A Bright New Day

 

In life challenges will try your soul

Often things not within your control

They cloud the depths of your mind

Making you long for a peace so hard to find

 

It is easy to get lost in a hurricane

Of confusion, loss and pain

People pulling many a different way

Bringing chaos to many a day

 

In your soul you know there is more

A life of love and caring in store

Days not filled with things clouding your sight

Days with those you love, a future so bright

 

It will not be a world void of bumps

Yet one with many more triumphs

It will not be void of all pain

Still with much more love to share and gain

 

Often difficult through all the clouds to see

How any of this future will be

How just as the winter turns into spring

A new love, like a new tree will begin

 

On each morning that you rise

See the world through new eyes

Light through the clouds and haze

Shining the love of bright new days

 

 

 

A Mothers Inner Strength

 
On Sunday May 11, 2014 we will celebrate Mothers. On that day we will have a #peopleskills  chat on the Inner Strength of Mothers. In honor of that day I wanted to share a story about my Mom.

I can’t imagine there is anything more difficult than losing your partner in life. My Mother and Farther were partners for over 50 years. They were more than just parents they were a leadership team which believed in their children and supported them through all the trials and tribulations of everyday life. And I assure you myself and my brothers and sisters challenged them on many occasions.

On a day that was supposed to be one of family celebration my Dad passed away unexpectedly. In thinking back on that day there was one thing that never happened. I never saw panic on the face of my Mother. She did not fall apart in the face of crisis and in fact brought a sense of calm to a room filled with shocked friends and family.

I went with my Dad that day to the hospital, while my Mom and Brother went to gather insurance information for the hospital. Her biggest concern expressed to us was that the wedding of my younger brother, for which we had gathered, go on as scheduled. Her thoughts and actions always on others not herself. 

I had the difficult task of explaining to Mom our options and knowing the choice would result in Dad not coming home with us. She handled it with an inner strength that to this day amazes me. She calmly asked questions of the doctors and my younger brother (a medical researcher) and made a decision. And through the emotions of that night and the days after, she has never publicly wavered.  In fact she has shown more a compassion and support for the others that felt the loss of my Dad. 

The inner strength she has show has given me much of my own. And her belief in me  and my siblings has been the glue that has kept us together.
Love you Mom.

In Memory Of

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In Memory Of

 

In a world where all moves so fast

It is often hard to make things last

And before another stone is cast

What is now, is in the past

 

So Many times I look to the sky

And I often wonder why

That no matter how I may try

Thoughts of you still make me cry

 

I want to make time come to a stand

And give me a chance to understand 

Why in a world so grand

You have been taken from this land

 

As I want the time to slow

I wish for the time to show

With more than just a ribbon and bow

That my Love for you will always grow

 

Now with the passing of each day

With you in mind I pray

We will meet again along the way

For I know with God you now stay

       

                             – I Miss you Dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words

Sometimes the hardest thing to find
Is a way to express what is on your mind
Are words always enough to get across
Feelings ranging from love to loss?

Words come across in different ways
Depending on the type of phrase
They say things in a different way
When we laugh than when we pray.

The same word we speak or write
Can give us joy and also fright
Words can paint pictures for all to see
Or only pictures a thousands words to be?

Words whether written or spoke
Can make us rich or make us broke
They can bring us hapiness or pain
They can even control our brain.

Words of any size have so much power
Yes or no make the strongest cower
That is why as we go through each day
We must be careful in what we say.

Whether with our pen or with our voice
We are the only ones that make the choice
To use words to help and to heal
Or to express anger that we may feel.

It is in this choice we have to find
Ways in which to be respectful,  compassionate and kind
Fore as you think of the words in your head
Remember someone could say them to you instead.

Where True Heroes Live !

