Ed Rapp's Affirmations

By Glenn Carroll, Debra Schifrin
2019 | Case No. L34 | Length 7 pgs.
In this 2019 case, Ed Rapp, retired group president and CFO of Caterpillar, recounts the positive impact that using a type of “self-talk” called an affirmation has had on his life and career. Affirmations are simple, positive, carefully crafted statements declaring specific goals in their completed state. A foundational belief behind an affirmation is that self-image is shaped by self-talk and daily performance reality. Affirmations should be personal, positive, accurate and balanced, allowing a person to assess who they are now and who they want to be in the future. The gaps that emerge between “now” and “the future” lead to making goals for change, supporting the goals with affirmations, and then creating the positive change. Affirmations are powerful because they create self-awareness, which is critical for leaders. Rapp credits affirmations with helping him succeed in his career; balance his personal and professional life; and become more of the person he wanted to be. In 2015, Rapp was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was diagnosed on November 5th and rewrote his affirmations on November 7th to reflect his new reality, while maintaining the goal of affirmations: continually making positive change.

Learning Objective

The learning objective is for students to understand how affirmations work and the benefit they can provide. Students can then craft their own affirmation for their life and career.
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