leadership dot #3020: peace

Today is the International Day of Peace, a United Nations-sanctioned holiday that is commemorated around the world. The day is designed to encourage people to pause and “for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences.”

The UN Resolution that established the day calls for 24-hours of nonviolence and ceasefire. While I doubt that many readers of the dots walk around with literal weapons or impose physical violence, I believe that all of us are guilty of disrupting the peace through making misspoken comments, causing unintentional hurts or allowing unresolved conflicts to fester in our relationships.

As the elections draw nearer, the pandemic tests our patience and the uncertainty that surrounds us takes its toll it becomes more frequent that our actions can cause discord more than they forge harmony. For today, make your own commitment to encourage peace – in your home, your community and in your heart.

 

leadership dot #3016: rap

Today is Constitution Day in recognition of the signing of our country’s most important document on September 17, 1787. The Constitution outlines the framework for the government, something we often take for granted unless it isn’t working!

Since many schools have eliminated “Civics” from their core curriculum, the government requires all colleges that receive federal aid (i.e., almost all of them) to conduct Constitution Day education to make people aware of these fundamental principles that guide our democracy. Even the adults could use a refresher and this rap video may be a way to provide it.

The rapper YelloPain merges a very contemporary storytelling method (rap) to share the importance of voting and to explain the three branches of government in an edgy way that makes it more relevant to young and diverse people. It’s worth your 4 minutes to take it all in.

YelloPain is right that all the attention, especially in this election cycle, is focused on the presidential race, but the real difference-makers can be the Congress, state legislators and even local public servants. Make it a priority to learn the background of all those on your ballot and, most importantly, to cast your vote to keep our Constitutional values alive.

leadership dot #3010: endure

It’s hard to believe that it has been 19 years since the tragedy of 9-11. It was, at the time, the biggest shock since Pearl Harbor and effectively shut down the country for weeks.

But then it was over.

Just as I will always remember 9-11, people today will tell stories about COVID for the rest of their lifetime. It is another collective moment with grave and far-reaching implications.

Only this one has no end in sight.

Essential workers and others in a multitude of positions have been on COVID-overdrive for over half a year now. Creating plans. Redoing plans. Pivoting right. Going back to the left. Implementing Plan A, then Plan B and even Plan Q. Oh yeah, throw in a couple of natural disasters, a widespread social justice movement and divisive politics. It is exhausting.

Leaders of those directly impacted by any of these crises need to acknowledge the stress this year has brought on and take steps to mitigate the incident fatigue that is consciously or unconsciously plaguing so many. Supervisors should acknowledge that these are unprecedented times and explicitly give permission or mandate that key personnel stop doing anything that is not mission-critical. Vacation or time off should be required, even if the employee doesn’t feel like they can be gone. Senior leaders should model relying on each other for moral and literal support to share some of the load.

The terrorist acts on 9-11 were over in 73 minutes. The derecho lasted just hours. The hurricane a day. Most wildfires are extinguished within weeks. Crises do not usually endure with such intensity for months, but since COVID doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon, Job 1 is to make your ability to operate sustainable. Even people with a positive attitude cannot thrive under daunting conditions indefinitely. Acknowledge the toll that the pace and continued uncertainty are taking and shift to strategies that allow people to endure for the longer run.

leadership dot #3006: relaxation

Thanks to its official designation, today is more like “Labor-less Day” rather than one of labor for most Americans. The holiday has been on the books since 1882 when the Central Labor Union created it as a way to celebrate its workers. We’ve been parading and picnicking ever since.

A version of Labor Day is celebrated around the world, but traditionally on May 1. It made the September calendar in the States to add a day off in the four months between Fourth of July and Thanksgiving when breaks are few are far between.

You should follow the Labor Union’s example and be deliberate about when you take time off. With the pandemic still present, it’s going to be a long slog through the cold months. Take a moment now to block out your own holidays and time for relaxation. Mark yourself out for a random Wednesday here and there to break up a week. Take off a Friday or Monday to make a long weekend. Carve out a few mornings where you can stay in the cozy covers instead of facing winter’s bite. Do it now, while your fall and winter calendars are free enough to allow you that flexibility.

All of us are engaged in some form of labor. Be intentional about taking a respite from it, not only today but on other days of your choosing.

 

leadership dot #2941: marriage

Without fireworks, cookouts and all the usual trappings of the Fourth of July, it won’t seem like a holiday to some, but it’s still Independence Day with or without pyrotechnics.

It reminds me of times when people are so focused on the big, flashy wedding that they forget that what’s actually important is the marriage. Today, the real reason for celebration isn’t in the night sky rather to commemorate the founding of our country and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Take a moment to appreciate the gifts of democracy, freedom and our never-ending quest for equality. It may be fun to have fireworks or a fancy wedding, but the real value comes from the work you do afterward to sustain it.

leadership dot #2926: Juneteenth

A year ago, June nineteenth went unrecognized by many people who were unaware that it commemorates the day the last slaves in the U.S. were told of their freedom when word finally reached Texas 30 months after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

But the recognition of the date has gained much more prominence as part of the current race equity revolution. This year, employees at Nike, Twitter and other corporations have the day off in observation; the Juneteenth flag is flying over the Wisconsin State Capitol for the first time in history, and several marches and rallies are planned for the day.

