Own It

Good morning and HAPPY FRIDAY!

I’m in need of something a little fun, a little camp, so how about a little MC Hammer? Yeah, that’s how we livin…. Need to get a fresh attitude? Oh, my Lord, thank You for blessing me….Looking for some energy? Now, you know you wanna dance. Want to shake off the seriousness of your day? No quote here, but how about you join me in imagining everyone wearing those harem pants? Whoot! 😀

Its your life so own it

It doesn’t matter how challenging things are, we all need to remember what we do well, celebrate who we are and own it. Whether it’s you, your family, your community or your company, you know you rock it. Need some help visualizing? I absolutely love this lipsync of U Can’t Touch This by McKinney High School. EVERYONE is in on the action – do you think it brought them together? And how great is it that the administration supported this effort? It tells you that they make their campus fun for their students, which pays off in a strong sense of community and students who are willing to work hard. (My favorite is the kid at 3’15” who looks like he might get pushed into his locker but, boy, he can bust a move. Good for him for taking center stage!)

So move, outta your seat, and… git r done, then enjoy your weekend!

Caryn

It’s All Good

Happy Friday! Get down, get Funky! I usually send out a note to my coworkers on Fridays with a Funky Friday theme. We started out with watching old Soul Train videos and it expanded from there.

Is it work related? No, not at all. But… it gets us up and dancing and brings a common grin to everybody on my email. Shared experiences bring us together and, for a national team, it’s a challenge to accomplish this. We don’t get to see each other in the halls or go to lunch. We’re on conference calls nonstop and it’s too easy to miss the personal connection. What to do then? Inject a little humor (have you seen the hair on those Soul Train vids? Priceless!) and a little musical inspiration and you have something that gets us up out of our chairs. Totally worth the few minutes of distraction…

Today’s song is one of my favorites – its retro funk sound is not only perfect for my Booty Shaker playlist, it’s also got really good lyrics. Basically, its message is that it doesn’t matter about our differences –

Hollywood, or in the hood, it don’t matter…

Tight fade, or long braids, it don’t matter…

East coast or west coast, it don’t matter…

Either way, it’s all good.”

This is Robert Randolph and the Family Band’s Ain’t Nothing Wrong with That. Time for a little chair dancing!

Wag more. Bark less.

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Fierce protectors, resting after a long day defending the palace.

All right, I think I’ve found my favorite slogan ever: “Wag more. Bark less.” Isn’t that awesome? We’ve got two large dogs so I may be biased about this obviously dog oriented philosophy. Our Weimaraners are good natured girls but they think they need to guard us from the hordes overrunning the back fence. What may look like an innocent rock, leaf or squirrel to you is, in reality, the next invasion of barbarians. Are dogs innately suspicious? Is it that simple? Or do they have justification for suspecting all kinds of nefarious things in our idyllic backyard?

You’ve probably heard the parable about two travelers coming upon a farmer on the outskirts of town. When the first traveler asks the farmer what kind of people live in the town, the farmer turns the question back on the traveler and asks what kind of townfolk lived in the traveler’s previous town. “A bad lot”, the first traveler answers. The farmer then advises this traveler that they will likely find what they have before. When a second traveler approaches and asks the same question, the farmer again responds with a question. This time, the traveler says they were good people and that he will miss them. Guess what the farmer says? OK, I know. Y’all have heard this before. Then you totally understand the relationship between my dogs and those travelers. The farmer tells the second traveler that he will likely find the same kind of people in the town, just like where he came from.  Like my dogs, the travelers see the same things and interpret them differently, one sees the negative, the other one sees the positive. In the case of the travelers, it is the type of people. In the case of my girls, it’s rocks and leaves masquerading as danger.

Some of you are mumbling (as the mother of a teenage boy, I have supersensitive hearing, the better to hear mumbles with….), “If it walks like a duck, talks, like a duck….” Well, I’ll give you that one. Sometimes people are bad and rocks are dangerous. But you have to think about the big picture – are all the people in your life bad? Is every rock a menace? If so, to paraphrase the farmer, maybe it’s you, not them. This brings me back to the simple joy of “Wag more. Bark less.” I think that’s a GREAT motto to live by. I’d rather see the joy in things. Yeah, so once in a while, I’ll get a nasty surprise. Does that mean I should always be looking for it from perfectly nice people? I’d like to have more faith than that. I’d like to wag more and bark less.

On the Hunt

On the hunt for barbarians, they could be anywhere, maybe even up in that tree.

