Wednesday, August 7, 2013

We're Following the Leader

We're following the leader, the leader, the leader
We're following the leader wherever he may go
We won't be home till morning, till morning
We won't be home till morning
Because he told us so

– Lyrics from the Song "Following the Leader" from Disney's movie Peter Pan
This morning I am giggling at the song this image from the movie Peter Pan brings up. I have trained for many years in various styles of leadership. It is interesting where all of the styles have similar points and how some of the are so opposite it hurts the brain!

In my younger years it was the power over people. Many of us it seems in my youth, learn this in our family units. "Do as I say and not as I do" was an old adage I heard in my family many times. It never really felt very good and what I know I garnered from it was a sense of being pushed around and a classist way of getting things done.

In college, I began to learn about other styles. Consensus building was always a challenging one in that if you have a time frame to get something done in and and you spend a ton of time talking about it, the job never seemed to get done and was always late. It is a great system for conversations not bound by deadlines and as a designer whose world was driven by deadlines....drop dead style deadlines, it often fell short of being useable.

These last few years I have been engaged in learning to lead by creating inquiry. Empowering people to see for themselves what needs to happen inside of a specific system and set of parameters. It has been an interesting journey. I like it in that it offers the opportunity for teams to be creative, work together and definitely requires a more rigorous communication pattern than others. It assumes good will from all and challenges the patterns each of us can get locked into and offers opportunities for us to take a look at ourselves and our own behaviours. 

Like any other leadership style there are challenges for all involved. Those wonderful ways we operate in the world become the first tools we reach for. Shared alignment is totally necessary and accountability for how one impacts the entire system is very present. If one person digs their heels in the whole apple cart can be tipped upside down or stopped dead in its track. Opinions are welcome and if the person leading sees the jobs not getting down, they have to confront how to manage the situation. This is the side that can stop me. I hate confrontation and if I entertain the notion of anyone in the mix standing in a position and not aligned with the way things are requested I can get stuck.

What I am seeing is you just have to love the heck out of your team and stand for the vision of where things need to go in a way that allows for vulnerability enough to tell the truth, compassion enough to know there is something going on for team members that may not have anything to do with you and keep a healthy perspective. It is here my training has really started to take hold.

I can't say as I will ever be able to not feel hurt when colleagues sling arrows, make me wrong or gossip behind my back. What is there is a chance to continue training my mind molecule by molecule. Holding on the to notion that others can only respond and work with you based on their systems of thinking. Their patterns are theirs and it means nothing about you.

I am a global and big thinker. I see situations large and small. I stand for the whole and inside of getting a result produced. I love the people I work with even when there is "stuff" in the way. I am not interested in telling people all the time what to do, and love it when everyone starts moving together as a well oiled machine. I like leading by inquiry and will continue to just train to empower those willing to get in the game. And the one thing I know....I am not sure I can ever be 100% a follower. There is something else that drives my thinking and maybe that....just that is what is waiting to be unlocked and discovered.

I look forward to the unfolding of it all.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Unlimited Side to One's Wisdoms

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”   ― Mahatma Gandhi
A couple of weeks ago I attended my 40th high school reunion from my alma mater Owego Free Academy in the town of Owego, NY. Going to these reunions periodically have been difficult when I have hooked into any number of disempowering contexts and internal monologues about that time in my life. This year I really wanted to go. There was something shifting in my life that had something occur to me...this is where the seeds to how I think and be. So what a gift to have the chance to connect again.

For the reunion I took on the social media side of inviting people. It was fabulous to start to plant the possibility of seeing one another again. Who would come? What great adventures will everyone have gone through? Who are we all now? I saw the opportunity to not only embrace the angst of our teens but feel to excitement of learning about these incredible people who part of my life journey.

At our dinner, I received this eraser as a fun gift for supporting the invitations on the social media side. Oh how I laughed! So perfect for a women who use to think she was a big mistake who landed on this planet. Times certainly have changed!! Now I live for walking through the mistakes in my life with dignity and grace and forgiveness not only of others, but for myself too! I placed it on my sacred altar when I got home as a reminder, the past is the past and does not need to take hold of the present. It also does not need to shape the future!

This small token of love and appreciation has become a touchstone I can look at and smile. I have noticed how much not only I, but many people hate making mistakes and failure feels like death. One of the beauties of creating our own unique selves is we can let go of our mistakes, assess the gaps that created them showing up, incorporate the lessons and move forward. Letting go is like using a big eraser and I get to start over and reinvent whatever I am up to.

As an artist, erasers were and still are my best friend. The stroke of the pencil or pen can be erased away no matter what. So the canvas or piece of paper can always be blank or able to be recrafted. Gesso over the canvas of paint creates a new surface to begin again. An yet, we hold our mistakes in life like they can never be attempted ever again. Oh how I wished I had had this wisdom, this knowledge of starting over as being unlimited in my youth.

So where do you not allow yourself to start over? What are you holding on to that you are unwilling to let go of so you can begin again? What is in the way of letting in the unlimited wisdoms waiting for you.

For me, this blog is an interesting place to start over and over again. Saying something new. Getting back in the game of writing. A chance to continue to play with life and the boundless opportunities we can create for not only ourselves, but the contribution we are to others when we breakthrough an area we feel we always fail in.

The reunion and this gift will be a reminder to me. The dialogues with people were rich, fun, at times outrageously funny and humbling. The stories showed how much we all have grown and love our small town. I left with a wisdom I shall now hold forever...that through dialogue and a stand of love and compassion for all people, life can be a fresh canvas to continue to invent our lives with over and over and over again. It merely takes courage and the capacity to start saying something new about one's past.  

How can you speak something that you have failed at newly? How can you begin to share your life in a way that empowers you and those you love? 

Have fun with this! Make as many mistakes as you can. Clean up when you need to and when you are clear it is warranted. And by all means....when someone else makes a mistake, hand them and eraser to start over too.

Blessings to all! And to all of my classmates.....thank you for the gift you are to me and one another.