Saturday, December 21, 2019

Longest Night and Returning Sun

As I've been meditating on what lesson this season brings, I find there are two ways this holiday teaches us about the world and about ourselves. Most of us polytheist folks use them in tandem, but when we do this, are we truly internalizing the fullness of the wisdom being offered?

The modern Solstice practice is based on a generalized retelling from the Norse/Germanic myth cycles. When the end of the world, Ragnarok, is upon us, it will begin with the Fibulwinter when the wolf eats the sun and she doesn't return on solstice morning. In the northernmost areas of Europe, the longest night was LONG--upwards of 16 hours, it seems. They would keep the fires lit in vigil throughout the night to ensure the sun could find her way back and stave off the beginning of the end for one more year. The darkness was feared and the sun was celebrated as a rebirth.

The first lesson in this tale is that of the longest night, the night when darkness is at her height. Comparative mythology tells us of Nyx, known to us commonly as the Hellenic Goddess of Night, but she is far more than that. Nyx appears as a shroud of dark mists that obscures the light of the heavens, Aither, who is notably her daughter. Aither is the daughter of Nyx and Erebos, the embodiment of Darkness. Their other daughter is Hemera, or Day. The shroud of the night coupled with complete darkness, in other words, gives rise to the light of the heavens and the day. The lesson of the Longest Night is to embrace the darkness like a lover. Get to know the inky blackness within. In the darkness, much like a babe in the womb, lies the creative power that brings new life and new light to be.

The lesson of the Returning Sun is first, a reminder not to wallow and despair in the darkness, but to look toward the first rays of illumination that shed light on that which would be created out of the chaos of night. Illumination, to continue the metaphor, does not exist without darkness to dispel. What in your life, then, can you find in the darkness to be reborn in the light? This is truly the gift of the Winter Solstice.

May you find inspiration in the darkest night that grows more each day to the fullness of the Summer Solstice.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Leadership Lesson Bonus Edition: The Art of Delegation

Leadership Expectation: Help Others to Grow

del-e-gate: “To entrust to another. To empower another person to act.”

Delegation is an art. When managed well, those who report to you, whether directly or indirectly, will be more productive and engaged. When handled poorly, they feel incompetent and lack motivation. Delegation is a means of investing in the development of someone else by showing trust and opening communication pathways for true teaching moments. 

There are common “Thinking Barriers” we all have that hold us back from delegating: 
“It is easier to do it myself.” 
“It takes too long to show someone else how to do it.” 
“I don’t trust them to do it right.” 
“People will think I can’t do it myself.”  

Here are some helpful tips to improve your effectiveness as a delegator:
  1. Have the right attitude about delegating. Do your best to ensure they do not feel as though your delegating to them is a burden to you.
  2. Consider the skills and interests of your people. Try to match tasks to the skills and interests of your people.
  3. Delegate the right things. Consider the advancement potential and personal career goals of your people and give them duties that will aid them in moving toward those goals.
  4. Be clear about what you want your employees to do. Make sure your instructions are clear and easy to understand.
  5. Set clear expectations. In addition to clear instructions, take the time to explain the purpose and intent of the task you’ve assigned to them, including due dates and audience.
  6. Give them the authority they need to get the job done. Ensure they are capable of what you’ve asked them to do, including IT permissions, etc.
  7. Be sure to keep an eye on things. After you delegate something, check in to see how things are going. This helps people feel supported and enables you to catch any problems as they arise.
  8. Always provide feedback. Frequent positive AND actionable feedback help others to grow.
  9. Provide guidance when necessary. Helpful tips, when given with good intentions and delivered with a thoughtful spirit, help people succeed and feel supported. 

Bonus Tip: Delegating the right tasks to the right people strengthens the whole team.