Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dear Kitten Leadership Lessons

As I ponder leadership and lessons, for some reason this video popped into my head.  The older cat has found himself in a leadership role when the new kitten enters the household. I wondered if there would be some way work a leadership lesson around this video.  I will hold a staff meeting next month and wanted to start with something lighthearted but meaningful.  Since the staff knows about my trials and tribulations of living with the two Diva Boys--they will find added humor to the Dear Kitten video.  Clearly cats, narcissistic by nature, are not cut out to be great leaders--so we can explore both his positive and negative aspects of being a leader.
In the opening, we see that that our Tom is a reluctant leader.  He attempted to make the kitten feel unwelcome for hissing at him the requisite number of time before taking on the mantle.  Like our Tom, most of us don't realize that at anytime we may find ourselves in a leadership position.  Any employee in any position can take on a leadership role, either temporarily or permanently.  As we know, not all leaders have a title. So it is best for those of us in leadership positions to prepare everyone to lead.
From this video, we learn that he is only following tradition set down by his mentor, Rest In Peace--when he hisses at the kitten.  Traditions are important to building a culture--but some traditions may work toward building the sort of culture, we do not want.  For an enlightened collaborative culture this tradition would  be best dropped.
Some of the positive leadership skills demonstrated are:
1) Orienting the kitten to his new environment
2) Giving the kitten information to keep himself safe
3) Providing information for future development and the value for that development (letting the kitten know there are growth opportunities)
4) Sharing his vision of the world and providing explantations for how the world works (transparency)
5) Praising the kitten for a job well done
6) Despite a voiced fear that the kitten may usurp him, he still provides leadership.

Overall, not a bad leader this cat.  After few bumps he seems to be adjusting to his role fairly well.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Awake at Work

For about a year now I have had the intention to read Awake at Work: 35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work's Chaos by Michael Carroll. The book came in as a donation to the Friends of the Library, as I was sorting through to see if anything was suitable for the library, the title caught my eye.  I added my dollar to the Friends' money box and added it to my book shelf.  First it was at work for several months, then it came home.  I was sorting through my books a couple of months ago to take to the Friends and added the book to the Take Pile.  Then when I was getting the books out, I decided that really I wanted to read the Awake at Work.  So I  left it in the back of my car.
Finally, last week, I needed to go to Urgent Care.  I knew it  was going to be a wait so I grab the book.  I reasoned that since I was taking sick time from work, I should probably spend that time doing something somewhat work related.  So I read while I waited and waited and waited.
I found the book entirely relevant to my situation now.  The book suggested using sitting mediation to help keep your life in balance.  Before I picked up the book, I have felt that this is something that I should do.  Last month, I downloaded Insight Timer a meditation app for my iPhone.  
I wondered why I had put off reading the book for so long when I found I didn't want to put it down.  All I can say is that, this is the time that I needed to read the book.  I don't want to sound so touchy feely.  But I do believe in serendipity and that things do come to you when you need them if you are open to them.  Most of my jobs have come to me through serendipity--circumstances lining up perfectly to lead me to the next step.  And since most of my jobs have involved moving from one country to another, I take serendipity fairly seriously.
Michael Carroll worked as a human resource professional holding a number of executive positions after his guru told him to go into the world rather than become a monk.  He is now the founding director of Awake at Work Associates.
I want to explore this book further. I intend the next several posts to cover several of the principles as they relate to me and my life.  The first principle that caught my attention was Welcome the Tyrant. When I read the title, I laughed out loud at how entirely appropriate this book is.  So Welcome  the Tyrant will be the first theme for me to explore in an upcoming post.
In the meantime, I will handle my work day with the suggestion to be curious whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Storytelling and TED Talks

Earlier this week, a friend and mentor sent me this link: As libraries become cultural hubs, TEDx events bring the community in. I have considered hosting a TEDx at the library, but right now it is the formative stage. 
This morning as I was showering, I began to ponder why I am so drawn to TED Talks and feel the need to comment on them after viewing.  I let that roll around in my brain for a bit and then suddenly I had an epiphany:  TED Talkers are our modern storytellers.  
I love hearing stories and storytelling.  In fact, I believe that stories are vital to our humanity.  I am certainly no Joseph Campbell--he is one of my heroes.  But I believe that humans created stories to make sense of the world and that those motifs that are important to us as humans can be found in stories around the world.
For example the Cinderella story can be found in innumerable cultures.  What does the Cinderella story teach us about the world:  Life is not always fair--and events happen that we don't have control over. But we have control over how we respond to these circumstances and if we remain true to ourselves, continue to have hope, faith and perseverance eventually the balance will eventually shift.  When it does we need to remember the compassion that we would have enjoyed during our darkest hours.  Furthermore, the story also tells us that we can't go it on our own, we need help to achieve our dreams.  
Each year, I host two Mother Daughter Teas.  During the Tea, I always tell my story of a mother that always took time to show her TomBoy of a daughter how beautiful the world can be.  I tell the story that I host the teas in her honor and that by sharing the planning of them with her, she is with me. I explain the importance of storytelling and encourage the mothers and daughters to share their own stories with each other.  I explain that through stories we learn to bridge the divide from being a Homo Sapien to becoming a human (OK so I don't use those exact words during the Tea).  Afterwards, I share several themed stories from around the world.
I let them know that the art of storytelling is endanger of falling by the wayside--or so I thought. I have spent the day in renewed hope.  With TED Talks and TEDx Events, storytelling is alive and well.  The number of people in audience of TED Talks and the growing number of TEDx Events around the world, demonstrates the need people have for hearing stories that can teach us to be the better part of our dual natures.
“As technology becomes more and more prevalent in our daily lives, it’s easier and easier for us to only interact with people who think like us,” says Barr. “For our democracy and our way of life to function, we need to develop skills of compromise and consensus building by working with people — thinking with people, talking with people — that are a little out of our comfort zone.” "  
In my opinion this is the role that storytelling has always played in our (humanity's) lives.   The world is a better place when we tell stories so that we can learn compassion how to recognize the wolf and the witch especially those within us.
What a pleasing Ahh-ha moment it was this morning.