Monday, October 26, 2009

I am the CEO of my own life!

Good evening my NSA teammates,

Today I opened up the newspaper and was reading the story of another person in the public eye who fell from grace and as a result, embarrassed not only himself, his employer, but most importantly, lost his reputation. Steve Phillips, the former general manager of the New York Mets and an ESPN analyst regarding baseball, was terminated along with a production assistant for carrying on an affair which caused great humiliation to the station. I couldn't help but compare his plight to those executives in the automotive industry who pleaded their case before Washington, crying for a bailout. What do these have in common? One word: accountability.

I decided to create a new phrase that I want to implement into my presentations not only when I speak to classes of SLP students, but in my seminars at the NSA as well. What is that phrase? "I am the CEO of my own life!" We've often heard the term "chief executive officer" or "chief operating officer" in regard to many Fortune 500 companies, as they are the face of the organization. To be a CEO in this kind of mode requires tact, patience, an ability to lead and guide those who depend on you. Sadly, these days that breed is disappearing. As I was writing this, I couldn't help but picture these people with a "Duuuuh" expression as they wondered why their companies were in the predicament they were in. Most likely, it's because they made poor decisions, or didn't even bother to take accountability for their actions.

Like many NSA teammates, I have taken my own personal journey of self-acceptance, and I feel that I am accountable to myself and the NSA in many ways. For starters, I own my stuttering and accept it as part of who I am. This was a painful and very trying task for me to undergo. The expression "The truth will set you free" was very pertinent for me in this case. I realized that in order to take accountability, I had to first stop denying the existence that I was not a person who stuttered. I would often say I spoke very slowly and deliberately, because to admit to myself that I stuttered was an admission of guilt for the longest time. That's not the case anymore.

Being not just a teammate, but a chapter leader, has also heightened my awareness when it comes to being accountable. I enjoy reading other chapter leaders discussions in their chapters, and one of the many things that makes the NSA so very special is that we demand the best from each other, and we get it. We challenge each other and push each other to not just become better teammates, but human beings as well. I have made many mistakes in my life, and learned the hard way that you do pay the consequences for your actions. One time when I was working full-time, I told my supervisor that I had done something when in reality I didn't, because I didn't want her to think I was incompetent. A few days later I got caught in a lie, and as a result, had a note go into my personnel file. That is a reflection on me, and no one else.

In the movie "Fifteen Minutes" with Robert De Niro and Edward Burns, there's a very sharp quote that makes you think: A foreigner says "I love America because no one is responsible for what they do." Does that seem to be the case sometimes? There are always stories on the news about passing the buck and blaming someone else. "It's not my fault, it's her fault," is a common refrain. Well, I can say this emphatically: "I am the CEO of my own life. The decisions I make are mine and mine alone, and I will accept whatever happens and make the best of it."

The day I said that, was the day I learned that any door can be opened.

My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.

The NSA Nation is located at!


Pamela said...

Steven, I always enjoy your posts and facebook comments. I was just wondering though, has the NSA officially endorsed the phrase NSA Nation? I had not heard that.
Just curious!

FishrCutB8 said...

Nice post, my friend. Very well written.