Busy, The Devil’s Playground

My father infamously created projects to keep my brother, sister and me busy in the summer time. Was plucking chickens a good life lesson? I can almost conjure up the nose-flaring stench today. Pew. The smell when one singes feathers off is truly distinctive, unforgettable. In our eulogies at Dad's funeral, my brother and I shared some Dad’s-crazy-project-tales. We mused that Dad completely bought into the biblical saying, “idle minds are the devil’s playground.” We divided up the stories, my brother and I, to make sure we both got laughs: Raising geese for Christmas dinner; Picking a field-full of jalapenos; Sawing wood to last all winter…and more. The funniest parts of these make-work-to-keep-kids-busy projects? Geese can be vicious creatures. They’re able to chase and peck with lightening speed. I’d arm myself with a tennis racket and practice my forehand when it was my turn to feed them. No one in our family—except Dad—actually liked to ingest geese so the leftovers eventually went to the dogs. Burning mouth syndrome. Dad said “don’t eat them” so I promptly stuffed a couple jalapenos in my mouth—in the middle of the field—and ran faster than Usain Bolt to get to a … [Read more...]

Five Francis-Catalyzed Leadership Reflections

Visiting a dear friend in Omaha recently, she shared something one of her Catholic priests mentioned to her, "He said that he was walking out of a restaurant one night, wearing his collar, and an apparently homeless woman stopped him and said, hey, I like your Pope." Once I got past the sense that this might have the makings of a great joke, and consternated about whether the priest had done something immediately to assist the woman (he didn't, at least according to the second-hand story), I realized that I was in radical agreement with the homeless woman:  I like Pope Francis' leadership thus far too. I'm not Catholic but I do recognize that popes are incredibly important global CEOs. Because how they lead matters to so many, it also matters to me. According to the Vatican, there are 1.2 Billion Catholics in the world today. In the U.S., 72.8 people self-identify as Catholics. His Holiness Pope Francis consistently speaks and acts as a leader. He’s called on Catholics (and us all) to battle the “globalization of indifference” and to be more compassionate, to champion the poor, and work to achieve social justice. Five Francis-Catalyzed Leadership Reflections 1. As CEOs, … [Read more...]

Lead With Kindness: You’ll Get Better Results

What happens when we put kindness at the center of our leadership? There's plenty of hard evidence that kind leaders get better results. Emma Seppala, Ph.D, a Research Scientist at Stanford University and the Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, details several studies in Being a Kind Boss Pays Off: A kind leader may actually be good for "followers" hearts. In fact, a study out of the Karolinska Institute conducted on over 3,000 employees found that a leader’s qualities were associated with incidence of heart disease in their employees. Employees feel greater trust with someone who is kind. Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy and her research partners have also shown that leaders who project warmth—even before establishing their competence—are more effective than those who lead with their toughness and skill. Why? One reason is trust. Employees are inspired by kindness. Jonathan Haidt at New York University Stern School of Business shows in his research that when leaders are self-sacrificing, their employees experience being moved and inspired. As a consequence, the employees feel more loyal and … [Read more...]

Gratitude Myth-Busting

It takes a lot of courage to be a strong and grateful woman. Myths swirl about both. Strong women are still perceived as difficult or angry, b*tches or worse. Being a kind and grateful women makes you a doormat, a Pollyanna, or just silly. After 15 years of research here's what Dr. Richard Emmons, the world's foremost authority on gratitude, says that shatters gratitude myths... 5 Gratitude Myths Busted Myth 1 - Gratitude leads to complacency. Busted: Being grateful doesn't make you lazy, it gives you a sense of purpose and desire to do more. Myth 2 - Gratitude makes us too self-effacing. Busted: From my observation, when women state they're grateful it is often perceived by others as weakness. Gratitude is actually associated with a greater sense of personal control over one’s success according to studies on this powerful trait. Myth 3 - Gratitude isn't possible -- or appropriate -- in the midst of suffering. Busted: Science suggests we can cultivate or maintain an attitude of gratitude through hard times, and that we’ll be better for it. Even when suffering intensely, keeping a gratitude journal is likely to lift your spirits and connectedness to others which … [Read more...]

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