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”

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”

The Most Important Promise I Ever Kept–Now on Heart and Humanity

By Angela Noel Lawson

January 7, 2019

Sometimes, the most important promises we make are to ourselves. Several years ago, when I locked the door on my husband, I kept my promise. Read more and share your thoughts and experiences at Heart and Humanity: The Most Important Promise I Ever Kept.

Photo by joyce huis on Unsplash

The Moment I Fell in Love My Eyes Began to See–Now in Heart and Humanity Magazine

Love changes us in unexpected ways. It builds bridges, mends fences, and fortifies us against adversity like nothing else in the world. When I fell in love, I had no idea how important the gift of that love would be.  Continue reading “The Moment I Fell in Love My Eyes Began to See–Now in Heart and Humanity Magazine”

The Problem with Pretty Girls and Princesses–Now on OTV

By Angela Noel

September 12, 2018

We affirm what we value. When it comes to girls, too often we value what’s on the outside rather than what’s within. I’m honored to have my essay, The Problem with Pretty Girls and Princesses, featured in OTV Magazine. In it, I share my story of how being called a pretty girl (or not) impacted me. And more importantly, what I’ve decided to do about it.  Continue reading “The Problem with Pretty Girls and Princesses–Now on OTV”