If you’re not familiar with the story, you can watch a short video here or read more about what has been called America’s Second Independence Day here.

You know when a social change is taking place by observing the little things that are altered. In the span of less than a month, Band-Aid has announced that after 99 years of only making its product in white flesh tone, it is now committed to offering new products in a range of light, medium and dark blacks and browns. Quaker Oaks is retiring the Aunt Jemima brand after 131 years. Other brands, such as Uncle Ben’s Rice, Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth have also committed to changing their imagery. Change happens slow, then it happens fast.

At one time, not that long ago, any of these changes would have been unthinkable. Hopefully, next year it will be equally unimaginable that most people fail to recognize this holiday and the history it represents.

 

leadership dot #2921: for all

I’m not a vexillologist by any stretch, but on the occasion of Flag Day, I became curious about some of the history and etiquette surrounding our nation’s symbol. There are many rules about the folding, displaying and disposing of a flag – all to show proper reverence for something that is considered the most sacred symbol of the country. You can read some of the rules and some trivia here.

For 243 years, the stars and stripes have been the official flag of the United States of America. The origin of the flag is lost to history – no one is quite sure of the specifics – but George Washington is to have said that the stars were added to “represent a new constellation in the heavens” as a nod to succession and independence.

On this Flag Day, take a moment to reflect on the ideals on which the country was founded. It seems an appropriate time for everyone to recommit to the pledge and to fulfilling its promise of liberty and justice for all.

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

leadership dot #2901: memorial

One of the members of the armed forces who will be remembered today is Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and the Supreme Commander of the troops who undertook the Normandy Invasion on D-Day. He was a war hero whose leadership changed the course of history and his service will be memorialized with a monument in Washington, DC.

The tribute has been a long time in coming – the commission to begin work on the monument was appointed in 1999. They selected Frank Gehry as the architect – someone known for his non-traditional style (Guggenheim Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA) – and then faced long delays because his submissions were deemed as “controversial.” The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial park was to be dedicated on May 8 of this year, the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day), but the pandemic had other plans. I think Eisenhower had less trouble invading France!

Eisenhower could have rested on his military service laurels but continued to make a difference as president. He signed the Civil Rights act of 1957 and sent troops to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. He established NASA. His most lasting legacy may be the creation of the Interstate Highway System which opened up corridors for commerce across America.

Eisenhower may be among the more prominent military members who are remembered today, but all who gave the ultimate sacrifice are deserving of our appreciation and consideration. Be inspired by their perseverance, dedication and service and pledge to make your life worthy of their efforts.

 

leadership dot #2868: earth

If COVID taught us nothing else, its lesson clearly demonstrated how interconnected the world is. Despite attempts to limit immigration or close off supply chains, there no longer is an “us” and “them.” We are all inhabitants of the same Earth.

 

So, today, as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, it’s an appropriate moment to consider our actions and how they impact global climate issues. You may already be taking small steps to lessen your personal impact, but if you’re inspired to do more, you can take the Earth Day 22-day Challenge.

 

We primarily tend to think of environmental issues on a personal level, but when is the last time you added the topic to a staff meeting agenda? Have you reviewed your organization’s practices lately to see where there is energy waste, unnecessary packaging, single-item purchasing, or unnecessary travel? (You can find other tips here and here.) Your initiatives can provide financial as well as environmental benefits for your organization and create an avenue for you to play a leadership role outside your defined job.

On this Earth Day, commit to raising your environmental consciousness in your organization as well as at home, starting with taking one sustainable action. What new practice can you begin today that will improve our interconnected community tomorrow?

leadership dot #2858: mismatched

I have an Easter decoration that always makes me laugh – a plaque with a bunny being hatched from an egg. It’s an absurd combination, yet the symbols of bunnies and eggs are inextricably linked for the commercial portion of this holiday. There are many facets of Easter that make no sense: rabbits with baskets, coloring and hunting for eggs, chocolate rabbits and jelly beans – but they have been so ingrained into our culture that we don’t pay much attention to the implausibility of them.

 

Embrace that spirit of creativity today to allow yourself to have free-flowing associations with disjointed concepts. Link your own version of rabbits and eggs to create a new idea for work or for family entertainment.

 

Hide spice jars around your house instead of eggs. Put your books in the cupboard and plates on the bookshelf. Mix two unexpected ingredients to make a new dish. Wear polka dots and plaid together. Intermix carrots and petunias next to each other in your front landscaping.

 

Easter symbolizes a new beginning. Use the fresh start to infuse a burst of creativity into your world.