January 26

By Teaching We Learn

Anyone who has been in one of my leadership programs knows that one of my favorite quotes is “Docendo discimus.” This is a Latin proverb which means “by teaching, we learn.” I share this with participants on Day One to encourage them to talk openly about their experiences with each other across the program. This is fundamental to how we grow as adults: by sharing what we’ve learned through our experiences and hearing the experiences of others. (I also love that it sounds like a Harry Potter spell!) I had this concept in mind when I came across this article from the January / February 2018 issues of Harvard (CONTINUE READING)

November 20

Thanks for the Tough Stuff

Much has been written about the relationship between being grateful and being happy. One such book is Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Its Amazon description: “Scientifically speaking, regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25%, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy.” I confess I’m a believer. I’ve had a gratitude practice for a few years now. As we prepare to go around the tables this week here in the U.S. and think about what we’re grateful for, I want to share another version of this practice I’ve been working on: finding a (CONTINUE READING)

July 6

Halfway Through 2017: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

I like to find leadership lessons in odd places. Today, as I’m still shaking off sand from the 4th of July, I’ll borrow the sage guidance of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris’ wisdom certainly rings true this week: we’re officially halfway through 2017! It’s time to stop and look around. Necessary and Not Sufficient Most organizations have quarterly reviews of some form in place. Even in my small business, I take stock of revenue, ops and project statuses at each quarter beginning. These reviews are critical and necessary. They’re often also insufficient. (CONTINUE READING)

June 1

On Turning 10

I recall June 1, 2007, very vividly. The first day! I had one client project, was using Hotmail and my home desktop computer, and was simultaneously thrilled and terrified that I’d driven home from an office for the last time the day before. The words to describe my full realization that I’d received my last direct deposit paycheck aren’t really suitable for print! Ten years and a few lifetimes later, I’m sitting in my office this morning with a reflective mind and a grateful heart. In the last few days, I’ve been connecting with the leaders who have invited me into their organizations, their teams, and their personal leadership (CONTINUE READING)

March 31

A Grammar Check: Are Nouns Messing With Your Leadership?

On a flight to Iowa last week, I ended up in a brief conversation with my seatmate about presidential caucuses. I’ve always been curious about what it would be like to experience one firsthand and was excited to hear she had attended many times. (Note: this is not a political post!) In listening to her stories, I noticed that she didn’t describe Republicans and Democrats. Instead, she said things like “the Republican side” and the “Democratic party.” She used descriptions like this several times in the span of a three-minute conversation as we were landing. The English major in me took notice. Rather than describing these groups categorically by (CONTINUE READING)

January 24

Your 2017 Goals Might Be Missing Something

January always reminds me how goal-oriented our culture is. Everywhere we look there are cues to create a new year, a new you, a fresh start. What will we achieve? By when? How will we know 2017 is a success? Once we have our goals, off we go. Culturally, we’re urged to keep the end in mind and to assume and expect success. While that approach may be admirable and even advisable, this outcome-orientation nudges us subtly into a mindset about control. What is the quickest, best and most efficient way to get to that goal? How can I minimize risks, surprises, and failures? The downside to that achievement (CONTINUE READING)

October 27

Keep Calm and Dig On

A “fan favorite” module in the leadership programs I teach is called “Expanding Perceptions.” The premise is that challenges arise when we get stuck in our stories: about ourselves, our colleagues, daily situations. To get unstuck, we must be willing to seek new data for the sake of seeing a different perspective. How do we do that? One way is by asking good, skillful questions. The concept is simple enough to understand. Yet when participants begin the related activity called Question Thinking™, it gets trickier. The goal of Question Thinking is to develop as many skillful questions as possible about a situation. (The definition of “skillful” is part of (CONTINUE READING)

September 8

Are You Having Any Fun?

I have two things on my mind with this September post: Fall and fun. Wait, what? You might be asking. Fall is often associated as a time of year when things turn serious again. Kids are back in school, long summer days are shortening and attention begins turning toward year-end. September also reminds us of fresh starts: new teachers, new notebooks, new subjects to study. Through that lens, the thought of fun may feel a bit sideways. I think it ties right in. This topic came to my attention during the Olympics last month. It was so notable how “fun” came up repeatedly in athlete interviews. A few examples: Simone Biles: (CONTINUE READING)

April 20

Learning from Long-Lived Leadership

Today is Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday! A few recent facts about her reign:  She is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, a record she broke in September 2015. While Charles and William are taking over many of her duties, she still carried out 393 engagements last year. A recent poll shows that 70% of the British public believe she should reign for as long as possible. Her popularity is notable to me. In honor, I’m posting a piece I wrote when she celebrated 60 years of leadership in 2012, highlighting my take on what contributes to her regard as a leader. What can we learn as modern leaders from this woman? Unless (CONTINUE READING)

March 30

Daring to Go Beyond

A few weeks ago, I witnessed the most powerful keynote speech I’ve ever heard. Speaking at our annual Georgetown Alumni Coaching Conference was Kakenya Ntaiya, the Founder and President of the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Her story was riveting; traumatic; inspired. Kakenya was raised in the Maasai culture in a small Kenyan village. She was engaged by age 5, and experienced the ritual mutilation that girls undergo to prepare them for marriage at age 13. Against all cultural norms and realities, she believed a different life was intended for her. Step by step, she created just that. Today, she holds a Doctorate in Education, and has won numerous awards for (CONTINUE READING)

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