make a difference in peoples lives. To aid in the development of character traits possessed by the most successful individuals in the world. To help a participant experience moments of clarity as to their incredible potential. To inspire everyday greatness.
A Side Note: Why the Campfire Name?
Our philosophy dates back to the traditional village when everyone gathered ‘around the campfire’ each evening. It was in this comfortable environment where traditions were taught, characters were shaped, heroes were remembered, unity was enhanced, relationships were cultivated, and camaraderie was enjoyed. There is something about a campfire still today that encourages us to look up at the stars and dream a little, and reflect on our life's ambitions.
The fire attracts our attention and provides satisfying warmth. The lesson the fire itself teaches us is that the strength of its warmth is enhanced when all the embers are unified. You will notice that when an ember falls away from the center of the fire, it quickly fades from its glowing orange color, however once it is placed back into the fire, its color returns and begins to burn brightly again.
We are no different as human beings. We must have continual exposure to success principles in order for them to emanate throughout our lives. We must keep the embers of success properly placed in the center of the fire and burning brightly in our lives. Through disciplined participation and study, positive habits will replace those that may be keeping us from achieving our best.
Greg McClanahan is the President and founder of the Around the Campfire Organization. This serves as a part time commitment while he works full time for the Southern Ute Indian Tribes factory build housing operations as their National Sales Manager. It was five years earlier when Greg sold his company, now Innovative Homes to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and remained with them as their investment fund moved forward in this new venture.