Dad to Daughter: You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To! (Not!)

Flash back.  My daughter was 9 years old.  She’s watching (with envy) her younger brother do back flips from the edge of the pool.  He’s sleek.  Effortless.  Natural.  Dad meanwhile is haranguing his daughter.  YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO!  Over and over.  Relentless as only her Dad can be.  Daughter finally concedes.  She ekes up to the edge of the pool…anxiously looking over her shoulder into the pool…and then back down to her feet while wiggling her toes.  She takes a deep breath.  Bends her knees.  And leaps.  And proceeds to dive 3″ or so SHORT of clearing the edge – – glancing off the non-slip abrasive concrete – – ripping an 18 inch gash down the middle of her back.  There was a calm silence for about 2-3 seconds and then she bellowed: DAD, I TOLD YOU THAT I COULDN’T DO THIS.  And then she ran into the house into the arms of her Mother.

More than 10 years later, this story comes back to me like it was yesterday.  (And has left an indelible scar on my Daughter.)  I laugh.  She snarls.  I tell her it was an excellent life lesson.  I hear mumbling…something which sounds like “idiot.”

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Wednesday For Women: Professional Working Women…an inspiration.

Today’s post was inspired by my 3 contacts I had with professional working women yesterday.

Take One: At a function last night, I met a single parent.  She raised her son on her own since her son was an infant.  She put herself through an undergraduate school, graduate school and has advanced her career nicely.  She’s also engaged in leadership positions outside of her job.  Her strapping teenage son has excellent prospects.  Despite having endured and persevered more than most, this young lady was as optimistic about her future as anyone I have met.

Take Two: I spoke to my daughter last night.  She is interviewing this morning for a summer internship position.  She called on an HR colleague to assist her in prepping for the interview.  My HR colleague is a working Mom.  One of the most diligent, effective and optimistic professionals I have met. And she has time to help my daughter, after juggling job, commute, dinner, children, laundry etc. etc.

Take Three: I traded emails with a new blog follower yesterday, formerly not an acquaintance.  I asked her how she found me.  She shared with me that she’s tied to her computer for 72 hours toward the end of the cycle for product delivery and happened to come across my posts on women in leadership positions, Buddha, Winston et al.  Another professional working woman hard at it.  Welcome…I’m glad to have you on board.

Working women – I don’t know how you do it.

Three recent Women in Business articles that are worth reading:

1) Harvard Business Review: Why Women Leaders Need Self-Confidence

2) Forbes: The Secret to Being a Power Woman: Wake Up Early

3) The Economist: Special Report On Women & Work (See excerpts below)

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GUEST BLOGGER: Leadership USAF Style…

Welcome to my first guest blogger who is writing a supplement to my popular post (“Leadership is a Gift Given By Those Who Follow“). Here is a short bio on Tom Hood:

  • Tom is a cousin via my wife’s family.
  • He was Born in Grand Blanc, Michigan
  • He accepted appointment to the US Air Force Academy and graduated in the top 25% of his class.
  • He entered the Intelligence career field.  He graduated from the USAF Officer’s Intelligence School.  He went on to complete 7 years of distinguished service as an Intelligence Officer specializing in Counter-Terrorism and enemy surface-to-air missile systems.
  • Tom is currently the Lead Designing Engineer for the 2014 Corvette interior trim system at General Motors
  • During his time at GM, Tom engineered components and subsystems of several award winning vehicles, including the Cadillac SRX, Chevy Equinox, and Chevy Cruze.
  • Tom Hood is a member of Generation Y – The Millennial Generation.  If there is any concern about the quality of the budding leaders behind us – read on.  His commentary is unedited.  Solid and inspiring…would you follow this young man?  Absolutely!

Tom Hood: In Response to Comments on General Mark Welsh’s speech to the USAF Academy Cadet Wing

Previously in this blog, David Kanigan posted a remarkable speech Gen Mark Welsh gave to the US Air Force Academy Cadet Wing earlier this year.  The title of the speech was “Leadership is a Gift Given by Those Who Follow.”  In the post comments, a reader wondered if the General was some sort of new age warrior, or if those in the US Military always talked that way.  As a graduate of the USAF Academy’s Class of 1994 and having spent 7 years as an AF officer,  I have a little insight into the General’s speech.  I sat in a countless number of those addresses we were privileged to attend after lunch during my time there.  In summary, rather than being a “new age warrior,” the General is speaking about the basic fundamentals of leadership the military expects of all of its officers.  During my 10 years in the private sector, I’ve seen many leaders who lack those basic fundamentals.  Therefore, over the next few weeks, I’ll take some time to address many of the General’s themes and illustrate why these qualities are enduring, unchanging, and crucial to any leader in any endeavor.

I’m going to begin by referring to an incident where Gen Welsh admitted he failed as a leader.  For those who heard the speech, the General had an airman serving in his unit who had family problems, and because the individual’s chain of command didn’t know their people well enough, it almost cost this airman custody of his daughter.  Rather than describe the details of the incident, I’ll refer to the Gen’s statement “Everyone has a story, and if you don’t know the story, you can’t lead the airman.”  One of the things I’ve noticed in the private sector is that leaders do not take the time to truly get to know their people.  In the group I currently work in, none of my co-workers has every met my spouse, or son, and, if it wasn’t for my tendency to want to get to know people, I wouldn’t know very much about them.   When I was in the military, this was almost unheard of, as leaders and co-workers took the time to get to know and socialize with each other.

