A Thank You for Mom and her Leadership Lessons

MothersDay

Happy Mother’s Day.  The one day of the year where we can all stop and recognize our mom’s for all they do and have done for us along the way.  They teach us many of life’s most important lessons.  They do it in a way that creates lasting impressions along with that second voice in our head that asks, “what would mom think?”  And while father’s instill their own brand of leadership lessons (stay tuned for June), here are few that I have learned specifically from my mom that have helped me be a better person and leader:

  1. Empathy.  Until recently empathy in the workplace, especially in a leadership role was viewed as a weakness.  Soft.  Being empathetic meant you weren’t able to make the tough choices.  However, over the past decade a great deal of research has been done that’s revealed the most effective leaders are empathetic.  The ability to feel and understand others emotions.  It’s the piece that allows you to connect on a deeper level with those you work with.  This is something I learned from mom.
  2. Forgiveness.  We all make mistakes.  Some are bigger than others.  Recognizing an honest mistake versus malicious intent is critical.  Honest mistakes happen every day, and will likely occur in all our lives until the end of time.  Understanding the mistake, its intent, its impact, and the lesson learned is where the act of forgiveness comes in.  Mistakes happen in every workplace, on everyday of the year.  Some mistakes are small with no material impact to the business while others can be quite costly.  Focusing on the mistake itself and not the person is something I learned from my mom.
  3. Faith.  The ability to strongly believe in something with conviction is faith.  Be it in ourselves, others, or God, faith represents one of a handful of traits that separates human beings from all other animals on the planet.  When all the strategizing and planning is complete, a leader must have faith in him or herself, and the team they lead, that they will be able to execute their plan to achieve the desired outcome.  The ability to believe in, or hope for, something better is something I learned from my mom.

There are many other lessons I’ve learned from my mom yet these three stand out.  She’s taught me a lot in my first 46 years and I’m sure there’s much more to learn in the next 46!

Have a great Mother’s Day.  (Love you mom!)

Profoundness Found in the Simplest of Places

NewCastleSeattle

 

I spent this last week in the great city of Seattle…Bellevue to be specific.  Seattle has always been one of my favorite cities to travel to from my first visit in 2001.  From downtown to the Harbor Steps, Seattle is a down-to-earth city with great people, wonderful food, and some of the best sites in the world.

I was dining one evening this week in downtown Bellevue with our President, and Chief Operating Officer of our company.  No doubt a busy week with many meetings, big initiatives, and key decisions to be made.  Pretty much a normal week.  It had rained on-and-off most of the week with brief reprieves resulting in glimpses of sunlight and blue sky.  Our President selected an Italian restaurant for dinner.  We left the office and walked to a wonderful place called Andiamo.  We were seated immediately with each of us picking up our menus to peruse the entrees.  As we chit-chatted a bit while taking in the selection of delightful dishes, she looked up, and that’s when it happened…profoundness in the simplest of statements.

The rain had passed, the sky had opened, and the combination of the sun with the bluest of backgrounds in the sky was breathtaking.  She sat back, placed the menu on her lap and said, “I just love these breaks of beautiful.”  What an amazing statement.  How simple.  How profound.  How beautiful.

Over the past few months I’ve experienced the death of a good friend and colleague, and a close member of the family.  I’ve gotten calls about family members struck by illness and hospitalized.  My phone has rung with a couple close friends who have lost their jobs looking for guidance and assistance.  Clearly part of life, these situations and others like them tend to change our view of our circumstances.  We focus on them and we begin to move ever closer to skepticism, pessimism, and any other adjective that describes our saddened state of mind.

Our President, most likely without knowing, had just made a comment that struck me like a blow to the chest.  It got me thinking about focusing on all of life’s “breaks of beautiful”.  While she clearly made this comment in the context of the visual beauty she saw in Seattle’s sky, breaks of beauty are all around us.  Since this moment I have found breaks of beauty in the sound of my wife’s voice, the unexpected call from my daughter to say hello, a late night chat with my dad, an email one of my sales reps sent me excited about a great accomplishment, the start of a new friendship, and a corny but funny joke my son texted to me while I was sitting in a meeting.

The point is to stop and take notice of all the breaks of beautiful in your life.  They’re there.  You really don’t have to look hard.  You just have to look a little.