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We all grow up with heroes or heroines in our lives. Hopefully for many of us, as they were for me, your parents are your heroes. Along the way we pick up people we describe as heroes such as sports figure, Pele or Bobby Orr for me, or astronauts, Neil Armstrong, or leaders such as those I wrote about in my “Guess Whose Coming to Dinner” post. All of these people certainly have heroic qualities in their fields of excellence and set a standard to be looked up to as you grow.

What we seem to miss as we transform from our youth to adulthood and develop into the  parental and leadership roles we assume is where our true heroes lay. They lie within ourselves. The most important role model and hero in your life is the one you see in the mirror everyday. We all have challenges and obstacles we have to overcome in our lives. And we often look to others for advice and counsel on meeting these difficult moments. The fact is however, that no matter how much great advice and how many good ideas we get from others, we control our story. Destiny is in our hands not the hands of others.  

Being your own hero is not about being selfish or not caring about your role in your community of people. It is about remembering that while you are helping others and being a hero for them, you must take care of the hero within. We each are part of a larger story, one of commitment, learning, understanding and our own personal physical and emotional health. We have to be strong in our beliefs and knowledge that we can only make a difference by being the best at being ourselves. 

I have a close friend that battles this inner battle everyday. A caring and loving person that takes care of many people in her life and brings them happiness and peace. She is a leader in many amazing ways and is a heroine for her family and friends. And I have a family member battling a disease that will take much commitment and inner strength to overcome. They are not alone in these battles. The world has become fast paced, with ever more demands on time and higher levels of expectations. Within all of these challenges we have to have the strength to call upon our personal hero to overcome. And we can, by knowing that we are in control of us. Not letting others dictate what our lives should be or where our stories should go. 

Be your own hero today and write your story as one you would like others to read. 

Lead Through Caring!

Over the past year I have learned so much about leadership and people skills from the many connections I have made on Social Media. I have chatted with people from around the world and have developed friendships that will be long-lasting. I am often humbled by the thought that my writing or chatting may make a difference for someone.

A year ago I wrote my first post. For me that post had two important facets. First it was a kind of therapy where I was able to put in writing my thoughts on what I had learned about leadership in my career. And secondly is was a way of honoring my Father who was the person who had shown me through his words and actions what people skills meant.

My goal and my biggest fear, in some ways, was that I would write from the heart because then it would be real. At the same time it would leave me the most vulnerable. Which I have learned is ok to do. What I have also learned is that there is much work still to do in bringing leadership to corporate America.

In my chats and readings there are wonderful discussions about leadership and the difference between leadership and management. I have read many different definitions and theories but for me the difference can be summed up in one word; Caring.

Managers manage for results. They have one focus and that is get the results they want to help themselves. How getting those results affects those around them is of no concern to them as long as they get the results they want. Here is an example;

I live in the Southern United States where communities rarely receive any snow and are not ready when it happens. Recently we had a snow and ice event which caused some dangerous driving conditions. A store in my company was effected heavily by this weather. The Management team at the store asked the District Manager if they could leave early to limit the danger. They were not only told they could not leave but were told that if they couldn’t stay they needed to look for new work. Please note that the State had declared a state of emergency and other retailers in the area had closed. This DM was managing for results not leading.

Leaders understand this very important rule; if you want people to care about the things that are important to you, it’s important you care about them.

Leaders also understand that people matter. That each person is a unique being with strengths and weaknesses they can bring forward and develop.

Do all Managers act like this DM, of course not, at the same time I have seen it too often. I have seen too much Management through fear an intimidation. Too many Managers focused on themselves and not on developing their team. Too many that put results in front of people instead of understanding people create results.

The one thing I believe from my heart is that if you care for the people you work with you will lead them to success.  Caring is not the enemy of success it is the fuel that feeds the flame of engagement, inspiration and growth.  All of which will bring you great results.

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“C” is for……

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Cookie Monster has always been a family favorite. His song C is for cookie, and my willingness to try to sing it in Cookie voice, is legendary. Not sure it is a good legend or one people want to forget but legend anyways. But the letter C is t starts many other important words that seem to have been lost in the world. Maybe when they decided Cookie Monster should eat Celery we decided C was no longer viewed in the same way as before. 

