Energetic Leadership

In spite of anything you’ve heard to the contrary, you ARE a “leader” in your “organization”. There’s just no denying it.

“But wait just a second,” you say. “I’m only an admin…or a mid-level manager…or a soccer mom. I’m no leader.”

This is an understandable reaction, to be sure – and yet completely inaccurate. Leadership is much more than the title you hold or the position you maintain in the company pecking order. Leadership, in fact, is how you interact with everyone, including yourself.

Patience

Yoda: Luke! You must complete the training.

Luke Skywalker: I can’t keep the vision out of my head. They’re my friends. I’ve gotta help them.

Yoda: You must not go!

Obi-Wan: Patience!

Luke: And sacrifice Han and Leia?

Yoda: If you honor what they fight for, yes!

Obi-Wan: If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone. I cannot interfere.

Luke: I understand. R2, fire up the converters.

Obi-Wan: Luke. Don’t give in to hate. That leads to the Dark Side.

Yoda: Strong is Vader. Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.

Luke: I will and I’ll return. I promise. [flies off with X-Wing]

—————————————

Do you remember this scene from the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back? (1980) The young Luke Skywalker finds himself at a crossroads, faced with the hero’s eternal dilemma: stay and complete his training, or rush off (before his education is complete) to try and save his friends. As you can see above, Luke chooses to leave Master Yoda’s tutelage well before fully mastering his Jedi skills, hurrying off to battle with Darth Vader before he’s actually up to the challenge. As a result, let’s just say that Luke has his lunch (and his hand) handed to him on a platter.

Although we have no Death Stars to destroy back here on planet Earth, no black-clad, heavy-breathing villains to vanquish, we nevertheless find ourselves continually in predicaments similar to that of Luke’s.

Running One’s Stories

My girlfriend and I are running through the park yesterday on a warm, sunny, California afternoon when my partner — observing my relatively-slow jogging rate — suggests, “Ready to step up the pace?”

Nonplussed, I respond: “Give me a break! Can’t you see I’m struggling to keep up?”

Silence ensues, followed by a hurt: “I was just trying to help!”

What in the world has just happened here? One second we’re jogging along together in nature, the next we’re at each others’ throats.

7 Attitudes Towards Competition

“I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam: I looked into the soul of another boy.” –Woody Allen

It’s funny how the things we learn in elementary school stick in our heads and take on an element of “truth” as we get older. As far back as I can remember, for example, my teachers told me that I should *never* talk to other students while taking a test, for that would be *cheating*.

Choosing Your Lessons

I’ve always played sports — never particularly well, mind you — but I’ve always played something. In elementary school and junior high, I was all about football — that is, until the game graduated from flags to tackle, I stopped growing and everyone else started to loom over me. In high school, I took up tennis, made the school team, and lost *every* match I played against the country club set. (Okay, I lost to everyone else, too) As an adult, I got into ultimate frisbee, then biking, and most recently, volleyball. Like I said, I’ve never been an “A” level athlete, but I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of progressing from graceless beginner to competent, not-stumbling-too-badly intermediate. And that’s fine. I’ve never felt compelled to devote the 10,000 hours required to become really brilliant at a particular sport. I fancy myself more of a jack of all sports kind of guy.

But still there are times…times when I think, “I could really be good at this…”

Running on Empty

Trudging up the modest incline yesterday towards Spring Lake – huffing and puffing, chest tight, legs heavy as stones — I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this run is going to be a momentous struggle. To my utter dismay, this 50-year-old body of mine just isn’t responding the way it had on our last run, when my girlfriend and I had sped around the 6-mile course in Santa Rosa (CA)’s Howarth Park in record time, barely breaking a sweat. On this brisk, fall afternoon, however – red leaves lining our path and picking up the last golden light of the day – I am laboring significantly, my feet unable to lift much higher than a walnut. “This isn’t fair,” I say to myself. “Each of our previous runs over the last two months has been slightly better and measurably stronger than the one preceding it. And our last outing was the best yet. Effortless. So what’s the story today? What gives?”

Mindfulness at Work: The Goose is Out

There’s a Zen koan that goes like this:

“If a man puts a gosling in the bottle and feeds it until it is full-grown, how can the man get the goose out without killing it or breaking the bottle?”

Apparently this riddle has been driving Zen monks crazy for the past several hundred years. Now, the thing about koans is this: they’re not supposed to be easy. Wikipedia describes koans as a Zen-practice “to provoke ‘the great doubt’, and test a student’s progress in Zen practice.”

Abraxas

If you had to list your five, daily “must do” actions or activities in your life, what would they be?

My own list would probably include (in no particular order):

–Eating right (healthfully and low-cal)

–Exercising

–Sleeping sufficiently

–Meditating

–Writing

Because I Said I Would…

While on my way to North Carolina this past week, I discovered a fascinating article in Southwest Airlines’ Spirit Magazine, entitled “The Everyday Action Hero”. It tells the story of 28-year-old Alex Sheen, founder of Because I Said it Would, a nonprofit dedicated to “bettering humanity through the power of a promise.” Inspired by his recently passed father, a habitual promise keeper, Sheen came up with a brilliant idea; during his dad’s funeral, Alex distributed a set of black-and-white business cards to all attendees, printed with the words “Because I said I would” in the lower, right-hand corner.

The Power of Choice

There once was a knight of the Round Table who met a beautiful woman — fair of skin with long, raven hair — and took her to court to marry her. Little did the knight know that his bride-to-be was bewitched by a terrible spell, cast upon her by an evil sorcerer. According to the spell, the woman could only remain beautiful for 12 hours a day. For the other half of the day, she transformed into an ugly crone, with greenish skin, yellow boils and hooked claws for fingernails. Interestingly, the spell had some significant flexibility.