Archive for September, 2010

More… on “Don’t take yourself too seriously”

Posted in Leadership on September 30th, 2010 by kjr – Comments Off on More… on “Don’t take yourself too seriously”

It amazes me how universal this  axiom (self evident truth, remember) is to us all and from all walks of life.

After my initial post on this number 13 of the 15 Axioms I received a number of emails and comments. One came from somone I love dearly but see too infrequently (thanks Jan). It made me laugh right out loud when I read it and I had to share it, here it is:

Hi, It is funny how we are all guilty of taking ourselves too seriously at times.  The last line hit home for me. A while back when I was constantly worried about everything I said at a staff meeting a collegue said to me…”relax its not like they’re going to name a wing of the building after you or anything”.  Then I realized I was taking everything too seriously.

How many staff meetings have you attended and become absorbed in self assessment rather than the topic of the moment? How many times do we see a situation having some grave consequences as we ponder it, yet it never happens.

Janet’s story reminded me of a quote from Samuel Clemens that shows how universal it is to take ourselves too seriously

I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.

Mark Twain

Know Your Cheerleaders

Posted in Leadership, Life on September 28th, 2010 by kjr – 5 Comments

This is my grandson. Brandon is an interesting and at times complex youngster, and  there is something about him I sincerely hope he takes into all the stages of his life, including adulthood. He sincerely is glad for other people when they do well.

His mother will paint something and he will say “mom, that is a real nice painting” Or he’ll visit for a meal and compliment the chef.

Brandon is a “cheerleader”.

We have joked about this picture that his dad just told him he got a new building contract, or some other good thing happened. It would be his happy reaction -rejoicing in another person’s good fortune.

It has made me think about the whole idea of why are we glad when certain people in our life do well, and, why there are some people who are truly happy for us when we’ve experienced something good.

I think it has to do with hope.

When someone we identify with, or share values with, succeeds or is placed into a position of authority or leadership, we are glad. I think we are almost as glad for ourselves as we are for that person.

Think about politics (okay, not too much, but it’s a good example 🙂 ) when a person is elected to office that we agree with we “feel” good. We begin to expect good things.

So, think about this question, “Who are your cheerleaders?” Is it a spouse, child, friend, co-worker? Why do you sense they are sincerely happy for you when things are good for you?

It doesn’t have to be a big event either. Perhaps it is a piece of music you’ve been learning to play. You practiced, have gotten the pattern of notes and finger movement down on the flute or piano and you finally can play that piece with ease and it sounds musical.

What do we do? We share it with someone we know will actually be glad, they may not even play an instrument, but they are glad for us. One reason certainly must be that they know when their turn comes, and it will, they will have a recipricol experience – you’ll be there for them.

Our cheerleaders are our cheerleaders because they have hope through us. They are able to have hope in their own future. Shared empathy in the good times of life is foundational to being able to share sorrows and give strength to someone during the difficult times of life.

Notice the order in this simple and direct instruction:

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Romans 12:15

Warren Bennis is his book titled Becoming A Leader says it this way:

“… followers need from their leaders three basic qualities:

They want direction

They want trust

They want hope.”

So, know your cheerleaders, know who they are, why they are “cheering” for you, and take care of them. They have hope for themselves through you.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Posted in Leadership on September 25th, 2010 by kjr – 3 Comments

This “mail box” pictured below is just down the road from my home. I ride past it on my routine 11 mile bike ride. It’s on a street of raised ranches, capes, and new homes with picket fences. I even saw a nice new BMW pulling out of the neighbor’s driveway a week or so ago.

I don’t know who this is, or the story behind the mailbox, but I have to assume this is a person or family that doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom.    Queen Elizabeth

What’s the lesson here? These folks could easily have done the standard, met the expectations, never dared to step outside  conventions. I can imagine a conversation in this house that went something like this:

A different mailbox? What sort of different mailbox?

Well, how about a bug?

A BUG? What do you mean, like a Volkswagon?

No No, a big insect, painted blue and red and yellow!!

Huh!!!??? What will the neighbors say? People driving by will think we are crazy.

I, of course, have no idea what the neighbors say. I am sure some are appalled and some think it’s off beat, but this is America, it’s a free country.

Me, I smile often when I see it and wish them well.

How often do we take the mundane in life and build it into something big. Someone makes a comment at work, we think we’ve just been slighted and it gnaws at us, we build up scenarios in our minds about that person.

I have seen this in large companies where in these difficult times there is always the threat of layoffs, mergers, and cost cutting. Our boss is as anxious as we are, she makes a comment and we read this as a telegraph that we are on the short list for getting the proverbial “pink slip”. Or some friend doesn’t think of us when making an invite to lunch and we are off into the mud pit of self righteous indignation. We think “after all I have done for him and he leaves me out, how ungrateful.”

Making a “mountain out of mole hill” is nothing more than taking ourselves too seriously in action.

This lesson was taught to me by a former boss who became a mentor and friend. I presented a project to a committee which included his boss, peers and  divisional business leaders. It was important, and I was both excited and nervous. I failed in all sorts of ways, poor preparation, incomplete data, and I could not connect and communicate with the people in the room that day.

Walking back to my boss’s office, I was silent for while, finally I spoke and said something on the line of, “I’m really sorry, I blew that. What do you want me to do, I think I’ve ruined my reputation and yours around here.” His response, “Forget about it, nobody can bring his “A game” every time. Besides no one will even remember it in a month.”

It was a good reminder not to take myself too seriously, no one else does anyway 🙂