January 2012 1.7
This issue of the Unfolding Leadership Newsletter focuses on defining moments. You'll find:
- Reflective Leadership Practice -- This Moment is the Journey
- Leadership Links -- stimulating articles from across the web
- Leadership Edge -- links to articles from the Unfolding Leadership weblog
- Leadership Conversations -- Q & A with Lolly Daskal, Lead from Within
- Leadership Passions -- essays and video
If you would like to review earlier issues, you can find them in the archive. As always, I appreciate your feedback and suggestions.
Registration Ends February 10!
The Arc: Living the Full Story of Your Personal Power
Sign-up ends soon for The Arc Workshop, a two-day, small-group workshop for reflective leaders that will help you explore how your use of personal power can enhance your sense of meaning in challenging times. You will learn to apply this knowledge to your immediate leadership challenges. In a turbulent world where we must all exercise leadership, being able to use your arc of personal power is an essential and liberating practice and an investment in your own potential.
The workshop takes place March 2-3, 2012 at the Talaris Conference Center in Seattle. The cost is $350. For full information, please download this pdf brochure. You're welcome to link to the brochure via your social media accounts and forward this information to others. I invite you to email me or call me at 425-922-2859 with any questions or to discuss how the workshop may fit with your leadership development goals. To register, just send an email and I'll reply with further details.
Wishing you the best for your reflective practice!
REFLECTIVE LEADERSHIP PRACTICE
This Moment is the Journey
"This moment in your life is the road," I shared recently in one of Lolly Daskal's famous #leadfromwithin tweet chats*, adding the counsel, "travel well." But what does that mean, really, to travel well in the moments?
Sometimes the moment when we travel best is simply the one in which we slow down enough to notice small things -- the way a tree moves in the afternoon light, for example, or to pay attention to a child's rough drawing. Or perhaps it is the one when we feel great satisfaction in finishing something important and creative at our work. Or maybe one day it's about connecting with someone else in an unexpected way or, again, the moment we achieve some new personal understanding and awareness. But there are also -- and these can be the most memorable aspects of traveling well -- moments experienced as truly defining ones, turning points in one's work or life.
A favorite story of mine is how a participant at a workshop was trying to decide whether he should apply for the presidency of his organization. He had some misgivings and personal doubts. Colleagues had warned him the job might not be what he expected, and he questioned whether he was big enough for such a role. Yet, after some surprising feedback at the workshop, it became clear to him that his not applying for the job repeated a very old pattern in his life, and he saw in a flash that he had the power to break that pattern. That was his moment, his turning point. (And, yes, he got the job and is quite successful at it.)
Any and all of these moments of conscious attention, reflection and choice are the journey, but the defining moments are special and, as I'm sure you know, not always easy. They bring together head and heart in a way that draws down on the core of who we are. It is from them we most fundamentally create our character and destiny and reputation with others. To meet these moments well, we have to bring all of what is best in us, caring for how our words and actions in a split second can make all the difference, and making choices from which there may be no return.
Too often we may use the rush of daily experience as an excuse for going along with the past and with the pack, despairing of the future while staying in the dark. We forget sometimes that it is also up to us to make our moments defining ones, not just wait for them to arrive on our doorstep.
Without our own courageous light -- light from the lantern of the heart -- we cannot genuinely live the mysteries of our lives or awaken to our true possibilities, nor serve the world well. In this vein, I strongly encourage you to read this month's leadership conversation with Lolly Daskal. Her words and her story are amazing, and as you will see, it's all about the defining moments "when something is and something is becoming...."
* for those of you unfamiliar with "tweet chat," the term refers to a rapid-fire Twitter discussion among many people all focused on the same topic at the same time.
Readings & Tools to Help You Lead
* One Word Changes Everything 1. S. Chris Edmonds, senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies asks for a different kind of measure in his blog article, "Is Your Target Success or Significance."
* And For All of Us Helpful Problem-Solvers. Coach Mary Jo Asmus reminds us the moment when our very desire to be of help may unconsciously undermine our leadership effectiveness. Here is, "Giving the Monkey Back."
* What Would YOU Do? Randy Conley, also of the Ken Blanchard Companies, offers sound advice on how to handle the tough moments in "Defining Moments of Leadership -- Will you define the moment or will the moment define you?"
