Four Simple Ways to Be Extraordinary

By Angela Noel Lawson

June 3,  2019

Steve Jobs, Bill and Melinda Gates, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Amma (the ‘hugging saint’), and Martin Luther King Jr. have impacted millions with their extraordinary-ness in business, social justice, human rights, and the arts. Their efforts are meaningful. Each represents an extension of self to benefit the wider world. But world-changing actions aren’t the only ones that matter. Continue reading “Four Simple Ways to Be Extraordinary”

My Prison of the Perfect Size: Culture and Body Image

By Angela Noel Lawson

May 2019

Simone de Beauvoir, French author and philosopher, wrote, “To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.” Put another way, to have confidence in one’s body is to have confidence in oneself. Like many women, I have a complicated relationship with my body. For years, I viewed it as a criminal, and sentenced it to a prison-like existence. But then, after almost a 40-year term, I began to set it free. Continue reading “My Prison of the Perfect Size: Culture and Body Image”

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?”

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”