I sat in bed rubbing my eyes, trying to wake up. The clock read 6:29 am. Europe was well into their day. After navigating a tricky conflict the day before, my energy tank was dangerously low. I longed to stay in bed but five urgent issues loomed in Slack. I lumbered out of bed, slipped into a pair of pants and a nice sweater, forcing mental exhaustion to the back of my mind. Pushing back my own concerns was just part of leadership. This was one morning but it could have been any number of them as a leader.
While we hold leadership up as something to attain, it’s one of the toughest jobs out there. Leaders are criticized far more than they are thanked. They make decisions while facing a myriad of obstacles, ambiguity and shifting conditions. Making mistakes is hard for everyone including leaders who often make them publicly. My own experience as a COO was equal parts wonderful and challenging.
I wanted to understand why leaders sought their position, how the role differed from their expectations and what kept them up at night. I also wondered about their priorities during the pandemic. To get a sense…
“I’m complaining too much. I’m stomping around like an angry child who doesn’t get their way. I need to find a new way of interacting instead of loudly complaining when I don’t agree with a decision.”
A new leader confided this to me a few months after their promotion to VP. I applaud their self awareness. They aren’t alone — many new leaders grapple with the transition to having more authority in an executive role. Leaders often long for more authority and when they get it they don’t always know how to wield it. Sometimes they go too far with…
A shiny new year has unfurled, a blank canvas rolled out in front of us. New beginnings help us make plans. This can feel like we’ve got things under control. 2021 is unlike other years. The world feels more chaotic than years past. Everything feels like it’s hanging in the atmosphere unresolved.
A virus ripping through communities, leaping over oceans and crossing the globe. A changing political landscape. An unsteady economy that companies try to surf long enough to stay alive until the world stabilizes.
Daydreaming is part of the human experience. It helps us get through difficult days, giving us hope for the future. As kids, we daydream about fantastical scenarios of our adult life. We dream of living in Africa, running wild with our pet cheetah. Instead, we grow up to live in Brooklyn hunched over a laptop 12 hours a day.
When we want something, we imagine how good we’ll feel, how having this thing will change our lives. When reality doesn’t match our imagination, we’re disappointed. One of the best film representations of the chasm between expectations and reality is 500…
Was it unlucky
to be born with lungs
to push air
through twisty canals
narrowing one night
until my face
the bells of a a new year
had just rung
my parents sped across freeways
the ER accepted its youngest patient
heaves of relief
my place on this planet
Was it unlucky years later to have caught a virus my body transforming it into a virulent strep invading my fibrous core producing a torrent of fluid creating a vise grip around my heart squeezing it shut laying in cardiac ICU…
I was never one of those kids who played with Ouija boards. Was it a game or a spooky prediction tool? I didn’t know and frankly, trying to predict the future scared me. I was afraid it might predict someone’s death, or my own. I stayed far away.
That changed when, as an adult, I turned to Tarot cards. I went to my first reading in an occult bookstore in New Orleans as a fun afternoon diversion. I left a believer and purchased my first Tarot deck that day. I told myself I was just having fun — but after…
Just what dwells in your heart?
Which way does it bend?
In domination of others?
of earth’s resources
of her creatures
of communion, recognition
of a connecting line
through birds, beasts, craggy crevices
humans, eras, the ages
the continuity of existence
from the paleozoic to the mesozoic
to grapple — with those
or do you
allow them to run
wild through your veins
to swallow you whole
invade your membrane
subsume everything in its path?
Have you excised your heart let it lay thumping like…
Rob’s product roadmaps were brilliant, pieces of artwork. He was diligent, spent years learning every aspect of product management. He rose through the company like a rocket. A sudden departure left a leadership void, catapulting him into head of product. A dream role. He was thrilled to land this coveted position at a respected growing company. He went to sleep with product roadmaps lingering in his head, moving the pieces around for the most company impact. The CEO told him to make the product into a must-have for their customers. Rob was certain his roadmap was the key.
I invested in my relationships like others invest in stock.
I transformed my talkative nature into being an adept listener. I learned breathing exercises to stay calm during conflict. I became more collaborative with others by using the skill of “yes, and” I mastered during a year of improv classes. When conflict brewed, I leaned into listening to their point of view rather than advancing my own. I focused on what I loved about others, giving plenty of space for their humanity, even when it ignored my own. I gave patience and understanding, sometimes swallowing my own pain. I made…