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”

Defining the Default Leader: Overcoming Reluctance and Accepting the Call

As part of my new Profiles in Leadership Series, I asked several writers with different points of view on leadership to pen essays. Here is the second of those essays. Shannon Leader considers the weighty impact of finding herself a leader by default and not always by choice. Shannon is an outdoor lifestyle blogger in the Pacific Northwest and writes over at Must Hike Must Eat. Read and follow her many excellent travel and trail posts. I promise you’ll be inspired.

May 13, 2019

If you noticed my name you might have thought to yourself that I must be the perfect person to write about leadership.  But the cold hard truth is that it is more like proof that the universe is plotting against me.

I have spent most of my life avoiding anything having to do with being a leader or “in charge”.  In fact, the thought of it makes me nauseous. I would love nothing more than to just have the role of a worker bee.  But last year, even my last name turned against me when I married my wonderful husband. Continue reading “Defining the Default Leader: Overcoming Reluctance and Accepting the Call”

Assembling the Pieces of Me: My Grandmother’s Legacy

By Angela Noel Lawson

May 7, 2019

When Jackie Cochran called for female pilots to join the World War II effort, my grandmother, along with 25,000 other women, answered. Twenty-five-year-old Dolores Meurer began her training as a Women’s Air Service Pilot (WASP) on August 9, 1943, at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. The rigors of training ensured only the best would earn their wings; only 1,074 applicants graduated. Her experiences as a WASP spanned less than two years of her life, yet those heady days populated her thoughts for the almost seven decades to follow.

However, unlike my grandmother at 25, I lacked purpose. I’d quit my job at a startup magazine in San Francisco. The novel I’d planned to write when I graduated college was 75% complete and 90% terrible. And, I’d broken up with my first serious boyfriend. Adult life was just so much harder than I thought it’d be. Continue reading “Assembling the Pieces of Me: My Grandmother’s Legacy”

Read This! Or Don’t. Either Way, I Still Love You

By Angela Noel Lawson

April 29, 2019

Something’s been on my mind and I think it’s about time I share it with you. Being a friend or family member of a writer can be tough. We writers are always publishing, posting, promoting . . .  And though we try not to overwhelm you, I don’t think we always succeed. So, I’m here to tell my people: It’s okay if you don’t read my writing. Really, it is.

If I ask you if you’ve read my latest essay, it doesn’t hurt my feelings if you say no. I’m only asking because I don’t want to tell you the same story you might have already read. Believe it or not, I’m trying NOT to be annoying. Inevitably, though, I worry. I worry you’ll think I’m expecting you to read everything or anything. Truthfully, I’m not. Continue reading “Read This! Or Don’t. Either Way, I Still Love You”

Profiles in Leadership | Why Does Leadership Embarrass Me?

As part of my new Profiles in Leadership Series, I asked several writers with different points of view on leadership to pen essays. Here is the first of those essays, written by the excellent Alison Battye, a UK-based therapist living in the Kent countryside. Ali normally writes about gardening and mindfulness on her blog The Mindful Gardener.  Recently, she accepted a leadership position for the first time in her career–a move that surprised even her. Why now? She explains.

April 22, 2019

If I had seen a series on leadership a couple of years ago, I’m not sure I would have read it.

Why? Because I didn’t see myself as a leader.

I have just started in a leadership role, so I must be a leader.

I am saying this quietly, in case anyone hears. I am a leader.

Where does this resistance to leadership come from? I know I have important ideas. I know that I can encourage others to share their ideas, including those who are most reticent. I know that I am good at coaching others. I know that I can inspire, and that what I say can be influential.

So why am I shy about describing myself as a leader? Continue reading “Profiles in Leadership | Why Does Leadership Embarrass Me?”

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?”

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”

How I Became an Accidental Helicopter Parent

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 19, 2019

Jackson and I rushed through the school hallways careful not to slip on the rivers of melted snow and mud on the linoleum floors. We were late for our scheduled conference with his fourth grade teacher.

Though I’d left work right at 3:00, planning to pick Jackson up on the way (they had the day off school), I was behind schedule. By the time we arrived at school we were ten minutes late for what I thought was our 3:30 appointment. When we finally arrived at the classroom I peeked in to find a couple already sitting at the table, talking to the teacher. Then I looked at the posted schedule. Instead of 3:30, we were scheduled for 3:00 My heart sank. We weren’t just a little late; we were a lot late.

Unfortunately, I had something I wanted to discuss with the teacher. Something I thought was important. Continue reading “How I Became an Accidental Helicopter Parent”

Awesome Nuggets: Winter 2019 Edition

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 13, 2019

I grew up in California. Winter meant off-the-shoulder sweaters, jean shorts, and UGGs. But all that changed when I moved to Minnesota. So much so that I measure my years in the Midwest by the winters I’ve spent here. This will be my fifteenth.

The first freeze left me struggling to understand how to scrape the ice from my windshield. My boss at the time, a Canadian, told me to use the edge of my credit card to scrape my window. This was not great advice. But I’d never heard of a “scraper.” So that’s my bad.

It took me 12 winters to actually live in a home with a garage. I never fully appreciated the humble glory of parking beneath a roof until I moved here. Now I do.

I also learned that extreme cold causes cancelled school. My son was in kindergarten for the first “polar vortex” when temperatures dropped to -18F. Jackson struggled to understand that Mommy was on a conference call and couldn’t play just then. But even in those days I rejoiced in the fact that I worked at a company that allowed for remote work. This alone was and is something to be grateful for.

In the past few weeks the Midwest has experienced crazy cold temperatures. Here in Minneapolis we hit -28F, and that wasn’t counting the windchill. But Awesome Nugget posts aren’t about the hardships. They’re about the fun moments of surprise and delight that offer me a moment of pause. Being grateful for all the wonder and joy brought on by circumstance is one of the best parts of being a living, breathing human being.

So without further ado, here’s a few  of the little moments I’ve noticed so far this winter. Continue reading “Awesome Nuggets: Winter 2019 Edition”

Parents Judging Parents: I’m Afraid I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 4, 2019

Recently, my son hosted a friend for a sleepover. Around six in the evening, I began to think of dinner for the kids. I opened the closet where we keep cans of soda and the odd extra can of soup. Then I pulled from its depths two cans of diet root beer. As I handed a can to my son’s friend I said something surprising. Something that, on the surface, was a non-event. But when I looked deeper I found the seeds of an insidious parenting problem.

“Well,” I said, remembering my struggle in the soda aisle between the regular and diet option while at the grocery store the day before, “I guess you have to decide between the sugar and the chemicals, am I right? But, of course there’s no caffeine either way, so there’s that. Anyway, I went with the diet.”

Meanwhile, the fourth-grader waited patiently, hand outstretched for his drink. Feeling vaguely foolish, I dropped the can into his open palm.

The rest of the evening proceeded as sleepovers do. They  watched movies, built forts, and dumped Legos pretty much everywhere. But it was my non-event comment that bothered me. I couldn’t banish a simple thought: Why had I burdened this young man with my reasoning on diet versus regular?

Only one answer seemed right: I’m afraid of being judged for my parenting choices. Continue reading “Parents Judging Parents: I’m Afraid I Don’t Know What I’m Doing”