Life Changer

7th March - Life before and after

On my way home from work I drive by our local cancer hospital. From the outside, it is just a normal building and there doesn’t seem to be much going on inside.

That is, until March 7th.

This time I was inside that very hospital looking out at all the cars driving by, who like me a few days earlier, were oblivious to the battles, challenges, illness and sadness that engulf those inside.

It is almost full to capacity every day with each treatment cubicle, sadly occupied. The nurses and doctors inside that hospital do an amazing job looking after those patients with their expertise, care and professionalism.

My wife Fiona had been feeling unwell for a few weeks. The first diagnosis we had was that she had an infection, but after several weeks the bleeding wouldn’t stop and she was scheduled for a biopsy. We both knew that it was something serious and could possibly be cancer.

I had a business trip planned to the Middle East and my departure date was the day before the biopsy. Both Fiona and I agreed that the trip should go ahead. I landed in Abu Dhabi and Fiona called me to tell me the news. The biopsy results confirmed our worse fears, it was cervical cancer.

I felt so regretful that she had to take that call alone, the fear she must have felt hearing those words and the horrible uncertainty of what was to come.

I returned to Chicago in time to accompany her to the various scans that had been scheduled.

Three days later we had our meeting with the Oncologist to get a better understanding of the course of treatment for cervical cancer.

That’s when we had an even bigger blow hit us.

Fiona and Josie

It turns out that Fiona has Small Cell Cervical Cancer with five secondary tumors around her body. Her liver, lungs and lymph nodes were all infected. Small Cell is the rarest type of cervical cancer and it accounts for less than 1% of all cervical cancers diagnosed.  We were told that we had a battle ahead.

Thankfully, we had caught the cancer in its early stages but the diagnosis was still devastating to us.

Without treatment, Fiona would have 6 months to live and probably 18 months with treatment. We were shocked and overwhelmed that this could happen to someone so young and fit. Prior to the illness Fiona was running 7-minutemiles and squatting with 60lb dumbbells. She was forty-three years of age when we got the diagnosis. She is also such a positive and optimistic person, living life as it should, with a warm smile on her face.

The doctor commented that nothing we could have done would have prevented this from happening. It’s just like being struck by lightning.

Like most challenges life throws at you, it’s how you react and behave that makes the difference. We have learned a lot about each other and how vital it is to make the most of every day.

Fiona has completed three cycles of chemo and had a further assessment and scans. The results were very promising and positive with the tumors shrinking in size and activity. Her attitude and fitness levels certainly contributed to the positive results. Needless to say we were thrilled.

We may have won a battle; however, the war is not yet won.

She is on her fifth cycle of chemotherapy with further scans after the sixth cycle. Even at the best-case scenario, she will have to complete another three cycles. Never at any point throughout this ordeal has she ever felt any illness from the cancer but it’s the many cycles of chemo that have hit her the hardest, taking its toll both mentally and physically.

One of the many lessons we have learned from this experience is to be more aware of the feelings and emotions of others. It has taught us to be more tolerant as you just never know what's happening in someone’s life.

More importantly, when life gives you lemons, you most definitely should make lemonade.

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA

Everything is possible with a Growth Mindset

growth mindset

I’m touring Asia at the moment and over the next couple of weeks, the CEO of CompTIA and I are personally meeting with hundreds of business and education leaders and government officials in India, China and Japan.

At CompTIA we are committed to reducing the IT skills gap and increasing the number of Certified IT professionals around the globe.

No matter where I travel, those who are eager to join us in this effort have at least one thing in common: The Growth Mindset.

People with Growth Mindsets understand and believe that our abilities and skills and even intelligence can be improved over time through dedication, discipline and practice"

RESEARCH supports this point of view.

Crucially our MINDSET has everything to do with how we view our ABILITY TO LEARN. It is not just about our skills, but it is how much we BELIEVE we can learn, how much we believe we are adaptable, teachable and stretchable.

Fixed or Growth Mindset? 

It is really worth challenging ourselves to see what mindset do we hold - be honest!

To determine whether you currently have a GROWTH mindset or a FIXED mindset, let’s examine four statements.

As you read them, think about how much you may agree – or disagree with each point. 

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Okay – what did you think??

Questions 1 & 2 are fixed mindsets. 3 & 4 reflect the growth mindset.

Which one did you agree with more? You can be a mixture but most people lean towards one or the other.

You can also have beliefs about core abilities.

So for instance, I could substitute the word “intelligence” with “artistic talent”, "sports ability" or business skill.

In a fixed mindset, for instance, you believe “She’s a natural born singer” or “I’m just no good at dancing.”

In a growth mindset, you believe “Anyone can be good at anything. Skill comes only from practice.”

And it’s not just about ABILITIES

There are FIXED and GROWTH Mindsets around your Personal Qualities too – like PERSONALITIES AND CHARACTER - do you consider these to be innate, an inherent part of who you are from an early age? It is interesting!

