Grace Murray Hopper – the “grandmother of COBOL”

03 Aug

I got a series of articles forwarded to me on Grace Hopper. The article was written by Lisette Engelbrecht at ITWeb and titled “The Will of Grace” and is the life store of Grace Hopper. This, I found to be a very inspirational story for all people to read. Not only did she do what she set out to do. She did it in a time when the accepted consensus was that a woman’s place was in the house, raising children and taking care of the home. Having three nieces of my own and a sister that has achieved in her own right, I can only hope that more girls and young woman read this article and research the life of Grace Hopper. She sets the tone for a life of achievement without compromise. Everyone can take from this that they can each do whatever they put their minds to.

How many times have you heard that term? Have you given it more than a fleeting thought? How would you apply your mind? What would it look like? If you’d allow me this indulgence, I’d like to present to you my idea of what ‘applying your mind’ would look like. Read any treatise on achieving goals and you will find that you are told to break the large goal into smaller achievable steps, with clearly defined end points. End points that you can celebrate and in celebrating it, keep your focus and spirits up. Now, when you apply your mind to a goal, in this fashion, you will build a plan on how to achieve that goal. But, you still won’t know what the goal looks like. Some goals are simple. Mow the lawn. Rake the leaves. Take out the garbage. These goals, granted might not look like you need to specify steps to achieve them, but each has steps. For example, (1) get up of couch, (2) walk to garage, (3) take out mower, (4) check fuel and oil levels (not needed on an electric, but there you can check the cord for breakage), (5) take out wheelbarrow (or whatever else you put your cuttings in), (6) decide if your cutting the front lawn or back, (7) move mower to relative lawn, (8) start mower, (9) push mower in per-determined path/plan – you did plan on how to cover all of the lawn, did you not? (10) when grass box full, reduce engine revolution (on petrol mower), (11) remove grass box, (12) empty grass box, (13) check level of grass in wheel barrow… and on, and on… never thought there were that many steps in mowing the lawn. Granted this example is contrived, but you have to definite set points. Long grass to start with. Well mown lawn to end with.

Now if you were to plan a promotion at work. What would be the steps in achieving that? Can it be achieved? Are you working in an organization where you can contribute, meaningfully and be recognized for it? Who are your competition? What type of boss do you have? What would the promotion look like? Will you get an office and move away from cubicle hell? Or will you only change in title and still sit where you have for the last several days? All of these things are goal posts on your path to applying your mind to the goal. Only once you’ve thought through all these mini-goals can you reach your final goal. If you don’t know when you’ve achieve your goal, how will you know when you can stop. It is necessary for your own sanity and everyone that has to deal with you, to know when to stop. Only once you know when to stop, will you know what achievement feels like.

Since we cannot escape the human condition, we will adapt to the road we travel in reaching these goals. Along the way you will have to take out the plan and make adjustments. Companies change. Your job role changes. Your work load changes. Your home life changes. There are two constants in the universe, the burocratic mindset and change. Do not fear change. Grace had said in an interview with the Navy’s Chips Ahoy in 1986 “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight it.” So when you catch yourself saying that, say: STOP! Change your mindset and find that other way of doing it. You will feel discomfort. It’s your minds way of keeping you save, but you have to train your mind in accepting new ways, by showing it that you are undamaged when doing it a different way. Here’s a simple technique for growing your confidence in change. On your commute to and from the office, see how many different ways there are to get at each destination. This will set you up in possibility thinking. Finding many possible ways of getting something done. The more regularly you practice this thinking the more adept you’ll become. The more adept the easier problem solving becomes. For after all, problems are only problems until you find the solution.

So go out today… set your goals. Don’t be scared if they are big or small. They are what you want to achieve. Then, set your stepping stone goals. Those smaller goals that keep your spirits up but take you to the end goal. Be the change you want to see. I look forward to reading how each of you have set your goals, how you set your stepping stones and how you achieved those goals.

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Posted by on August 3, 2012 in General


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