It’s been said, and I can attest to at least my corroborating experience, that parenting is both the hardest and the most rewarding job on the planet. Not sure where that puts grandparenting. A close second? Maybe not even close on the second hardest part, since you get to ‘give the baby back’ at night and avoid the sleep deprivation part.
My most recent experience as a grandpa left me believing in the ‘close second’ theory.
My first grandson (after two recent granddaughters arrived) was due the middle of March. I was due to arrive, after a 3,000 mile trip, a few weeks after my daughter’s home birth, to help out and support mom and dad’s return to work PT, but, as you may have guessed, COVID-19 interrupted my plans.
Back in March I did everything I could to still make the trip and arrive fully self-quarantined. While flying was clearly out, I researched and discovered the path to traveling cross-country via wilderness camping using the AirBnB type app for this called Hipcamp. Travel with all of my food in a cooler, a good shovel for taking care of my business like a ‘bear in the woods’ and pacing my trips so that I could manage the driving without risking my safety.
While it didn’t work to make the trip back in March (that’s a WHOLE other story, for another day), I did just complete my journey on May 17th. And epic doesn’t quite do it justice, though it comes close. From “Sanctuaries” that turned out to be crack houses to a Rainbow Pond, John Muir experience, the trip ran the spectrum.
Leaving Vermont that Monday, taking the road less traveled through New York’s Adirondack Park, seeing nesting Bald Eagles, swooping Great Blue Herons and roads barren of civilization for miles and miles and miles, it was the perfect way to start the trip. Even when Google Maps sent me on what felt like a wild goose chase through rural neighborhoods that were beyond ‘off the beaten path’, it took me forward in a way that I fully trusted and was rewarded with my trust.
My first night, just East of Erie, PA, in Findley Lake, NY, a little town just off of I-80, saw me driving into my first host, Snug Harbor, just as the drizzling rain was turning to hail and sleet. No sweat, I was prepared to forgo setting up my tent and just sleep in the back of my car. When I woke up the next morning my car was covered in snow, my feet were cold and I was happy to see blue sky and the sun just rising in the East. I was thrilled to discover dry kindling and wood in the funky outhouse and was able to get a roaring fire going with just one match. Coffee and toast from my 2-burner propane stove, propped up on my car hood and I was good to go.
Second night was the most beautiful site. Still only a handful of miles off of I-80 but a world away from the rest of humanity, Rainbow Pond was the snug harbor that Lake Findley promised but didn’t quite deliver on. The weather here in Ottawa, IL, was near perfect, the site fully isolated and the pond provided the ‘nature tv’ (mating Canadian Geese, Great Blue Herons, breast-stroking beaver) that kept me raptly engaged while strolling around the pond or sitting in my camp chair. Great camp fire with all of the firewood a guy could hope for and though there was no outhouse the dirt in the woods provided easy digging and covering and trees to hang my toilet paper on (ok, maybe TMI).
Night three was the trickiest, on pretty much every level. What was headlined as “The Sanctuary” and billed as all of that on the Hipcamp site, and which I was sooo looking forward to taking advantage of after driving for three days, 22 hours of driving and 1,344 miles. When I was almost there, but also in search of a gas station while running on empty for the past 20 miles, I phoned my host to see if I’d be passing a station before arriving in 15 minutes, instead of his personal message I got the cell carrier’s message, “this number has been disconnected”. Not helpful. Not encouraging.
When I did pull up to “The Sanctuary” it looked like anything but. Clearly abandoned long ago, with no more home, luckily his only neighbor was walking along his fence line and came to his farm gate to talk to me (though the sign on the gate read “Don’t Beware of dog, beware of Owner” written over an image of a machine gun).
“No, they don’t live there anymore. Lot’s of police have been coming by. I think it’s turned into either a meth lab or a crack house.” OMG. Just what I did NOT need, especially as it was getting dark and ready to rain. I asked him if it’d be ok if I just parked by the side of the road and slept in my car, next to the crack house and he replied “sure, it’s not my land.” And then, as an aside he said “if you hear the tornado sirens you should probably come over to my place and join me in my shelter.”
Needless to say, that wasn’t my best night’s sleep.
My 4th spot was almost the opposite. Friendly hosts who were available and helpful, offering me a spot on their beautiful, bountiful farm in the middle of the plains of Wyoming, just outside of Cheyenne. Even gave me some farm, fresh eggs for my breakfast.
5th and 6th nights were in the luxurious comfort of a guest suite at my step-daughter’s vacation house in Park City, UT. A shower never felt so good. And time with people, safely distanced of course, was also heavenly.
