Friday, August 11, 2017

Acknowledge your Grit!

From my research into the lived experiences of women leaders, there emerged numerous stories of tenacity, perseverance, and a certain 'stick-to-itiveness'. One woman in particular, to whom I will refer as Michele, stands out even as I recall her story of losing her lavish home, her marriage, and all the trappings that financial success had provided. She sunk to the depths of homelessness after losing every material possession, and was left to live in her car. Although Michele's homelessness was the consequence of her husband's destructive behavior, she alone was left to pick up the pieces of her own life. I was intrigued by Michele's story of resilience, perseverance, and grit as she worked her way back to a career in the C-suite, which is where I met her. I keep returning to the concept of grit whenever I consider how persons like Michele and so many others (including you reading this right now); who experience unexpected adversity and setbacks, manage to bounce back and possibly achieve a goal equal to, or possibly greater, or more satisfying than one they had before?
Individuals like ballerina Misty Copeland, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth might suggest that Michele possesses grit.
In her message to the 2014 graduates at NYU, Chair Janet Yellen told her audience that grit and passion might matter more than sheer ability. Misty Copelnad attributed her ability to thrive in the competitive world of ballet to the grit she developed from her own childhood experiences.

Grit consists of a combination of persistence or stick-to-itivness, passion, tenacity or the willingness to find new ways to move forward whenever one encounters a roadblock that results in a setback.

In her TED Talk, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Duckworth describes grit as "passion and perseverance for very long-term goals". Grit is that quality that drives a person who has experienced failures too many to count, to try again and again to find a way forward. According to Duckworth, grit is not the only thing, yet it is a key factor in a person's success. From her research, Duckworth also notes that persons with grit also possess the following behaviors:
  • A deep passion and unfailing interest in what they are doing;
  • A drive to take steps toward their goal and in so doing, build mastery;
  • A view that their goal will benefit others, not only themselves; and
  • Hope - which allows them to persevere when the future appears bleak.
In my experience as an executive coach of current and aspiring leaders, I have come to realize that although many persons demonstrate grit several times in life, whenever there is a challenge or setback, it appears to be more difficult to acknowledge or remember that we possess this quality. Grit is reflected in the attitude or commitment to not give up and always keep trying. Grit is an innate quality we use to get through unexpected transitions. Whether experiencing an unrelenting desire to pursue a lifelong dream; or dealing with personal crises, career upheavals, financial tremors, or any issue that demands tenacious focus, I urge us all to acknowledge our grit. Acknowledge that fortitude and unstoppable determination that we have relied on at one time or another. The energy this requires might sometimes seem to waver, and yet, I urge that we acknowledge this quality that is in us, which will fuel our drive toward our goal. For added effect, let us also surround ourselves with persons who will remind us that we indeed possess grit.
Dr. Denise Williams is an experienced Coach and OD Consultant who uses a whole-person approach to help employees improve their performance and overall effectiveness while achieving goals.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Make that Change....

Some years ago when the news announced that Michael Jackson had died, my friend's 13 year-old daughter gathered with her 13-year old friends to hold a vigil.  Blasting from someone's computer was the song "Man in the Mirror".  I wondered to myself, what did these babies know about Michael Jackson or his songs.  They were dancing like performers to an imaginary concert audience and their voices seemed to multiply when they belted out the chorus, "I'm starting with the girl in the mirror," they improvised as they pointed at the invisible mirror, "I'm asking her to make that change... oh yeah!"

As I think about the importance of those lyrics, I am aware that we have the power to make a change in our lives by the story we tell about ourselves...and by the narrative we create.  Just like any story, we have to have a start.  As a child, if you were like me, when I read a story that started "Once upon a time..." I looked forward to being taken on a ride with a good ending.  I just love a good story.

So how about our own story?  How does it begin?  The story that will lead you down a life-giving path.  If you want to make a change, it doesn't really matter what your story used to be, today we can make that change, if necessary, and create a new narrative.

