Lesson from a stutter

Just a few months ago, our two year old daughter began to develop a stutter, which came as a bit of a surprise for us. She had been talking so clearly just days before, and all of a sudden it seemed like a struggle for her to get her thoughts out. Some words would take her 4 or 5 attempts to get the word out, especially “mommy.” Thoughts ran through my head of her being made fun of and having to deal with this speech impediment for the rest of her life.
Within about two weeks, we realized she was no longer stuttering, which was a stark contrast to the struggle she had just a week earlier. How did it happen so fast? Was it just a stage of development she had to go through?
I do not know the answer to those questions, but I feel two words contributed to success.
Slow down

We were constantly rushing her, telling her to pick up her toys so speedy, and to get her shoes on so we could go play with a friend and not be late. We were always in such a hurry. My wife proposed the idea to slow down, to not interrupt her when talking, but to give her our undivided attention when she had something to say.
To this day, we are now more relaxed and less worried about getting things done off the to do list and more focused on the individuals around us, especially our children. If we get so caught up in the “race of life” we often miss the opportunity to enjoy and develop relationships with those we love and care about.

Beethoven’s Advice for Leaders

“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.” —Ludwig Van Beethoven

Would you consider Beethoven a leader? He was a leader in very many ways and continues to lead centuries after he wrote his last symphony. This quote is just an example of his leadership in thought with a few key things I feel apply to the few of us who do not consider ourselves nor aspire to be artists.

First, art. What is art and how do we practice it? Currently, I am not practicing a musical instrument, and I do not paint or draw any sort of pictures. I am not currently writing a book, nor would I call myself a gourmet chef. On a day to day basis, I get to observe and practice leadership skills. Leadership is an art. Art is something we create, whether it is a picture, or inspiring others towards a common goal. When you reread Beethoven’s quote thinking about leadership, it opens a new dimension of thinking about your day to day interactions with those you lead.

Next, secrets. Many would argue there are no secrets to leadership. Each time I listen to Major General David Rubenstein speak at various healthcare events, he always asks, “if you were to search ‘leadership’ on amazon.com, how many results would there be?” Last I checked, there were over 75,000 The question is what are the secrets of leadership. When I was a child, I always felt left out when my friends knew something that I did not, or they had secrets. A secret is not something no one knows, but it is something everyone, except you, knows. There are hundreds of examples of leaders in books, magazines, and right around us. Get to know them, and learn the secrets they have. Once we learn a new leadership principle, it is no longer secret, so we move on to learn another, always progressing.

Finally, divine. As you may notice, I believe in God. I believe He is the ultimate leader and is the perfect example. As we learn the secrets of leadership, we will be enlightened along the way, but more importantly, we will become better. Whether you believe in God or not, you will become better. Anyone who is yearning for those secrets will find them, and as they incorporate them into their practice they will come closer to those leaders we all want to emulate, including God. What are your thoughts on this quote? What are your leadership secrets you would share with the world?

Meeting Reminder: YOU!

Two days ago I was very overwhelmed with work. I had been asked to do something I knew very little about and with a limited knowledge of the organization, I was not quite sure what exactly the product I needed to deliver looked like. Sound familiar? Of course not. Every time you’re assigned something you know exactly what your boss wants. You envision the final product so clearly you simply copy it from your memory onto the computer. (Am I being too sarcastic?)

So what do you do in those moments where you feel overwhelmed?  I’ll  tell you what I do:

Have a meeting with yourself.

Invite no one but yourself. Take nothing with you except maybe something to write with and try to get rid of all distractions.

We have meetings throughout the day, sometimes all we do is sit in meetings talking about issues, troubles and if we are lucky we talk about solutions to fix things. So why can’t we do the same with ourselves?

I  stood up, put on my suit jacket,  and went for a walk.  Luckily, the weather is good and I ended up sitting outside  on some patio furniture  near a fountain.  As I sat there  thinking of the difficulties  I was facing with work, not just the one I mentioned earlier, I realized how  dumb I was being. My mind was clear and I was able to think about what matters most and  realize the worst that could happen would not be that bad. I took out my iPhone  and began typing my thoughts in Evernote. Writing is my favorite medium. For communicating wih myself. I learned quickly  the value of stepping back from the busyness  of the office and having a meeting with myself.

