Embracing Reality (and its partner Possibility)

Hello, World!

I love living in Richmond, Virginia for so many reasons. Vibrant, caring communities of smart, creative people is one of them! CreativeMornings RVA invited me into the specialness they have created to share my thoughts on the topic of Reality. Little did I know their invitation would turn into an invitation to embrace a new reality in my own life.

Inside Transformational Leadership Radio Show

I have the great honor of serving on the faculty for Georgetown's Institute for Transformational Leadership. Our weekly radio show covers all sorts of juicy topics. This particular episode my friend and colleague, Barry Johnson, and I chatted with Kate Ebner about a very interesting and important topic, Polarity Thinking.

A polarity is often described as a chronic tension, dilemma, or paradox. Polarity Thinking is 'both and thinking'. It is needed in today's world of increasing interdependency and complexity. Leaders must utilize problem solving (either or thinking) as well as 'both and thinking' to address the most challenging of challenges. 

The research is clear: leaders, teams, and organizations that leverage polarities well outperform those who don't. 

Everyone Loves a Doodle

The talented and generous Virginia Strobach captured the essence of my CreativeMorningsRVA talk on Embracing Reality

A Yearly Ritual

That's me and my hubby, Glenn:)

That's me and my hubby, Glenn:)

I find that like my clients and the organizational world I serve, me and my marriage are better when we stop for a moment and notice what we’ve just done, what we are about to do, and best case scenario, both. My husband, Glenn, is mostly grateful and at times mildly annoyed being married to me, a Leadership Coach who tries to practice what I teach in my own leadership, life, and marriage:)  

I am the planner in our relationship. A role I mostly embrace and sometimes resist. Glenn is the feeler in our relationship. He teaches me about the value of spontaneity, doing things when the feeling strikes as well as when they are planned. Our relationship itself is about growth and enjoyment. 

For as long as I can remember the two of us have engaged in a yearly ritual of a planned evening at our kitchen table with a delicious bottle of red wine. We reflected on our goals and objectives for the outgoing year and then took what we learned to inform and communicate our hopes, expectations, goals, and promises as individuals and as a unit for the year ahead. It was effective and efficient and it was also void of spontaneity, enjoyment, and fun.

Two years ago we changed it up and combined our yearly ritual with a staycation. We now check ourselves into a hotel for a weekend and explore, unexplored restaurants, venues, and exhibits in our own city and unexplored conversations in our relationships while playing, planning, and enjoying each other and the process.

This year our destination was RVA’s Quirk Hotel, a magical backdrop of love for our yearly ritual.  And our outcome was some great learning, aggressive goals, and three beautiful intentions for 2016: To Lift, To Balance, and to be Beauty Full.

Here is a little photo diary of our amazing weekend.

You can feel the "love & happiness" that went into the creation of Quirk. It set the tone for our weekend.

You can feel the "love & happiness" that went into the creation of Quirk. It set the tone for our weekend.

The rooms were thoughtfully done and beautifully designed. 

The rooms were thoughtfully done and beautifully designed. 

Saturday morning brunch & bloodies at RVA's Lunch

Saturday morning brunch & bloodies at RVA's Lunch

Omelets with bacon infused brussell sprouts and swiss cheese - yum!

Omelets with bacon infused brussell sprouts and swiss cheese - yum!

Coffee & Caneles from RVA's WPA Bakery in Church Hill

Coffee & Caneles from RVA's WPA Bakery in Church Hill

Ideas were flowing as we slowed down to speed up

Ideas were flowing as we slowed down to speed up

So was my backgammon game! I smoked Glenn and took the championship title home:)

So was my backgammon game! I smoked Glenn and took the championship title home:)

Saturday evening we dined at Mike Isabella's Graffiato. We were eating well.

Saturday evening we dined at Mike Isabella's Graffiato. We were eating well.

Eating again. Sunday morning brunch at Tarrants

Eating again. Sunday morning brunch at Tarrants

Feeling the love and fueled by the force as the weekend came to a close. Caught the matinee of Starwars - The Force Awakens before we headed home

Feeling the love and fueled by the force as the weekend came to a close. Caught the matinee of Starwars - The Force Awakens before we headed home

While mom and dad were away Charlie (left), Jack (middle), and Peach, their girlfriend (right) held down the fort

While mom and dad were away Charlie (left), Jack (middle), and Peach, their girlfriend (right) held down the fort

Winter Renewal

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sunshine + warm breezes + floating in turquoise water + laughter + adventure + beauty + gratitude + cherished friends + meaningful conversations + delicious food & spirits.  A renewing recipe for my mind, heart, and soul. 

