Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride- U2
1968. When I was studying it in school it seemed like FOREVER ago. Like a different lifetime. My parent's time. I am looking at 50 years in a not too distant future. Dr. King was shot 8 years before I was born. I grew up on Dr. King as a man of history. A king of voice, fight, and equality for all Americans who came before me. A man in the history books I wouldn't know or could connect with. I am white. I am privileged. How can I understand?
I can't understand.
I am hypersensitive to the fact that my privilege doesn't allow me to understand. But I can't stop there. I must do what I can do. I can think. I can listen. I can engage. I can empower. I can believe in humanity in a powerful active way. With my voice. With my vote. With my friends. With my enemies. With my children. With my students. For my students. For my community. For a greater civilization. For something bigger, better, and richer than myself. For the generations I will never meet. For the misinformed, mistreated, or misrepresented. To transform the injustice. To transform the arrogance. To transform the bigotry. To celebrate the change. To celebrate the successes. To celebrate the stories. To celebrate the moments when inequality loses and love wins.
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
1 Jump, 2 Hospitals, 3 Surgeries, 6 Different Antibiotics, 7 Centimeters of Tendon Removed, 10+ Doctors, 14 Weeks on a Scooter, 30 Weeks in a Boot, 126 Injections of Antibiotics, 161 Days of Pills
483 Days of Not Being Me.
What started as laughable, turned into unfortunate, and resulted in ridiculous. They said it would be 12 weeks. That turned into 64 weeks. I have lots of wonders about HOW and WHY the infection got in my body.
Best as I can figure: Shit happens...and this time it happened to me.
Lots of people have asked if I have learned anything during this time.
1. This isn't cancer. Get over yourself. I have this saying that we all have baggage, and everyone's baggage is the most important to them. My baggage during this was heavy. It sucks to carry it, and it isn't convenient.
Then I see someone carrying 10 bags or 100 bags. Some without help. Some without hope. It is those moments that I realize how lucky I am that my baggage is lifting and my chapter is coming to an end.
2. No, I am not going to slow down. I'm ready for the next jump. Many people, out of great concern, and with plenty of wisdom, have suggested maybe I go too fast. Maybe I am too old (thanks REALLY good friends).
I probably do too much and move too fast, but that is what makes me happy.
That is fundamentally who I am. I have to be hustling and moving to feel alive. The next jump will be smaller.
3. I need to make meals...every time...for everyone. My village is AMAZING. Meals. Visits. Dogwalking. Kidsitting. Playdates. Phone calls. Texts. Emails. Work coverage. It's not that I never make a meal for someone. It's that I didn't do it everytime. No excuses. I know I will take more action to ensure people are cared for when they need it. These next chapters need to be more about someone else then about me.
The IV line is out. The scooter is put away. There is still a long road ahead, but it is time to close the previous chapter to open the next. Today is Day One.
While I was working in Los Angeles in the last weeks, I took the recommendation of a wise friend and journeyed for a day to the Getty Museum. If you are ever in LA, this is a must. The views of the valley, mountains, ocean, city are a museum in itself. Coupled with the architecture and gardens of the facility, the scene is perfect for a getaway from life and an opportunity to rekindle your creative soul. I had forgot what solace can come when traveling alone and making time to immerse yourself in beauty. That needs to happen more often.
Within the walls of the museum were a huge variety of works, the majority of them owned and displayed by Getty in his home and eventually the Villa he built to his Santa Monica home. I do not claim to be an expert in visual art history, but know enough to recognize many of the artists in front of me: Rodin, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rembrandt but also countless artist names I didn't know. I imagined them alive, creating art, and wondered if they ever thought I would be studying their art in a building on top of a hill in Los Angeles. I also wondered in 500 years or 1000 years what art would lie in this same building from our current time.
Are portraits of aristocracy replaced by selfies? Are landscapes of nature replaced by the landscapes of buildings like the ones I could see from the hill? Is sculpture exchanged for the primitive technological devices we use and as people looked at them years from now, would they wonder how we ever survived? Would these works of the great artistic periods still exist in the museum, reigning over the attempted works of our time, or is there someone out there, pushing the envelope of creativity so our generations can be remembered and represented?
