Lessons & Struggles in Leadership

Archive for the tag “leadership”

Sweet Inspiration

I am easily inspired. A quote, a movie, a beautiful day, a photograph, snow….well you get the idea. I can find inspiration in just about anything. This easy inspiration leads to quick motivation….I never have too much trouble with taking those first steps to start a good thing (a blog, a short story, exercise). I feel a nervous excitement just thinking of what I’m about to do and all the possibilities ahead. Jump in with both feet? I think yes.

But as easily as the inspiration comes it fades taking with it my motivation and will to drive to the end. The giveup-guilt-inactivity treadmill begins and so it goes until the next bolt of brilliance strikes. My perennial dilemma: why can’t I sustain motivation as easily as I find inspiration?

It occurs to me that one central problem may be the lack of motivating people around me. It’s one thing to find inspiration in a brilliant TED talk but quite another to have daily interactions with an individual saying and doing amazing things. I had this community of inspiration as an undergrad at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. From professors to the girls down the hall, I was immersed in a world of regular people doing big things. As students we were told we could be great; constant reminders that Macon women were being trained to change the world were ever with us. I loved it. But now as I look around my circle of daily companions I find that same source of inspiration lacking. Don’t get me wrong–I have awesome friends–but I don’t find that same challenge to do more and be better. A recent mini-reunion with 2 of my friends from R-MWC helped me realize how much I missed not just them personally but also their influence. I miss the constant challenge to aim higher and run further.

This is my wake-up call to look around, find the inspirational people in my community, and reach out to them. I know that ultimately I have to do the work, and that I have to want IT enough to keep going even when I want to quit. But I do believe that surrounding myself with people shooting for the stars will encourage me to keep my rocket fueled up. As a leader this is key. Just as those you lead will find inspiration in you, it’s vital that you’re surrounded with people who are passionate and driven and who help to recharge your battery.

This blog is proof of that. A co-worker committed to his blog and then encouraging me to commit to mine has resulted in new energy, 2 blog posts that otherwise wouldn’t have been written (including this one), and plans for more to come. As scripture tells us, “iron sharpens iron.”

The bottom line: it all boils down to the adage our mothers have said for years, “You are the company you keep.” I have solid company now but adding some additional voices just may be the key to kicking things up a notch.

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Lessons in Leadership: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO

I don’t remember why I followed the link to the NY Times article on Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg (probably something about the $1.6 billion woman), but I did and read an interesting article on this diminutive woman making a place for herself and other women at the social media giant. Read it here. The article intrigued me enough to Youtube her Barnard College commencement address referenced in the article. (I guess you picked up that it’s the video linked above).

I encourage all young women in business and/or leadership to watch the video (a little less than 20 minutes) and read the article. Here are a few things that have stuck with me:

1. Here’s a woman who wants to open doors and help other women. How sadly rare this can be and how very important. Despite Beyonce’s booming 2011 anthem that girls run the world the opposite is sadly true. Men still hold the overwhelming majority of seats at the tables of politics, business, and finance, and until women have more equal representation I’m afraid we’ll keep fighting the same battles of the past 50 years. When a woman does break through and grabs a seat at the table it is vital that she spread out her things and make room for more women to follow. It’s an honor to be the first but a tragedy to be the only.

2. She urges the young Barnard women to keep their options open and not make sacrifices & decisions that will take them out of the race before they’re even in it. Sometimes I think it’s good for us to be reminded that ambition is a good thing.

3. She remarks on some unfair criticism she received in the early days and how she dealt with it. It’s tough to get any sort of criticism but especially when it’s unwarranted or unnecessarily harsh because of one’s gender or race. The lesson is to follow your heart, stay the course, and do what you know is right. Not easy lessons but important ones.

4. She reminds women to own their own success and to not underestimate their worth. None of us does it alone, but you don’t have to give the whole farm away when acknowledging those who have helped you along the way. In short, when you receive an “Atta girl” or “nice job” instead of immediately saying “well it wasn’t all me,” remember thank you is a complete sentence.

I encourage you to take a look at the video–it’s ok to skip to the middle juicy parts. What are the key points that stick out to you?

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