Weddings are a beautiful thing. I always find it funny that we are asked which side we wish to sit on. We choose, not in opposition, but instead through comfort and relationship, a side in anticipation of the celebration of the bride and groom walking, hand in hand, down the aisle, joined as one....potentially to celebrate their lifelong union....but maybe just to get to the cocktail hour!!
It has been a week!! If we have learned one thing in America this week is that we have some differences. We sit on opposite sides of the aisle. Shouldn't we be in anticipation of the times the two sides can come together, walk down the aisle, and head to the party?? We don't have a chance if we let fear and hate burn the church down and take everyone inside down with it. Our hateful rhetoric and fearful actions are burning the church down.
The stone cold reality is.....there will ALWAYS be two sides of the aisle. We sat on opposite sides as the wedding began, but we came with the goal to watch the two become a stronger, better one. I am not interested which side you sat on when you arrived, but instead how you will act at the cocktail party after. True leadership is about EMBRACING our differences, ENGAGING our differences, and EXPLORING solutions. We must lay down our weapons of words, and pick up the power of the human spirit, inviting EVERYONE to the cocktail party...even that strange uncle who came to the wedding without an invitation.
My hope for our leaders and our citizens is that we are bold enough, strong enough, wise enough, and selfless enough to leave some things in the car before we come in the ceremony, so that everyone can focus on the MOST important thing.....the union of two strong, different, and capable people to begin a new...not perfect...but wonderful adventure together. We have many weddings ahead of us. In each case, let's work to get to the cocktail party...and maybe even the dance floor to celebrate the best in all of us.
Leadership and power go hand in hand. With one you have the other, whether you like it or not. Powerful decision makers don't make great leaders, and those in leadership don't always use their powers wisely. We can't ignore power as a leader, but we can ensure that we reshape the power we have. Power can be used, shared, or even given away!!!
When I do things for you, I take the power. The leader who abuses the power doesn't build people, they use people. The leader who always feels the need to do it all, makes all the decisions, and rips the autonomy from their team is abusing power. That pattern of behavior is dangerous, and will lead to turnover in an organization and limited success.
When we do things together, we share the power. The leader who makes it a point to discuss, to collaborate, and to reshape their opinions based on the influence of others is confident enough to allow dissent, discussion, and distance to better ideas. Powerful teams of people, through engaged collaboration, will find deep success through a shared vision and mission.
When you do things for yourself, I give you my power. The leader who believes in you, wants you to take their power. If a relationship has been developed that is built on trust through aligned values, there is no reason why your leader should not only allow you to drive the cadillac, but also allow you to take full credit for your work. The leader that gives is the leader who is able to sit back, in the shadows, and really celebrate how they have used their power through the gift of developing other leaders.
Leaders will need to use power in many ways, but leaders who build other leaders, are the ones who will continue to grow themselves, their organizations, and their successes in leadership!
In a response to my REAL FOMO post recently, I am following up after some great conversation with some of you who shared your own FOMO experiences with me. I wanted to highlight some more thoughts around this idea focusing on The Good, The Questions, and The Failure.
Fear of Missing Out has brought me much GOOD.
My GOOD FOMO includes...
1. I have more people in my life.
2. I have more joy in my life.
3. I have more...
FOMO has allowed me to see, meet, experience and learn about people and things I never would have. I can't imagine my life without the friends I have made, the experiences I have had, and the joys that I carry. I actually believe that any success in my life is connected and attributed to my FOMO. It defines me. It drives me. The outrageous extrovert that lives inside of me needs the FOMO so that I can be surrounded by people, by things, and by experiences. The FEAR has driven me...driven me to keep searching for ways to collaborate, to engage, and to be surrounded by people and their stories. It demands me to try it and do it all, so I don't miss it...
So if I have so much more, why does the FOMO bring QUESTIONS and FAILURE??
Fear of Missing Out brings me to QUESTION much.
My FOMO QUESTIONS are:
1. Will I find joyful satisfaction in my success?
2. Will I find a place and people to belong?
3. Can I keep searching and be good enough to be successful?
The experiences we have gained through FOMO also begins to allow us to see and find different spaces. The more we know...the more we don't know...the more we question. If we try something new, will it be easier? Will it be better? What will people think of us if we do....or if we don't? Is this where we are supposed to be now? Are we being called in a different direction? The questions that fill our minds, and often times consume us, can come from those new experiences, people, and adventures that FOMO took us to. We have to be centered so the questions are good ones, ones that help..not hurt, and ones that move us forward, and not get us stuck.
Fear of Missing Out has brought me to FAILURE as well.
My FOMO FAILURES are:
1. My failure to expect the inhuman.
2. My failure to not listen.
3. My failure to miss today.
Fear Of Missing Out causes me to look forward, seek the future, dream of tomorrow. It demands me to think I can do it all. I demands me to think I can do it all well. I add one more thing, and one more thing, until I am up to my ears in one more, and the next one takes me over the edge. LIke an addict though, I can't stop looking for opportunity, for the next thing, for the next opportunity, the next party. If my eyes are looking forward though, I miss out on what is in front of me. I stop listening. My vision is so farsighted, I ignore what is in front of me. I miss out on the beauty of RIGHT NOW.
