Posts tagged: mentoring

Are You Part of the “Other Backward Class”?

I found this homeless man with his dog, he was ever so gentle and loving with man's best friend. Chris told me his dog, Brandy, was all he had in the world. His last dog was taken away from him by the police because he did not have tags or a ...

I read an article about the unexpected death of an Indian politician named, Gopinath Mundie. Mr. Mundie had risen to prominence from, what in India is known as, a low-caste grouping called the “Other Backward Classes.” When I read this, I almost cried. Can you imagine growing up in a country where you, your family and friends are referred to by this derogatory term?

I am not judging the Indian people, their culture or their politics (in fact, we could learn a lesson from them in democracy… if you haven’t seen this Daily Show segment on voter turn out… check it out.)

I am simply asking you to think about your life in America. We have a long way to go in many, many aspects of our young country’s democracy and fairness to our citizens. There are many problems. But one thing we don’t have are Backward Classes. Of course, we have ‘classes’ that ‘we’ consider ‘less than’ – so we all have a lot of work to do on understanding, kindness, sharing, fairness, etc.

Related to this… I hear many people complaining about our economy, but I see the restaurants are full. People complain about fuel prices, but we still drive everywhere. We worry about climate change, yet we leave our lights on, use drive-throughs and in general don’t pay much attention to our individual contribution to the problem.

I’m not blaming anyone… I have many improvements to make in my own life. For today, I am asking you to think about how lucky you are that you live in a country (with all its flaws) where education is universal and opportunities are abundant. The chance to live a life that most people on the planet would give everything to have a chance to experience. So the next time your dry cleaning isn’t ready on time or the grocery store is out of your favorite ice cream, will you stop and be grateful for the abundance that being born American has given you?

P.S. One other item of interest about Mr. Mundie… “His home district of Beed is infamous for female foeticide (where they find out if a fetus is a girl or a boy and then abort it if it is a girl) and given that he has three daughters and no son, he was often hailed as an example for others to follow. One of his daughters, Pankaja Munde-Palve, is a member of the Maharashtra state assembly.” Mr. Mundie.. you will be missed but your legacy lives on.

Photo credit: His Entire World: Homeless Man  Beverly and Pack

Nothing is Certain, But Everything is Possible

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Do you remember stories that were told in your family? In my family, my grandfather used to tell, “Billy the Mountain Goat” stories. Now I was too young to remember any of them but for those who heard and know them, they are treasures.

In this article, “The Storyteller of Marrakech,” the author tells us about the 1,000 year old tradition of story tellers in the public square. The tradition had been dying out due to noise, traffic and the general “busy”ness of modern life. The story has a happy ending (a new home for the story tellers and young people coming to hear them and learn).

But it got me thinking about stories.

In my family there are stories about my kids when they were little. I shared them with them as they got older. Then I shared them with their friends and ‘significant others’/ spouses and now they are having children; so I look forward to sharing them with the next generation. This is an easy tradition and one we all likely follow.

But what about all those stories that are part of our religion, heritage, ethnicity, tradition, neighborhood, town, city, country? Do we work to keep them alive? Do we share the stories that mean the most to us with others? Most importantly, embedded in those stories are the guideposts, pillars, mile markers of our shared journey. If we let them die, we miss giving our children the one thing that might just help them through the dreaded darkness.

Today I ask you to reach out to one person and tell one story. Any story. And remember the power of a story to change a life. So as the Moroccan storyteller says, “Nothing is certain, but everything is possible.”

Photo credit: Think More: A Novel Concept

Listen My Children And You Will Hear…

I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?Barry Goldwater 1981

I’m not here supporting one political party (I’m an independent) or religion or school of thought. I’m here to ask each of us to look inward. We often say, “they” are wrong, “they” should speak up/be quiet. “The government” should do more/less, defend me, help me, support me, stop them, arrest them, defend them.

But the truth is we are “they.” We are “the government.” This is America; it is up to us to change things we don’t like: vote, participate, read, discuss, listen, ask, accept responsibility. Democracy requires work.

It doesn’t matter what religion we are. What God we believe in. Where we grew up. What political party we support. What matters is that we stop blaming and start figuring out how to participate in solutions. Think you are not part of the problem? Try this.

Find someone whose opinions are radically different than yours.  Pick a topic that you agree you disagree on. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Each of you take 5 minutes to explain your position. The other person takes notes. The listener’s job is to reiterate the speakers key points. That’s it. You don’t have to discuss it further. Now talk about something else. Kids, whatever. What we all need is practice listening to each other.

Each person can then pick one point the other made, and think more about it. I’m not asking you to change your opinion. I am asking you to think about the other person’s point.

Imagine the world if we could teach our children this simple (not easy) skill.

Photo credit: Words As Visuals: Unity

Leadership: Handout or Hand Up?

