#1176 invincible

Yesterday was new student move-in day on our campus.  It is one of my favorite days of the year, not only because students and the energy they bring have returned, but because it is a day filled with so much promise and hope. 

I was reminded of the current Kelly Clarkson hit “Invincible”.  For the longest time, I thought she was singing invisible.  And it occurred to me yesterday that most of the new students fall into one category or the other.  Some feel that they are kings or queens in a new land and the world is theirs to conquer.  At the moment, there are no worries about grades or money or success; they are invincible.  Others are scared to death, afraid that they won’t make friends or ever fit in; they feel invisible.

There are only a few distinct letters in the two words, but a chasm of difference.

I think the choice for new students at the moment is a paraphrase to the famous Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think you’re invincible or invisible, you’re right.”

Which will you be today?
 

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1175 peaches

As I have recently been training a new staff member, I have been trying to strike a balance between the pragmatic and the contextual topics that we cover.  It is important for her to know the nuts and bolts of the job, but equally as important for her to understand the “why” behind the way we currently do things and the larger purpose of our work.

For a new employee, it is a hard balance to achieve.  There is so much to be learned seemingly simultaneously and the work still needs to be done while learning.  I think the same is true after the initial learning curve, and many people let the developmental side slip away in favor of the urgent.

I am reminded of the Peach Tree Analogy created by Dee Groberg.  If you think of the “peaches” as the results you want to achieve or the projects you need to do, and pay attention only to them, your tree will eventually die.

You must also pay attention to the trunk which is the “means”.  The trunk is tangible intervention that you can see:  training, meetings, infrastructure, etc.  You need to tend to the trunk, yet you can’t have sustained success with the trunk alone.

Groberg advocates paying attention to the roots as well, likening them to the source of alignment.  The “roots” are philosophy, vision, values, character, culture that need to align in order for the trunk to thrive and for the peaches to be plentiful.  His analogy maintains that water is trust and that it must have a continuous flow throughout the whole tree for the fruit to blossom.

It’s a simple analogy, but a good barometer for staff to follow.  Everyone must pay attention to all the parts of the tree in order to be truly successful.  You need to spend the time getting to know colleagues and mission as much as you need to dedicate time to improving the process.  You need to avoid the drought that comes with a lack of trust and damages everything.  

Tending to the whole tree, instead of focusing only on the fruit, will make life more peachy in the long run. 

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

 

#1174 identity

A former supervisor of mine served on a panel regarding presidential transitions.  The portion that he covered: transitioning out.  

“Do not have your identity inextricably linked to your position or to the institution,” he wisely said.  “It is really important to have an identity separate to that.”

Keith Lovin was in the presidential role when he made his comments, but I think they apply to everyone.  If you are only what your job is, it makes it harder to have a balanced life.  It also makes it more difficult to have a rational view of how you are doing and to know when it is time to leave if so much of you is wrapped up in your job.

No matter what your position, I think it is good advice to cultivate a rich life outside of it.  Have hobbies or volunteer roles that expose you to a different set of people and pleasures beyond your work life.  Remember that you are wonderful even when your job isn’t going so well, and that you are fallible even when the work is clicking along smoothly.

Your position can be a major portion of how you see yourself and how you spend your time.  Just don’t let it be the only view you have when you look in the mirror.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1173 spouse

I live near U.S. Grant’s home and finally made a point to visit the landmark.  I did not learn that much new about the General, but I did learn about his wife.

Julia Grant was the first presidential spouse to be called the First Lady.  She played an active role in Ulysses’ presidency: reading his mail, attending Senate hearings and meeting with presidential staff.  Julia was the first spouse to have her own press secretary (this was 1868!) and to send out releases for her own causes, including women’s suffrage. She also was the first to write her own memoir.

The statue of Julia Grant is one of only three former First Ladies memorialized in statues. Less than 5% of the statues in the country depict any woman (a fact Jed Bartlett learned the hard way in an episode of the West Wing.)

In 1868, women were incredibly strong, but it was not common to share that strength publicly.  Julia carved out a role for herself and helped shape her husband’s presidency and the path of the country.

What role can you create for yourself today?

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com



#1172 A to Z

I recently did a training for a group of student leaders where I used the Alphabet Exercise.  I gave pairs a sheet of paper with each letter of the alphabet followed by a blank line printed on it.

Their assignment was to leave the room and find, in order, the letter “A”, then the letter “B”, and so on in any place they could.  There was a token prize for the most creative location a letter was found, but the main point of the exercise was to have them become more conscious about what was around them.  All the letters had to be visible without manipulating anything, so, in theory, they had walked by all these things but just hadn’t noticed.

The hardest part of the exercise was determining a winner.  They had letters from an artist’s signature on a painting; the letter in the middle of the football field of a competitor — and a selfie to prove they really had gone there in the allotted 20 minutes; words from serial number plaques on machinery; someone crawled under a car to see the Y in Goodyear on the backside of a tire; buttons on a washing machine; and even a garden hose laid out in the shape of a J.

We later used the exercise to make a point that things are happening all around us — including what Dan and Chip Heath call “bright spots” in their book Switch, and that it behoves us to notice more closely than we usually do.