How do you clear your mind during your day?

Life to Her Years

 The following is a post by Michael Mitchell @ Life to Her Years

If you haven’t checked out his blog, you should. He posts short ideas to help dads with daughters be better…well…dads.

Five Rules for Dads Raising Daughters

Posted on July 5, 2011 by 

I’ve been reading a lot of books and blogs lately on fatherhood and raising girls. From what I’ve read, there seems to be at least five common threads (probably more) running through most of the stuff that really speaks to me. Maybe they’re not really rules. Maybe they’re more like tips… tips, hints, suggestions, guidelines, or something like that. Whatever you call them, in no particular order, here are five:

1. Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with and marry someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Good or bad, that’s just the way it is. I’d prefer good.

2. Always be there. Quality time doesn’t happen without quantity time. Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her. She needs her dad to be involved in her life at every stage. Don’t just sit idly by while she add years to her life… add life to her years.

3. Save the day. She’ll grow up looking for a hero. It might as well be you. She’ll need you to come through for her over and over again throughout her life. Rise to the occasion. Red cape and blue tights optional.

4. Savor every moment you have together. Today she’s crawling around the house in diapers, tomorrow you’re handing her the keys to the car, and before you know it, you’re walking her down the aisle. Some day soon, hanging out with her old man won’t be the bees knees anymore. Life happens pretty fast. You better cherish it while you can.

5. Pray for her. Regularly. Passionately. Continually. Let her know she’s got another daddy in Heaven who loves her even more than you do. She may not believe you today, but she’ll need that assurance someday when you’re not around.

Alright dads and daughters who’ve been one or the other longer than me and mine, what have I forgotten? This list is by no means (nor was it meant to be) comprehensive. Anything else you’d add?

On the road to Abilene

 

There’s a story of a family sitting on their porch in a small Texas town on a hot day with little intent on doing anything. I remember watching the video in my organizational behavior class during graduate school. They were all sweating, drinking lemonade, and I am pretty sure playing cards. After a silent moment, one of the family members suggested they go to a cafeteria (fine dining, I know) in Abilene a significant drive away. No one objected. They went. The film then showed them back at home, probably the same lemonade, and all of them still sweating. Soon they realized that no one wanted to go to Abilene in the first place, it was simply a suggestion, but in order to avoid making anyone feel bad, they went.

Ever since viewing that film, I always look for the times in my life when I am “on the road to Abilene”. Here’s a good example, which happens quite regularly in our home. This actually just happened again on Saturday night. I got on my computer in our bedroom to check a few blogs I follow regularly. I had decided I wanted to just be on for a few minutes and then my wife and I would watch a show together. She started to read a book, and I kept consuming information, which is something a lot of us would be considered pros. After an hour, I realized we just showed up in Abilene. I am sure neither one of us wanted to spend that hour that way, but we did. I was in the driver’s seat. I’ve learned that my wife doesn’t interrupt me when I am on the computer, and she shouldn’t have to ask me to get off the laptop. It is my decision. I decide where our “car” is driving, and when we will arrive there. No offense, but Abilene doesn’t sound like more fun than watching an episode of our favorite TV show (hopefully they never stage an episode in Abilene).

Looking back, a number of questions come into my mind:

  • ·         Was reading those blogs how I really wanted to spend my Saturday night? With my new job, I am gone 12-13 hours a day, and do not have the time I had while I was in school to be with the wife and kids. I was definitely on my way to Abilene
  • ·         Who was I putting first? My wife was sitting next to me and instead I was learning about someone/something probably thousands of miles away from me. The relationship with my wife and children should come first.

We need to regularly assess how we are spending our time. Are our actions lining up with our beliefs? If you asked me Saturday night what matters most to me, I would have said my wife, but my actions were obvious. My wife was second place to something of little to no significance.

If we all decided to act in harmony with our beliefs, I think all of us would be more productive and provide more value to those around us than we currently do.

My plan this week is to put my money where my mouth is and act in a way that shows what my priorities really are.