Final push, straight through, from Park City to Graton, CA, an 11-hour, 788 mile beautiful stretch, over Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains, was the perfect final push to make it virus-free to my destination. My first grandson. Worth every mile, each of the cold nights in the back of my car, peeing and pooping in the woods, staying virus-free. Worth every bit of it.
My baby’s baby. Life is sweet. Even in the most difficult of circumstances. Especially during the most difficult of times.
we’re being buffeted by the tremors of the current pandemic, we are surrounded
by numerous ‘silver linings’ amidst this current state of anxiety,
misinformation, isolation and fear. So, if you’re ready, it’s time for some
all over the world (well, most people) are experiencing the same thing. In
response, people are coming together in new and wondrous ways to help each
other out. Banging pots on their front steps at 6 pm in appreciation of
our health care workers, creating a collective cacophony of sound, reminding us
that we are NOT alone. Offering free food to those in the food biz that
have been laid off without pay (full disclosure, my son-in-law is the owner) if
you happen to live in San Diego, at Common
Stock restaurant. The list goes on, and on…
of you that have worked closely with me know my mantra: “the only dogma I hold
is that there is no dogma”. And the exception that proves this rule…
Mindfulness belongs on EVERYONE’s daily list of things to do. And now we really
don’t have any excuse for not committing to a daily practice. You’ve either got
extra time without your daily commute, or less time out shopping or less time
going to the movies, out to restaurants, etc. You get my drift… another silver
lining, the gift of time.
no better time than the present to get your Mindfulness Mojo in gear. Take a
walk. Or an online yoga class. Find a Meditation routine that works for you.
There are a plethora of websites offering free (another
silver lining) guided meditations and paths to a more mindful state, to help
manage the ever flowing overwhelm – from the international biggies like Oprah
& Deepak Chopra, Mindspace & Brightmind,
to one of Vermont’s local treasures, Kristin
Borquist – enjoy, relax and get centered.
then I just got this:
Meditation and Talk with Jon Kabat-Zinn
Presented by Wisdom 2.0
please take the time to take care of yourself, in whatever way works best for
you. As we’re told before air travel, ‘in case of an emergency, put your own
oxygen mask on first before looking to help others’.
you’d like to see a curated list for business support in these crazy times
please shoot me a quick email and I’ll forward those along.
Stay safe, stay healthy,
January 15th, 2020
This holiday season, post-Thanksgiving,
pre-New Year’s, has me feeling more than a little nostalgic. I’m sure that it started just before TDay, at
my High School Reunion, meeting old friends I haven’t seen in decades,
remembering how we shared some incredible times together – growing up in the
‘60’s, civil rights strikes, marches against the war, walk on the moon,
assassinations, great music, a rebel with a cause.
Now, the decade of the teens is about to end as we enter
Much to reflect on.
How did we get here? Where are we
going? Will we find our way?
I’m reminded of one of my favorite Lao Tzu quotes:
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself, if you want to eliminate all of the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
I believe that self-transformation starts with
self-care. If we can’t take care of
ourselves, how can we have the strength and courage to transform? The New York Times had an inspiring article
on this topic yesterday, by a Buddhist
monk, Haemin Sunim. The top of his
list – breathe! Just take a deep
breath. This holiday season, may you
give yourself the gift of mindful
Let’s face it. Most of us really like certainty. It’s just so much easier to see the black or white in any situation than to muddle around in shades of grey. As the Democratic Presidential contenders do their debate thing, aren’t we hoping for a clear, clean message that shows a way forward, one way or another? Case closed.
Yet, life isn’t like that.
More and more, I’m realizing that moving from Certainty to Ambiguity, to a place of curiosity and wonder, is harder to come by but well worth the effort. It takes a commitment on my part to dig deeper, push past my judgments and reactions. And do it with compassion and grace. To stay still, within myself, and offer what I know about myself, rather than self-righteously telling someone else what I see is ‘wrong’ with them. Or worse, feeling it but not saying anything (which will bleed out in some passive aggressive way later, to be sure).
I’ve shared Kim Scott’s model of Radical Candor before, and while it
still applies to many situations, what I’m talking about here has more to do
Analysis. In large part because when
I’m ‘stuck’ in a place of Certainty, because I see myself as right and/or
others as wrong, so that I can take comfort in my black and white analysis, I’m
almost always operating out of my old child self – protecting, defending,
rationalizing my position.
When I can return to my present self, willing to live within
the ambiguity that the present almost always requires, I find my way back to a
connection with others that is far more satisfying and productive. Yes, uncomfortable at first (not black or
white, and that makes me squirm), but healthy in that curious, wondering, willing
to look at my own shit kind of way.