* Another Way to Think About What's Important. Visiting professor at Harvard Business School, Gianpiero Petriglieri, offers a provocative look at what it means to "use privilege well" in his HBR blog posting: Privilege: A User's Guide. (And for a more in-depth look at his grounded approach to leadership development, you can access this thorough, beautifully articulated thesis, "Identity Workspaces for Leadership Development.")
* Average is Now Officially Over. There are defining moments in history that affect all of us. New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman describes the current shift from a connected to a hyper-connected world in this three-minuete excerpt from the IBM Think Forum video series.
Personal Essays from the Unfolding Leadership Weblog
"On Destiny and Birthright" It is tempting, in the midst of the big economic, social, and political changes going on now -- not to mention human impacts on the earth itself, to want to turn and run, to protect what we have as individuals and play it safe. Isn't that the smart thing to do? ... Read More...
"Anatomy of a Conflict" Despite all the good advice about resolving conflict, perhaps best exemplified by Stephen Covey's famous line, 'Seek first to understand, then to be understood," people mostly don't. When the emotion of conflict takes over and the higher functioning parts of the brain have been hijacked, what we want is to be understood first...Read more...
Lolly Daskal Leads from the Heart and Helps Us Take Flight
For the last 25 years, as an internationally recognized coach, consultant, and speaker, Lolly Daskal has taught people, including well-known CEO's and politicians, how to lead from the heart. Her approach is vital, courageous, open and compassionate. Her famous #LeadFromWithin tweetchat can be accessed every Tuesday evening at 8 PM Eastern. Engaging people around the world in a community of leadership learning, Lolly's twitter "family" now embraces 275,000 followers. You can find out more about Lolly, her work and her services at her website: lollydaskal.com.
Q. Lolly, you are known for saying, "Leadership is not about the leader." What does that mean exactly?
A. Leadership isn't about the leader. It's about who you serve and how you can help them. Focus on helping others grow into their best selves. When you are the leader, it's not only about YOU. The message should always be that it is about US. It takes a WE, an US, a community, the whole organization, the whole team to make a difference. If a leader simply gives out directives, even if they are good ones, people will not follow if they don't feel connected, if they don't feel seen or heard. They most certainly will have a hard time being loyal. Often leaders are smart people, but they are so busy being "leaders" they neglect the collective "WE" and "US" that it takes to make an impact. That is where the power and the excitement reside. That is where you get your employees to be passionate and your customers to be loyal. To be the leader means you understand that you cannot make this happen alone.
Q. How is it we so easily fall into the trap of forgetting the collective?
A. People have assumptions and judgments about how they are supposed to be. Many feel that they are supposed to come from a place of power while everything else is a weakness. But of course that doesn't engage people. For example, when a leader acknowledges that he or she does not know the answer, it can stimulate a real exchange, build respect, create the connections and relationships that are so much deeper. If you must always have the answer and set the direction, how can somebody else have a true dialogue and add a smart contribution? How can anyone be inspired or empowered? People resonate with what they see in another person, but seeing only a leader's power does not inspire. That just creates the image of someone in an ivory tower. We resonate with what we want to become, and it's the leader's responsibility to be open and human so that others can see their own possibilities in the leader's example.
Q. You are extraordinarily clear and strong about these perspectives. Where do they come from in your own history?
A. At sixteen, I was orphaned and homeless. This was a unique situation, because my parents were still alive. I wanted to be an artist and being an artist went against my religion and my upbringing. I was given a choice to stay and get married, and live happily ever, or to pursue the life of an artist. At that time, my heart's desire was so profound that without any hesitation I chose the life of an artist. The consequence, however, was losing my home, family and the community I lived in. No one would ever again open their hearts or doors to me. As I left my father said "kaddish," the Jewish prayer said when someone dies. He topped it off with the dramatic statement: "From this day forward you are dead. If you stay alive, you will roam this earth as a person who doesn't exist." Those words still echo in my heart today as much as they did 32 years ago. I could have drowned then in helplessness and despair, but instead I found myself on a street corner, asking myself what to do. What came to me at that moment was the most profound, life-changing experience: I realized I had to surrender to the moment and to my feelings of being lost. I knew then that I would come to find myself. I was to be my own only answer. It had to come from me. I could help myself. I could lead from within me. The answers were in my convictions, my values. If I understood what I stood for, my principles, I would know how to proceed with my choices, decisions and actions. I had no clue where the next meal would come from, but I felt that if I stayed true to my passions and principles, I'd know what to do. To this day I awake every morning and check in with myself, with my principles, and ask myself how will I make a difference. I ask how I will walk the extra mile today and who can help.
