Friday, March 8, 2019

Leadership Lesson 2: The Bad Habit of Making Stuff Up

Associated Leadership Expectation: Act with Honesty and Integrity

We begin charting our mental maps at a very young age. Our experiences lay down the roads and byways that provide future avenues from an event to an explanation based on the past. This is a normal part of the developing mind. Our mental maps provide direction when we have new experiences by reminding us of similar situations from our past. They lead us to make assumptions to help us react and problem-solve in the here-and-now. When pieces of information are missing, our mental maps Make Stuff Up to fill in the blanks.

The problem is not that we Make Stuff Up. Inferences are part of our learning and help us to make logical sense of our world. The problem is that we treat our assumptions as fact without checking to see if they are accurate. Sometimes, we need to piece together information and attempt a narrative explanation without the benefit of the source. One of the best ways to preserve integrity in our communication is to preface the parts where we are Make Stuff Up with a phrase such as, “I make up that____.” Then, we can follow up on our conjectures for verification from the appropriate sources.

Acting with honesty and integrity is especially noticeable in our communication. Factual communication is key to helping us be loyal to the absent. Too often, when we Make Stuff Up, we are making assumptions about someone else’s intentions, about why they performed an action or made a decision. Providing candid feedback and opinions is an integral part of this leadership expectation—and that includes admitting when we don’t know.

Above all else, acting with honesty and integrity is the primary way we can build trust with our direct reports, peers, congregants, and coworkers/co-volunteers. As Steven Covey (1989) puts it, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” When we choose to Make Stuff Up and state it as fact, we risk destroying the trust we have worked so hard to build.

Tip #2: When you’re not sure of the facts, whether yours or someone else’s, don’t be afraid to question them. “Is that factual, or is that an assumption?”

Covey, S. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Making a Study of Virtue

In the first-level training of ADF, the Dedicant Path, we are asked to explore a set of nine virtues and explain them in our own words, including why these virtues may be useful in our lives. I finished my dedicant work a decade ago, and in the subsequent years, I have had many opportunities to revisit these virtues as I've begun teaching dedicant classes and serving as a mentor. It never ceases to amaze me how much more there is to learn or how relevant these lessons are to my current life. Every. Time. 

I am finishing up a revision of my Brain, Music, Ritual, and Magic workshop for Pagan Fires with Three Cranes Grove with divided attention as I find myself drawn to study and write about virtue and virtue ethics. As an orthopraxic polytheist, I truly believe the way we move through the world is one of the most important areas for self-reflection. In studying virtue, we open ourselves to examine our lives, the nuts and bolts of our decision-making, the way we logically make choices, and our methods of self-control. I am a dedicated fan of self-discovery and personality theories, as many of you know. I know my love language breakdown, my MBTI including my shadow type, and my Enneagram. All of these are tools for self-discovery, flawed in their own way, but still useful. Virtue, on the other hand, is a truly personalized, applicable vehicle for learning who we truly are and where our opportunities for improvement lie--as well as how to go about stepping into them!

In this most recent iteration of the virtues classes with Mountain Ancestors, I received a rush of inspiration regarding what my additional nine virtues are and how this practice echoes in other areas of polytheism, such as Hellenism and Asatru/Heathenry. Finally, I will be tying these all together with a short examination on virtue ethics. I am very excited about this work and how it frames how we show up as pagans in interfaith and ecumenical settings. 

For now, I focus on the magic of ritual and music and how those enrich our practices. I feel truly blessed with my current study topics.