I do hope the Democrats take a look at their shit and figure
this out, sooner than later.
Thanks for listening.
Let me know your thoughts when you have a chance.
Digging around in the garden today I had the epiphany that
leadership development is really quite similar to gardening.
First, before you even start trying to develop (nurture) the
leader (daisy), you want to prepare the culture (soil) so that it’s filled with
support/nutrients, so that growth is possible.
Then, you take a look at the group of responsible leaders
(healthy sprouts) and select (plant) those that look to have the highest
Water, feed, weed, repeat…
My point is that just as with gardening, leadership
development is as much about nurturing the environment/culture (soil) as it is
about training, incentives and/or bonuses.
Maybe even more so.
Brené Brown has lately been translating her wonderful work in
the field of vulnerability and resilience into the world of work. She describes a leader as “someone who takes responsibility for finding the
potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that
Her three tips for being better leaders:
SUCK. YOU CAN’T GET TO COURAGE WITHOUT
RUMBLING WITH VULNERABILITY.
WHO WE ARE
IS HOW WE LEAD. SELF-AWARENESS AND
here and then scroll down to the “Cultivating Connection”
section for her detailed explanation).
All this requires the creation of a safe space. A culture where mistakes are not punished but
rather celebrated as another ‘learning milestone’, to be acknowledged and
shared with others.
Recently I found myself at a crossroad. Committed to a relationship with an organization that fed my soul in many ways, and, had a severely dysfunctional component. When to persevere? When to call it codependent and move on for the health of all involved?
If you’ve ever found yourself at just such an intersection, you may have felt the same combination as I had, of approach avoidance, mixed with some trembling inner fear, then deeper grappling with the compassion/codependence conundrum, followed by (hopefully!) a decision to end it with grace, clarity and dignity for all.
That last part was the toughest for me to navigate. Though the approach avoidance and inner fear thing was no walk in the park either. In fact all of it was difficult, disorienting and emotionally exhausting. How would I arrive at a place where grace and dignity won over blame and shame?
Thankfully, I had lots of help from the people closest to me; checking me for clarity, directly confronting me when I shifted back into the drama and holding me accountable to my core values. I had valuable tools and resources that helped as well.
How do we get ourselves back onto the high road, away from blaming others? How do we divorce ourselves from the drama that so easily can shift the focus from us to ‘them’; especially if we don’t have close loved ones for that kind of support?
Brené Brown has written and spoken extensively on Shame and Blame. We all tend towards this space, especially when we’re exhausted and feeling beaten down. I don’t know about you but it’s much easier for me to blame someone else than to face my fears head on.
So, if 14 frogs are sitting on a log and 3 decide to jump off, how many are left?
This brain teaser is brought to you by Robert Kegan, an American developmental psychologist and author. He was a Professor in Adult Learning and Professional Development at Harvard Graduate School of Education. His book, Immunity To Change, seemed like a perfect topic for this particular moment in time.
January 16th – the halfway point between New Year’s Day (the perfect time for resolutions) and Groundhog Day (the perfect time for reflection on why our resolutions aren’t working). Groundhog Day is also one of my all-time favorite movies. While the movie is centered on Bill Murray’s apparent immunity to change, he does spend almost all of his screen time trying to change. There’s a sequence of scenes where he tries over and over and over again to win the heart of Andi MacDowell, with no success. Kind of the opposite of Albert Einstein’s famous definition of insanity, yet Murray is quite literally going kind of crazy. Sound like anyone you know?
He stops trying and spends his day just being.
As Kegan or Murray will tell you, change is tough. Real change is really tough.
That’s where a coach – Leadership Coach, Executive Coach, Peer Coach – can help us distinguish between the trying and the being. A Coach can offer the honest feedback, tools and resources to help navigate the breakthrough often needed to get to wherever it is you need to be.
If you’re a Do It Yourself (DIY) kind of person you might consider a DIY/Peer Coaching approach. Transform your partner/spouse/boy-girl friend/best friend into a Peer Coaching relationship, since they know you better than almost anyone else. You can take a look at one of our Resources pages (halfway down under “Coaching”) for the templates and tools to get your DIY/Coaching project off the ground.
If you think trained professional help is how you’d like to proceed, let’s talk about how one of Cole Consulting’s Executive or Leadership Coaches can be of assistance. Let’s talk. I’ll share a little about how our different associates cover a broad range of experience, training and approaches, and all of whom are great connectors and gentle-yet-candid truth tellers.
Okay… back to the frogs.
