Who's never been much for dabbling ~

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This is Halloween!

I wish my friends and family on the East Coast all the best.  I know it's been a few rough days and for some, they will be facing a complete rebuilding of their homes and neighborhoods.  To all of you, I wish a speedy recovery, with support from your state, Red Cross and FEMA  workers. 

I'm giving out candy tonight and about to hop on a webinar so I won't be blogging this evening.  Here are some Halloween tunes compliments of one of my favorites, Danny Elfman, composer for most of Tim Burton's movies:


Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What's LOVE Got To Do With It?"

"What's Love Got To Do With It?"  Recently I posted this question on Facebook and then answered my own question as "EVERYTHING!"  Tina called it a "sweet old fashioned notion", but I call it essential - NOW.

Love - a feeling and emotion we all experience, but each in a personal, often profound way.  The love of a boyfriend, husband, partner; the love of our children, parents, siblings and best friends; the love of our work, our playtime; nature, heritage and country.  (I often say "I love anything with cinnamon or blueberries."  That's shallow, but true - but I digress)

What I suggest is loving LOVE enough to commit to it as a way of being in our world, not just a feeling we keep to ourselves.  Let's bring love into our communities, cities, and nation.  If love is something special, then why is it missing in our political dialogues and platforms.  Did she just say "in politics?" . . . Yes I did.

This morning I read a love letter to our community in our local paper.  It was a refreshing change from the bickering of school and city politics - and I agree with the author, there's plenty to love in our community.  We can disagree, debate AND commit to compassionate decision making. Why must these conversations only occur for non-profit mission statements and in volunteer meetings?

I'm not delusional, I know we must prepare and respond to those who foster hate and would do us harm.  What I am encouraging is that we not be habitually dismissive of those who try to lead from the perspective of love.  Our compassion can inform our platforms and policies transforming our love from personal expressions to the community and beyond.  Love is not a sign of weakness; it's powerful and essential.  Anyone with me on this? 

Sorry Tina - Love has GOT to have something to do with it. 

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PS - Heard a wooshing sound when I woke up this morning and found this hot air balloon idling over the neighbors house.  Don't you LOVE surprises?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Our Will vs Chaos

I used to write a blog called Be One With the Chaos.  We've all experienced it and I was fascinated by how some could hold their center while others fell apart.  I know incredibly resilient people who repeatedly inspire with their ability to be creative and solve problems in the face of challenges. I've also witnessed complete melt downs - how and what we try to control matters.

I recently read in Brendon Burchard's book The Charge that "we can control the quality of our character, actions and contributions to the world."  Without resolve to maintain our values in thought and actions, we are almost defenseless in the face of chaotic events.  Only when we rely on our character and hold our center can we rise above the turmoil of disasters, tragedies and random events.

When we least expect it, we may be blindsided.  Will we react or respond?  Burchard says, "meet the uncontrollable with a measure of choice and will."  Respond from our character.  Avoid reacting from pure emotion.  Getting emotional usually adds fuel to the fire, while a response that reflects our values and maintains the dignity of all involved has an excellent chance to lower the negative impact or even eliminate the damage that chaos can cause.

A shout out tonight to one of my colleagues who held her center in the face of an emotionally charged and cheap-shot accusation.  I won't go into the details but this could have blown up into a nasty, racial issue in our community.  What I loved is while my friend acknowledged her fears to speak up in the past, she spoke with dignity and conviction today, standing up for not only herself but countless others.  I'm so proud of her.

We cannot predict where chaos will come from or why, we cannot and should not hide ourselves away in an attempt to avoid it - we can live each day to create the good we are capable of and respond to random chaos not from our defensive ego, but from our best self with honesty and dignity.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Boom - CRASH - BOOM!

When I was one of no more than two to three woman band directors in the state, I was focused on my students, our progress, how my strengths could contribute to their growth and how to improve my weaknesses.  I rarely ever thought on a day to day basis, "What should a woman band director do?  What should she say?  What should I not do because, that would be what a man would do?"  It just wasn't in my thought process. I was a band director (who was a woman)

But every now and then, someone would say something that would remind me that I was a woman being a band director. 

