Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Overheard: The LeaderShape Institute

This past May, we received an email from Lead Facilitator and former staff member Anne Arseneau. We thought it was such a cool story, we wanted to share her email to us with you:

"Hi LeaderShape friends, thought I’d share my cool Day 5 experience that happened RIGHT before I started the curriculum piece on social responsibility at the Meredith LeaderShape session (which was a great session experience BTW…)

My sister-in-law Linda (who lives in Champaign and tries hard to understand LeaderShape) :) and I had the following text exchange during lunch (right before social responsibility/Living & Leading with Integrity) and it’s just cool enough that I needed to share it with you all:

Linda: Hey there. hope all is good. yesterday we went to a Cubs game and overheard some 20 somethings talking about how great Leadershape was! thought you might like to hear good chatter out there.

Anne: that is awesome! about 70 different sessions going on this year. that just makes me smile!!!

Linda: yep. we were on the L and we thought of you and how great of a job you guys are doing. felt proud! It made us smile big for you!

Maybe I’ve been around too long (just as the campus institutes were starting) but the idea that someone I know could overhear someone (they don’t know) on a subway train in Chicago talking about how awesome LeaderShape is gives me goose bumps. And it was a really neat thought to have about the viral impact of MORE people experiencing LeaderShape just before going into the Living & Leading with Integrity session. Shared the contents of the text with the Meredith women as an example and thought I’d pass along to you as well."

So thanks to all of you for sharing about your experience with others. You never know who might be listening...

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Yesterday, I was interviewed by a local marketing company who we have worked with in the past as they are doing a project on “voice”. Outside of being slightly uncomfortable having someone taking pictures while being interviewed, I enjoyed the conversation and thought about the concept of voice for quite a bit longer than the actual interview. One of my comments regarding voice was basically that so many people are “yelling” through blogs, Facebook posts, Twitter, etc. that it is hard to hear their “voice”. Made me think that perhaps having a “voice” means absolutely nothing unless you can actually be heard.

So how do we become heard so that this wonderful gift of “voice” truly means something? Hell of a question and I don’t have the answer. But, of course, I have an idea or two. I guess we should start by remembering that yelling usually turns people off and tunes them out to your message. Maybe we should start by not drowning out the truly important messages by using our voice to tell the thousand friends we have (really?) what restaurant you are currently at or taking a picture of your dog sleeping? Maybe we should use fewer words with more meaning given that our attention spans are nil these days? Maybe you don’t have anything to say, but your “voice” shows up in your actions – an act of kindness, a hug, or a wink of the eye that says I believe in you.

I remember the quote “your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying” or something to that effect. My father still tells me that the reason he doesn’t run (or didn’t run in his case) is that perhaps you only have so many steps to take in your life and when you take that last one, you check out. Why waste them running in a circle? Of course, he is making an excuse for not exercising, but what if that principle applied to our “voice”? What if we only had so many words to say in our lives and when we spoke the last one, we were done, checked out, kicked the bucket? How would you share your voice differently? What words would you choose to say?

For someone who can talk much longer than needed, I am going to think about my “voice” much differently for a bit and see what happens. Might even use my “voice” for those that don’t have the same privilege of having their “voice” heard. That would have to be better than using mine to let you know that I am in the airport in Little Rock, Arkansas (no offense intended to Little Rock).

(This is me being quiet now…)

Friday, June 10, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

Some of us on staff just came back from a workshop at the Mayo Clinic with Dr. Amit Sood on attention and interpretation.  The two-day experience included all the science behind why it’s beneficial to cultivate and practice things like gratitude, compassion, acceptance, meaning and purpose, and forgiveness.  The basics of the neuroscience are that these practices keep us in the higher cortical center of our brain, as opposed to the more “primitive” limbic system, and lead to lower stress and higher resilience (great qualities for leaders to have!). 

You can read more about the studies and brain science in Train Your Brain…Engage Your Heart…Transform Your Life, and you can begin a resilience building leadership practice right now.  This is my small thought about gratitude and something small and specific you can try today: 

Every day we do small acts for people that may cause them to respond with a “thank you.”  When these things happen I’ve caught myself replying “no problem,” meaning it’s not an inconvenience for me or isn’t a big deal.  Lately, I’ve been trying to be attentive to responding “you’re welcome” or even “I’m happy to” and think silently to myself how grateful I am to be able to do whatever small thing it is I’ve just done.  Whether or not someone says “thank you” for my action, I am trying to focus on gratitude.  I am grateful to be able to physically hold open a door; I am grateful for the sight that allows me to notice others around me; I am grateful for brief interactions and the positive energy they create.  Focusing on gratitude in these situations has helped me to find opportunities for gratitude all around me and more reasons for me to say “thank you” to others as well.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can change how we interpret what’s happing around us and is a small, daily way to move us just that much closer to a just, caring, thriving world.