Month: December 2012

Sometimes it takes a dramatic or painful event to have realizations that pierce the veil of limited understanding.  Here was one of mine…

It was a beautiful June day and our facility was bustling with the return of staff and the arrival of brand new team members for another summer season.  I was finalizing my plan for their intensive weeks of training with us while balancing meet and greet time with office time.

The phone rang, my life changed. It was my big sister letting me know our dad had taken his own life.  Sound stopped, movement stalled, and the world and all that was happening around me fell away for a immeasurable moment in time. Once I regained a little composure, I began to wonder how I would face the staff, how I could possibly navigate the next three weeks that required me to be emotionally and physically accessible to so many, and when I would have the time to grieve.

I couldn’t help but collapse in tears in front of the staff as I tried to explain.  They silently acknowledged that it was their turn to be strong. What emerged from that silence was the most profound, meaningful, and connective training in our company’s history. What I viewed as an inconvenient, incomprehensible, and inescapable time of vulnerability as a leader was actually a gift to us all.

Do you ever catch yourself assuming the wrong things?

“Leadership is not about giving it all you’ve got. It’s about giving it WHAT IT TAKES.”

During a presentation to a group of business leaders, Gina Mollicone-Long said this and
I’ve allowed it to permeate the many layers of assumptions with many more layers to
navigate to arrive at the core.

First, I assume I know what “IT” is! The critical importance of IT may supersede
Leadership in that phrase. What is the pursuit? Where are we going? How do we
know when we’ve arrived at ‘IT’?

And secondly, the illusive journey of assuming, correcting, and deciphering what skills,
flexibility, emotions, and mental models I must acquire to achieve ‘what it takes.’

More exertion and more time are not a guarantee of more results.

“You’re not alone, you have yourself.”

In truth, I can recall the moment, but I didn’t specifically recall saying the above
statement. However, nearly a year after the experience, the woman let me know the
impact it had upon her past, present, and future.

It was a beautiful day and she had brought an International Leadership Institute group
to our ropes course to have an experiential and fun day learning about leadership. One
of the activities was our high ropes course and she, of course, willingly participated. As
she approached the tree where I was stationed, I saw on her face what she had been
masking from the rest of the group. She was scared and when she caught my eye, her
guard dropped and she said “Anna, I can’t do this alone…anymore.”

I replied “You’re not alone, you have yourself.”

The following year, she reached out to thank me for changing her life. I was confused.
She then told me what I had said to her and that because of that statement, she
returned to her life being re-introduced to her own courage. She immediately changed
her outlook on personal challenges and then applied for a notable position she had
always been “afraid” to attempt. She had called to let me know her email address had
changed… AND her future had changed because of that day…