leadership dot #2722: you share

“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” – W. Clement Stone

Today is not only a day of gratitude, but it is also a day of sharing. Countless people open their homes to friends and “strays” who join them for the traditional meal. Numerous others spend the day cooking, serving or delivering food for those in need. Others share their talents by playing in parades or athletic events, while some share through donating blood.

It’s one thing to feel gratitude, but another level to actually share it. Whether it’s helping in your kitchen or tending to your neighbor, give of yourself today in an authentic celebration of gratitude for all you have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

leadership dot #2720: friendsgiving

It has been said that friends are the family you choose for yourself – so what better way to combine the traditions of Thanksgiving than by celebrating with all of your families. “Friendsgiving” is an opportunity to do just that by combining good friends with good foods.

Friendsgiving has been widely celebrated since 2007 – long before Ross and Monica added their imprint on this Millennial/Gen Z holiday. You may opt to include reruns of Friends as part of your event, or you can keep things more low-key. No matter how you craft it, taking time before the real holiday madness to share laughs and gratitude with your buddies sounds like a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

Friendsgiving is gaining in popularity – maybe because people need to schedule “time with friends” into their otherwise busy lives. Maybe it’s an antidote to the sometimes uncomfortable holidays with relatives. Or perhaps it’s just a great excuse to get together and enjoy good company and some food.

There is no set date for Friendsgiving so you can pick any date to round up your circle. Real friends – not just the Facebook kind – are worth the effort to gather in person.

leadership dot #2694: access

If you come trick-or-treating at my house tonight, this is who will greet you at the door. I learned many years ago to engage my pups in the festivities – even though that means standing behind a gate. By allowing them to be a part of the process they are quite content with their supporting role but if I had tried to keep them in the other room the neighbors several houses away would have heard them expressing their displeasure every time the doorbell rang.

I think there are parallels with your employees. They don’t always need to have a voice or decision-making power but, like everyone, they want to be a part of what is going on. It’s fine to set boundaries and limit their engagement but avoid excluding them entirely.

Think about ways you can give your staff more access to the action. Are there ways to provide opportunities to at least observe what is going on even if they don’t participate? Can you create a role that provides them first-hand exposure to what will be talked about tomorrow? Is there a way to capitalize on “new eyes” experiencing your event and learn from that feedback?

It’s ok to put up a gate but don’t leave them out altogether.

 

leadership dot #2681: harvest

One season “woodland friends” were featured on every imaginable product, then there was a frenzy over cacti, only to be replaced by llamas and unicorns. When something is so suddenly pervasive, my sister and I joke that the product must have gotten a new PR agent who promotes its image and orchestrates product placements in all the major stores.

This year, the mythical marketer of the year award goes to those responsible for promoting autumn. Have you noticed that “fall” has become a merchandising frenzy on its own? I’m not talking about Halloween or Thanksgiving, but the actual “It’s Fall Y’all” season in between. Pay attention and you’ll be astonished.

Fall decorations are everywhere. Products include hand towels, pencils, shower curtains, soap, rugs, and all manner of seasonal trimmings. You can have a complete set of fall dishes and almost every food item comes in pumpkin spice flavor to serve on them. Hallmark has a selection of cards wishing greetings just for the season and Walmart is running commercials to encourage “harvest parties.”

Someone identified a gap between summer and Halloween and revved up the merchandising machine to fill it. You may have caught the bug personally and added an extra pumpkin or wreath to your front porch, but has your organization capitalized on the new energy around this season? Add “fall” to your planning cycle for next year: host your donors at a pumpkin patch, add spice flavoring or color to your product, or send sunflower cards instead of Christmas greetings.

There is a marketing bounty waiting for those who harvest it.

leadership dot #2677: map

An organization that is working on system-wide change did some evaluations with the front-line staff involved in the efforts. What many of them said was some version of “we want a road map” – please tell us how to enact this change, outline the steps for us, give us direction, etc.

The thing is – there is no road map. There isn’t one to give them – and the change is so new and so massive that no one could even make a map if they wanted to. Instead of a map, what the leaders need to give their team is an understanding of the process of change and reframe their identity to one of creator or explorer instead of follower.

I think about this on Columbus Day – and what must it have been like for him and his flotilla to set out to unknown destinations. There was no map for Columbus – nor is there one for any organization embarking on a change effort. In addition to spending time talking about the change itself, leaders would be wise to align expectations of their staff to ready them for ambiguity, missteps, and confusion – and prepare people to make the map instead of futilely seeking one.

It seems appropriate to share this quote again today:

When David Livingstone’s work in Africa became known, a missionary society wrote to him and asked, “Have you found a good road to where you are?” If he had, the letter indicated the society was prepared to send some men to help with his work. Livingstone’s answer was clear and to the point. “If you have men who will come only over a good road, I don’t need your help. I want men who will come if there is no road…”

 …Or no map.

leadership dot #2669: costumes

Give another shout out to libraries – this time for adding Halloween costumes to their inventory of goods-to-lend. A local library added a rack to allow patrons to borrow costumes for kids and adults believing that it fits well with the idea of community sharing. (Not to mention that it is also economically and environmentally friendly.)

The National Retail Federation estimates that consumers will spend $3.2 billion on costumes this year (!!) – most for one-time use. Before you purchase a new disguise, check to see if your library can lend you one for free and consider donating unwanted costumes to them afterwards.

And once again, take a closer look at your local library as a model for how an organization can successfully evolve with the times.

Source: Library racks up Halloween outfits by Allie Hinga for the Telegraph Herald, October 4, 2019, p. 3A (Galena Public Library)

leadership dot #2644: not ordinary

One year ago today, I was at a meeting with several participants from out-of-town. As they prepared to leave for the airport I was struck by the ordinariness of their departures – they casually said goodbye and left with the business-as-usual confidence that they would board their planes and reach their destination as they had always done. Fortunately, they were right, but it provided a stark contrast to those who boarded the ill-fated planes on this date in 2001. I’m sure they, too, left for the airport with carefree indifference and anticipation of a safe journey.

I see signs of this clash of expectations throughout the year. The crosses on the side of the road, especially the one at a local intersection that I pass through daily, that mark where someone lost their life. The girl in the emergency room wearing brand new shoes – not expecting that it would be the only day she wore them. Those who were just shopping, praying, dancing or driving who were shot down as part of another mass attack. All people doing ordinary things that ended up in a fateful way.

One of the lyrics from Come From Away* says: “It’s like any of us could have died on Tuesday, and we’re dared to see things differently today.” Don’t take your today for granted. Dare to see your life with new eyes and possibilities that capitalizes on all the “Tuesdays” you are given.

And mostly, don’t ever forget those who lost lives and made sacrifices on September 11, 2001. Today is not just another day.

*Quote from “Costume Party” on Come From Away Original Broadway Soundtrack, lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein