Tagged ‘#47ThingsILearned‘

Leadership – The Pros & Cons of “Mystique”

I had a look, back in the day. Black suit. Hair slicked into a bun. Severe. Serious. You might think I meant business. Truly, I just didn’t have time for much more in the morning than quick rinse and a dash out the door. I had to get my hustle on, get to the office, plunk down in my maroon cube, and gear up to climb the Corporate America ladder.

Eventually, I got my big break. My big boss got the flu, and I got to sit in for her at a leadership roundtable. I bought a new black suit. I bought a plane ticket. I bought a fresh notebook, sat in the middle seat and spent two hours at 30,000 feet imagining what the big picture of leadership might look like.

The event was hosted at the headquarters of the Top Team. They put on a show, pulled out all the stops. We got fruit baskets. At the outset, I felt like an insider.

I had traveled quite a distance with the express assignment of sharing best practices, being enthusiastic and collaborative, listening, learning, and bringing back the revealed secrets of success. While Top Team Leader was taking us on a tour of her trophies, I asked, specifically, “What is the secret of your success?”

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Today is my birthday. Today I turn 47. Apparently, in some circles, 47 is considered the “quintessential number”.

quin·tes·sen·tial [kwin-tuh-sen-shuh l]
of the pure and essential essence of something
of or pertaining to the most perfect embodiment of something

I can’t say I’m pure or perfect, but I am pretty gosh-darn content. I’ve learned some things in the last 47 years. Here are 47 of them:

1. Feeling broken? Smile. It fixes your face.
2. Shakespeare was correct. Sleep really does knit the raveled sleeve of care.
3. If you want to go to a party, you may need to ask for an invitation.
4. Let others be your mirror.
5. Yellow in the garden is welcoming.
6. Everyone is sentimental about something.
7. Good manners go a long way.
8. It is easier to tell the truth than remember a lie.
9. Nothing turns a pretty girl ugly faster than mean.
10. You go where you look. So look where you go.
11. You can’t fill an emotional hole with a physical object.
12. If you want to be interesting, be interested.
13. I have never regretted biting my tongue and biding my time.
14. Always wear sunscreen. And your seatbelt.
15. It’s hard to be angry while you’re dancing like Snoopy from Peanuts.
16. Birthday cake tastes better without a fork.

17. If you ask, “What do YOU think I should do?” people will tell you.
18. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
19. You are stronger than you think.
20. If you’re happy and you know it, shout it out.
21. Bring your best and enough to share.
22. Candle wax will loosen a sticky zipper. (I kid you not.)
23. PIE.
24. If you don’t know, ask. Take good notes.
25. Sit in the nice chair.
27. A book is a passport.
28. We learn most efficiently when we are either utterly terrified or joyously laughing. I choose laughing.
29. A lot of stuff is none of my business.
30. Leave it better than how we found it.
31. Something to do.  Something to love.  Something to hope for.
32. Never negotiate against yourself.
33. Making the same bad choice multiple times does not make it a better choice.
34. Handwritten thank you notes are always in style.
35. “Famous and quite wonderful” is a state of mind that inspires a way of being.
36. It’s cool to introduce cool people to other cool people.
37. The secrets to success should not be kept secret.
38. Step away from the computer.
39. We keep going because we keep going.
40. Stretch.
41. A good scrub in the tub makes it all better.

42. A sandwich is more delicious when someone you love makes it for you.
43. The cure for “sad” is showing kindness to another.
44. You can sing (many, if not all of) Emily Dickinson’s poems to the tune “Yellow Rose of Texas”.
45. Tiny victories stack up to make a mountain.
46. Ninjas!
47. You are loved.

Focus, Flexibility, Fulcrum & the F-word

I try not to say the F-word too often. The F-word is considered impolite. I know that. Good manners go a long way. (Number 7 of #47ThingsILearned.) But we all have those F-word days. Frustrating.

I see stasis as a symptom of frustration. The world goes wonky. I find myself fixated. Sometimes I will sit, stuck, struggling with “not doing”, in stare down against the object of my irritation.

We’ve all done it. Said over and over: “I’m not going to ‘fill-in-the-blank’”. Eat chips. Worry. Spend too much. Be too alone. Over and over we find ourselves chanting the mantra of what we don’t want, until it becomes a one-way neural path to neurotic disappointment.

When we feel let down we slow down. Set limits. Stasis sets in.

Sometimes, instead of the F-word, I dig a little deeper into my vocabulary for something better.

FLEXIBLITY: The elastic capacity to bounce back, the momentum to move, and newfound FOCUS.

We keep going because we keep going. (Number 39 of #47ThingsILearned.) What we need is a nudge: a shift of focal length, a happy button to punch, and lever to lift us up.

“A Lever of the First Kind is one in which the fulcrum is between the power and the weight… where F represents the fulcrum, P the power, and W the weight.” – Quackenbos 1859

George Payn Quackenbos was a smart cookie.  I commandeered his concept for our community:

“A lever of the Ninja Network Kind… is one in which our lives pivot positively… where F represents a better future, P the people who propel us, and W a world brought back into balance.” – Ebbert 2012

Hang up the hang-ups and hit the happy button, transitioning focus from “not doing fill-in-the-blank” to filling in the blank with wonderful DOING. As in “Watch THIS! I can DO!”

We can do anything good.

Where, you may ask, is this happy button we’re supposed to hit?  Look at the speed dial on your phone. Populate those spaces with the names of the people who propel you, your Ninjas. Punch in their numbers.  You get it, you got it, go get ’em!