Let’s look at some C words that seem to be taking a beating in the world today. Caring, Commitment, Compassion and my favorite phrase Common Sense are all ideas with which we as a world seem to be struggling. In social media these days there is a lot of conversation about the need for leadership, especially in business, to take hold of these words to create a more engaged workforce. Unfortunately that discussion seems to have been left on the table and not moved into real life. Held back by the need for more profit and investor happiness, no matter the cost to the worker. 

Let’s look at these words:

Caring: Each day when we go to work it is certainly the hope and expectation that we care about our jobs. After all for most of us our    job is how we pay the bills of life. Yet in many businesses caring is a one way street.I was once told I would never be successful because I cared about my people. I have seen demonstrated recently a “Leader” who forced a manager to come to his meeting  despite the fact the person was ill with the flu, because he didn’t want to “waste” his time repeating himself.  Another “leader” ridiculed a manager for being late on a conference call because they were helping a customer. They were told by the leader his time was more important. Employees are supposed to care about what the “leader” wants but not be cared about. A formula for disaster.

Commitment:  Many people have commitment issues in relationships. Business is relationships and for that relationship to work there needs to be a two-way commitment. Leaders certainly expect people to make a commitment to them. What they don’t see is the need to give a commitment back. Not a paycheck or even bigger paycheck commitment, a commitment to growth, learning and opportunity. A commitment to help people in their times of need, basically a commitment to caring about them as more than a number. Commit to your people as you expect them to commit to you and they will be an engaged and powerful force for your business.

Compassion:  Let’s destroy this myth immediately. Compassion is not a weakness in leadership. I had a “leader: at one time that stood proudly to tell us that when taking his Strength Finders 2.0 survey Empathy was his biggest weakness. He believed that made him a strong leader. Wrong it made him a bully. There are times in life, and business is part of life, that you must have difficult conversations. It can however be done with passion and understanding. These conversations are with a person, not a machine, Leaders by definition are working with people. Compassion is required to be a good leader.

Common Sense:  Where has common sense gone? When did we lose the concepts of common courtesy and personal accountability? Have we really created a culture in which basic human respect and caring has turned into blaming everyone else and not taking ownership of our own actions? Common sense: we control our decisions, our actions and our results.

With the power of Social Media today we have an opportunity to make a difference. We have the ability to focus on these C words. To make a difference by showing that these words are powerful positive business and life tools not weak leadership. Change is an every day business fact. We live with it everyday. Let’s start that change by bringing back one other C word, Civility

 

 

 

Life Is Like A River

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A River

Oh to be a river, moving with such ease
Through the mountains and the valleys
To enter in the seas.

Oh to be a river, a beautiful sight it does make
As it comes together with others
To form a majestic lake.

Oh to be a river, holding life in its hand
With creatures feeding nature
And its waters feeding the land.

Oh to be a river, so quiet and serene
Always with the power to build
A beautiful scene.

Oh to be a human, much like the river above
Able to have beauty, live with nature
And give to each other love.

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Confidence and Connection!

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In the spring of 2011 a period of darkness entered my life after the passing of my Father and days later a job change. It was a period which brought both personal and professional struggles that rocked my belief in others and in myself. It made me question my core values and all that I had been taught through the years about how to interact with people. I questioned not only my leadership style at work but the things I taught to my children and shared with my friends.

Late in 2012 more questions and fewer answers continued to shake my self-confidence and brought me to wondering about my purpose in life. It was a period in which I was truly searching for meaning and wondering if it would ever be found. Thanks to my family and the love and support of my children I knew that giving up was never an option and that I needed to find avenues from which to learn, grow and find purpose.  The avenues I came to find were writing and social media.

