leadership dot #2390: throwback

While going through old family slides, I found this picture from New Year’s Eve 1969. It was a party that my parents attended, and I’m sure that like those in this photo, my mom wore a dress with nylons and heels and dad wore a suit and tie – to play silly games at someone’s home.

There was no technology involved or big money spent going out for a night “on the town.” All that was necessary was a group of good friends, a few straws and marshmallows and a lot of laughter.

This New Year’s Eve, think about how you want to celebrate. Maybe a throwback party where you make your own fun is the best way to ring in 2019.


leadership dot #2389: practial

I am pragmatic and a realist; consequently, I have laminate floors instead of carpeting and rubber floor mats in my car. I can’t imagine what my house or vehicle would look like if the elements from Midwest rain-sleet-snow-mud were tracked onto a non-washable surface. I think rubber floor mats should be standard in all new cars!

We are all faced with frequent choices where we must weigh beauty over practicality. Do I wear a hat and mess up my hair or stay warm? Do I opt for the beautiful white chair or something that is more retriever-colored to disguise the dog hair? Do I spend time designing a new handout or reuse the one from my last class?

There are times to opt for looks and other times to be pragmatic. Don’t always opt for one over the other.


leadership dot #2388: resolution

The new year is right around the corner and for many people, this will involve making a set of resolutions, with losing weight and exercising as high priority items on the list. Often, we think of exercise as involving the gym and we hold ourselves in comparison to bodybuilders or marathon runners.

If you are a novice at fitness, use the tortoise as your role model. It isn’t fast or necessarily pretty, but the tortoise has its own exercise area at the zoo and uses it regularly.

Remember who won the race against the hare? Consistency is the key to achieving whatever resolution you set.

leadership dot #2387: foolishness

I saw this prayer posted on social media and immediately thought of my sister who is a leader in reforming the child welfare system. For Christmas, I had my graphic designer work her magic on it and turn it into a canvas print.

The gift itself is a vivid illustration of the power of design – something bland and ordinary became a work of art. It is always worth the time and effort to have anything you value enhanced through design.

The message is a powerful one, even in plain text. As you head into the new year, I wish you foolishness in the best sense of the word:

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

leadership dot #2386: missent

Last week my sister — who lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts – received a postcard that was mailed from Colorado in October. Apparently, it went on a little Caribbean holiday en route to her as it was stamped: “Missent to Jamaica”.

I can understand a bit of confusion every now and then, but apparently, it happens frequently enough for the Post Office to have A RUBBER STAMP that says that. Aye!

If you have a flaw in your system that happens so often that you have a stamp or process to adjust for the mistake, perhaps you are better off spending the resources to fix the problem instead. Marking something as “missent” does not atone for the three-month delay in arrival or do anything except to highlight the inefficiency of your service.

Adopt some of the pace of the Jamaican culture and slow down a bit – and avoid the client-aggravating detour that rushing can cause.

leadership dot #2385: do your part

I often wonder about the motivation behind corporation’s environmental initiatives: are hotels really foregoing clean towels and sheets in the name of Mother Earth or is it a loosely-disguised ploy to just save money? A new variation of this theme is happening at Walmart with their “One More” campaign. Plastered all over their checkout kiosks are signs encouraging you to “pack one more item” thus reducing the number of bags that are needed. Given the volume of their operation, I’m all for anything that can minimize their environmental impact, but I’ll venture a guess that it is more about keeping funds in their coffers rather than keeping plastic out of the landfill.

As you head out today to take advantage of the remaining after-Christmas sales, to use your gift cards or to exchange gifts that aren’t quite right, take it upon yourself to be environmentally friendly even if it inconveniences you a bit. Remember to take those reusable bags so it doesn’t matter how much you pack into them; bring your own straws instead of using disposable ones; bundle your errands and walk as much as you can rather than driving from store to store to store in the same plaza. Climate change is real. Do your part even without an economic incentive to motivate you.

leadership dot #2384: silent night

This year is the 200th anniversary of Silent Night, believed to be the most famous Christmas carol in the world. What started off as a poem (written by Joseph Mohr) was set to music by Franz Xaver Gruber in Salzburg, Austria. The simple song has since been translated into over 300 languages and dialects.

Musician Amy Grant adapted the message of the carol in her I Need a Silent Night: “I need a silent night. A holy night. To hear an angel voice through the chaos and noise. I need a midnight clear. A little peace right here. To end this crazy day with a silent night.”

I hope you are able to partake in all the tradition of the holiday to have a crazy and festive day AND a silent night.

Merry Christmas!

leadership dot #2383: refuel

I did a double take when I saw the mail truck at the same gas station I was using – somehow, I never think of mailmen needing to refuel, or at least not doing it at a commercial station. But there he was, putting gas into the tank just like the rest of us.

Use the mail truck as a metaphor for your wellness as we head into the Christmas madness. No one can run on fumes. Make the time to stop and refuel your own energy – whether that be through a few stolen moments alone, ensuring that you get a good night’s sleep, or taking a brisk walk with the dog. Christmas will deliver more joy if we keep our emotional tank full.

leadership dot #2382: holiday edition

Just as saying “pumpkin spice” seems to be the magic elixir for marketers in the Fall, packaging something as a “holiday edition” appears to be the sales trick for the Christmas season. Walmart was selling movies as a “limited ugly sweater edition” – meaning that they took regular films and put them in a faux sweater sleeve to entice people to buy them. Classics such as Stripes, Ghostbusters, Stand by Me and Talladega Nights suddenly become a desirable holiday gift just because of the packaging.

Are there two concepts that your organization can link together such as holiday sweaters and selling DVDs? Maybe you can tie a new year with new experiences to sell your arts series, pet adoption with Valentine’s Day all in the name of love or create a “winter edition” of your workshop program. There are holidays galore; capitalize on them to your organization’s advantage.


leadership dot #2381: skimp

One of the joys of childhood was having my parents read a bedtime story but with today’s harried pace that seems to be a luxury that not all parents can afford. A publisher has capitalized on this and offers 3-minute and 5-minute stories, presumably to satisfy the child’s desire to be read to without the time pressure of reading an entire book.

Does it really take that long to read the entire Cat in the Hat or to page through the delightful illustrations of Richard Scarry? There is something rich and memorable about the children’s literature classics that undoubtedly are lost in the condensed, ordinary stories featured in the short versions.

Instilling a love of reading opens up entire worlds for children. Don’t skimp on the extra few minutes it will take to introduce rich characters and gorgeous illustrations. Children’s books are one place where it warrants going for quality and leaving the generic behind.