Here's one: After directing our high school concert band at a festival, a male judge approaches me in the hallway and said, "Hi, I'm Jim David (not real name) - that was a very aggressive program you chose for a female director."  I remember being caught off guard by the comment.  Was this a compliment?  My impression was that he was surprised by what we performed.  He didn't appear to disapprove, but apparently he expected softer, gentler music.  Boom - CRASH - BOOM!  We had a killer percussion section at the time and I programed several selections that gave them a chance to show off their talent, so yes, there was some drumming going on - and we played some fast stuff too. 

I think my response to him was, "Thank you?" 

That was a No Win Situation.  The judge considered my gender before we played a note.  If I had chosen a program full of ballads and Mozart transcriptions, then I'm perceived as a typical female director: nice, pretty, safe.  When I chose music that showcased our ability to play intense, percussive music, it was perceived as a woman directing masculine music.  Not being a director at all, would be the only way out of this conundrum, but that's not a viable option, is it?  (Obvious answer here: Hell no.)

These are the current circumstances ladies.  We are far beyond the decades with no female athletes, no female music directors, sports announcers - NO VOTING!  But - there is plenty of residual gender bias left and that is for our current generations to dissolve, like a hazy day when the sun shines so bright, the fog must go away.  When we shy away from our dreams because we don't see enough (or any) female role models, we perpetuate, we actually contribute to the male-female roles staying locked in our psyche for another generation to deal with.

Be what you want to be.  Be the authentic version of you, which happens to be female, but be YOU first.  Avoid acting either feminine or masculine - that is your gender, not your title.

I was a music director because I loved it.  I learned from outstanding music teachers, both male and female.  I loved sharing music and challenging my students to excel beyond what they thought was possible - and I happened to be a woman. 

There are more female directors in the state than when I was directing, but it still isn't even close to half.  Why?  Because it still looks like a man's job.  Woman dominate the K-8 ranks, but still are seen far less in front of a high school and especially a collegiate instrumental performance group. (Btw - I added instrumental because lots more woman direct choirs than bands and orchestras - I guess singing is considered more lady-like.) BOOM! I'm done today.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Hey Lady, Can You Fly This Thing?"

Today, I'm talking to you ladies - yes, you; the ones in the wrong career or settling for a position below your ability.  Neither of these options honor who we are and what we can contribute.  I have no doubt that plenty of misplaced women are still contributing plenty, but what are we capable of when we're actually pursuing our heart's desire. Rather than an administrative assistant, Gail researches viruses at a university.  Libby goes on digs in South America since she left her department store sales job.  Jennifer quit running the radio station's front office, so she can write her own radio programs.  Did your parents tell you to play it safe, but you wanted to fly airplanes? 

Women hire a personal coach for many reasons, but it often comes down to: "I don't feel fulfilled by what I'm doing" or "I like my work, but feel like there's something more for me."  Our society gives woman plenty of subliminal messages about what we're supposed to like and not like.  Aspire to leadership?  Well ok, but you'll have to exhibit more masculine traits, you know, to convince everyone that you're capable and up to the heavy challenges.  How many overt and subliminal messages say femininity and leadership roles are not compatible?

I love coaching woman who want to lead.  Leadership is an exciting, complex and fulfilling path to walk.  If you have that calling - listen to it.  The most effective leader is an authentic one, not a masculine one.  We've become jaded by the manipulative behaviors of leaders in politics and business.  I encourage us to not look away from the pools of deceit, disgusted and discouraged.  Rather, pour the fresh waters of compassion, creativity and collaboration into the stagnant ponds so they thrive again. 

Ladies - if you want to lead, then learn to lead and lead well, honestly and passionately.  We are past the time in history where we should settle for a position that makes everyone comfortable. If you can run the company, then don't settle for being one of the VP's.  If you can improve your state or federal government, run for office.  Woman are not being beaten by men more often at the polls, they aren't running as often.  Less than 25% of elected politicians are woman and yet we are 51% of the population.