Often times it's people, and usually people you love...your family, your kids, your best friends, your business partners. You take for granted what is here...not because you don't care, but because you are more fearful of missing what is next. You can't finish things. You can't follow up and follow through. You struggle to value the important. If your FOMO takes over for too long, you end up losing...them and yourself. The cycle slowly squeezes your soul, so you don't realize it. When you do, you are deep in it, and digging out usually requires you to quit something, so you can gain back some logical perspective. You have to quit something to begin to ask QUESTIONS so you can get away from the FAILURES and back to the GOOD!!
All of these parts of FOMO exist in real time...together. We have to be aware and careful of how we let it all effect our success, or our lack thereof. The good thing is, we can control and benefit from it, when we can be aware of the whole picture, take a proactive approach to balancing, and working toward allowing our FOMO to share the best part of us!
A great friend gave me a middle name in college...JR "I can't say no" Snow. Nothing could be closer to the truth. I have RIDICULOUS FOMO (Fear of Missing Out...for those who don't speak acronyms on a regular basis). I am first in and last to leave. I have multiple jobs. I want to give of myself in as many ways possible. I want to please people, and never want to miss a party. My 100% extrovert needs people to be the best I can be. What does FOMO really mean for me though?
In thinking about how to continue to reinvent myself for the best, I actually think that acronym should be labeled Fear Of My Own. Missing out, never saying no, or simply trying to ensure that everyone around me has a great time is actually limiting my ability to find the highest levels of success in many endeavors in life. I think a better representation of FOMO for me might be:
Fear of My Own Failure. Fear of My Own Success. Fear of My Own Belonging.
Fear of My Own Responsibility. Fear of My Own Faults. Fear of My Own Crazy.
Fear of My Own Curiosity. Fear of My Own Calling. Fear of My Own Story. Fear of My Own Legacy.
Fear is often seen in a bad light. I think that introspective investigation into our needs, our wants, our hopes, and our desires can drive us to find the best us we can be.
Strong leaders learn about, invest in changing, and ultimately overcome their fears.
What are your fears? How will you use them to better your life and find more success?
I challenge each of us to use the FOMO in each of us to deliver the best US possible!!
I will never forget 9/11.
9/11 is my Dad's Birthday. It was before 9/11/01 and will always be to me.
The suburbs of Washington DC. I'm 25. Start of teaching year 3. 2nd period planning. The TV was on in the background. I call my Dad to wish him Happy Birthday, and let him know something weird happened at WTC. I hung up thinking I would call him back later to get some time and talk to him. My role changed quickly to counselor/mentor/teacher as hundreds of students wondered if their parents were OK in the Pentagon. We do the best we can.
The reality that students are approaching my classroom set in minutes before they arrived. Should/can we talk about it?? How can we not? Then one of those students suggested we play music as my students arrive. I scurry to find something. I don't remember much. I do remember somehow allowing laughter to mask the numbness/hurt/worry and fear in myself and all of us. Maybe it was because we weren't playing well. Maybe I picked the right tunes. I am thankful that music played a part in my recovery that day. I stay at school until everyone is gone. I didn't want to be alone. I drive the two minutes home.
The next 72 hours are a blur. I remember the TV on, pajamas, no shower, lucky charms for all meals, and thankful that I lived with my brother at the time. I still find myself numb when I consider. 15 years later, I find myself consumed with the stories of hope, fear, love, work, and people trying to understand what the next day might bring, how they found the next step, and how we all moved forward.
Thanks to each of you for sharing your stories. I am stronger when we share. The stories may bring back pain, but also is a reminder to me that we heal, we move forward, and we continue to ensure that love, hope, and life are the true outcomes of 9/11. 3,000 valuable and wonderful lives were lost that day, but 13,000 lives in America started that day in 2001 too. In our continued movement to look forward, I wish those teenagers Happy Birthday today.
Happy Birthday to Dad too...
Kids are funny. I love when they interchange words as they are learning the language that change the whole context of the conversation. I remember a time one of mine lamented for a cookie by changing I WANT to I NEED. The whole tone changed...how could I say no...her survival DEPENDED on the nourishment and joy of this cookie! I wonder sometimes if we also interchange those words incorrectly, not in the same way as my daughter did, but instead not focusing on the right things.
What you WANT is not always what you NEED...
We WANT much from life. Everyone has different goals for success in work, life, and beyond. We struggle to find success at times and I wonder if it is because we are backwards. Are we filling the things we truly NEED before we focus on the things we WANT?
There is no fast way to the top of Maslow's pyramid. Often times, I think we look at this as an overarching guide to life. If we have food, safety, friends, and worth, than our expectation is that we should be able to reach our fullest potential all the time.