Q. Lolly, this is an incredible story and it raises the question of how any of us really discover how to lead with our own hearts. Where do we begin?
A. Something especially valuable I learned from Carl Jung, one of the most important "mentors" in my life, is that we need to sit in our darkness in order to find our light. I love and give deeply because I've suffered tremendous darkness. I accept my darkness as I welcome my light. I embrace all aspects of what life has to offer. Life is about learning about self. It's about connecting to your gifts and talents and it's about living them to their fullest potential and then sharing those gifts with others. To do that you need to find your own heart space, to find out who you really are. It's not about being perfect. It's about understanding your own story and destiny. Only by letting go of who we think we need to be and letting in who we are meant to be, do we become the leaders of greatness.
Q. Could you say more about what it means to let go and let in?
A. It means acknowledging our true self and understanding our inner stories. If I see and acknowledge that I am jealous, that I envy someone, I can begin to question. "Why am I jealous? How did it start?" In turn, this honest self -reflection begins to give us the space to genuinely let yourself in, into your heart, into understanding of your inner stories. And by doing so, by letting in you can then begin to let go; let go of the behavior, let go of the reactions and let go of the actions that we carry over from our childhood that do not serve us as adults. It is only through taking the time to let ourselves into ourselves that we begin to understand ourselves and the lives we can enjoy.
Q. Where did the #LeadFromWithin tweetchat come from and why do you think it is so popular?
A. About a year ago many of my clients were struggling with New Year's resolutions. They were weary about making them and they needed my support. I explained to them that life and living are not about making resolutions once a year -- they are more about an every day resolution. Truly living is where you make resolutions every moment, every hour, every day. I explained if they knew their principles and understood how to lead from within, the rest would take care of itself. And I committed myself to supporting them every week for the rest of the year. I told them I would help them find themselves, understand the essence of leading from within, learn to hear their heart speak and trust their inner voice. I would teach the principles of heart-based leaders. I started a tweetchat on twitter the first week of January by myself, asking and answering my own questions. The first week we had about 50 people, the next week we had around 100 and then it went up to 300. The numbers have continued to climb ever since. These days our reach is more than a quarter of a million people around the world, week after week. I believe people come because the premise of the chat is so simple: To outline heart-based leadership; to let them know they are not alone in this world, that they belong to a community that sees them, loves them and understands them. The community has turned into a family, one that truly cares for each other. It is a community of love and support.
Q. As we close, what one message do you most want to share with readers, people deeply interested in furthering their own reflective leadership?
A. It's so evident that people are looking outside of themselves for answers. I urge each one of us that is struggling, looking for answers, to go inward, to listen to the heart, to hear the heart that speaks to us, that guides us, that heart that urges us to lead from within, to be who we are and not what we think others want us to be. We must spend the time to get to know our values and principles and allow our behaviors and action to speak for themselves. What is imperative when it comes to heart-based leadership is to understand this is not touchy-feely leadership. This is about inner strength, clear values and convictions. It's about the hard inner work that comes from the fact that each of us is responsible and accountable to lead by example. It is to realize everything that's in you and everything around you is a gift. You have a responsibility to use, develop, and share those gifts. It takes courage.
When we know in our heart and mind that every moment we have a choice -- just like I had at the age of 16 -- a moment when both something is and something is becoming, we know how precious each moment is. It's about this moment, right now, not tomorrow. It is in this moment that our lives are truly being shaped, that our lives are having impact. If we understand that, then we stop and think and we do not allow the moment to simply pass by. In my life, by leading from within, I have been able to seize that moment in the most profound way and as a result I've taken flight.
Essays and Video
* Your Heart Determines Your Fate. Author Isabel Allende speaks on feminism, freedom, and the passionate stories that make up amazing lives in her charming and moving TED Talk.
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