As leaders do we see ourselves as coaches, mentors and teachers or as managers, bosses and the person “in-charge.” The distinction may be subtle but the influence you may have on people and the results you drive may not be subtle. In the book, “Leaders East Last,” (title derived from the Marine Corps where enlisted men always eat first), Simon Sinek says, “whether a leader puts themselves or their people first, determines if they are worthy of our love and loyalty. Leadership is a decision not a rank.”

Many people think that the ‘younger generation’ is lazy and entitled. I say every generation has this type of person. I see so many 20-30 somethings doing such great things; I hope you see them that way too. I loved this article, “Meet 6 Entrepreneurs Who Use Tech to Change the World.” Each young entrepreneur is doing something simple to solve a problem. My favorite is HandUp started by a young woman named Rose Broome.

“HandUp is direct giving for homeless people and others in need in your neighborhood. Your donations are redeemed for basic needs like food, clothing, and medical care through our partner organization Project Homeless Connect.”

Like all start ups, this one will have critics and bumps along the way. What I like is that Rose didn’t just give the homeless woman a dollar and forget her. She’s looking for a way to help stabilize her situation. It may be a handout right now, but hopefully a hand up is on it way too.

Photo credit: photo leroys

Find Your “Zone of Genius”

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Do you think you are an interesting person?

In her book, How to Be More Interesting in 10 Steps Jessica Hagy shows us direct ways to enhance our “interestingness” (my word). Here’s my suggestion. Get a piece of paper… rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 1 being no way and 10 being — I’m already doing that every day!) — how comfortable are you with each of these?

1) Talking to strangers

2) Exposing yourself to ridicule, risk and wild ideas

3) Learning an entirely new skill; especially one that interests but intimidates you

4) Embracing your inner weirdness

5) Ignoring the “scolds”

How’d you do?  If you scored above 50, you’re on your way. Below 50? What are you waiting for ? There’s a saying, “when the student is ready, the teacher appears — but you have to be looking! In my experience the teacher is already available – I just haven’t been paying attention.

– Don’t hide your quirks; they are what make you interesting!

–Don’t let the ‘shoulds’ get in your way? When others will criticize you, be prepared. Don’t listen. They’re projecting their fear onto you. Push it back to them.

So this relates to your “Zone of Genius” – a term coined by author Gay Hendricks. Here’s how she describes it:

“Your Zone of Genius is the combination of your innate talent and your greatest passion. Innate talent, for this purpose, is how–not what–you do what you do. Your greatest passion is the activity that you could do for countless hours with unending fulfillment.Finding your zone of genius can be tricky. We’re all blind to many of our own true strengths and weaknesses, so it often helps to find an objective, supportive person to help. Knowing your Zone of Genius also makes you caring, humble, and brave.”

The ‘teacher’ can be anyone… your child, spouse, co-worker, an old friend, a complete stranger. You just need to let go and ask for help. It will be there. Go!

Photo credit: RiÃ?©Kââ??¢

 

Long Haired Freaks Need Not Apply (Then), Tatooed Workers Need Not Apply (Now)

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In the world of work there is a lot of discrimination. Yup, I said it out loud. Not the kind that can be legislated or regulated against but bad nevertheless. In the 1960’s it was long hair, today, it’s ‘body art.”

In a recent article titled, “Top personal attributes employers hate about you;” piercings and tattoos are listed among several ‘undesirables’. The article states if people have these, employers are less likely to consider them for promotion. Yikes!

I don’t really understand why. Look, I’m a Boomer, I get all the dress for success ‘stuff’ we’ve been raised on and understanding one’s customers is very important. It is never a good idea to appear disrespectful to your clients. However, I believe that most people would continue to ‘buy’ from you whether your IT, HR or sales person has a tattoo or not.

Not considering them for employment or promotion because they look different from you is a big problem.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. admonished us to, ‘judge on the content of a person’s character,” (or in this case, their work output) ” not on the color of their skin,” (or in this case whether or not they have a tattoo or a piercing. ) Let me clarify… if someone is inappropriately dressed for an environment for safety or collegial reasons– then that’s not acceptable. But I don’t think that sneakers, flip flops, jeans, or some tattoos etc. are inappropriate in most environments.

The millennial generation (20 something’s) love their body ink. It nearly a rite of passage for many.  In 2010, nearly four in ten persons age 18 to 29 had at least one tattoo. (Pew Research)

Get used to it folks, it’s here to stay and there’s nothing wrong with it.

Photo credit: Big hand, small hand Xurble

10 Steps to A Happy Life

These steps are based on my years of experience of doing it wrong; so I have it on excellent authority… my own happiness… that if you follow these steps … you may not be ecstatic..but you will be in a a better place.