Often I have to stand in front of a group and speak in a way that is engaging and holds the audience's attention.  Yet each and every time, for a long time, as the butterflies raged, I would tell myself a story that I would bomb before my audience.  It was a story that made me sick, until one day I realized that while I had been preparing a stellar content, I was also telling my mind I would bomb. I was sending a message to myself that my preparation was not enough, thus the butterflies. Why hadn't I created a better, richer, more life-enhancing story for myself?  Why didn't I at least change my words? One thing I could have said, "I'm off to deliver a well-prepared message."  Yeah!!

Now, after having practised for a while, whenever I stand before an audience, even if I feel the butterflies beginning to call out to me, I remind myself that I have prepared and it will be well.  I have a new habit... it is a habit of telling myself a new story.  A true story.  A story that creates a more accurate and a more helpful narrative for myself.  Yes, why not?

We each could start that habit today.  It does not matter what you have ever told yourself before, today you can make that change.  Today you can create a new story by first changing your thoughts about yourself and what is possible for you. "I have prepared, it will be well"  That is the start of one of my stories... what is the start of yours?

We've got to make that change!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Malala Yousafzai embodies grace and shows us her inner winner.

When I heard Malala Yousafzai address the UN, I knew I was witnessing greatness.  This young Pakistani took up the mantle of defending equal access to education when she was 11 years old. She is changing the narrative of what is possible for young girls in Pakistan ... all in the face of the Taliban trying to deny them an education.  Malala and her family were living in Pakistan when the Taliban had issued an edict in 2009 banning all girls from school. Malala was writing anonymously in a blog for the BBC at the time, and pursuing the education that was valuable to her.  It was in her pursuit of an education at 15 years old, that she was shot in her head. To hear this young lady speak inspires me beyond words.... Malala has tapped her inner winner.  Proud!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Making Connections through Story

Are you as fascinated as I that stories connect us.  Everyone has a story, and our stories touch and connect or they may drive us away.  Either way, I find them purely fascinating. I wonder sometimes whether I am a vessel for stories. Other people's stories. Like the one of my gentle giant.

One day I was in New York's Chinatown to purchase fish.  It was the day before Good Friday and since it was our family's custom to have fish for dinner on that day, Chinatown was the best place for me to buy the freshest selection at a low price.  The sellers and buyers had an interestingly strange interaction in the way they barely connected except to exchange money and fish along with some short, snappy, barking sounds.  The buyers were trying to get their fish and escape the smell and random splash of fishy liquid as quickly as possible.  The sellers wanted fish buyers to complete their purchases and make room for new customers, as quickly as possible.  I thought it was an uncharacteristically rude way to conduct business, so I stepped to the side while someone was was de-scaling the fish I had purchased.  It was then that I noticed my gentle giant.

His eyes were darting around the sea of buyers as though looking to help someone. He never said a word, and I will never know what possessed me to ask.
"Will you be closed tomorrow?" I was referring to Good Friday.
"No, not tomorrow", my giant replied.  Then he looked down at me from what seemed like a height of 6 feet 7 inches or so, and began to tell me his story.  He told me he had moved from China to Arlington, Virginia with his wife.  He had loved their life in Virginia and I nodded that I understood.  They had one child then another and they were happy as can be. Nice home, warm neighbors, comfy weather made it all worth while, except for one little, big thing.  The money was funny and he needed to make more.  My gentle giant moved to New York to be able to earn a higher wage and support his family.  But the move cost him.

"Pay better," gentle giant explained, "but life not so good.  Much better in Virginia."  I knew what he meant of course.  New York is tough, as Alicia Keys points out in song, it's a "concrete jungle where dreams are made of...".

"Everyday I work... I stand all day.  Everyday I stand in water.  Rain or shine, I just stand here and sell fish.  People see me, they don't understand.  It hurt to stand all day, but what can we do?  We have to sell fish.  In cold, in snow, in hot or cold, I stand in water all day, everyday.  But not Chinese New Year.  We close that day."  He spoke in short bursts, and then he became quiet.