References

 “Wag More Bark Less” is the slogan of Buddy Biscuits dog treats – http://www.cloudstar.com//prodcat/Wag-More-Bark-Less-Treats.asp

For more on the travelers and the farmer, see this excellent telling of the parable (scroll down to The Two Travelers and the Farmer): http://www.wisdomcommons.org/virtue/151-optimism/parables

Empathy

Wow, can people surprise you, even your kids. 😉

A member of our extended family is battling cancer and going on the rollercoaster ride of treatment, we’ll call him Bubba. He’s several states away and we can’t be there to help him through the doctor’s visits, surgery and chemo/radiation but we’re there in spirit. Martin and I recently told our boys about Bubba’s condition and I’ve been so proud of our younger son, Gus’s, reaction. He wants go visit Bubba, which I thought was sweet since most 16 year olds don’t want to do anything unless it involves their friends and xbox. Plus, Gus wants to shave his head in a show of solidarity. Granted, Gus has a buzz cut already and Martin pretty much shaves his head, too, so head shaving isn’t going to be traumatic, but still. Oh, and Bubba hasn’t started chemo yet, so he still has all of his hair. Details, details.

I thought it took maturity to feel this kind of empathy, the kind of maturity you don’t often see in kids. Shame on me for not having more faith in our wean (Scottish slang for child, kind of an inside joke because it’s a contraction of “wee un”, meaning small, and Gus is 6’3”, the tallest in our family). Empathy is not only for the older-but-wiser crowd, apparently. Empathy is important because it connects us with others; we feel for them, whether it’s joy or sadness; we share in their experience. Empathy is easier when we are close to people, when we trust them, when we want to feel for them. It can be easy to feel empathy for strangers – who doesn’t feel for someone that has had an accident, right? But it can also be much harder to empathize with someone we don’t know or don’t think we want to know. Take that rude jerk that cut you off in traffic and caused an accident. You don’t want to know them because you’re wrapped up on your own feelings. We saw this in action a few years ago. Our oldest son was a new driver and he turned left in front of a pick up truck pulling a trailer, a typical landscaper’s work vehicle, so it was b-i-g, big. Anyway, Dylan pulls in front of this guy, causing an accident. My husband reported that the guy was angry for about 30 seconds, until he realized it was a new driver that hit him. Martin says the guy immediately started telling D that it was all right; everybody has an accident when they’re a new driver. Wasn’t that sweet? We have no idea why this man didn’t go off on a rant about new drivers being, well, pick your adjective. It would have been understandable, the fellow had just had a major problem crop up on what was likely a busy day. Instead, he chose to see the human behind the problem and we will always appreciate that man for his kindness to our son.

So, empathy. It helps us see the person behind the action or label. It helps us connect with others. For me, it is an essential ingredient to being human. I don’t always feel it but the more I practice, the better I am. This goes for our weans, too. Soon, we’ll be off to the barber for a head shaving, happy to do so and isn’t that sayin’ somethin’?

If you’re interested in a great book that showcases empathy, read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. It’s probably classified as a Young Adult novel but don’t let that fool you. It’s full of leadership lessons and I’ve read it several times in the last 20 years. It’s also scifi, but that’s just context. The story is overwhelmingly about the human condition and how we relate to others. I will always be thankful to a co-worker, Gary Lieberman, for sharing this book with me. If you’re not much of a reader, it’s being made into a movie, due out later this year I believe.

 

Undeserving

I was raised professionally to use tough love, those tactics that seem harsh on the surface but are intended to help you improve. Fast forward a few years and I’ve come to appreciate a different style, one where you spend more time encouraging and less time hammering. I was reading a blurb on being a better boss and came across the following tip: Unusual bosses give undeserving compliments (http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/7-unusual-things-great-bosses-do.html ). Hmm. Do we do people a service or a disservice when we give them undeserving compliments?

My early role models were often hard on you day to day but gave glowing comments in your annual appraisal or when you left (and isn’t that ironic?). They did this believing it meant more when you received occasional praise. Or did it? In hindsight, I don’t think it’s the most effective strategy since it left me alternating daily between fearing for my job and hating my boss. After the occasional praise, I would glow for a while, at least until the next bout of tough love. Yes, I tried harder and, yes, it made me more independent. However, it missed teaching me a crucial lesson about building relationships – it’s hard to build a relationship with someone you fear, after all.

So, back to the item on Yahoo… what’s the point of giving supposedly undeserving compliments, are they of any use? This reminds me of my hairdresser, who always tells me I look marvelous. He then goes on to talk about how I obviously take care of myself by working out or eating well. I’ll bet you think he’s insincere, that he says this to all of his clients. You’re probably right but I walk out of his salon feeling like a million bucks. This halo lasts for days and inspires me to live up to his words by working out or staying away from junk food. So, did I look marvelous? Nah. But did it inspire me to be better? Absolutely.

When we give undeserving compliments, are we encouraging the wrong behavior? Do we give people the wrong impression that they are good just as they are? I’m willing to take that risk because I think it’s more likely that the recipient stands up just a bit taller and works harder at living up to your compliment.

 

Color Me Undeserving
Drawn by ImageThink during a team meeting. Thank you, Heather!