'Ordinary' Won't Change the World

July 14, 2010
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Kevin Carroll has beaten the odds all his life. He briefly gave an account of his childhood to attendees at a general session Wednesday at the 1 CU Conference in Las Vegas.

He was abandoned by his father as an infant. Then his mother abandoned him and his two brothers when he was six years old. The boys went to live with their grandparents in Philadelphia.

When Carroll says, “Your circumstances do not dictate your destiny,” he knows whereof he speaks.

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Carroll went on to graduate from college, get a master’s degree, serve in the Air Force as a translator, work as a trainer for the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers, write three successful books, work for Nike as a “creative change agent,” and run his own company, Kevin Carroll Katalyst.

Carroll has been a credit union member since 1980, when he joined 1st Community Federal Credit Union in San Angelo, Texas. He said he always felt an affinity for the credit union mission. When he was working for Nike in Beaverton, Ore., he met the staff of First Tech Credit Union, also located in Beaverton.

“The staff of First Tech believed in me and my vision for elevating the power of sport and play around the world,” said Carroll. “They gave me a line of credit so I could be spontaneous, like building soccer fields and basketball courts around the world. They helped me to be extraordinary and do extraordinary things, because they understood that ordinary won’t change the world.

“I’ve lent my voice to a lot of causes that I feel passionate about, most recently an organization called Alliance for a Healthier Generation,” said Carroll. “What are you lending your voice to? What are you being a catalyst for?”

He challenged attendees to never lose their sense of wonder. “Adults often lose their sense of wonder,” he said. “Have you ever noticed how an adult walks down the street—hunched over with eyes downcast. Compare that with how kids walk down the street—upright with eyes looking all around.

“Your job is to look around and see opportunities in financial services,” he said. “Be extraordinary, because ordinary won’t change the world.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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