My giant looked off in the distance as though silently revisiting some long-ago memories, and in my mind, I was right there with him.  In the midst of the noisy fish market, my giant and I were standing in our own little world, thinking of another time and a better life in Virginia, while standing on the edge of pandemomium that was the fish market.

Later, I would think back several times to my encounter with the giant.  When I had looked into his eyes I had seen a man who feels, a man who hurts, a man who wanted the best for the family he loves, just like the rest of us.  That's when I first saw gentleness.  Now, when I think back on that moment, I  appreciate the miracle of those few minutes - when I connected with a gentle giant, in the hectic frenzy of one Holy Thursday afternoon as we shared some moments of his story.

Are you fascinated at the way stories can connect us?  They can connect us to the best of each other.

Thank you gentle giant.  Thank you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How do you handle your something of value?

This past weekend (Mother's Day) sent me back to the Bible. I mentor a group of young ladies and wow!! I realized I have to step up my game. These young women are bright, talented, smart, beautiful, and they seem very sure of themselves.  To see them walk with humph, to hear them talk with snap... they hypnotize me.  It is when I start to listen... it occurs to me, they have so much to learn... about  life, about being a woman.  The question is whether I have anything to offer.

So I went back to the Bible and I was amazed at what I found. Proverbs 31 - Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is worth far more than rubies. 

Rubies are valuable ladies. They are said to be the most powerful gem in the universe.  And you my dears, are worth far more. 

Sometimes when I look on, I wonder whether my lovely ladies know they are worth so much more.  So much more.

Proverbs 31 also tells us how she thinks and acts as a wife, a mother, and a woman.

She fears God.  She is an entrepreneur - and a successful businesswoman. This woman is kind and thoughtful, stylish and elegant, and not likely to be seen in clothing unbefitting a lady
Because of the way she carries herself, her husband has favor and is highly respected.  She is strong.  She is honorable. She is not idle, but rather she works hard.  She is kind to her employees and the people in her household.  She is wise and intelligent.  She is gentle and kind.  She is creative, confident, and resourceful, and her children hold her in high regard.  Her husband also thinks the world of her... as he should. Did I say she is strong? Yes, and she looks good. 

I wish my lovely young ladies would remember the value of their worth.  I want you to live like you know the value of your worth

So tell me, how do you handle your something of value?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Leaning In - Just not enough!!

Recently @Sheryl Sandberg's book @Lean In has been all the buzz.  Sandberg's view that women may inadvertently be holding ourselves back in the workplace by not speaking up, not being assertive enough, not networking with the right people enough, not taking a seat at the table.... is interesting, and in some instances true.  I know this because I've heard many women describe their coming of age story, rife with uncertainty, low confidence, and wobbly ways.    When MSNBC's @Mika Brzezinski compares her experience trying to negotiate her salary against that of her colleague Joe Scarborough, it is funny because of the way she tells it.  Sad because many of us know she tells our truth.  Women like Sandberg and Brzezinski maybe providing signposts for women to navigate the workplace, however.....

Sandberg and others seem not to acknowledge enough the stories of others.  The experiences of their half sisters who lean until they are broken, and it still is not enough.  Putting aside the women who were born into the corporate cradle and are called on constantly to take on sweet assignments -- regardless of their talent, most of us start slow and learn to lean as we work our way up the ladder.

We have learned how to sit, where to sit, with whom to sit, and even when to sit... at the table.

That women jeopardize themselves is really only one part of the story, and it sickens me that that is the part of the story that gets repeated over and over.  The half-sisters know, the story has another part.

There are women in the workforce who are constantly scrutinized through the unyielding glare of gender stereotype, racial prejudice, cultural bias, until it almost wears them down.  These women get up every time, brush off the micro-inequities... when they can.  They set aside the innuendoes and they learn to lean again.  Sometimes they are rewarded, but often they are broken.  These experiences are not often acknowledged.

When a benefits manager transferred to a new location in her company, she was met with barely veiled hostility.  Her manager volunteered to pick her up at the airport in his two seater then told her when he saw her, that he had no room for her and her luggage.  She took a gulp... and tried to lean again.