In early 2013 I joined the social media era by opening a twitter account. Like most things I have done throughout my life it started with following people in sports. I have always been, and always will be, an avid sports fan. As I learned how twitter worked and how much you could learn in small bits of information I looked for people involved in business and leadership. What I found was life changing. I not only found people but communities of people who spoke about leadership and people skills in the way I believed. People not only from the United States but from around the world with diverse opinions and experiences that all focused on the same thing; truly leading people.

I give you that background because communities on twitter and Google+ such as #peopleskills led by Kate Nasser have been a life line for me. They have allowed me to learn that it is ok to be me. They have shown me that leading with empathy, listening and being a Servant Leader are positive. They helped me believe again in my core values and gain an understanding of my purpose in life. Most of all they have helped me build confidence through connection.

So what does that mean? As a person it is vital to continue to grow through learning. Communities on twitter and Google+ give you an amazing amount of opportunities to learn from members. Learning that you can grow from and work with in your life. Whether it is experiences that may be similar to your own or questions that may have you thinking in a new way, the information is endless. And as you learn you gain confidence. Add that to the ability to connect. Whether through Skype or Google Hangouts the door opens to interactions around the world.

For me Sunday morning at 9am Central Time in the US has become one of the most important hours of my week. I have the honor of joining people I now consider friends on the #peopleskills twitter chat. The incredible amount of interaction that takes place in that hour is both educational and inspiring. People engage with respect and civility. They support ideas they believe in and challenge those that differ from their own. They truly set an example for how win – win conversations should take place.

I want to say Thank You to Kate Nasser for the support she has given me over this year. I also want to thank each member of the People Skills Community for the wonderful interactions we have had and the friendships we are building. It is an honor to be part of this group.

Leadership: One Size Does Not Fit All !

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There are so many blog posts on leadership that sometimes it is difficult not to get overwhelmed by the amount of information you take in daily. I know when I get off of work each day I may have 20 to 30 new posts to read on Google+ alone. Along with hundreds of tweets, many of them with new learning attached. There are literally hundreds of brilliant leaders, consultants, teachers and coaches giving great advice on how to lead your team, be a great parent or grow yourself as a person. 

While I will be the first one to tell you that learning is a key part of leadership and personal growth, it’s just as important that what you absorb fits you. When I go looking for a pair of athletic shoes there is a wall in every store with many styles of shoes displayed. Not only will not all of those shoes fit me for size, many will not fit my personality or the function for which I am using them. I need to buy a pair that fits me. The same could be said about clothing or the car I drive. They are a part of what makes up me as an individual.

Leadership styles and attributes also need to be a fit for you. If you read about 10 ways to inspire your team and none of those ways fit your personality then they will not work for you. To be a great leader you must first understand you. Leadership is not one size fits all. The worse thing you can do as a leader is try to fit a mold by reading a series of stories and then trying to be that person or those people. Listen to what they say. Read and try to comprehend their story; then ask yourself does this work for me? If you feel it’s a good fit then try it out with confidence. If you are uncomfortable with that approach, try to find one with which you are comfortable. Just like shoes, you must be confident and feel comfortable before you wear them out.   

Leadership is not for everyone and maybe as you read an article it will be more important for you to learn the type of leader you want to follow. That’s alright because the most important thing is you are comfortable in the role you chose. Life is about choices and one of those choices is whether you want to lead or follow. Both are important roles and vital to growth. A flower does not grow without food and water. People see the flower often not realizing how many things went into getting to that point. In life people often see the leader without understanding how many followers helped them get to the top. Learning from leaders is important for the growth of followers not just leaders.

As you learn always ask yourself these questions; how does this idea fit me and my core values?  Can I adopt this concept and continue to lead from within myself? If I make these changes will I still be authentic? If you can’t answer these questions and feel comfortable then the idea is not a good fit. Do not change because others tell you they have a better idea. It is only a better idea if it will make the real you better at being the real you.