Now Accepting Applications...

  ...for the 2016 Spring Women's Leadership Series!  For more information or to apply click here

 

...for the 2016 Spring Women's Leadership Series!  For more information or to apply click here

Up Next

My first two reads of 2016 are on my shelf ready and waiting! "Mastering Leadership" by my friend Bob Anderson at the Leadership Circle and William Adams. And "Persephone Rising" by the Master of Transformational Leadership, Carol Pearson.

Leader as Learner

Excited to contribute to this article to the Winter edition of Dispatches Magazine by my friends and partners at The Frontier Project.

The Power of Presence & A Cup of Tea

I recently came across an old HBR blog post by Peter Bregman called "The Value of Ritual in your Workday”. Peter shared how moved he was by a scene in The Last Samurai (a scene he didn't remember seeing the first time he watched that movie).  The scene was of a samurai drinking tea.

Peter went on to share how he realized that while the samurai's strength was demonstrated through his acrobatics and the beautifully choreographed fight scenes the source of the samurai's power was a tea ritual and many other rituals like it. 

He talked about how "Rituals are about paying attention. They're about stopping for a moment and noticing what you're about to do, what you've just done, or both.  They're about making the most of a particular moment. And that's something we could use a lot more of in the business world." Peter went on to say, "Each time we pause, notice, and offer respect for an activity, it reminds us to appreciate and focus on what we're about to do. And by elevating each activity, we'll take it more seriously.  We'll get more pleasure from it. The people with whom we work will feel more respected.  And we'll feel more self respect. Which means we'll work better with each other. And produce better results."

I completely agreed with all of what he was sharing. As I read it, I thought to myself - "YES...rituals are important, they are a source of power, I practice them regularly in my daily life, I use them with the leaders I support and the programs I facilitate, etc. etc. etc."

Then the month of December hit and the hustle of the holidays unfolded and I got a humbling reality check on the difference between my beliefs and my actions.  

I began paying attention to:  

  • How I started each day over the last month  Ummmm….Checking texts, responding to email, and browsing Amazon for Christmas gifts
  • How had I started every meeting I had lead over the last month?  Checking in with each person to acknowledge who and what they are bringing to the conversation…Not bad
  • How had I began every meal I ate?  Weeeelllll....Eating it while doing emails or 3 other things at the same time

In what felt like a skinny minute, I had gone from practicing to professing. Thank goodness for a little reality check. On December 21st, I reconnected with a few of my own rituals to help me get connected to me and the source of my strength. It has been two weeks and I am happy to report that I am back to starting my day with: a question ("What am I grateful for?) before my feet hit the ground, 5 minutes of silence to just listen, and a couple of minutes loving on our pups. 

While the old email frenzy that was taking up the first 30 minutes of my day was well choreographed and beautifully executed it was definitely a demonstration of my strength rather than its source. 

I encourage you to take a look at the rituals in your work, leadership, and life - How do you begin every day? How do you begin every meeting you lead?  How do you begin every meal you eat? Pay attention to wether you are focused on the source of your strength or a demonstration of it. It may surprise you like it did me!

In process

The best part of the book so far (and I am only 40 pages in). Brene Brown is speaking of a conversation she had with a reporter who is considering working on his own issues related to vulnerability, courage, and authenticity. The reporter asks, “Can you give me the upside of doing this work?” She told him, “I believe that vulnerability - the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome - is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy.” He then asks, “And the downside?” She responds, “You are going to stumble, fall, and get your ass kicked.”

Leadership Lessons from a Room of Recovering Addicts

Stevie Toepke, my friend and co-facilitator of Women’s Leadership Series, recently wrote a fabulous article for Inc.com. "Leadership Lessons From A Room of Recovering Addicts" explores something corporate America hasn’t yet figured out but a community of men at a residential treatment facility have. An accountability culture is essential for sustainable results.

Just Finished

Best question of the book, “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”