The patient did not hide her great surprise when she learned that the doctor who had been examining her was actually not a nurse.  See, the doctor was a woman and she was Black. If she had been female and White, it would have been alright, or even male and Black.  Those groupings would be fine if she were to be a doctor.  But she could not be female AND Black, could she?  She had to straighten up, before preparing to lean again.

As a professor at a top university in New York, having a doctorate was mandatory - I'm told.  Yet, when a student announced to her classmates, in my presence, that she 'knew' some teachers only got their positions because of affirmative action, I had to take a moment to breathe.  I brushed it off, and then I leaned in again.  

The weight of these added experiences can make leaning challenging, yet there are women like Sonia Sotomayor, Ann Fudge, Indra Nooyi, Condoleezza Rice, Susan Rice, and Ursula Burns, who show us what is possible.

I love that there are women like Sandberg, who want to share signposts for steering to career success.  I wish however, they would acknowledge that these signposts will not work for everybody.  Acknowledge that leaning in is not all there is, and acknowledge that while some people can lean in, for some people, leaning in is not enough.

To that end, I am inspired by the women who learn from others, carve their own path, and learn how to soar, when the Sandberg signposts are just not enough.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Get back in the water....

Bethany Hamilton is a young surfer whose name shot to 'fame' because a shark had bit her arm clean off, while she was surfing.  Even now my stomach cringes at the thought of what that must have felt like.  Bethany, as it turns out was quite a young girl who started surfing at the tender age of eight.  At about 13 years old, enjoying the sport she loved, Bethany endured a horrible attack.  How sad.  Horrible even.  Yet for me, this is where the story begins.

Bethany has become quite an inspiration to others.  She credits her amazing strength, as well as her emotional recovery to her solid faith.  I believe that for people who are able to rewrite their story, they lean on a power source that is greater than our mortal selves.  In Bethany's case that is her faith in God.

Bethany has decided not to wear prosthesis, not to hide her injury, and almost at once, she went back in the water.  Yes, as soon as she could, Bethany began to surf again.

What is it that causes this young woman to face death head on and not give in?  What is it that drives this young woman to refuse to be held hostage to the threat of a deadly shark?  Who would really have faulted her if she never went back to the ocean?

How many times do we succumb to our own trauma that we can never go that route again?  We tell ourselves something like, "I had an accident, I will never drive again."  "My husband (wife) cheated, I will never fall in love again."  "I failed twice before, I can never try again."  The stories go on and on.

I'm speaking to you... as I'm speaking to myself because Bethany's narrative inspires me to do more.   If you ever get bit, or stung, or hurt... or even if you tell yourself you're just scared... I hope you find your way to get back in the water.  Take your time, ask for help, but do it.  Just do it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Change your Story!!!

Given my love for narrative, it is no wonder I loved, loved, loved this article and immediately wanted to share it.  The article submission in Psychology Today was written by Dr. Bakari Akil II - Assistant Professor of Communication, where he posits, the way we define our life affects our circumstances.  Where have I heard that before???  Of course it does.  

The article makes the connection between conversations and outcomes, stories we tell ourselves and the results we produce.  By talking to ourselves we affirm ourselves, what we believe, and how we see ourselves.  We either agree that we have awesome possibility, we don't have what it takes, or some variation of either theme. When we talk to ourselves, we speak life into our words... and bring truth to being.  I urge you to keep in mind that the story you tell will become your reality.  Our daily conversations can energize us to keep going, or paralyze us and making it difficult to move.  If you find yourself stuck, Dr. Akil's advice is to change your story. I wholly agree.

Change the Story!  
"Examine what you are telling yourself. What you have accepted, are accepting and will accept in the future is based on who you think you are. To change that you have to consciously alter the story of whom you think you are to fit the concept of who you want to be. Then act accordingly!"
                                                                                                                  Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

 Read my blog - The Power in Self Talk or click to learn more about the theme of changing your story.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Power in Self-Talk

So many times I've heard people say the power of life and death is in the tongue.  (That is actually a verse from the Bible - Proverbs 18:21) I would take it a little further to say there is power in the self-talk we create, or the story to which we give life.  If that is so... then it must mean that what we say can breathe life into reality. Wow!!

