A true-to-the-faith firehouse swirls around one vision, to protect, defend and rescue.
If we’re going to lead well, we don’t have time to play the victim.
A few weeks ago I had the humble privilege of engaging a dozen phenomenal seventh and eight grade students. They were part of an inaugural, three-day event called, Team Leadership Initiative. It was an honor to be asked to speak on the topic of, Faith in Leadership. When I teach or present topics I like to make the session interactive since lecture is the least effective way people learn. So, I prepared a skeleton of my presentation, leaving lots of pockets, catalyzed with questions, for discussion.
I arrived with several pages of quotes from well known and not-so-significant leaders. I was very pleased to find a few of the students were familiar with all of the quotes. It was invigorating to interact with and discuss how faith affects leadership. The topic is worth far more than one hour.
However, emerging from the back-and-forth banter was the question of what should the posture be of a leader who finds herself in adverse situations. “Leaders don’t have the luxury of playing the victim,” I said. These words seemed to roll off my tongue as though I’d been saying them for years, but I hadn’t...
Remember, success is intentional!
Well, to be perfectly precise, Sir Winston The Great! He’s our ten-year-old, West Highland Terrier. He’s quite the character. Seventeen pounds of pooch with a ton of passion. He’s the embodiment of the phrase, little body, big heart. We were on a walk the other day, and we stopped for a moment to catch our breath. It was quite warm, and the pavement radiated heat like a furnace. I saw and captured a photo I’m including with this post. It made me think of all the years gone by with this big-hearted dog.
Winston is the second of our two Westies. The older, wiser, more cautious Reilly, aka The Wonderful Mister O’Reilly (it has nothing to do with the political pundit!), is deliberate and calculated. He’s never run into a wall chasing a ball. But he has slid off the edge of the couch while sluggardly sleeping on his back. But Winston, well, let’s put it this way, if Winston were our first dog, we wouldn’t have two...
Facing a terrible, seemingly insurmountable ordeal? This too can be a great blessing.
I’m always on the look out for writing topics. That’s why the parenthetical title of this blog is, All Who Wander Are Not Lost. In my “wandering” I’m always looking for things of this world and connections to the internal or spiritual. Often those revelations serendipitously appear like an ice cube down the back on a hot August day - very startling yet amazingly refreshing. Most of the time, they’re subtle and shy, slow to develop and emerge. I had two ideas brewing for this week’s post. One was on Sabbath and the other focused on my dog, Winston. However, what I’m about to share is the proverbial ice cube on the spine.
I'm part of a speaking cluster meeting every month since January. At gatherings, a guest presents techniques to improve our public pitches. Then, after lunch - today we were allocated a mere 13 minutes - we circle up listening to just a few in the group for 5-minute rotations. Today started off with a curve ball. Instead of 5 minutes and prep time, we’d have a minute-and-a-half to tell a story from our life, extemporaneously.
A good friend went first and did wonderfully relaying a story about his wife and kids. Next, Andrew went and spoke about The Boston Red somebodies or other. It was good, but not New York Yankee good. Somewhere in the pit of my soul, I knew I was next and, sure enough, Dave the Moderator, came through. And of all the things I could’ve talked about, I chose a rather heavy topic.
About two years ago, actually it was August 4, 2015, my wife and I walked, hand-in-hand, out of the hospital towards our car, in complete silence. I don’t remember much other than beelining to the vehicle. I opened her door - in silence. Inserting the key into the ignition, I started the engine and we drove out of the parking lot - in silence. We weren’t too far down the road when I spoke to Kris with a raspy voice. “Well, I guess if, ‘we can be pregnant,' then ‘we can have cancer.’” Silence...
What if we've been conditioned, even encouraged, to handle big problems with more emotion and intensity than we should? What if, we approached them with the same matter-of-factness as we do when the toothpaste runs out?
I just received a new shipment from my favorite caffeine dealer, Birch Coffee in NYC. I wanted to try their Brazilian roast, so breaking out my Chemex, scale, and kettle, I brewed a batch. I’d gotten up early this morning, so I had extra time to take time. With the warm weather, I strolled out to our patio with coffee in hand, sipping carefully the delightful flavor I’ve come to expect from Birch Coffee. Savoring both the cloudless sky and a delightful breeze rustling the edges of the plants surrounding the patio, it was a perfect morning to enjoy café fresca! But, as in most situations when you’re vacationing in your mind but living in reality, it was time to shuffle off to work.
I’ve been making my way through an insightful book called, Creativity Inc. It’s the story of Pixar by one of its founders, Ed Catmull, full of anecdotal lessons on life and leadership. Being both a fan of Pixar and healthy leading, it’s been a great read. The other night I finished the chapter on change where Ed drills down into the depths of our fears surrounding change. One thing catching my attention was his differentiation on handling small and large problems; he says there isn’t any! Running out of toothpaste isn’t confronted any differently than a crashed computer hard drive storing years of work - but we’ve been conditioned to think there is and so for one we are calm and the other we fuss...
Blooming where you're planted, when wedged between two hard places may be more beneficial than we think.
When our doctrine, regardless of our religion, outsizes our compassion, we are truly out of balance.
No, no, we’re good people!
Persistence. It doesn't come naturally to everyone. But it's an asset everyone should develop. It often makes the difference between living and thriving!
But just because you’re not gifted, or it doesn't come naturally, doesn’t mean you can’t be encouraging. Encouragement can make or break your plans. Don't make excuses, get good at encouraging!