Leadership is Thankless

Leadership is Thankless

Leadership is about doing what is right, not what is easy, and it can quickly become a thankless job. Especially if people don’t agree with what we have to do in our role as leader. We may, in fact, harm someone by the choices we make. In fact, anything you do might hurt someone just as much as it helps someone else. So how do we know when we’re doing the right thing if a choice has collateral damage? Well, if you’re unsure, ask yourself this question: How am I treating people?   When your decisions and choices are singular, isolated, self-serving or serving a minimum few on the whole of the people you are responsible for, then you may need to put yourself in check. When you see people as tools to accomplish your goal, regardless of who gets hurt, when others become ‘expendable’ for a sake of your destination, it’s time to check yourself. There is a big difference between leading people and using people. But when you respect the people around you, when you recognize the risks for them as well as yourself and do your level best to mitigate that risk, when you can honestly say, “this choice is about US, not ME,” when you’re building up those that don’t have your level of power, influence or position, and seeking their input, make choices that include their benefit — that’s when you are likely making the right decision, even if, in the end, some get hurt. If you’re doing this for the thanks, for the acclaim, for the pat on the back about how great...
Accountability Is HARD.

Accountability Is HARD.

It’s a funny thing about being human: Looking backward is easy. Doing the same thing over and over is easy. Of course it is — you know exactly what you’re doing. You’ve figured out the rules, and you can coast without much stress. You can even live in the past, if you doggedly refuse to turn around and see the future. It’s the easy life to live, which is why so many people fall into its trap. Looking forward, however, choosing a different path, a different way to engage, a different idea — that’s where you’re suddenly exposed and vulnerable. You may not understand the rules for this new place, and you may step on a land mine or two along the way — and worse, people will witness your results. Some will laugh, judge and tell you all the reasons you “can’t” have/achieve/create/live the future you have in mind. And some people you will invite in courageously, knowing you can trust them, and more importantly, knowing you must trust them to hold you accountable to your choices. That’s when it gets tricky. Accountability is interesting; we need it to improve, and we all know we do, but we resist it. Even I resist it instinctively, even though I know it will help. No, it’s not that it merely helps; rather, it’s absolutely necessary in order to face forward, to grow, to improve, to achieve the goals we want to achieve — but that kind of vulnerability can be painful. Let me assure you, you’re not the only one who feels that way. Here’s the key: don’t let that...
Face Your Fears

Face Your Fears

So often we are held back more by our fear than pushed forward by our possibility or potential. We are bombarded with mantras and cliches for addressing this fear: “Feel the fear and do it anyway”  “Just do it”  “Get over it” “Push Through.” There’s a lot of basic, real truth in all of that, but it’s not the whole truth. The thing to remember is that most change or growth happens in stages, over time, and mostly definitely starts with something small — it still might be scary, but it’s doable, like holding a thought that you are worthy. Try that for a while, and at some point you’ll notice your fear has diminished enough to see the next step with a little more confidence to tackle the next hurdle — like asking that girl/boy on a date, or your boss for a raise, or that challenging prospect if they are ready to buy. To use another cliche, “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”  The problem for most of us is figuring out what that first step is, and many of us look too far down the road at what looks like a boulder in our way, rather than at our feet so that we can see that tiny pebble over which we can step over with ease. You can’t do everything to conquer your fears in one fell swoop, but you can do something. What is your something? What is your first step? You will feel fear. You will feel stress. But you can practice through it. Contact me today if you want a free coaching session...
Holding a Courageous Space

Holding a Courageous Space

In leadership, especially in the industry of mentoring, coaching, counseling, or other support professions, many of us use the expression that we “hold a safe space” for people.  But that’s not really the truth, is it? We don’t hold safe spaces. We can’t guarantee safety in their lives, that their fears won’t materialize, that they will never be hurt. No space we create can do that. No matter how kind or accepting we are, or how patient and forgiving we see ourselves, the best we can truly do is hold a courageous space for someone, because that’s what’s required of them: courage. Courage to face a fear, to confront a demon, to respectfully challenge another, to question authority, to step into their life-long dream, to envision a new possibility for an age-old experience, to truly live a new day in a new way — any way different than it was lived yesterday. That can only happen in a courageous space.   When we come to realize that such act of choice is not safe for them, we begin to realize that what our lives, what our world, asks of us, is not safety at all — but courage. How do you hold courageous spaces...
Which Way Will You Face?

Which Way Will You Face?

Is it too direct or macabre to suggest that in a very real way, we die every night? Perhaps a more accurate phrasing might be the day dies — but that doesn’t fully capture the beauty of the moment, does it?  Because with that day goes a part of us that will forevermore be gone. This part of us, this day we are experiencing and who we are in this moment — it ends, never to exist again. We can remember it, mourn it, and celebrate it, but we cannot relive it. And like a Phoenix from the ashes of that day, hopefully well-lived, we rise each morning anew. Alive. Largely unwritten. It’s there, in that moment of first consciousness, that we face the single most important and difficult decision of our day: Which way do we face? Do we face backwards, seeing only the days that have past: familiar, comfortable, predictable? Do we walk through the curtain of time in an effort to relive it all once more, rising, engaging our routine, doing again what we have done for many days before this one? Or, do we turn forward to a script unwritten, to a life yet un-lived, and choose a different level of awareness, a different experience, a different courageous act of life and living?   I first heard it from my friend Tom, who asked: “At the end of a year, have you lived 365 days, or have you lived the same day 365 times?” It takes courage to stand in the same place you stand every day — your house, your office, your town — and recognize that you have choices for how you will...