Helping you find Your Inner Winner© is a journey to which I've now committed... both in the work-setting and in your personal life.  So many of us find ourselves stuck in a narrative that is leading us down a dead-end street. Is that really where we want to be? Locked in one of life's cul-de-sacs with limited options and feeling like the only way out is to retrace the tortured route that got us to 'stuck'?

I'm proposing that the way we talk... and the story / narrative we create for ourselves will change the way we think. It will change the way we think about ourselves, the way we think about our past, and the way we think about what is possible.

Self-talk is a potent pill.  The way we talk to and about ourself can open up possibilities or it can lead us to feeling stuck.


That is why I'm challenging each of us to revise our self-talk and change our narrative.

Want to test the power of self-talk? Think of a time when your own self-talk predicted the way things turned out for you.  I would love for you to share that story.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Let your light shine....

Today is one day after someone called me to ask whether I had heard that Whitney Houston had died.  Of course I hadn't heard that... because she hadn't died.  I was on my way to the supermarket and when I got there, I looked carefully into the faces of the shoppers. You see, I wanted to find signs that an alarming tragedy had not just happened.  Seeing nothing, I asked two customers... but they knew nothing.  My hope was alive, albeit fleeting. I was starting to see news on my smartphone.  Of course, now we all know the story is true even though it took a while to be reported.  Sad.

Sadder yet were the quick reports re-emphasizing the less glorious parts of Whitney's life. Certainly, the star of Whitney Houston had shone brightly in its time, hadn't it?  Maybe I am one of the few who was surprised at her passing.  Surprised because I was waiting for the movie Sparkle, and the new starts that would accompany it.  Surprised because I knew Whitney was trying to make a comeback.  Surprised because I wanted Whitney to finish strong and triumphant. And maybe she did. 

In searching for a way to make sense of this passing that for me feels devastatingly shocking and so, so sad, I want to share a recent post by one of my FB friends.  She wrote, "A flawed diamond is infinitely more valuable than a perfect pebble. How apt as we reflect on the life and times of Whitney Houston! Maybe we could resolve to be more accepting of each other - flaws and all, remembering that we all "have this treasure in jars of clay ...". After all, perfection is a figment of an over-active imagination."

As you look to develop your inner winner, you owe it to your best self to nurture the treasure of a gift you've been given.  Nurture your talent in your jar of clay, and honor it so your light will shine.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Don't Be Blindsided!!

"If we would ourselves as others see us, it would from many a blunder free us", became a familiar signature phrase for one radio show announcer in New York, as he ended his segment on Saturday evenings.  How true it is.

Recently I recommended a 360 feedback for someone.  This is aggregated feedback from persons who work (have worked) with you at different levels, and should include peers, superiors, and subordinates.  Its purpose is to provide a comprehensive (360-degree view) of the way one is perceived.  Its premise is that we all have blindspots. 

Imagine showing up at work each day and completing the work you are assigned. You get it done on time, even ahead of time. You offer to be a resource for others should they need help.  You get along with even the most notorious curmudgeon in the team.  How you do it? No one knows... but you do it.  You get invited to all the after-work events because people genuinely enjoy your company.  Yet, you never seem to snag the carrot.  You get paltry increases, overlooked for promotions, and can never seem to land the sexy projects. Now that you think about it, is there maybe a little (almost indecipherable) tension between you and your manager?  Something is wrong but you just can't seem to put a finger on it.

During the course of obtaining the feedback, I was startled by two things:
1) People will not always volunteer feedback, even if it is constructive.  You have got to ask for it!
2) The way others see you is the truth they believe about you ... but you won't know unless you ask!

Here's one for your toolkit: Initiate your own 360.  Ask for feedback so you can begin to know how others see you.  That way you will avoid the blind side.

Friday, January 20, 2012

You are so Much More....

