Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Is It Easier For You to Identify Your Leadership Strengths or Weaknesses?

is it easier for you to identify your leadership strengths or weaknesses?I’ve come across an interesting dilemma. My Mussar studies this month focus on leadership. Rabbi Avi Fertig teaches that Leadership is not a single soul trait, but the result of multiple soul traits working together. He suggests a reflective exercise to examine three examples I demonstrated good leadership, and three where I did not. For each case, I am to identify two soul traits. By examining the whole, I can then select  two soul traits where I am strong wrt leadership, and two where I am weak. It is very easy for me to look and see where I have made mistakes, and to point to the soul trait imbalances that contributed. It is much harder for me to focus on the strengths. Why is that? Is this just me, or is it hard for you to recognize your strengths as well?

 

True self-reflection is never easy of course. We can identify surface issues, but getting to the deeper root cause is harder. For example, what soul traits of mine helped me be an effective leader for An Afternoon of Mussar a few months ago? On the surface, I might say Order, because I called meetings regularly, had agendas, and the day was well organized. However, I relied on others to teach me how to write agendas and plan the details. Underneath Order, I was practicing Responsibility, in that I was taking accountability for the outcome; and Compassion, in that I made time to check in on the welfare of the people on the team. Order then, was merely an outcome from my work in these other areas.
Ok, that felt good. For some reason it has been hard for me to do what I just wrote about in the above paragraph. Although it seems simple, I’ve been blocked for days from doing that analysis. What was so hard for me about looking at my good qualities? I’ve done this enough to know that something is there. Once in my class, I asked everyone to do a quick self-evaluation. One of the students freaked out and got anxious. I didn’t push it further at the time, but it stuck with me. A strong reaction is a red flag that there is some soul work to be done.
What has your experience been? Is it easier for you to identify your leadership strengths or weaknesses?
If you want to learn more about Mussar, visit my other website Americanmussar.com

Are You Too Nice?

I’m feeling really good about the event I organized last Sunday. We had over 60 people at An Afternoon of Mussar, almost half of whom had never explored Mussar before. 60 is quite extraordinary for a first time event. We ended the day in a giant circle with our arms around each other doing a very simple chant.
When I shared this with David Dotson, who is running a leadership workshop I will be attending in a few weeks, he asked me a simple question: “so what is that feeling inspiring you to do.” Hmmmm. I don’t really know. I know that in 4.5 years I want to have an event at Levi’s stadium. But how do I take the great feeling from this event to move me to the next? I’m not sure. It is certainly helping me get through the mundane tasks of doing the expense reports and follow ups. I’d like to think that being a part of something great can inspire something else great. For now, I need to be content that it is helping me do something small.
Speaking of small, I was touched by the story of Ralph Body, who was fired from his job as a doorman in a luxury apartment building on Long Island for being too nice. He would bend over backwards to do favors for tenants, like feeding cats, holding packages, and watering plants. He was told in no uncertain terms, that he was fired for doing more than was expected of him. The owner of the building wanted someone to open and close the door, and nothing more.
I have experienced similar things both large and small. I almost got fired from a summer job in K-mart because I kept going to help another department who was behind because my department was fully stocked. The manager kept asking me not to do that, and I was close to getting the act because I would not obey. Time and again in the corporate world, I have seen people get in trouble for being disobedient. Whether or not it was helping the customer never came into the conversation. While what happened to Mr. Body is inexcusable, it is a reminder that doing the right thing may have no bearing on your career. It is easy to kid ourselves that we are being noticed for our good deeds when in fact others may be taking advantage of us, or just plain oblivious. In Mr. Body’s case, they noticed and were hostile to helping. What soulless jerks.
How does this tie in with the first topic? I know what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to be a part of a culture that demands stupid obedience, which is why I work for myself. But what do I want to do myself? I have a vision, and a set of things to do. How can I connect the dots, so that what I am doing feels inspired? Maybe that bar is too high. Sometimes you just have to grind it out, to get the things done that you aren’t that into because they just have to get done.
What do you think? Where does inspiration fit in day to day?
And are you too nice?
Let me know – I answer all emails personally.

Ray Rice: Defective NFL Product?

Janay Palmer & Ray Rice

Now wife, Janay Palmer and Raven’s suspended footlball player, Ray Rice

I’m on my home from the latest workshop by my coach Steve Harrison. Had a chance to meet Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Wow, what an amazing experience.

It was an interesting experience learning how better to serve people through writing and coaching against the backdrop of the Ray Rice story. My understanding is that abusive people were themselves abused. It is my hope that this incident can help Mr. Rice break the cycle of abuse, both for himself and for others.

I watched the video. It was very disturbing. If you haven’t seen it, I think you should watch it Ray Rice Knocked Out Fiancee – FULL VIDEO. It will change your understanding of domestic violence forever. It won’t be theoretical, and it won’t be Hollywood. It is brutal. Watching the video could help you change someone’s life some day. You might hear a whisper, or notice something in someone you know, and instead of brushing it off, you’ll remember that image of Jinay getting knocked unconscious.