1.  Sit quietly for 5 minutes a day

2.  Stop whining (you live in the wealthiest country in the world)

3.  Stop gossiping (including judging other in our own minds or out loud)

4.  Be grateful (write down 5 things you’re grateful for 2x a day, no repeats for 30 days)

5.  Learn new stuff – especially stuff that is hard

6. Find someone to help (outside your family)

7.  Shut up and listen (for a change)

8. Exercise your body and willpower daily

9. Walk tall, smile, be gracious

10.   Be grateful — this is really the key to everything.

At the most difficult time of my life, I kept a gratitude diary. Once a day I wrote down 5 things I was grateful for…and I couldn’t repeat anything. After 3 months I had incorporated gratitude into my daily thinking. That was nearly 20 years ago and I still reflect on all my gifts everyday.

Those tremendously sad years gave me the one thing I needed most – a way to enjoy every day – no matter what is happening around me. The idea and accompanying serenity are yours for the taking.

Photo credit: Partners in Community Development

Feedback: Electric, Real-Time, Nasty or True

I work with companies on multi-generational workplace issues  because I heard so many complaints about the “younger generation’s” poor “communication” skills. Gen Y employees may be different in many ways other from other generations; but that doesn’t mean they’re bad or wrong — they’re just different.

One common complaint I hear is that younger employees want to give and get “constant feedback.” Most of us oldsters are uncomfortable with this. Being stoics, we think everyone ought to just ‘get on with it.’

When Jimi Hendrix (my favorite musician of all time) burst onto the rock scene and created new sounds with his guitar…including standing in front of a wall of amplifiers.. many people thought it was awful… the rest of us… thought it was awesome. A new kind of musical sound was born… music to some… noise to others.

So it is with workplace feedback. Let me introduce you to Cleargears.com, take a quick video tour here. Conceptually, these tools allow your workforce to provide you (bossman or bosslady) with regular feedback and in turn, allows you to understand whether your feedback is being accepted and implemented. Wow – what a concept. Real time feedback. Making you uncomfortable? Get ready – this is the world is headed.

Take a look at Rypple.com; they call it social performance management–  “a web-based social performance management platform that replaces the traditional performance review with an easy and collaborative approach. People always know where they stand and are accountable for achieving their goals.” By the way… so are you.

Whatever the tool and no matter how you feel about providing feedback to your team, I suggest you figure out how to listen better. The future of your organization depends upon it. Remember the shark… survival goes to those who adapt.

Photo credit: Milt. Retirement and Financial Freedom

 

Look, I Fell Down!

I’m fortunate to have 3 grandchildren under the age of 4 and yes, it’s as fun as everyone says.

There’s joy in watching them grow but there’s also a BIG LESSON. Here it is…

They fail… a lot. And they do it with a big smile. They fall down, the say words wrong, they make ridiculous observations about us…

How about us? When did learning become something SO serious. We get older and suddenly we have to be good at everything? If we have to learn something new we get impatient, even angry at ourselves for not:

learning fast enough/being smart enough/knowing how to do it and on and on.

If you aren’t “falling down” regularly, you are probably not learning very much. That’s why being a parent is an interesting journey. You are guaranteed to fail regularly (whether you realize it or not!)

Today, you have a choice. Learn something new, take a chance. I’m getting ready to learn a new kind of art. I’m a little freaked out. What if people tell me they don’t like it. What if the stuff looks ugly? This is what risk takers face everyday.

Write down the top 3 risks you are taking this week/month/year. You can tell if it’s a real risk if you feel like talking yourself out of doing it and you have all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it worked out in your head. So please, fall down, take that risk. Tell me about the risks you’re taking and I’ll keep you up to date about my art experiment. Everyday I’m talking myself out it so I know it’ll be worthwhile.

Photo credit: Zazzle.com

 

Help, I’m a Millenial Trapped in a Baby Boomer Body!

This past week, I had the fun of being a mentor for the first Rochester Start Up Weekend. Start Up Weekend is an international non profit organization that helps communities run a weekend ‘create a company’ marathon.

In 54 hours, teams work to build a company idea. By Sunday night, the teams pitch their company ideas and the winning team gets cash and prizes.

This is why I feel like I’m a 20 something trapped in a boomer body. I loved the idea of spending hours hanging around young entrepreneurs who are so excited about their ideas.

But more than that, I am excited about change. I’m excited about the revolution that’s taking place across the world– people telling their governments what they want.

I see tremendous power in the social enterprise and the way customers are telling companies what they want.

I am thrilled to see so people involved in changing the world for the better.

Here’s how I am contributing:

  • teach as many people and organizations as possible about the power of social media
  • teach college student where I learn more from my students than I teach them
  • lead a small non-profit that helps people who live in low income communities
  • speak for free for any non profit that asks me
  • mentor entrepreneurs through SCORE
  • support and encourage people of all ages to live life fully
  • respect every person I meet for exactly who they are

I hope that I am also a loving wife, mother, in-law, sister, friend, etc. Let me know how you are making your life as fun and vital as possible. It’s great isn’t it?