In a day when popular media would have us believe we are no more than desperate Bachelorettes and dueling Housewives I am so pleased to remind you that you are so much more.  So much more.

Almost one hundred years ago, in November, 1912, a seminal Oregon ballot measure passed that granted women the right to vote.  In 2011, three women from war-torn patriarchical societies won the Nobel peace prize.

Women at every level are changing the landscape.  Women are still a force with which to be reckoned. I was particularly thrilled to learn how the Liberian women would stop at nothing to end the destructive practices of Charles Taylor and his warlords including withholding sexual intimacy from their husbands, to stripping naked (a shameful thing), and unwavering protest.  We are as strategic as we are savvy and we definitely have power.

At a recent political debate in 2012, that was attended by people who longed for the traditional values US, many, if not all in the audience gave presidential candidate Newt Gingrich a standing ovation.  See the speaker asked him to respond to statements by his former wife that Gingrich left his first wife while she was fighting cancer and took up with wife number 2. While married to wife number 2, he had a 6-year affair and subsequently left no. 2 when she was diagnosed with a chronic disease for wife number 3.  Gingrich thought it was despicable for the moderator to bring that up in a Presidential debate.  A lot of the accusations are no secret and Gingrich has owned to them, so I question, which is more despicable? To ask the embarrassing question or to demonstrate a habit of disrespecting and consistently dishonoring women.  And as for the women who allow themselves to be treated so poorly.  What should our legacy be?  What is our purpose? Should we offer ourselves to be trampled on emotionally and paraded as though we are brainless animals with no sense of self, to be used and disposed of at the whim of others? Or do we want to take our place in life doing our part to shape the world?

I know I have a purpose, so I choose to take my place in shaping the world.

The next time the media tries to inundate us with the destructive depiction of our worst selves, I hope you remember, you are worth so much more.  So much more!! I hope you aspire to a legacy that can uplift even one person, in addition to yourself.

Read more about women who are peacemakers and changing the world.  They are game changers and so are you!!  If you choose.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Your story, your life...

Fascinating how stories inspire us to be more.
Take the story of the man who earned a fortune in explosives intended for war and destruction. It was when he read his obituary that was mistakenly published, that he decided he would change the narrative of his life.  This man devoted the remainder of his life and his legacy to supporting peace. Alfred Nobel's estate lives on in the coveted Nobel Peace Prize that encourages positive, non-violent, and inspiring work from all peoples.
Or take Saima Muhammad, a woman living in a poor village in Pakistan.  She and her husband are dirt poor, but Mister takes out his anger and personal frustrations by frequently beating his wife.  Then to add insult to injury, Mister wracks up more debt than he can possibly pay, while his mother points out Saima's uselessness as reason he should take another wife.  (Isn't it sort of odd, even this broke, cowardly man still has options? I digress!)
Well Saima figures out a new wife would only mean less money for her and her children, so I'm guessing she probably put a hand on her hip and said, "This is not how this story will end!" What did she do? Saima took out a micro-loan... you know, one of those tiny, tiny loans aimed at helping poor women start a business.  She used the money to start an embroidery business.  With her talent, Saima grew her business until she was able to pay off the loan, pay for repairs to their home, hire unemployed neighbors,  ensure a rare education for her children, and put to rest the notion of a new wife.
Saima and Alfred are only two people from different ends of the spectrum who decided to create a different story for their life.  Why not you?

Every year, resolutions are made and goals are set, followed by the whispered sigh of failure and invisible drooping shoulders when goals stall and the resolutions break.  

My challenge... no, my question for you is simply this: What is the story of your life? and then, What would you like that story to be?

Yes, I'm serious.  Your resources and your talents may lie be somewhere between those of Saima and Alfred but I believe YOU have the power to create your own narrative. Your new story could be: What is the life you want to live? How will you be remembered?