As for why the NFL and the Ravens gave Rice a slap on the wrist before the video came to light? I am befuddled by the handwringing. The NFL is a business. Ray Rice is the product. The domestic violence wasn’t seen as a human issue, it was a business issue.  Rice was a product with some characteristics that would make some customers mad.

I’ve been in those discussions. The product isn’t working quite right. Should we ship?

“No product is ever done.”

“There is a work around.”

“We need the revenue now, and will pick up the pieces later.”

Right or wrong does not come into play when it comes to these product shipment decisions. They are business decisions. In the case of the NFL, the products are people. We need to remember to put people first, always.

As I write this post on the plane, I watched an inspirational speech from James Brown, football host on CBS. Brown explained that domestic violence is not a football issue, and is not a woman’s issue. He pointed out that 3 women die every day from domestic violence, and called on men to step up and take responsibility. “You need to either get help [for yourself] or give help [to end domestic violence.]

Bravo James Brown. Real men do not hurt women, and we’ll take your challenge to become part of the solution.

Why You Want to be Joan Rivers in your Office

Joan Rivers by David Shankbone NYC 2010 via Flickr CC

Joan Rivers by David Shankbone NYC 2010 via Flickr CC

Today a guest post from Achim Nowak, President & Founder of INFLUENS.

I read his weekly energy boost religiously, and this week’s post was so good that I asked permission to republish it here as a guest post. Thank you Achim! You can subscribe to Achim Nowak’s weekly energy boost here

Raw and fearless

In the onslaught of tributes to comedienne Joan Rivers, these are the adjectives I hear most often.

Raw and fearless.

To people who didn’t like her, Joan Rivers was crass, loud, unabashedly insensitive. Too much.

I liked Joan Rivers. A lot.

One thing was abundantly clear as I watched the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work: Rivers was first and foremost an entertainer. She lived to be on-stage. She abhorred not being on-stage.

We are not all entertainers. We are all, however, on stage. All the time.

I get frustrated with the professional who doesn’t embrace that.

The one who doesn’t care enough to” show up.”

Dick Axelrod, author and organizational consultant, delineates two types of meeting participants: Meeting investors and meeting bystanders.

Joan Rivers was an investor.

Raw and fearless was her currency.

Rivers showed up. Big time.

Raw and fearless has, in most business environments, been replaced by polite and fearful.

Even folks who yearn to invest act like a bystander.

Polite and fearful will not get you there.

It simply doesn’t work when you’re on-stage.

I don’t encourage insensitivity. And yeah, raw and fearlessmay be “too much” where you work.

Pick your own currency. Choose how you invest.

What would be “more” without being “too much?”

Bold and inquisitive?

Curious and provocative?

Courageous and surprising?

Probing and opinionated?

Fearless and committed?

Choose to be an investor. Pick your currency. Two adjectives.

Know that polite and fearful will not get you there.

Two adjectives is all it takes.

When you show up at your meetings this week, embody your currency.

You likely won’t sound like Joan Rivers.

But you will instantly BE an investor. You will energize those around you. And you will energize yourself.

Now, that’s not too shabby, is it?

Thank you again Achim for allowing me to reprint your energy boost on The Idolbuster.

You can subscribe to Achim Nowak’s weekly energy boost here

 

What Does the Fox Say At Work?

What does the fox say? It’s a question 144 million plus have been asking on YouTube over the last few months. (And if you really want to know the answer, you can see it here.) The song describes what a fox looks like, and runs through a bunch of gibberish versions of what a sound the fox makes. Is it funny? Yes, a bit. (Although if you ask my tween daughters, they will tell you it is hilarious.)

When I hear the song, I think of a different kind of fox, the fox in Aesop’s fable the Fox and the Crow. This kind of Fox is a flatterer, someone who can convince you of anything. In this respect, the song “What Does the Fox Say” gets it right. When we are watching the video, we sing and laugh along, and we may even parrot what we hear to others. But if we stop and think about it, we say to ourselves Huh? It no longer makes any sense.

Have you ever had the experience at work of being talked into something that turned out to be really stupid, either for you or for the company? And then, the person who talked you into it is nowhere to be found. I write about the Fox in Busting Your Corporate Idol, because the consequences of trusting the untrustworthy are monumental.

The Fox is particularly dangerous, because he or she will say whatever you want to hear. The Fox is primarily out for him or herself, but unless you have dealt with this type of person before, you may not be aware.

I worked for years with a Fox, but didn’t know it until things got rough, and I was left holding the bag. In many respects, it was my bag to hold, BUT the Fox had advised me what to put in the bag, and where to carry it. So when the Fox went out of their way to point the finger at me, I wanted to cry fowl.

I stood up at a meeting to explain it all, and all that came out of my mouth was “Ring ding ding ding ding dingeringeding.” It made sense when the Fox said it to me. I should have known better.