Recently I was lucky enough to hear my hero 83 year old former Labour MP, Tony Benn speak. Tony said something that has stuck with me.
‘‘If you are looking for a leader don’t look up to a platform – look next door’
This definition fits perfectly today’s Friend of Simplicity Roger (Rocky) Noe who lives in Mt. Washington, Kentucky, US.
I’ve been a friend of Rocky since we first hooked up on Brian Ward’s discussion board (a pre curser to Blogging) some 7 years ago. Rocky is one of the most genuine, humble and down to earth people I have met through the internet. He is also one of the best role models for leadership.
You can catch up with more Rocky wisdom at this link http://hillbillyphd.blogspot.com/
TREVOR: Hi Rocky – Why Rocky?
ROCKY: I am not sure how the moniker “Rocky” came about. I have answered to that name for as long as I can remember. I have always been known as Rocky until recently in my professional career. Most of my friends do not even know me as Roger. In fact, when I was in my senior year in high school a girl I had been in school with for several asked me if I was any relation to Rocky when the teacher called roll and I answered to Roger.
TREVOR: I know you’ve spent a large part of your career working with young people who are troubled – tell us a bit about that Rocky
ROCKY: Working with at risk youth has been my passion. I really like having the opportunity to give back in that way. Young people are at risk for so many reasons. The drug culture is racing out of control and so many fall victim to being second and third generation victims of drugs, violence, and gang affiliation. Taking these kids and helping them to become “generation breakers” is the ultimate satisfaction. When you have the opportunity to change one person you are affecting whole generations. I have been in the business long enough to see many of the young people I worked with years ago grow up and start their own families. I love it when I meet their children and they are honour students and participating in meaningful social activities. There is no payday like it. There is nothing like having to be a part of positive change.
TREVOR: With such challenging situations how do you make sure you don’t take the stresses home with you?
ROCKY: It is a very challenging job. There are so many hidden stressors. Not only do I have the pressure of working with young people who often don’t want my help, they usually don’t think they need it. That is a huge burden in itself. Young people heading for disaster and not only thinking they do not have any problems, they often think that I am their problem. Trying to stay focused can sometimes be difficult. More than that, I have the added burden of the youth’s family members that will sometimes work against the system. I also have the staff and their problems along with outside forces such as attorneys and various outside workers. The major problem is that I am never right. As the lead administrator in my program I often walk in the door and I have over 100 hundred people that are not very happy with me and that is just in my building alone. That is not including the outside personnel. The biggest problem is that everyone wants to tell me how to do my job and how they would do it differently.
I have learned to deal with that. I do this by relying on my wonderful family and constantly revisiting the thought of what my passion is. I recently had a discussion with a colleague about the importance of passion and its role in staying focused. My colleague asked "what happens if you begin to lose your sense of passion?" She stated that she often feels overwhelmed and thinks that maybe she has lost her passion. Then she took it a step further and asked that if you lose your passion could it really have been a passion all along?
My take on it is that maybe how she is carrying out her passion is not the right avenue. More importantly, I asked her to really think about what she is passionate about. What led her to be in the business that she is in? Is it for the passion or did she settle into a business while trying to meet other needs? What is the end result she is looking for, Is it for riches or for something else? I think the true test of a passion is that it has a relentless drive to it. It is not tied to any business or bank. It is attached to your heart and will drive you regardless of the circumstances. Your passion does not get overwhelmed. Your passion tends to be overwhelming. The avenues by which you pursue your passions may get worn and become overwhelmed, but the passion tends to keep burning. Your passion may lead you to different avenues to pursue it, but it tends to keep burning.
My passion is to help others and it continues to burn. I have changed the avenue of how I pursue my passion from time to time, but my passion remains the same- helping others to grow and overcome their life obstacles.
TREVOR: You award Hillbilly PhD’s – can you explain what the Hillbilly PhD is all about?
ROCKY: The Hillbilly PhD is about not letting the circumstances of life dictate the outcome. Many of the most successful people I know do not have high academic qualifications. What they do have is a relentless drive to overcome their circumstances. We have often talked about Sir Richard Branson and how he achieved a great deal in life although he struggled with academics. He is a perfect example. He is far from a Hillbilly in the traditional sense. He is wealthy and lives very well. (He owns his own island) So I think it is important that I define what I mean by the term Hillbilly. The Hillbilly part comes from the idea of living by good solid values and character traits and not letting things or circumstances rule your life. The PhD stands for putting in a hard days work. I believe that those are the main ingredients to be successful. It is by no means a knock or put down of education, but a statement that everyone can be successful regardless of their circumstances
TREVOR: I love your TERRIFIC leadership model – can you tell us more about that too.
ROCKY: The TERRIFIC model is actually the values and character traits I think that are important to be successful. It stands for Trustworthiness, Effort, Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Forgiveness, Initiative, and Caring. Those are by no means exhaustive to success principles, but I believe that if you can live a life governed by them you will have a good start on success.
TREVOR: We co-authored ‘Three Amigos with one Message.’ Do you have plans to write more books?
ROCKY: I would really like to write a book based on ‘Not letting circumstances dictate your Destiny’ I think there are 5 steps to overcoming life’s circumstances
a. Defining your life passion or purpose
b. Being persistent in the pursuit of that purpose
c. Taking an honest inventory of your talent and weaknesses. Capitalizing on your talents and leveraging the talents of others. (I think it is important to note that I think that your talents must be used to help others and to give back)
d. Being resilient and continuing to focus on your life purpose during failures and set backs
e. Finally, exercising the golden rule of all successful people- Taking action in line with your life’s purpose.
TREVOR: I know you and both your sons support Manchester United - and as far as I am concerned that just proves how well you guys have been brought up. Soccer as you call it in the States is becoming much more popular over there – do you plan to come over here to watch Manchester United one day?
ROCKY: That would be an absolute dream. Both my sons are doing well in soccer and we are huge Man U. fans. We don’t get to see a lot of live game broadcast, but we do watch a lot of the replays. Seeing a live performance would be surreal.