Friday, March 27, 2015

Together, we ARE Better!

As many of you know, music runs deeply through my veins. As a former vocal major and choral director I have had the opportunity to participate in some rather spectacular performances. All of my children appreciate and value what music has to offer the soul. In fact, even in adulthood all still find their underlying spirit in the notes which dance across a score.

Recently my youngest sent me a link to her latest concert. As the choral director at a nearby high school, she assembled her vocal ensembles and joined forces with the orchestra to produce a concert of amazing quality.

As I listened, with tears streaming from my cheeks, I couldn't help but to wonder the impact to the audience as well as the participants.

As a leader, I often find myself asking the same questions. What impact have I made to the audience as well as to the participants? Have I touched their spirit? Have I helped them realize their contribution to the whole? Have I left them wanting more?

As leaders, we’re not that all different from that of the music director. Our job is to make things blend, even though each department has their own part, to help the whole become greater than their individual parts, to leave those that we touch spell-bound, inspired, and simply wanting more.

So leader…how do you inspire, to get those who perform for you, create “beautiful music…together?”

Friday, March 20, 2015

Confession, Good For the Soul?

There are certain “truths” each of us has grown up believing, for no other reason then our parents told us it was “true.” One such truth is, “confession is good for the soul.”

I’m reminded of a story about my dear Aunt Paula who was getting up in age having problems with her knees. After seeing her doctor it was determined she needed to exercise her arthritic knees and that a stationary bike would be a good therapy for her. She solicited my help in finding “such a contraption” and off we went, to Sears of course, to purchase her bike. Mind you, this was 35-40 years ago, the bike was beige, hard front wheel that could be cranked down to make it more difficult to rotate the tire, one speed, and an analog speedometer complete with an odometer. After assembling the dinosaur, I took my leave and challenged my Aunt to bike 5 miles a day...not all at once, but 5 miles a day total. She agreed...

A few days later I called her to see how things were going. “Ach Ronnie, this is much easier than I thought, I’m doing my 5 miles a day in one sitting!” Amazing I thought, but not surprising, as she was a “stout German.”

That weekend I was in the neighborhood and I went to check on her and the bike to make sure the bolts were still tightened appropriately. She was so proud of herself and she really believed that biking the five miles a day was really helping. As I was checking the bike, I noticed the odometer read 4.5 miles exactly. Then it hit me...she was biking .5 miles a day thinking it was 5...I didn’t have the heart to tell her...:-)

My “confession” is there have been times in my personal life as well as my professional life where I’ve embraced “selective seeing and hearing.”  I have found that at times the truth can do more damage than good. As leaders we need to keep our objective in mind, which needs to be the focus over “being right.”

In my Aunt’s case, I applauded that she was accomplishing that rigorous ride each day and suggested that she push herself to 10 miles a day…she made it up to 20 before her passing…no one knew, up until today, that it was only 2.0.

Hmmm…it appears confession IS good for the soul as it forces us to remember and reflect on yesterday to help us prepare for tomorrow…

What is it you have to confess…come on now, you KNOW “confession is good for the soul”… just sayin…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Just ONE Thing"

Such an unexpected gift arrived today from a friend and a colleague who shared an article with me from Richard Hanson.  Apparently Dr. Hanson writes a weekly newsletter called “Just One Thing” which suggests a simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind.

The particular practice he was highlighting was that of BLESS. He defines BLESS as means to see what's tender and beautiful, and wish well. Blessing includes compassion, kindness, appreciating, honoring, non-harming, warmth, cherishing, and love. It's leaning toward pain rather than away, helping rather than harming, giving rather than withholding, opening and extending rather than closing and contracting, wishing well rather than ill, delighting in rather than finding fault. You can bless others, the world, and yourself – and/or any parts of any of these.

I was humbled by those words. You see, I fear I fall in the occasional trap of feeling overwhelmed, under-appreciated, enjoying my own personal “pity party.”  What his words remind me is that, as a leader, I am the barometer of my organization. I have the power to bless if I CHOOSE to do so or fall victim to my own personal and professional insecurities.

So my friends, as the gloom of winter gives way to the hope spring brings, let’s consider “Just One Thing” this week. Consider how BLESSED we are…and what our blessings to others might mean…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, March 6, 2015

What Does YOUR Organization Need to Take Flight?

Recently I read Joel Osteen’s book, You Can, You Will where he referenced the principles of flying relating it to specific types of people which we encounter daily.

Apparently thrust, lift, weight and drag are the main principles which must be mastered to fly. When we relate those principles to the people who impact our life there appears to be an undeniable correlation.


Thrust – Webster defines thrust as propulsive force. These are the folks who inspire and motivate us to MOVE FORWARD. They challenge us in a non-threatening way encouraging along the way.

Lift – According to NASA lift is the force that directly opposes the weight of an airplane and holds the airplane in the air. When we relate it to people, these are those who simply brighten your day, who bring laughter and cheer to your daily routine, a lift to your step, and who are positive with a “can do” attitude.

Weight – tells us that weight is any heavy load.  You know this group of people; they are negative about everything and dump all their problems on you to solve. They ask question after question and slow you down impeding any movement.

Drag – Finally, Webster tells us that Drag is something that makes action or progress slower or more difficult. Pretty much sums it up in the word itself…D R A G…they always have one problem or another and expect you to cheer them up, raise them from their pit of despair, and carry their load.  

Which principle are you currently aligned to at this point in the year? What does your organization need right now? Before you answer “thrust and lift” as to what is needed, I’d suggest that as leaders, there are times where we must provide the weight and drag as well. We must be mindful of all the principles in play so we can FLY and find and maintain that delicate balance so not to “crash and burn.”  

Be good to yourself...