The Choice to Follow: The Achiever’s Dilemma

As part of my Profiles in Leadership Series, I asked several writers, including Jeff Cann, with different points of view on leadership to pen essays. I began reading Jeff’s blog The Other Stuff in 2017 after his post, “Follow,” was featured by the editors of WordPress Discover. His frank and thoughtful assessment of why he follows writers (or doesn’t) hooked me. Here, coincidentally, he writes of following from a different perspective. In this essay, Jeff considers the rarely discussed, but very real, struggle many of us face–allowing ourselves to be led. 

May 20, 2019

Email from Angela Lawson:

Hi Jeff,
I’m wondering, given our previous conversations about leadership, if you’d like to share your perspective on the topic in a guest post?
Angela

Angela’s been doing her leadership series for a couple of months now. She’s profiled some impressive people and she’s persuaded some accomplished leaders to pen articles here. With Angela’s request, I’m in great company. Since she’s asking, you’re probably thinking my leadership qualities are top notch. Or possibly I’ve excelled in my career and in life because I’ve followed someone truly inspirational.

No and no. I’m writing today because other than with my high school cross country coach, I’ve never felt led. I’ve never been inspired. I think Angela asked for my perspective because after so many great leadership essays, what she needs now is a bad example. Some instruction on what not to do. Continue reading “The Choice to Follow: The Achiever’s Dilemma”

Whose Teachable Moment Is This Anyway?

By Angela Noel Lawson

April 15, 2019

A minute after my nine-year-old clomped up the stairs, exasperated over a failed toy repair, I heard a small crash.

“Darn it!” he muttered. I could almost hear the tears of frustration pricking his eyes.

Unfortunately, I had a huge to-do list at work and I needed to get in as soon as possible. Time was of the essence. My easy-going kid had picked an inopportune time to experience irrational anger.

“What’s up, Jack?” I called up the stairs.

“Nothing!” A second later I heard the sound of his electric toothbrush.

“Okay, dude. We’ve gotta get going,” I prodded, as soon as the toothbrush was silent.

Jackson dutifully descended the stairs, picked up his backpack, then headed out to the car. He wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t being a total jerk either.

“Seriously, what’s bugging you?” I asked, after I, too, had climbed into the car.

“I was mad about the glue not fixing my plane, and then the floss flew out of the medicine cabinet onto the floor!”

Let me be clear, this kind of thing doesn’t normally bug him. But everyone gets annoyed now and again. So, I seized the teachable moment. Continue reading “Whose Teachable Moment Is This Anyway?”

Six Funk-Busting Ideas to Bring More Life to Life

By Angela Noel Lawson

April 5, 2019

I know I’m not alone in wanting to stay awake when it seems like the latest news about something less-than-awesome is trying to put me into a stupefied, fear-fueled funk.

My thoughts, constantly stream across the billboard of my mind, informing both my words and actions. They are the underlying code governing my emotional, physical, and social self. Because routines offer shortcuts to my heavily-taxed brain, I rely on  these thought patterns to simplify my life. In short, I need some routines to keep myself sane. For example, if I don’t put my keys in the same place every day I frantically search pockets, countertops, and sometimes the cheese drawer to find them.

But, if I want to invite more joy, laughter, purpose, and meaning into my life I need to challenge these shortcuts and regular operating procedures. So here’s a few strategies I use to shake some life into my. . . you know, life. Continue reading “Six Funk-Busting Ideas to Bring More Life to Life”

Profiles in Leadership | Tracy Murphy: Learner and Bridge Builder

An excellent leader tackles tough problems and surrounds herself with smart, committed people

By Angela Noel Lawson

March 19, 2019

When I asked Tracy Murphy to describe her leadership she paused for half a second. “I think about,” she said, “being a learner first.”

Tracy, President of Mount Olivet Rolling Acres (a nonprofit corporation offering care and services to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities) exemplifies and evangelizes a growth mindset. She asks herself: How can I learn? How can I practice what I’m learning? And how can I bring people along with me?” Continue reading “Profiles in Leadership | Tracy Murphy: Learner and Bridge Builder”

Profiles in Leadership–A New Series

By Angela Noel Lawson

March 11, 2019

The recipe to make a molecule of water is clear: one atom of oxygen, two of hydrogen. Bam! Water. The recipe for how to lead however, is not so clear. In fact, there isn’t one. There is no “how to” manual. Or rather, there are many, which just proves the point: If there was a definitive model only one manual would be needed.

Further, some books about leadership are either written by researchers, or by the leaders themselves. They draw upon the stories of successful people and derive a roadmap of sorts from these experiences. “Do what I do, ” they seem to say, “and you too will be be a successful leader.”

But, it doesn’t work that way–there are too many variables. It’s why quarterbacks call an audible. Or why doctors prescribe a drug to treat a condition it wasn’t specifically approved for–like a heart medication prescribed instead to treat migraines. Which isn’t to say the roadmaps (or the playbook or the FDA-approval guidelines) aren’t useful. On the contrary, these roadmaps provide necessary foundational information the experts then use as a tool to achieve their goals. Deviating from the path isn’t just okay, it’s essential. The key is acknowledging another expert is also in the room. Continue reading “Profiles in Leadership–A New Series”

Out of My Comfort Zone: Why I Wrote an Essay that Scares Me a Little

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 25, 2018

I’m outside of my comfort zone. I don’t write about politics. My focus on this blog and in my life in general has always been on what brings people together. Politics, in general, seems to do the opposite. However, I read a book, Political Tribes, by Yale professor and bestselling author Amy Chua. And that book brought me to consider some ideas I needed to explore. The result is this essay: “Conceit on the Left? A Liberal’s Point of View” now on Splice Today. Continue reading “Out of My Comfort Zone: Why I Wrote an Essay that Scares Me a Little”

I’m Breaking up with Perfection

by Angela Noel

February 8, 2018

Two words drive me crazy. The first is perfection. I don’t believe perfection exists. I happen to like plenty of things that don’t exist, fairies for example. Or Santa, he’s a pretty jolly (not real) man. But the myth of achieving perfection causes real problems at work and at home. And that makes me mad. Santa never made me mad. Fairies are equally blameless.  So, perfection is bad. Continue reading “I’m Breaking up with Perfection”