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CIO Unplugged – 5/1/09

May 1, 2009 Ed Marx 1 Comment

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally, and are not necessarily representative of Texas Health Resources or its subsidiaries.

Do You Have What it Takes?
By Ed Marx

I landed on the bottom of the ocean, staring up at the surface. Before I could process what happened to me, I was ripped out into the watery abyss. I paddled toward the light, broke through, and gasped for breath. Only seconds before, I’d been standing high upon a rocky outcropping along Kauai’s Na Pali coast

Spring Break of ’88 began well. Free tickets to Kauai to visit my in-laws and introduce them to our baby boy. During his grandparent cuddle time, my wife and I made our way down Kauai’s north shore to get an intimate look at the magnificent Pacific. We took advantage of a photo op before heading back up the lone path. I stood at the edge of the rock several meters above the ocean surf. I smiled, said “cheese,” and a second later, we were both overcome by a wave that took me out to sea.

Bloody knees, winter surf, rocky shoreline, I was in danger. Swimming parallel to the shore while outmaneuvering the breakers was not easy. Pummeling waves and the force of the undertow zapped my energy. I was scared. Gradually working my way closer to shore, I prayed the waves would not crush me against a wall of boulders lining the island. Three to four people met death that way every winter on Kauai. After much prayer, my feet touched solid ground. I scrambled up cliffs before the tide reclaimed me.

Although I’m an active tri-athlete, I’ve purposefully avoided the ocean. I’ve tackled lakes and rivers but never the open sea. I’m still afraid. Then an opportunity opened up for me to race in one of the sports foremost events, Escape from Alcatraz. I considered passing it up but instead said yes. If I didn’t face my fear, it would own me. On June 16, I hope to make swim way across the San Francisco Bay, avoiding all sharks and undertows.

I once feared public speaking, too. Now I love it. Despite a familiar nervousness that arises before each gig, I press on. To practice and hone the skill, I now look for speaking opportunities.

I feared challenging business peers, respectfully, of course. After I overcame that, I conquered a fear of challenging my managers. Iron sharpens iron, as they say. We experience growth by pushing each other onward toward a greater purpose.

Many who feel “stuck” in their careers are likely limiting themselves out of fear. Are you afraid to rock the boat? Do you comply dutifully with every request even though you know a better way? One way to accelerate your career is to continually pursue growth; second, is a willingness to combat fears—not letting the own you.

Do you fear getting fired for speaking up? How about being wrong or laughed at? I’ve been there, too. Others fear success and the additional performance expectations that come with it. Embrace your fears. Confront them. Then experience freedom.

One of my present fears is dancing an entire song with our Argentine Tango instructor. I can handle learning an individual move, but the pressure of a complete dance with an expert just kills me. I sweat. I forget how to speak. I even forget the move we just learned. But I’m smart enough to understand that unless I tackle this head on, my skills will not grow beyond what I know today. And that is unacceptable. I won’t tolerate complacency. You shouldn’t either.

Reflect and write down your fears. Be brutally honest with yourself. Then attack them one-by-one, with purpose. You will be amazed at the results. And I’ll bet you’ll find you’re not alone. Not only will you grow, but so will your family and employer.


Ed Marx is senior vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. (Use the “add a comment” function at the bottom of each post.) You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can follow him via Twitter – User Name “marxists.”

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