The world needs more female leaders; we need to stop wasting our talent because we're following old patterns.  Creating new paradigms takes concerted effort and cannot be accomplished from a settling, rationalized mind-set.  Coaches are in the business of complacency busting.  If you know you are settling, I hope you will work with a coach.  If you want to be a pilot, I hope you will fly.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

This F-Word

Nope, not the 4-letter F word (I know that's what you're thinking); I'm talking about the 5-letter word we need everyday - FOCUS!

When we were younger you might remember getting "Focus!" yelled at you by a parent, a teacher or a coach.  "Stop talking and focus."  "What are you doing?  Stay focused!"   I'm  suggesting now that we choose to whisper this word to ourselves, "shhhh . . . stay still . . . focus."

There are so many distractions in our daily lives that we must make the commitment to improving our focus if we stand a chance of getting significant work done - not once in a while, but everyday.  Our phones beep and sing and ring at us, our email "blings" you've got another new email, here comes an instant message, a tweet and on and on.

Ironically, I've resorted to using the rain app on my phone to drown out the noise when I just want to focus on what I'm working on, reading or God forbid, resting.  Focus takes intention and practice - special thanks to my clarinet days; I thought I was practicing scales and difficult passages, but really I was practicing how to Focus. 

It helps to practice focusing in our childhood years, but improving our focus doesn't take buying an expensive instrument or taking a course - it takes committing time to one thing at a time and sticking to that commitment, despite the incoming distractions.

Besides the obvious tasks at work and needs of our home environment, there are lots of daily applications for focus.  Some I suggest are writing, meditating and reading.  When instructing young leaders, I emphasize focused listening - something that can be done haphazardly or with a high level of focus and intent.  Also, I'd appreciate it if some of you would focus more as you drive (you know who you are)!

Focus doesn't have to be the bad F-word and we don't need it yelled at us commando style.  Commit to improving your ability to focus without caving to distractions, focus on extending your ability to focus for longer periods of time, and to really enjoy the process, focus intently on challenges that matter to you, those tasks that make a difference for yourself and others.

Shhh . . . stay still . . . focus.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Calling All Multipliers

Do you have influence?  A leadership role?  A chance to set the feeling tone at work or in a volunteer environment?  If you do, then you have the opportunity to engage in human math; not the stuff on paper, but the math of real lives. You can use your skills and position to add value to the people you influence or you can subtract from them.  Unfortunately, we all know a divider or two.  They may be in charge or they may be using divide and conquer techniques behind the scenes, but their propensity to use division is real - and toxic.

Who I really want to reach are those of you who know deep down that you are a multiplier.  You can add significant value to the lives of others and you are needed!  (Did I mention, now?)

In these divided times is when the multipliers must step forward.  If you can do significant work, don't hunker down at home and just take care of yourself.  Who has been a multiplier in your life?  Imagine that person in your mind.  Can you now step into those shoes and create value and opportunities for others?  Are you waiting for just the right moment or for someone to give you permission?  Don't wait, please don't wait.

I challenge you to look at your actions and take stock of what math sign you carry around?  If you realize that you are engaging in subtraction or even occasionally division, make the commitment to get into the addition column today. There are plenty of people willing to make a situation worse, willing to cut others down, but offer no solutions, no positive actions.  If you already know how to add value, then look for your opportunities to be a multiplier.  I guarantee the moments will appear if you look for them.

It does the world no good for you to engage in subtraction when you are a game changer - be a multiplier.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Getting It Done

In the coming days, I'll be traveling to Florida for my father's service.  I liked the Seth Godin post below as it reminded me of my father's devotion to service.  He knew he could do the work and would do it.  That of course, often got him more work as many would rather compliment you for being effective at "getting it done" than doing the work themselves. If it's important to you, do the work.  If your words won't influence others, your works may.

 The wishing/doing gap

It would be great to be picked, to win the random lottery, to have a dream come true.
But when we rely on a wish to get where we want to go, we often sacrifice the effort that might make it more likely that we get what we actually need. Waiting for the prince to show up is a waste of valuable time, and the waiting distracts us from and devalues the hard work we might be doing instead.
If you can influence the outcome, do the work.
If you can't influence the outcome, ignore the possibility. It's merely a distraction.
Seth Godin