I recently spent some time in Washington D.C. and was inspired and moved by an exhibit at the Newseum featuring Pulitzer Prize Winning Photography. The images ranged from joyful to disturbing, each catching unique human emotion in each frame. I tried to imagine the lens each photographer had to use BEFORE using the camera to catch these moments and the unique skill each photographer had to see the moment before it happened. This challenged me to question the needs of the leadership lens.
The leadership lens needs to be transparent. People looking at leaders need to see through them. The leader's words and intentions need to be seen with integrity and honesty before a leader can move a person or organization forward.
The leadership lens needs to be mirrored...on both sides. A leader needs to be able to see themselves...to selfcheck in the mirror regularly, while also allowing others to see themselves within that leader. Words and actions are trumped by a deep connection between people.
The leadership lens needs to be both near and far sighted. The leader is challenged to see the 10,000 foot view while also needing to engage with the real time action on the ground. A myopic view won't allow for a complete understanding of need.
Finally, and most importantly, the leadership lens needs to see empathy. These images I digested reminded me of the dichotomy of the human life and spirit and how quickly our environment can change. The leader MUST evaluate, understand, and respond appropriately to the environment around them. The effective leader must adapt their message, adjust their expectations, in order to get that Pulitzer Prize winning moment. The empathy lens allows leaders to listen, embrace, weep, celebrate, and engage with their people.
The leadership lens is a complex, multifaceted lens. Leaders don't have time to change lenses to capture the moment. The leadership lens is built over time, adding skills and gifts until they become interchangeable and omnipresent. I look forward to continue to build our lenses together.
Crying. Pain. Anger. Prayer. Hope. Love. When human life is ripped from the earth through the actions of the sick and hurt, we, each in our own way, go through a cycle of emotions that never makes sense and never brings back people who were stolen. It never feels good. It never totally heals. It never is resolved.
So why does it happen again...and again....and again.
We stop talking about it. We allow time to diminish the feelings. We "move on" from the emotions. This is a mistake. We can't. We, those left reeling to find enough love in our soul to share with the world, have to bottle up the feeling, the energy, the emotion so that at any point can find ourselves deep in that pain again. We need to harness that energy now so that tomorrow, or one week, or one month, or one year from now
we can engage our love to eliminate this hurt in our world. No one else is going to do it.
WE MUST TAKE CONTROL.
We must be the catalyst for change if we expect it to be better.
Mourn. Heal. Grow. Standup. But DO NOT forget the pain you feel right now.
You will need it. You will use it for good. You will alter the world as we know it. It will NOT be easy. It will NOT happen overnight. It will NOT eliminate the inevitability of humanity's darkness. It WILL save a life. It WILL embrace someone in your powerful love. Your work WILL be a beacon of light when someone desperately needs it.
WE WILL SUCCEED.
We have to. No one else but you and I will do it.
So keep talking about it and let's change something in the name of GOOD!
School is just about done....thank goodness. I have watched my colleagues around the country take deep breaths and release heavy sighs as understanding and learning continue to be evaluated by the standardized test. In my continued search for sanity and joy in the ridiculous world of standardization, Ken Robinson continues to give me hope for the future. We must engage our people, young and old alike, in the opportunity to Imagine, Innovate, and Create.
When we imagine, we dream and when we dream, we vision. Vision is what drives purpose, and without it, we cannot build the next great thing. The brain is made to imagine and dream our future, but we must provide a welcome environment for it to flourish. The imagination is often messy and sometimes outrageous, but without it we will never find the beauty of what the mind can find.
Innovation is the opportunity to make something better. The vision of what we want can often times come out of something we know, but aren't satisfied with. Challenging status quo comes from the dream and innovation is born in that vision. The only barrier that blocks progress, is our self inflated ego that tells us what we have is the only and best version of itself. Acceptance of new possibility must overcome our weaknesses.
Sometimes are dreams are so vivid that we can vision something no one has ever seen before. Creation over replication is the answer to combat the boring and futile. Put the Pinterst away and start from scratch. Make mistakes. Revise often. Welcome the opportunity for those we lead to make something. They don't just want to create...THEY HAVE TO CREATE! If you don't let them, they will leave, and bring their vision to someone who will advocate, support, and celebrate their creative genius.
So let's embrace the idea of no school this summer for young people and old alike. Let's make the summer of 2016 the one we reflect back on and celebrate as the summer our imagination started the next great idea....
This week is my Grandfather's 90th Birthday. He has been gone for 11 years, but I believe he is still developing me into what I am supposed to be. His leadership, love, and work is connected to any success you might see in me. The connected roots of our family is something each of us has, yet often times we don't embrace or admit it's a driving influence in our lives.
The roots of my family are strong. Roots that love. Roots that work and play hard. Roots that helped to build and develop the complicated person I look in the mirror at everyday. I realize everyone's roots are different. Your roots don't define you, but they are a part of each of us. Knowing and understanding how you are are connected can help us develop the branch that is our life.
I spent Memorial Day weekend with my family. As I breathed in the comfortable smells of my parents home, laughed and engaged with my siblings, and watched my children and nephews play childhood games together, I was reminded of my roots and this daunting thought: I don't only grow up, but am also growing down. I am my own person, but I am also a father, uncle, brother, son, and husband. Maybe now more than ever, I am planting my roots at the same time I am bearing fruit and leaves on my part of the tree.
We are SO MUCH BIGGER than OURSELVES. We, through the mundane and the extraordinary of each day are laying the foundation for strength, confidence, and success for not only ourselves, but those who share the nourishment of our roots.
Happy Birthday Grampy....thanks for helping shape me, nourish me, and develop me. You will continue to help me until I am unable to grow anymore. I can only hope the roots I am able to build now will help to bear fruit for generations to come.
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.