Build Your Leaders

Archive for the ‘Inspiration/Heart’ Category

Just Do It!

November 8th, 2011

Several years ago, I was in New York sitting with a sick friend for seven days. I was staying in his apartment in Long Island City, yet spending as much time as possible in the Manhattan hospital while he underwent chemotherapy.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that I was anxious about the trip. What frightened me was using the subway to go between the apartment and hospital. As many times as I’ve been to New York, I used the subway rarely, and never alone.

My friend e-mailed detailed directions, and another friend coached me. “Take the Seven train to Grand Central Station, then change trains to the Four, Five, or Six to Union Square.” The directions seemed simple, yet I was still scared.

When praised for his bravery in battle, General George Patton once said, “Sir, I am not a brave man; the truth is I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands, but I have learned early in my life never to take counsel of my fears.”

Some of the best advice I’ve heard on overcoming fear is to just do it anyway. That’s bravery. There’s a wonderful quote from the 2000 movie Bounce, “It’s not brave if you aren’t scared.”

What frightens you, and how could you benefit by being brave and just doing it?

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July 8th, 2011

Absorbing times of intense beauty. It was so beautiful that if it was a painting it would have been on velvet. My friend David and I were watching the sun set over Washington, D.C., from a stone-clad tower at the National Cathedral. The bright tangerine rays backlit the clouds in such a way that the entire scene looked surreal, much like a painting on velvet. In silence we watched as the bright orange ball descended into the horizon, cloaking Washington in darkness.

When I am around such beauty it almost seems more than I can handle. I find myself wanting to fast forward through the experience. Weeks later, I mentioned this to another friend, who quoted a line from the award-winning film American Beauty.  Kevin Spacey’s character, Lester Burnham, delivers it:

“But it’s hard to stay mad when there is so much beauty in the world.  Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once and it’s too much.  My heart fills up like a balloon that is about to burst and then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I am talking about. I am sure. But don’t you worry, you will some day.”

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The Saboteur Within

May 9th, 2010

Who is yours? While we may not be aware of it, most of us have a saboteur lurking within us. Change management expert Morrie Shechtman says there are six ways the saboteur shows up in leaders.

Acting on scarcity rather than plenty. When we operate from fear, we may miss valuable opportunities.

Avoiding and discouraging conflict. Conflict is necessary for growth.

Refusing to get involved in employees’ personal lives. Employees bring work home and they bring their home issues to work. Leaders who ignore how their workers’ home lives are affecting their work aren’t getting the whole picture.

Intervening too early in people’s struggles. Great leaders allow people to make mistakes and mine their own resources.

Being charismatic. If employees are mesmerized by the leader, they become followers rather than future leaders. Instead, the culture should be charismatic.

Being moody. In the unpredictable post-9/11 world, people want to know what they can expect from their leaders.

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Alone or Lonely?

May 2nd, 2010

There’s a big difference between being alone and lonely. Several years ago, a friend introduced me to the Osho Zen Tarot deck. There are fifty-six cards in the deck, each with a beautiful illustration and poignant message. Often as a part of my morning meditation, I shuffle the cards, cut them, spread them out facedown, and pick one randomly.

This morning I picked “Aloneness.”  I often do. The message is a good one: “When you are lonely you are thinking of the other, you are missing the other. Loneliness is a negative state. You are feeling that it would have been better if the other was there – your friend, your wife, your mother, your beloved, your husband…. Loneliness is absence of the other. Aloneness is the presence of oneself. Aloneness is very positive.”

I am once again reminded that whether single or coupled, I am called to be “a light unto myself.”

P.S. You can check out the Osho Zen Tarot deck at

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