I think my greatest personal takeaway from the experience was the intentionality these artists put into their work without worry or wonder of where their art would be hanging in 2018. The details, the brushstrokes, the perspective, and the story told through the visual representation was so immensely personal. I wonder sometimes if my vision and worry about legacy gets in the way of the piece of art in front of me I should be pouring myself into, and if in my dreams and wonders of making a difference in lives, I should be making sure I complete the piece in front of me. The balance to learn and do for me is always pulling me in multiple directions and trying to sit and create is overshadowed by the hustle and whirlwind of life. I will be interested to see how long this one experience can stay with me, and if I will answer the call to find another opportunity to strengthen my soul to continue to find the better me.
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in Los Angeles and Fresno California. While I was there, I shared with middle school and high school students in Clovis, California. I start every leadership workshop asking what leadership means to them. I heard many examples from these middle school students: inspiration, responsibility, example, serve. Then one young man said:
In the coming days, I paused on the question of hope as a necessity for leadership. I considered leadership without hope. It was tired. It was sad. It was yearning for something. It was broken. Like all facets of leadership, we have the choice and responsibility to develop our style inclusive of the characteristics for effective leadership. Hope is the new characteristic I need to include in my pallet. I will be intentional to include a hue of hope in the words I use, the attitude I bring, and the words I share. Once again, I am taught more than I could ever teach the students I get to interact with!
Your gun will solve your neighborhood, your school, your workplace, and your community. Your gun will change the way we look, treat, speak, and wonder about each other. Your gun is the answer to this and every crisis that people are at the root of the problem. Although we MUST KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT, we also, when the time is right, must get ready, take aim, and fire the love as far as it will spread. I believe love is the answer.
We often TALK about what we can DO instead of DOING what we TALK about. Talk is one sided. Talk is only valuable to the person speaking. Talk is cheap. ANYONE can talk about doing something. Some take THE TALK and move to THE WALK and are given great credit for their action. This is a fundamental flaw when leading people. "Walking the walk" isn't enough in leadership. We have to move from EXCHANGE into ENGAGE.
It's easy to walk your own walk, and lead no one in the process. EXCHANGING is the opportunity to talk AND listen, ensuring that all voices are heard, and all ideas are welcomed and considered. EXCHANGE isn't always pretty....and that IS OK when trying to find the BEST SOLUTION and SUCCESS!! ENGAGING is the act of putting ideas into action WITH someone you lead. The EXCHANGE you have with someone can only be put to it's best use if that someone, is ready to be involved in the action you have prepared. Putting your own TALK into WALK is simply self valuing the confirmation bias you listened to in your own head. Turning EXCHANGE into ENGAGE is ensuring that all opinions are heard, all options are discussed, and action is taken TOGETHER. True leadership is gained when this formula is put into action. I hope you will EXCHANGE to ENGAGE!!
FIRE!! What are you running to get?? Water? Baking Soda? FIRE?!?!?!
Do we really believe in the EXTREME leadership we are currently emulating EVERYWHERE???
As you are posting, reposting, and taking sides, have you asked yourself when in life has EXTREME really worked? When has extreme scenarios made anything of value look good?
Too much food: Obesity. Too little food: Starvation.
Too much money: Greed. Too little money: Destitute.
Too much water: Flood. Too little water: Drought.
Too much work: Exhaustion. Too little work: Purposeless.
Too much revolution: War Too little revolution: Tyranny
A fire by itself is not a problem. A fire burns OUT OF CONTROL when it is FUELED by other elements: Wood. Paper. Oxygen. Wind. Fuel. Gasoline.
So my question to you is....what are you fighting your fire with? Do you have the RIGHT elements to control the fire you see before you, or are you throwing anything you can find at it in hopes of putting it out?
Do you have TOO MUCH HURT, ANGER, DISBELIEF, PASSION, RAGE, ANXIETY? Are you living on one end of the EXTREMES and struggling to FIND THE RIGHT TOOLS?