I pose the following question to everyone who reads this blog: “How well do you know your people?”  You may think that anything beyond a professional relationship is not only unnecessary, but possibly improper.  However, as the General said, if you do not truly know each individual’s story, how can you lead them effectively?  What are their desires, hopes, goals, and frustrations?  What do they deal with when not at work? All of these things affect the behavior and motivation of each individual, and it is a leader’s fundamental job to know them.  Added to that, when team members know each other well, the resulting camaraderie binds the team together and results in greater productivity.  As a leader, if you take a good look at your group and find your workplace to be transactional and/or competitive rather than collaborative, you need to take a good look at yourself.  It is up to you to set the tone and take the short amount of time necessary to know the stories.  Failure to do so will cost you dearly.

“How well do you know your people?”

Are You Part of the 1%?Ve

Monday Morning: Wake up call!

Source: Via Beverley Shiller

Willpower: IT IS IN YOUR HEAD!

In this morning’s NY Times, Greg Walton (Asst Prof of Psychology @ Stanford) and Carol Dweck (professor of psychology at Stanford and the author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”) shared research in an article titled Willpower – It’s in Your Head.  Good article that I would recommend reading in its entirety.  Key excerpts:

  •  “In research we conducted…, we confirmed that willpower can indeed be quite limited — but only if you believe it is. When people believe that willpower is fixed and limited, their willpower is easily depleted. But when people believe that willpower is self-renewing — that when you work hard, you’re energized to work more; that when you’ve resisted one temptation, you can better resist the next one — then people successfully exert more willpower. It turns out that willpoweris in your head.
  • “How does this happen? People who think that willpower is limited are on the lookout for signs of fatigue. When they detect fatigue, they slack off. People who get the message that willpower is not so limited may feel tired, but for them this is no sign to give up — it’s a sign to dig deeper and find more resources.”
  • “To be sure, willpower is not completely unlimited. Food and rest are of course necessary for functioning, and many struggles that people face are quite difficult. The question is how often we need extra sugar boosts. Messages suggesting that willpower is severely limited and that we need constant sugar boosts are bound to further inflate the American waistline and hinder our ability to achieve our goals.”
  • “At stake in this debate is not just a question about the nature of willpower. It’s also a question of what kind of people we want to be. Do we want to be a people who dismiss our weaknesses as unchangeable? When a student struggles in math, should we tell that student, “Don’t worry, you’re just not a math person”? Do we want him to give up in the name of biology? Or do we want him to work harder in the spirit of what he wants to become?”
Image Source: livelifeready.com

Sunday Morning: Riding The Red Arrow

This music was composed by Arvo Pärt, an Estonian classical composer.  The pianists are Marjan Peternel and Primoz Urbanc.  The original piece was composed by Reinhold Gliere, a Russian composer born in Kiev (1875-1956).  The song “The Hymn to the Great City” was adopted as the hymn of Saint Petersburg in 1965 and has been playing when the Red Arrow sleeper train leaves Leningrad Station in Moscow to the Moscow Station in Saint Petersburg.  Shame that I didn’t get a chance to ride this train and hear this music during my visit to Moscow in the 70’s, although I’m confident I would not have appreciated it then.  Beautiful composition and master pianists…just what the doctor ordered on this Sunday morning…

Source: Thank you Madam Scherzo

Are you Stuck? Should You Get Mobile?

The “Geography of Stuck” was published in The Atlantic yesterday by Senior Editor Richard Florida.  He notes the following statistics and commentary:

  • A smaller share of Americans moved last year than at any time on record
  • Nearly six in ten Americans live in the state where they were born
  • Louisiana (79%), Michigan (77%) and Ohio (75%) were born there, as opposed to just 24% of Nevadans, 35% of Floridians, 37% of the residents of Washington, D.C., and 38% of Arizonans.
  • There is a distinctive “stuck belt” across the middle of the country running from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, down through West Virginia and into the Sunbelt states of Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.  Mobility is largely a bi-coastal—plus Rocky Mountain state—phenomenon.
  • America can be divided into two distinct classes, the stuck and the mobile. The mobile possess the resources and the inclination to seek out and move to locations where they pursue economic opportunity. Too many Americans are stuck in places with limited resources and opportunities. This geography of the stuck and mobile is a key axis of cleavage in the United States.

Whoa.  While I don’t dispute the facts, I would challenge the statement and the framing that “many Americans are stuck in places with limited resources and opportunities.”  Any takers today for a move to the Sunshine states?  (Nevada employment rate 13.9%, California 11.9%, Florida 10.6%, Arizona 9.1%).

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Friday Night: Mesmerized…

Nuit Blanche explores a fleeting moment between two strangers, revealing their brief connection in a hyper real fantasy.  This short clip was winner of several film awards.

Source: Thank you Madam Scherzo – Lovely Beyond All Comprehension

From Cultural Offering: Homecomings and Thanksgiving

From Cultural Offering, who manages to capture the essence of today in his post – – with George Winston playing “Thanksgiving” as background music.  Check out: Homecomings & Thanksgiving.  Thank you Kurt Harden.