Your personality mindset comes into play in situations that involve your personal qualities. For example, how dependable, cooperative, caring, or socially skilled are you? Can this change or is it fixed?

The fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged

The growth mindset makes you concerned with improving.

Think about someone who is steeped in the fixed mindset. Think about how they are always trying to prove themselves, and how they’re super-sensitive about being wrong or making mistakes. Did you ever wonder why they were this way?

Are you this way? Now you can begin to understand why.

Universal language of learning

As I travel throughout Asia, I am noticing how many people from all cultures understand that important qualities can be cultivated. They are investing in IT education and in growing the Growth Mindset, which is the essential first step to maximising your learning.

Once you have a Growth Mindset then everything else is possible - do you have it?

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA




One marshmallow or two?  

The ability to delay or resist instant gratification is one of the most fundamental psychological skills.

A four-year-old is given a choice, have one marshmallow immediately or have two after waiting about 15 minutes.

It’s a challenge that surely would try the soul and restraint of any adult, never mind that of a pre- schooler.  It embraces the continual battle between impulse and restraint, desire and self-control. Turns out, the choice you make about the marshmallow, is a great indication of character and also of one’s future life direction.

As many of you may already know, this is the famous so-called “Stanford Marshmallow Experiment” carried out in the 60’s and 70’s by psychologist Walter Mischel, who tracked the participants from the start when they were four until they graduated from high school.

Those who resisted the initial temptation when they were four, became more socially adept, personally effective, more disciplined and better at coping with life’s pressures.

But, those who opted for the instant gratification at the young age, grew up demonstrating fewer of these qualities. They were lacking in social graces, stubborn and indecisive. They also got frustrated quicker, felt less deserving and got into arguments quicker.

What transpires from these early studies is a cautionary tale about how our traits and personalities from our formative years can influence our level of success later in life.  The ability to delay instant gratification or an impulse in the attainment of a goal is pivotal whether that be in closing a sale, building a business or winning a championship.

For those who lack the ability to control their impulses, all is not lost. There is, fortunately, also ample evidence that emotional skills can be enhanced as we make the journey through life.

We can remind ourselves to slow down and contemplate and not rush to react to every impulse.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey.  All Rights Reserved., 

Are you an exceptional employee?

Have you ever wondered why some people have more successful careers than others?

A recent study surveyed more than 500 business leaders and asked them what sets great employees apart. The researchers wanted to know why some people are more successful than others at work, and the number one reason may surprise you.

Topping  the list over qualities you might expect like “experience,” “education,” or other more quantifiable “skills” is this single, powerful word: “personality.”

The difficulty with this word, according to an article about the study by author Travis Bradberry, is to understand what those surveyed really mean when they put “personality” at the top of the list.

Our personalities are developed from an early age and are fixed by the time we enter early adulthood. Many important things about you change over the course of your lifetime, but your core personality isn’t one of them.

What leaders are really looking for and what they are referring to, then, according to Bradberry, is really Emotional Intelligence (EQ) which, Bradberry maintains is completely different from personality and from intellect (or IQ). Employers and leaders can and have confused these three qualities on many occasions.

Unlike your personality, which is more internal – prompting particular thoughts in your mind, for example; how you choose to externally react to those thoughts and situations is how our EQ is exhibited. These external EQ responses can be learned, practiced and developed.

Some of the EQ skills that set exceptional employees apart are:

    • They forge ahead in their work, confident that they’ll be rewarded later but unconcerned if they’re not.
    • They’re willing to admit when they’re wrong and willing to do things someone else’s way,
    • They’re able to maintain their composure while presenting their positions calmly and logically.
    • They’re able to withstand personal attacks in pursuit of the greater goal and never use that tactic themselves.
    • They focus on what matters
    • They think before they speak and wisely choose the best time and place to do so.
    • Exceptional employees are driven to improve, without forgetting to give themselves a healthy pat on the back.
    • They recognize when things are broken and fix them
    • They’re accountable and they bring their mistakes to management’s attention rather than hoping no one will find out. They understand that managers aren’t out to assign blame; they’re out to get things done
    • Exceptional employees are well liked by co-workers. They have integrity and leadership skills (even if they’re not in an official leadership position) that people respond to
    • They neutralize toxic people.  Exceptional employees control their interactions with toxic people by keeping their feelings in check. Even when things completely derail, emotionally intelligent people are able to take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring them down

It’s important to notice that years of experience, coding skills, business degrees, etc. are not included in any of the key traits that leaders are looking for. For sure, these are required to succeed in your career but they won’t make you exceptional.

Bradberry and others explain that exceptional employees don’t possess God-given personality traits; they rely on simple, everyday EQ skills that anyone can incorporate into their repertoire.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey. All Rights Reserved.