May I encourage you to grab pen and paper and start writing it down.  Write the story of you as you would like it to be told.  Write your story strong, write your story proud.  It is in that story that you will begin to see your purpose.  I use stories to help people live their best life, and your new story would frame the narrative of your life.  Now, wouldn't that begin a happy New Year!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Status is Not Quo: Occupy

My correspondent blogger, Leslie is back.  Recently, the Occupy movement was in the news practically everyday. It began with Occupy Wall Street and quickly spread like a bad rumor.  You know, I must confess I love a good protest, especially if it is about bringing about meaningful change.  Bear with me, I came of age in the 1970s where I grew to appreciate marches, boycotts, and other types of civil disobedience.  That was then... what is now?  Leslie took it upon herself to investigate two Occupy movements.  She questioned participants and she interviewed observers, to produce the following:

When the Status is not Quo: Occupy

There is this movie called Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.  In the movie, the lead character, Dr. Horrible, goes on a rant about how “the status is not quo”; that “homelessness is but a symptom of the problem”; and “the fish rots from the head.” When I heard about the Occupy movement, I immediately thought of that soliloquy.

From what I understand the Occupy movement, is a ground swelling of individuals who are sick of the status quo; the rich getting richer and the poor reaching a new level of poverty.  Some people, less appreciative of the movement, refer to it as the new hippie movement.  On either side, there is validity.
The goal of the movement in my eyes is and has always been, conversation.  An honest dialogue about the state of America’s finances and how the government runs.  In that goal, the movement has succeeded.  It has changed the way we look at protest and this particular recession.  It can also be viewed from the side that, there is no unifying cause.  The movement, from my understanding, is up to one’s own interpretation.  Each city has different needs and is to draw up its own list of demands.

Each movement is so unique that you can take two separate cities extremely close to one another, San Francisco and Oakland, and get two very different personalities. There is a more militant feel to Oakland and a more welcoming feel to San Francisco's Occupy movement.

The common enemies I’ve noticed are the Federal Reserve and the “1%”. Each city has more demands that can be found online by city.

As a personal note, it appears that the Occupy movement elicits a range of responses in part because the goal of the movement is quite diverse ... according to city.  For example, I wonder why Oakland feels more militant and San Francisco's feel more welcoming.  Does it matter?  Check out the protest at UCLA Davis... it was peaceful and yet the response from authorities was so militant and egregious.  I have my own views about the movement, but my larger issue is the implication of these types of protests to tomorrow's world.  One thing is for sure, we are manifesting our power, we are using our voices.  Are we using our power and our voice for good?  Now that is my question.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Character of a Leader

Have you ever wondered what someone means when they say a person is of good character? I'm always interested in the character of a person with whom I associate.  I try to learn the character of my leaders, my managers, my partners... even before I give them my allegiance.  But what does that really mean?  Is it one of those words that we just throw out there and pretend that everyone shares the same meaning? 

Can you switch your character like a gorgeous suit and then take it off when it is convenient? Or should your character be like your personal brand?  Does the sparkle in your character only exist for a moment, or does its shine get more brilliant as you are tried and tested?

I decided to do a quick search and found, one dictionary defines character as “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person.” In another dictionary, character is "the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual".  Yet another definition suggests character is "the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her response regardless of circumstances.” Someone's grandmother told me, "you want to learn a person's character, watch how they are when times get bad."

Is character good or bad?  To say, "That person is a woman of character", "That is a man of character", usually infers good character.  Conversely, if you say, "That person has no character", then you imply the qualities and traits that individual possesses are not admirable.. are not good.

I look for friends with good character.  I look for leaders with good character.  Not so much what they have done or who they know, but the nature of the qualities that are distinctive to their person.  A person's character becomes his legacy.  A person's character defines the way she is known and thus, the expectation others have for her.  How would you define your character? How would others describe your character?

Maybe now is the time for a character inventory.  Is your character the way you would like it?  Will your character inspire someone to do a good thing?  Does your character make you proud? We can develop and refine our character, so I ask you... what is your character?  

Today I read about nine graces, or characteristics of the highest order: love, joy, peace, gentleness, patience, goodnesss, humility, temperance, and faith.  Today I aspire for those traits.  What is the character you want ... for you?