Think about playing the “alphabet exercise” the next time you are walking about.  My experience is that first you’ll notice the obvious ones: on a street sign or license plate, but eventually you’ll see not only the make of the car, but then the dealer sticker; not just the name on the mailbox, but the brand and US Post Office notifications; flags and home decor, etc.  

Raising consciousness is as easy as A, B, C, but the lessons from the mental gymnastics can serve you well past Z.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1171 closed

I recently saw this sign hanging in a restaurant:

Closed Sundays
Because I am too old to work 7 days a week!


Kudos to this person for acknowledging their limits.  

Know the kind of life that you want to lead and establish the parameters so that you can live it.  You don’t have to be old to take Sundays off!

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1170 wait

Last week as I was heading out to dinner, I got stuck at a train crossing.  For. a. very. long. time.

After 15 minutes of watching the train go by, the end mercifully came.  And then the train passed through the intersection, and stopped.  Just short of clearing the gate.  AHHH!

I became even more acutely aware of the decision I had been wrestling with the whole time the train went by: wait longer or turn around.  The 15 minutes I had wasted was a ‘sunk cost’; something that I could not recover regardless of my choice.  In business classes they teach you to ignore sunk costs, but it is painful to do. 

I made the decision on the facts that waiting it out would probably be faster than going around.  I knew when I chose the option that there was a possibility that this extremely long train may actually back up and switch tracks, thus doubling the time I needed to wait, but I opted to stay.  As luck would have it, the train did go forward and I was able to pass.

When you have to make a decision that involves sunk costs, acknowledge them, but do what the business folks tell you to do and ignore them. Do what you would do in the first place, and don’t be swayed by what has happened since.  Wait it out at the crossing.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com



#1169 a long distance

I had a conversation recently with some parents of young children.  They were debating when or if to give their offspring a personal cell phone.  When was the time right?

This led us into a discussion about ‘back in the day’ when we were young.  Of course there were no cell phones, but instead pay phones were prevalent.  They were at every establishment: the mall, movie theaters, skating rinks, etc., and it was easy to have a dime in your pocket and call your parents when you were ready.  Or, more likely, you had a pre-arranged pick-up time and ready or not, you were ready.  Such is not the case today.

The last time I saw a functioning pay phone was when I was at the MLKing National Historic Site in Atlanta.  It was so startling to me that I took a picture of it.  It was like seeing a typewriter on someone’s desk instead of a computer.  

Then last week, I saw a form for the Post Office that said “long distance charges may apply.”  Are there still long distance charges?  Never do I hesitate to call someone to avoid charges.  (Note that both relics were associated with the government!)  Maybe I could use a long-distance phone card at the pay phone when I made my call??

Few things have evolved more explicitly than the telephone.  Cell phones have become an essential item for a majority of people, so much so that parents are considering options for 10 year olds who may need them (as they are left home alone with no landline).

How has your organization responded to this changing technology?  Have you acknowledged that younger and younger customers are using phones everyday?  This may cause you to embrace texting or to stand out with hand-written notes instead, but take a conscious moment to consider the implications of adolescents with a computer in their pocket.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com





#1168 bread crumbs

Think of the telltale signs you leave for strangers that give them clues about who you are.


The maid in your hotel room knows your gender, likely if you are traveling for business or pleasure, whether you are neat or sloppy and what you like to read.  You could create quite a profile from such information.

The person who looks into your car can tell from your car seats how many young children you have, whether you are tidy or a pack rat, or maybe even your political affiliation and alma mater from the stickers on your back window.

Someone who sees you in a restaurant can learn about you by how you order (do you take a long time to decide or ask for substitutions), what you order (are you health conscious or not so much) and how you leave your space when you depart (plates stacked or strewn).

All around you, people are seeing the clues you leave and forming impressions of you, even if you never meet face to face.  Don’t think you are ever invisible!

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com




#1167 20/20

I recently purchased new glasses at a specialty optical shop so that Rhonda-the-Expert could pick out my frames for me.  She came highly recommended, and I have purchased (and liked) the first pair she chose for me the last three times I needed them.

While I was waiting for Rhonda, I decided to do an experiment and see what frames I would pick if I was doing it on my own.  Of the 20 or so pair Rhonda had me try on, not one resembled what I would have chosen for myself — yet another confirmation of why I go to her in the first place.

Rhonda looks at a person and instantly sees things I don’t see: the spacing of the eyes, the height of the bridge, the coloring of the skin and the shape of the face.  She knows which lenses look best with that combination, and her suggestions truly do look good.  Thus, even though glasses are a significant expense and they are something that I will have on almost every waking hour for the next two plus years, I was in the store less than a half hour.  I have literally taken more time to buy a greeting card than to buy new frames.  

I am comfortable letting another guide (ok, all but determine) my choice for something so costly and visible, but I don’t always seek out help on other things.  Others really do have expertise in certain areas, and we might save time and have better results if we trusted them. 

Experts can help you not only look good while you see, but can help you see solutions clearly as well.  Partner with someone next time you want 20/20 clarity on your choice.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com