Leadership

Choose Kindness

Kindness Matters

Every morning I take a moment to write down two things. The first is something I’m grateful for. The second is a positive experience I had yesterday. This simple ritual helps me focus on the things that matter. The kindness of others is often on my list.

We all have extreme power in our ability to choose how we listen, how we react, and how we treat others. Kindness, I believe, is one of our most powerful tools. It is free, and is an incredible investment in ourselves and in others.

Don’t confuse kindness with weakness. Being kind does not mean you’re afraid to make hard choices or that you have to avoid conflict. Rooting yourself in kindness simply means that you treat people with the respect that they deserve, and that helps ensure the outcome of even the most difficult situation is as good as it can be. 

No person has ever left this earth with a perfect score. We all make mistakes, mishandle situations, and let our emotions cloud our judgement from time to time. Let’s be more kind to each other when we stumble. 

One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou. She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When we remember to be kind we act in a way that invites others to do the same. And that’s infectious.

Artwork by Reychelle Ann Ignacio on Canva.
Practice Makes Experts

Practice Makes Experts

“Nothing can help the person who does not practice.” I read that in a Forbes article about public speaking tips. It made me stop and think about how easy it is to look at someone you admire and think they are a natural at something. The truth is that they worked very hard to be so awe-inspiring.

While it’s likely that highly talented people possess genetic factors that play an important role in their successes, training is necessary to become an expert. And with any kind of training, practice is key to honing one’s craft.

My first full-time job after college was as a high school teacher. I had some practice during my schooling, but not enough to make me a true expert on the subject matter, and not enough to confidently manage classrooms of 28 different personalities 5 times a day. And then, there I was on day one, alone, responsible for over 100 students a day, and running the show. 

I’ll never forget how quickly I noticed that my first period public speaking class really got the short end of the stick. Each day they were my test subjects for the day’s lesson, which always went better the other times I would perform it later that day. So, I started to rehearse my new lessons the night before. That practice helped. 

When I got my first graphic design job many years ago, I didn’t know the software like I really should have for the position I landed. I had to create my own projects and practice every night to quickly get myself up to the level the position required. 

I used to be a very good pianist. I could sight read almost any song, and enjoyed playing at parties where people wanted to sing. After a decade of little to no practice, I get frustrated every time I sit down at the piano. I can’t play anywhere near like I used to. Three weeks ago, I vowed to change that. I’m now practicing a couple hours a week and I’m slowly working back to the musician I was ten years ago. All it’s taking is a little practice.  

And even though I’ve taught public speaking to high school and college students, coached executives through high stakes presentations, and presented more workshops and agency pitches than I can count, I still practice my presentations over and over — until I know that I’m ready. 

And knowing when I’m ready has taken practice, too.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
You Matter - The Power of Thanks

The Power of a Sincere Thank You

With Thanksgiving behind us and the holiday rush upon us, things seem to be moving quite fast, don’t they? So much to do, so many people to see — lots of year-end things to take care of at work and at home…. 

In hectic times, it’s even more important to slow down, observe, and give thanks. When things are moving fast at home or it’s crunch time at work, the people you lead are also feeling the pressure. In fact, they are likely going the extra mile just like you to keep it together and avoid dropping one of the balls they have in the air.

Saying thank you, a sincere thank you, is a simple and powerful way to lift spirits, motivate, and empower. Look for opportunities to say it this holiday season — especially when you can say it with eye contact (or with a handwritten note) and back it up with the “why” behind your sentiments.

Don’t get me wrong, an email or text message that gives thanks is better than nothing. How about a thank you that comes with a smile and some supporting facts as to why what someone did made a difference to you? Now that’s a real gift.

Give the Gift of Your Attention

Give It. Get It.

We are bombarded with messages every day from brands, employers, clients, friends, and family members. With so much coming our way through our screens, it’s understandable that we begin to tune out the noise—anything that we don’t deem worthy of our attention. Yet attention is what you need when you want to teach, motive, or persuade.

But you won’t earn anyone’s full attention if you’re not willing to give them yours.

Here are 6 tips to help:

  1. Demonstrate your commitment to being present and in the moment by giving your full attention to others.
  2. Expect the attention of others in return, and kindly ask for it if you’re not getting it. A simple, “Let’s all focus on the task at hand without interruption” should send the message.
  3. Listen more and speak less.
  4. Listen to what’s not being said.
  5. Be open to a different perspective.
  6. Be clear, concise, direct, and kind in your responses.

Anything else we should add to this list? Tell me in the comments.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Parents are a Model of Leadership

Parents and Leaders

I was recently asked a simple question by a colleague: “Who do you admire?”

Wow, what a loaded question. I admire many, many people—they are mentors, good friends, and talented colleagues. I also admire several artists, musicians, writers, athletes, and educators. The people I admire most are those I find talented, honest, kind, and giving. I also admire people who have the courage to lead, whether they are the type that does it quietly or the kind that enjoys the spotlight.

But when I think about who I admire most, it’s probably parents. I don’t have children myself, but when I look at parents today and consider the magnitude of the task of raising children in a world that seems to be moving faster than they can possibly keep up with, I have to give them kudos for being the leaders that they are.

Parents love through the times when those they lead are the most unlovable, guide their children to do what’s right even when it’s not easy, and sacrifice their needs for the health and success of the family. They show up every day, teach and train, troubleshoot, motivate, and lead by example. 

A good business leader shares a lot of traits with a good parent, don’t you think?

And while there are some essential things that make a good parent, everyone finds their own unique way to perform the role. Just like the best leaders.

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash
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