If you guessed 11 left on the log, you are in good company, as most come up with that number. But that’s not the answer. Fourteen are left. Just because 3 decided to jump doesn’t mean that they, in fact, jumped.
Like Kegan says in his book, we’re mostly immune to change. Because change is tough.
My last missive, “Congratulations… and condolences”, left me wondering if I’d ever have the energy to do anything of any major importance again. Like picking up the paper or doing the dishes. Seriously, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was heading for early retirement out of sheer exhaustion.
I LOVE my work, so retirement was always something that other people do, but not me. Yet nine months into this year I found myself so consumed with the business of prepping, selling, moving and unpacking that I have had little time for much else other than my favorite NFP, Common Roots, where I’ve kept my fingers very much on the pulse of organizational change, growth and opportunity. This post isn’t about that worthy cause but please do check them out at www.commonroots.org when you have a chance.
This piece is prompted by what I read in last week’s NYT’s; an Op Ed by David Brooks entitled “When Life Asks for Everything”. Brooks writes about two models of human development – The Four Kinds of Happiness (FKoH) and Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. He concludes that the FKoH trump Maslow in one fundamental way – “meaning and purpose and mission” (the highest point of the FKoH) far surpass Maslow’s highest point, self-actualization (experiencing autonomy and living in a way that expresses our authentic self). Brooks refers to Maslow’s self-actualization as “self-absorption”.
One good example of how both models come together to move us forward evolutionarily can be found when we look at the difference between what Laloux calls Green organizations (think Ben & Jerry’s and Southwest Airlines) and Teal organizations (such as the more fully evolved Patagonia and Sounds True). Green organizations have raised the issue of treating employees more respectfully, even looking at ways to help employees and their teams have more autonomy over their work. At least in theory… according to their websites’ mission statement. Teal organizations go one step further in supporting the core value of ‘empowerment’ by changing how job roles are both defined and managed. Not only are these Teal organizations doing away with job descriptions and titles, they are providing the mechanisms and systems that allow individuals and their teams to fully manage themselves – truly self-managing teams. No mid-level managers. No hierarchical bosses. Green sets the stage, Teal takes it a giant leap forward. Here’s how Laloux lays it out.
“Wisdom traditions from around the world speak to this from a deeper level: at heart, we are all profoundly interconnected and part of a whole, but it’s a truth we have forgotten. We are born into separation and raised to feel divided from our deeper nature, as well as from the people and life around us. Our deepest calling in life, these traditions tell us, is to reclaim wholeness, within ourselves and in our connection with the outside world.
This spiritual insight inspires Teal Organizations’ second breakthrough: to create a space that supports us in our journey to wholeness. Extraordinary things begin to happen when we dare to bring all of who we are to work. Every time we leave a part of us behind, we cut ourselves off from part of our potential, of our creativity and energy. No wonder many workplaces feel somehow lifeless. In wholeness we are life-full. We discover in awe how much more life there is in us than we ever imagined. In our relationships with colleagues, much of what made the workplace unpleasant and inefficient vanishes; work becomes a vehicle where we help each other reveal our inner greatness and manifest our calling.
Self-management goes a long way toward helping us show up more fully. With no scarce promotions to fight for, no bosses to please, and no adversaries to elbow aside, much of the political poison is drained out of organizations. There is a phrase I heard many times in the self-managing organizations I researched: here I feel I can fully be myself. Without a boss looking over our shoulder, without employees to keep in line and peers that could turn into competitors, we can finally let our guard down and simply focus on the work we want to do.
I’m left embracing the notion that it is up to each of us to determine how committed we are to living our right livelihood (or at least my interpretation of this Buddhist step along the eight-fold path) that ultimately makes the difference. Traditional Western models of office hierarchy and politics often dictate the closing of our minds and hearts to what is most important to us. Bringing collective consciousness to our lives requires us to open our minds and hearts and reinvent ourselves on an almost daily basis.
I am dedicated to reinventing myself so that I may more fully support individuals, teams and organizations that are committed to this practice of wholeness in the workplace. Not as white-wash, to pretty-up the mission/vision statements, but in the veritable commitment to and implementation of putting Teal systems in place so we can trust one another to get the job done. Collaboratively. Respectfully. With openness. With joy.
Hope to hear from you and your thoughts around reinvention.
Two seemingly disparate sentiments that so successfully describe my most recent experience of selling our house/home/sanctuary of many, many years (15 years for me and 31 for Lisa) and moving to our part-time cottage in VT. Lock, stock and barrel.
Offering congratulations is what most people do and it makes a lot of sense, especially in the currently still stagnant housing market. We sold our house/home/sanctuary within a few months on the market, and that’s a pretty good thing. Mazel tov!