We have to fight the fire in front of us....not fighting at all would be TOO LITTLE FIGHT. I realize many people see a LARGE FOREST FIRE, and may BELIEVE that it is time to get the flame thrower out. Do YOU AND I REALLY fight fire with fire?? NO!!!! We try and NEUTRALIZE the fire before it gets out of control. I BELIEVE we aren't there yet. I BELIEVE we are all STRONGER, BETTER, and RICHER IN SPIRIT to take a moment to get the RIGHT TOOLS for the fire in front of us.
If you are a FIREFIGHTER, and know how to FIGHT FIRE with FIRE....
I will TRUST YOU...even if I disagree.
I haven't been trained, so I will continue to use the tools I know, combat the fuel the best I can, and work tirelessly to ensure the PEOPLE who could be burned by the fire are protected.
I don't want to see ANYONE burned by the fire...do you?
Love is present when respect is deep. Hate is present when hurt is deep.
We have a choice.
We can see what we WANT to see or what we NEED to see?? How will I find a way to speak AND listen? How will I teach my children there is hope in every dark corner,
so that they will find strength to dream when they are filled with hurt?
WE MUST respect the other, begin the healing necessary, and bring the people of this world together to find the best in each other.
The sun comes up again tomorrow. It starts with me. It starts with you.
What will YOU choose to see??
I am currently stuck to a chair with leg raised waiting for my body to heal from a recent Achilles Tendon reattachment surgery. The injury occurred two weeks ago and in that time, as I hopped, crawled, scooted, and found ways to work and live, I found myself searching for the good out of a tough situation. I have a choice to work to find the positive in the midst of dealing with the negative. I choose to find the silver linings.
Isn't this the kind of character we want out of those who lead us through life?? It isn't always easy, but neither is leadership. It isn't enough to wait for the bright spots to come to us. We, as leaders, MUST go and seek those moments of success and share them with those around us. We HAVE to see the POSITIVE in people and situations even when they aren't perfect or aren't planned. We NEED to stop looking backward, let go of what is out of our control, and take the reigns to move the cart (or in my case scooter) forward. When we do, we create the best environment for people to achieve and succeed, and also can create joy and laughter in the face of conflict and controversy.
So, the next time you find yourself in a situation of inconvenience, pain, worry, or anger stop for a minute to celebrate the things that are positive around you...there are many, but YOU have to be the one to search and find them. You will help not only those around you, but will keep your perspective positive and more successful too!!
Conflict. Some leaders find it scary to hear the other side. Some refuse to recognize it.
Leadership can not be about surrounding yourself with those who always agree with you. Confirmation bias, although easier, does not allow all voices to be heard, and thus not all solutions to be found.
I hear a similar story in much of my travels: I can't say that!! My voice will not be heard!! That won't go over well!! Is this what people say about you?? What is the venue, the process, the way that you allow conflict to happen in your organization? How do people know they can disagree? What happens when they do?
Create a welcoming process that avoids confrontation. A whiteboard. An online venue. A listening party. Those with thoughts different from yours, need time and space to be heard....and they need it to be a place that you AREN'T so that the confrontation is taken away. People, as they are developing relationships with you, need space to breathe, and need to know they can be honest before those hard conversations can take place face to face.
Build time for conversation with those who don't agree with you. You will learn something. You might even change your mind, but if you don't, at least your next decision will have that differing thought included in your process.
Give value to the dissenting opinion and make it a part of the decision making process. A humble leader who shows value to the process and best answer, will build confidence, build rapport, and build trust not only with this individual but all those in your organization.
There are too many leaders, and the organizations they lead, who have no welcoming process for disagreement. Listening and welcoming disagreement is not giving away power, but instead gaining access to the things that are valuable to your people. Allowing healthy disagreement will give you great strength in making the best decisions for those people and in turn, your organization.
Thanks for stopping by. These are my musings on a number of leadership thoughts. It is my joy to expound upon my experiences and values.