Tag Archive | "inspiration"

A Letter To A High School Graduate

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A Letter To A High School Graduate

Posted on 12 July 2011 by Patricia Gras

By Patricia Gras

Your four years in high school are over. A new life begins in college soon and you may feel relief along with some anxiety and excitement. College can be challenging at times but very much like life itself, it is what you make it. Here are some thoughts and wisdom I wish I had known before I went to college.

Making good grades is important, but it will not define the kind of person you become or the sort of success you will have. Don’t get caught up like I did on grades and cease to enjoy the experience just to get a 4.0. When you finally join the working world, people will remember how you made them feel, how effectively you did your job, if you are making the world a better place, or if you are creating value, not if you were summa cum laude!

There are many types of people in college. Hang with those who share your values, live in integrity, study hard, care for others, know how to laugh real loud and dance as if no one is watching. You will know if those you choose as friends fill you with energy or drain it. Don’t waste time with those who do.

Beware of those who drink too much or do drugs. They are most likely numbing some sort of pain or hiding insecurities. Feel compassion but don’t engage in their behavior. If you too feel unbearable pain, learn to embrace it, learn from it, and know… it too will pass. You can learn from joy and you can learn from suffering and pain. In my experience I have grown and learned more from the latter.

At your age, falling in love is almost inevitable, but don’t try to complete yourself with a magical other. No one can make you happy but yourself. There will be time for great relationships in the future as well. If you decide to have one, make sure he/she supports you, respects you, studies just as hard as you do or more and is truly one of your best friends. College is a journey and you will have to climb hills, valleys and mountains, having someone accompany you can be wonderful. Having someone become your heavy backpack will only hurt you.

When you don’t do well in class, GET HELP, get a tutor, a friend, a classmate to help. Don’t wait until it is too late. Many times, it has nothing to do with you, but it is your responsibility to learn. No matter how successful some students appear to be (4.0) or perfect scores, they too will fail some day. It is a part of life, but only those who are persistent and consistent succeed. Many times, to do that you need to get help.

Study hard, but also find time to enjoy yourself. Study under the sun, be in nature as much as possible, excercise or move at least a half hour a day, and get enough sleep! Find one day of the week to have a good time or party, but don’t forget why you are in college. Remember having fun and partying is not something you should ONLY DO IN COLLEGE so don’t act like you only have four years to go wild.

Always look for the people who do well in class and befriend them. People generally want to help. To be the best, you have to hang out with the best. That is just common sense, the least common of the senses.

When things don’t go your way, in school, a relationship, a friendship… use your knees. Prayer helps. Believe in miracles. Your thoughts matter and the more positive they are, the better you will do.

Talk to your parents; communicate with them. If they are not around, find an adult you feel comfortable with. We adults may seem out of touch, but we have been there where you are now. Go to therapy if necessary but get help. Remember happiness may not last forever, but neither do your problems.

I love you and I am here for you. These are words that will come from SOMEONE in your life. If it is not a person, it may be your higher power. You are here on this planet for a reason, a purpose, a mission. Find out what it is and go for it. Have no fear. Be bold. Be strong. Don’t give up and when you think everything has failed, remember Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

NOW, DEAR GRADUATE CELEBRATE! For a new wonderful life is just ahead of you. Congratulations Nicole!

Question: What is the biggest mistake you made in college? And what did you learn from it?

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Successful businesses tend to have effective leaders, but what qualities make up a good leader?

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Successful businesses tend to have effective leaders, but what qualities make up a good leader?

Posted on 08 July 2011 by Michelle Reed

BY Sara Dhanji and Patricia Gras

In the upcoming episode of “Living Smart with Patricia Gras”, airing Sunday July 10 at 3 p.m. on HoustonPBS and repeating Friday July 15 at 10 p.m., author and former Coca-Cola Vice President of Marketing Laura Lopez will discuss the different aspects of an excellent leader and show viewers that being a good parent at home can translate into being a good leader in the workplace.

Laura Lopez after giving an inspirational speech in Texas

In her book The Committed and Connected Leader, Lopez discusses seven aspects of a good leader that include “be curious and see everyone, believe and let go, be receptive and yield, bereal and serve, be vulnerable and give of yourself, be consistent and clear, and be humble andkeep your ego in check.”


Insights like ‘believe and let go’ very clearly demonstrate Lopez’s belief that you must bring your heart to work because this aspect is very similarly applied as a mother at home and as a leader in the workplace. There is a constant balance between knowing that your child –or employee- is ready to take the next step in their learning, but also not letting go too soon. This balance is very important for an employee to tap into their potential and progress to a greater level. At the same time, you must believe that the people you are working with truly have the potential to improve and again, never doubt their abilities.

Being humble is also a core feature of a true leader. In our society, we’re  trained to make ourselves look the best. We are constantly competing against each other and vying for the top spot. But there is a very fine line between humble confidence and arrogance. The latter can destroy a leader. Believing that you’re better than any of the people you work with won’t allow you to stand side-by-side with them or connect with them either.

Lopez also emphasizes being receptive and yielding. Using the metaphor of a hurricane, she explains that rigid oak trees are broken after being buffeted by a storm while palm trees survivebecause they are supple –they ‘receive’ the winds that try to knock them down. In the same wayleaders can draw strength from being flexible. When a rigid leader walks into the room, there’sisn’t space for anyone else. A flexible leader on the other hand allows other people’s energy inthe process.

Lopez believes that the actual skills for leadership are not the ones that would come to mindfirst. She says the traditional “control and command” model is no longer successful in today’sbusinesses because the world is much more centered on people having a human connectionnow because of the diversity of the people working and the global nature of the workplace.Instead, Lopez emphasizes that a good leader takes the focus off him or herself and instead putsthe spotlight on the employees. This positive approach puts confidence into the employees andallows them to do their best work. The worst thing a leader can do is be doubtful of people in theworkplace. This lack of support will definitely result in people having less motivation to do greatwork.

Examples of leaders Laura Lopez considers to exemplify these aspects are people such asMahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. These people would make good leaders and good parentsbecause they led people without being authoritarian. People wanted to listen to them becausethey were so humble and receptive. The true test of a leader is someone who is able to guide andinfluence without having to resort to the command and control model.

As the former VP of Marketing at Coca-Cola, Lopez is an expert in advertisement and shebelieves branding can be compared to the emotional connections between leaders and thepeople around them. Consumers often select brands they ‘trust’ because they have an emotionalconnection to it rather than an actual logical reasoning behind it. In the same way, leadership isabout the emotional connection between the people involved. The quantity of the people mattersless than the quality of the emotions involved.

Whether you are raising a child or overseeing others at work, it is very important for a leaderto empower the people they are working with and help them realize their full potential withoutstepping in too much.

What do you think makes a great leader?

Sara Dhanji is a contributor to patriciagras.net, she is also a Houston PBS intern and Journalism junior at the University of Texas at Austin.

Note: The views expressed in this article are not the views of Houston PBS.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? We would love to hear from YOU. Don’t be afraid to leave us a message.

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Must Read Books

  • 100 years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
  • Kite Runner by by Khaled Hosseini
  • Mistress of Spices by Chitra Divakaruni
  • Paula by Isabel Allende
  • The Kingdom Within by John A. Sanford
  • The Middle Passage by James Hollis
  • The Nature of Evil Daryl Koehn
  • The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

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