The condolences came from a few folks who understood the intense multilevel machinations that go into a move of this magnitude on ALL of the interrelated levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual (the biggest impact of them all). Dealing with just one level would be intense enough. Having all four in play at the same time was exhausting beyond anything I have experienced.
Condolences are traditionally offered after a close one has died. And there certainly was that feeling of loss, grief, un-mooring and disorientation that I have had when one of my close friends or family members has passed away. The major difference here is that there is no funeral. No sitting Shiva. No formal (or even informal) grieving period, no cultural rituals to help us integrate the experience. No chance to just slow down, pay respects.
The exact opposite was true, in fact. Everything sped up. So many conflicting demands – realtors, repair men, lawyers, junk haulers, movers, etc., etc. – spread over a relatively short period of time. All of it focused on these impending events: the showings, the contract, the closing, the move.
The good news is that we are living in the same cottage we’ve known and loved for five years now.
The good news is that it is also a magical, sacred space.
The good news is that I still have my office in NYC – a great co-working space, Croissant, so I can continue to work with my NY clients, and get there in a NY minute (thank you JetBlue!).
I am very grateful for all that I have and for all of you. Please let me know if you have any paradoxes that have you eating more ice cream than usual and/or keeping you up at 3 am.
In this day and age, when the whole world seems to be operating in some type of Bizarro alternate universe, where up is down and truth is fiction and fiction is passed off as truth, and stress rules, wouldn’t it be nice if all that time we spend in meetings was less stressful instead of adding to the stress?
Where your voice is heard?
Not feeling silenced!
Especially if you’ve taken on the noble task of organizing your community to bring some sanity back to our political reality, and you’re trying to run a meeting, or be part of a meeting, where some people need to ‘dial-in’ because they’re busy juggling getting babies to bed while working to save the planet.
Or, you just want your work life to be more balanced and spending time in pointless meetings has got you down.
Either way, let’s address what started as a difficult form of communication to begin with. Assembling a bunch of people together in a room to get stuff done. And then became even more difficult as we removed some of the people and added cell phones, speaker phones, WebEx, Facetime, Skype, you-name-it to the mix.
Let’s make it saner, shall we…
Let’s start by addressing the reality that Virtual meetings are in fact a different breed of animal than regular meetings. As such, they require (I’d even say DEMAND) the introduction and adherence to a few basic, but different, civil rights. Here are 3 steps to get you started…
Assign the role of Virtual Meeting Facilitator (VMF) to a different person than the meeting organizer/chair/leader/whatever-you-want-to-call the head honcho. This person is responsible for setting up and making sure that EVERYONE (even if they think they’ll be there in person, just in case they find themselves sitting in the airport waiting area to board their last-minute flight to Zimbabwe) has the links, call-in #’s, passwords, access codes, etc. needed to join the meeting virtually. Also, if, no excuse me, WHEN there is a problem with accessing the technology, the VMF is the one who gets the call. NOT the person trying to run the meeting. Why should everyone in the room (and those that have joined the meeting successfully) have to suffer when one person hasn’t figured out their technology?
Add a few Virtual Meeting Operating Agreements (VMOA) to your regular Operating Agreement’s (OA). If one of your OA’s is Be Respectful (my personal favorite and my only non-negotiable if I’m facilitating) add under that agreement list that those calling in will use the Mute Button when they’re not speaking (so we don’t all have to listen to the clicking of their keyboard while they catch up on their email). Another one under that same banner would be to make a point of asking the call-ins their opinion from time-to-time since it’s hard to know if they’re raising their hands or needing to say something through their body language. Another good VMOA that you might add would be for those on the phone – please remember to say your name before speaking so everyone knows who you are; or, if you want to engage with someone who is on the phone, thread them into the conversation by starting with their name before asking them your question. Last, but not least, as a facilitator, use round-robin instead of popcorn style when someone asks a question of the team. That way there isn’t as much dead air while folks politely wait for someone else to offer their opinion.
Agree as a team to keep looking for new ways to improve on the VM experience. For example, going from conference calls (audio only) to a full A/V platform (Skype, Facetime, WebEx, etc.) allows all of you to ‘see’ each other rather than just the folks in the room. Have your VMF be on the lookout for the platform that’s right for you (new ones are popping up by the minute). Have your VMF be responsible for managing the crossover to any new platform, ensuring that the transition is as smooth as possible. Make sure that before you start the new platform all those ‘dialing in’ have experimented with the new tech and know how to work it. Written instructions, w/ access codes, url’s and passwords all on one neat sheet. You get my drift here…