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When Patterns of the Past Show Up in the Present

When Patterns of the Past Show Up in the Present

I just finished reading a speech Vice President Joe Biden gave at Yale University. It brought tears to my eyes and I was compelled to read it again. This time I grabbed the tissue box, stopped what I was doing and sat wiping freely flowing tears away and sat looking out at the fully blossomed spring trees. Thunder was in the air and I imagined all the preparations for Beau’s funeral, all the expected things that have to be done. I thought about the widow and the children. The thunder intensified. Losing his wife and daughter in a terrible car accident decades ago should be enough. Now his son Beau to brain cancer. And yet he is the model of a jovial, gentle natured man with such love for his wife Jill, children and grandchildren and the importance of family first. I have often thought that he would be, as the Native Americans say “good medicine” for President Obama who did not have the presence of his own father in his life. And as I sat thinking about tragedies I began to ruminate about the sudden death of my father from a heart attack when I was fourteen. RUMINATE Ruminate: the feeling you get when you just can’t stop thinking about something that upsets you. Ruminate: when the hurt, anger, disappointment, despair, frustration do not go away. I ruminated for years about my father’s death. You see, we had a very minor argument about getting the dishes done because I was procrastinating and said “I WILL DO THE DISHES WHEN I AM READY, NOT WHEN YOU TELL ME TO.” I was fourteen...
What do you do when you are ignored?

What do you do when you are ignored?

Did you ever sit in a restaurant and wonder if you had a snake on your head, or maybe a bird’s nest, or a mouse, or if your face had turned bright blue? You sit there and question why the server is taking so long to get to your table. It looks like everyone else is getting attention. Your meal drags on and on.  When you finally get your food, it is put in front of you with a grunt. You accept it with a groan. Some of us eat as fast as we can, get the check and get out, vowing never to enter the place again. Some of us chew every morsel and sit longer than usual just to see what, if anything will happen next. You question:  Should I leave a tip?  Do I seek out the manager? The way you handle poor service is a great indicator of the behavior patterns that you developed watching your parents maneuver through the courtesies and discomforts of going to the market, going to a clothing store, going to a restaurant, going just about anywhere. What do you do when people are discourteous? And on the other hand, how do you reward excellent service? Here is what happened at the eatery. I called the waitress aside and told her I thought she had been rude. I gave her an out by suggesting maybe she was unaware of it. What happened next was powerful. She took my hand and apologized. She told me she had just flunked a final exam and would have to go to summer school. She was...
Leadership Training: Work is NOT a Rehab Facility

Leadership Training: Work is NOT a Rehab Facility

When you have a lazy employee, one who has excuses for everything, who acts like a victim when you point out work not done that needs to be done and all they do is make excuses; then what? I am asked all the time in my coaching sessions, “When do you finally let someone go”? Let’s go back to yesterday and the employee who could not get work done because the cat was sick. The first thing you do is ask accountability questions. Remember, I suggested you go into a room with a door and close the door. This is not to keep anyone captive. It is to create a contained space where there are few distractions, few ways to wiggle out of the “face the music” moment. Leadership development training programs should all have a module where you have to practice asking the tough questions and then sit in silence waiting for answers and not help to rescue the other person. Okay, if the questions fall on deaf ears, then what. REMEMBER THE RULE OF THREE Sometimes it does take a bit of remedial work to get the point across, so give the employee a second and a third chance to step up to the plate. However, by the third meeting if nothing is really changing and the “cat” is still sick, then it is time for action. Performance improvement plans work. They are like a red flag that time is running out. Make them factual, specific, with time lines. And you can “unhire” if you must. Often employers who are caring and helpful have a difficult time...

A Halloween Gift

This blog is on the personal level and I hope you find what I am about to share helpful. My mother died on Halloween years ago. Hard to forget the exact situation when it is not just an ordinary day, one usually filled with fun and costumes and candy and parties.   Those years ago I was in the middle of the worst time in my life. I was separating from my husband, finances were tight, my daughters were in the tick of being teen agers who wanted to do everything their way, and my mother was in the end point from ovarian cancer.   Yet, when she died it was as if she opened a door for me to see a new way to live life and brush fear away with the sweep of my hand.   She was in the hospital. It was around 7pm as I entered her darkened room. The sights and smells of hospitals were never my thing. My brother is a physician, that’s where he feels right at home. I would always get a bit dizzy every time the elevator doors would open to the floor filled with ill people.   My brother has arrived before me. He gave me the information we knew was due any time. “She has maybe another 24 hours”. He gave me the medical rundown. I nodded even though I had not really listened to the numbers.   I went to the hall phone (pre cell phones) and called my daughters. One was going to a party, the other would stand sentry and dole out the candy to...

Sylvia, Jon, and Asking Questions

  I am fascinated by the fact that there are so many words being written on the web, and yet, there are so few real questions being asked. Yesterday I was fortunate to talk with a reporter from TodayShow.com and what a difference!   We had a dialogue! Now, that is not something busy people do anymore. Dialogue is not debate. Debate is when there is a winner and a loser. It was not just plain conversation. Conversation is more about how the hot weather is bothering, or not bothering you, how the folks are, with an answer of “Fine thanks”. It is not even discussion. Discussion gathers points of view and bundles them into groups.   Dialogue is a way of conversing to find new and important concepts and ideas that were not available when you and another, first began to talk. In true dialogue each person’s unique point of view is brought together by asking questions, wondering about possibilities, gathering bits of information, until you can come together with a newer more vital perspective than could have been developed individually.   Dialogue is systemic in nature; it is the essence of collaboration, and in our argumentative and debate-oriented culture, a vital force waiting to be harnessed.   When Mike Celizic emailed that he would like to do an interview about my connection with Jon Gosselin, I groaned.  This is not what I had signed up for when I agreed to be a leadership coach with Jon. I was not looking for quick media coverage so people could do sound bit debates, pro or con, simplistic, often rude...

Battling Women and Windmills

In our Total Leadership Connections program we teach participants to go beyond the obvious, that leadership in any field requires deep thought; superficial considerations are merely not enough. Recently asked what I thought about all the brouhaha around actor/director Mel Gibson’s racist and venomous comments to ex-girlfriend and mother of his child I decided to do some research. Based on what I teach, how we either stand on the shoulders of the past or repeat it, I have a whole new understanding of what I think may be going on with this famous celebrity. Stay with me for a minute while I take you back to Mel’s ancestry, no not as far back as Bravehart, just to his father Hutton. Mel’s father, a devout Catholic has his own website where he tackles what he sees as the hypocrisy of his church in modern times. He also is a conspiracy theorist and a holocaust denier. I began to wonder how this man became so polarized in his thinking; we have to be taught to hate, it is not our natural state of being. I decided to dig deeper. You may have a hard time tying together what I am saying; it is counter-intuitive in the world we live in, which is fraught with dichotomies. If so, please find more information in “Don’t Bring It to Work” or you may contact me at Sylvia@ceoptions.com. Okay, here we go. One of the most vital aspects of our development has to do with crises; what I call hardening of the emotions. In Hutton Gibson’s life there were many. His mother died when he...