We can dive into WANTING since our NEEDS are met.
What if we used Maslow's pyramid in more of a situational environment? Our lives aren't constant, and thus neither are our NEEDS. Am I truly rested? Do I feel mentally safe in my work environment? How are my closest relationships today? Can I see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel of accomplishment? My guess is when we begin to look at NEEDS through a daily and changing lens, we find a missing brick keeping us from climbing to the things we WANT for today. Our self inflicted expectations aren't met, and we feel unfulfilled.
Let's approach a daily NEEDS assessment to help move us toward success. In our every effort to get what we WANT, maybe we really should find what we NEED before we try and fill life with what we WANT!
First, full credit to a great mentor of mine, Dr. Mark Warner. I clearly remember the first time he said to me Create a Great Day instead of Have a Great Day to me as a young college student. It struck me then and recently it struck me again as I found myself simply going through the motions of my life.
I am convinced we are using the wrong word. HAVING something and CREATING something are totally different. We HAVE to eat. We HAVE to sleep. We HAVE to use the bathroom. So why do we tell people to have a great day, have fun, or have anything? What if we changed it...
CREATE laughter. CREATE hope. CREATE love. CREATE fun. When we use that word in this way, we empower our people. We challenge our people. We give the opportunity for our people to be empowered and to think about action, not reaction. When we CREATE, we change.
I hope you will stop HAVING a great day and, as Mark would say, I offer you the opportunity to CREATE a great day today....that's what I am going to do too!!!
In my world, and in many of yours too, a new beginning dawns in August and September as we send our the youngest members of our community back to their learning environments to grow as thinkers, creators, and learners. If you are one of those who get the chance to engage them in their growth, I hope you will REACH with your leadership.
Real. Be You. Their fake meter is strong (even the little ones) and can read right through you. Also, you don't have to sugar coat anything. If it's great, celebrate. If it isn't, they need to hear that too. It can be constructive, but it has to be real. They will thank you later.
Excited. If you aren't, they won't ever be. Not the rah rah we have to be excited crap....authentic excitement about the opportunity to change a life for the better. Isn't that why you got in it?? It wasn't for how well you teach someone to fill in the bubble....or at least I hope not!
Accountable. Every word and action is important. In and out of the classroom. People send their most prized possessions to you. You have a responsibility academically but more importantly for their well being.
Change. Change them. Not manipulate. Not force. Change their thinking. Change their perspective. Change their world. Oh, and it's OK to let them change you. You will be better for it.
Hope. We need it...all of us. Without it, what can we do? With it, what can't we do!! Rich, poor, educated, extrovert, introvert...EVERYONE. Offer hope for their success.
Students you can do this too....if we do it together, who knows how far we could REACH!!
The Olympics have been great to watch. My 8 year old daughter is...well...obsessed to say the least..and I love it. Every morning I get a complete report of who won the night before (when she stayed up and the old man fell asleep) and what I could expect when I tuned in that night. She is immersed, engaged, and clearly interested.
The conversations have also led us to talk about something I have preached in my classroom for years: TALENT will only take you so far...HARD WORK carries you to your destination. When you teach music, as I have for 15 years, you see some truly talented, gifted, and unique students who come with so many gifts and abilities. I am in awe of their ABILITY. I respect their GIFTS. I recognize their STRENGTHS. The truth is though, I am not interested in TALENT, I am interested in WORK. The Olympics have reminded me of that.
EVERYONE on that television is GIFTED. They make doing some impossible things look easy. The REAL story comes out when you hear about the HOURS, the WORK, the SACRIFICE they have endured to get there. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hours it takes to master something in his book Outliers. I would bolster that thought with the idea that those hours have to be engaged in growth and in the presence of expert teachers who assist you in perfecting your basic raw abilities.
I am reminded to keep fighting the good, tough, and resilient fight when it comes to my goals. If I am going to break world records, and truly be world class, I need to keep working, making sacrifices to get there, and stop relying on my raw talent alone.
I need more Pelican Leadership in my life. It hit me like...well...a diving pelican that I need to shape some of my action much like they were taking care of their business. Here are my takeaways:
1. No matter who or what is around you.....be you.
I have never seen a pelican riled up...by anything. I have watched them work alone, in pairs, in packs, surrounded by other birds, following fishing boats, and diving in the same area as dolphins. Their actions are the same, and thus their results are too.
2. Observe before you act.
Soaring high or gliding as close to the ocean as possible, pelicans take careful process to take in the situation before acting. The work they do in observing allows them to.....
3. GO FOR IT!!
The dive. Calculated. Committed. Consistent. I could watch the dive all day long (maybe that is weird....but I have to be me). There is no turning back for the pelican once they have made the decision to go for it. They are ALL IN!!
The pelican has reminded me to be true to my leadership values, watch and listen to the environment around me, and once I am ready, GO FOR IT..committed to the success I have created for myself.
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.