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...]

How to Free Your Imprisoned Artist

Artist and author Sharna Fulton shattered a myth I’ve been carrying around. Sharna is the creator of Chloe Pink™ , the 7-year old character who inspires and motivates girls to be independent, adventurous, and believe in themselves. In our conversation, I’d been bubbling over with adoration for artists, specifically Sharna’s uber-cute illustrations paired with super empowering messages. How deeply and abidingly jealous I am of artists! She stopped me, “But Jone, you are an artist.”Really? No, I don’t think so. “I’ve read your work—that’s art,” Sharna said, “don’t you see that?” I found myself blurting out how, in 5th grade, I’d won every single “top student” award—except in art. While telling this old-but-not-buried story, I could even picture my (losing) 5th grade art project. It involved a good deal of seriously manipulated paper-maché and oil paint that took several days to dry. At age 11, I was no fool. I got the message loud and clear: I’m no good at art. I’m not and never will be an artist. I’d better stick to what I am good at. Are you holding onto any messages, any myths about what you’re able to create? If you are, here’s one absolutely fool-proof way to … [Read more...]

Unlocking Leadership

Dust blows across the corral. We toe the dirt. Creative, even scary leadership development activities from the past float through my mind: blister-producing ropes exercise; speed-prep speech giving; psychometric leadership styles assessments; several 360s; cabaret solo-singing. Now, at a ranch outside San Francisco, I’m about to lead a horse. When psychologist Kurt Lewin released his groundbreaking research on leadership styles in 1939, I doubt he anticipated how leadership vernacular, assessments, workshops, and programs would proliferate. Catchy new labels for leadership styles emerge frequently and if we strip away the buzzwords, we find elements of the three core styles Lewin identified: Autocratic, Democratic, and Laissez-Faire. Perspiration trickles down my back as the timed “Lead a Horse” exercise begins. One classmate decides she’s too terrified of horses to participate and leaves the arena. Another colleague pats and pets his horse, talks quietly, pulls on the reins, and nothing happens.  Flirtatious, the horse flips its mane as if to say, “come on, impress me big boy.” He belly-bumps and begs. The lady horse won’t budge. Colleague number three steps up, … [Read more...]

Leadership Guidance from the World’s Nicest Grown-Up

The "World’s Nicest Grown-Up," now that’s an enviable moniker. He's also been called the Dalai Lama of television, a Pied Piper, and even messianic. Think nice, sweater-addicts can't get ahead? With a U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, and 40 honorary university degrees, his net worth was over $8 million when he died in 2003. Welcome to Fred Rogers’ neighborhood, a place where leaders mine solid gold. Mr. Rogers' 15 Lessons for Leaders 1. Want to achieve ultimate success? Be Kind. “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” 2. What to do in times of stress? Ask Questions, Listen With Heart. “In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” 3. Think you can have it all? Nope. Make Choices. “You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are. ” 4. Want to grow your leadership? Embrace Problems. “It’s the very wrestling … [Read more...]

The 5 Breaks You Need to Succeed

break·through ˈbrākˌTHro͞o/ noun: a sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development; an instance of achieving success in a particular sphere or activity Notice how the buzzword “breakthrough” is everywhere? Breakthrough thinking, breakthrough performance, breakthrough earning, breakthrough conversations, and my personal favorite: breakthrough diet pills that make or keep us thin while we lounge on the sofa eating as much of any ol’ thing we want. I googled "breakthrough" and "book titles." In seconds, nearly 14 million results popped up. Little wonder breakthrough is en vogue. It sounds so enticing, a secret unveiled, like winning the lottery or some starlet's big break. Some dramatic event that will take you from zero to hero or rags to riches; a sudden leap that will change you, and your life, forever. While you may sometimes wonder what it  would be like to win the lottery, I doubt you’re fooled with such magical thinking. Rarely will one breakthrough change the course of your life. There's no such thing as being an overnight success, just like there are no free lunches. Heavens, even lottery winners find that the breakthrough, the big break of winning … [Read more...]

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