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?”

Bad Behavior’s Brighter Side: A Lesson I Learned about Love

By Angela Noel Lawson

January 21, 2019

I like to believe I’m an optimistic, self-aware, wholehearted person. And I am. But, not all the time. Sometimes I’m petty, even a little mean. I find I am occasionally nicer to strangers than I am to the people I love most. Such was the case recently. However, because I am those other things as well as an occasional ass, I learned something important from my bad behavior.

Continue reading “Bad Behavior’s Brighter Side: A Lesson I Learned about Love”

What Matters More: Numbers or Relationships?

By Angela Noel

May 18, 2017

Almost a year ago now, I sat agonizing over my first blog post. I’d convinced two or three brave souls to let me profile them. Each had placed tremendous trust in me, but I worried. Would the words I put on the page both honor my subjects and connect with readers?

As a few people read that first post, then a few more, I felt the rush. My heart pounded in anticipation every time I checked the stats. Ten people. Then twenty. A hundred. Matt French, the subject of my first post, liked it. His friends and family liked it. That’s what mattered most, right?

But the more I read other blogs, and the more research I did to understand what “success” for a new blog should look like, the ickier I felt. A few months in, after I’d faithfully posted each week, I remember reading a piece from another blogger. She lamented she had only a “small” following–10,000 views a month. I felt shame. If she was disappointed with 10,000 what did it mean that 1/10th of that number visited mine? Clearly, something was wrong. Continue reading “What Matters More: Numbers or Relationships?”