The Summer Solstice is usually a time for in-person celebrations: food, fun, sunshine, and fellowship. This year, with the social distancing in full swing, it feels a lot less festive. This seriousness in the air has left me a bit more contemplative than usual, and the following is a result of such musings.
As many of you know, my youngest son has stayed here in Colorado with us for the summer. The older two will also be staying in Columbus for safety. To help alleviate the pang of loss, I've dedicated to taking him hiking every weekend for the duration of the good weather. Our first couple of hikes were at the Rabbit Mountain Open Space, since many of the other trails were closed temporarily (more social distancing). I was surprised by the tapestry of flowers visible this time of year, since I typically only hike in the later summer months when the older kids are in town. I took dozens of photos of all the plants I met along the way, but one flower in particular captured my thoughts.
There was this tiny blue flower, tall stem, little green leaves, four petals, growing straight up in the shadow of a large bush. At first glance, it looked really lonely in there. There were so many other flowers just six feet away, and here is sat, in this dark space, alone. It looked to fragile there. I didn't take a photo of this flower, because of the looming bush. but the image was burned into my mind. What was it about that flower that was so remarkable?
After another mile or more of walking and thinking, I had the realization that the flower, seemingly alone in the dark, was actually well protected. The bush provides shade from the harsh desert sun and a barrier from the powerful mountain winds. It won't be bent or broken by a rainstorm or trampled by a human. It's free to be there, safe and hidden away from what would cause it harm. Then it hit me: this flower is so remarkable to me, because it IS me.
My life hasn't always been easy or gone as planned. I've been through some pretty big things, and in the shadows of my own thoughts and feelings, I have felt alone and isolated. But, I have also been blessed with protection, support, and shelter from the storms that rage around me--and that has made all the difference.
During this time of uncertainty when the world feels far away, remember that in the darkness surrounding you are a whole host of others who are your companions in this. Draw strength and comfort from them and know you are not alone, just like that blue flower.
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Read the tale of Kisa Gotami and a lesson in compassion on the Mountain Ancestors Blog: Prairie Tidings.
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Leadership Expectation: Support Personal Development
We’ve spoken at length about recognizing and leveraging the strengths of our team members, but what does that mean? How do we determine a person’s strengths, let alone “leverage” them?
It starts with relationship-building. As we build professional relationships, part of our getting to know one another must involve making note of self-reported best qualities (what others think they are good at) as well as observed performance (what we have evidence that they are good at). The four most common and useful strengths are: Communication Skills, Planning Skills, Problem-Solving Skills, and Tenacity.
Communication skills are not always easy to teach. Some folks are inherently good communicators and others are decidedly not. Placing a good communicator in connection with an under-communicator can often help the under-communicator to improve.
Planners and note-takers are typically undervalued, but these folks are necessary, especially for complex projects or long-term goals. They are also typically good at keeping track of progress and seeing the big picture where others may only see the parts relevant to them.
Problem-solvers think outside the box, and when you find yourself stuck in one, you will be grateful for their ability to find solutions to problems that allude the rest of the team.
Tenacity is a latent skill that doesn’t show itself until it is needed. Tenacious employees rise to the top when the going gets tough. They perform well under stress and often do their best thinking under difficult circumstances (when the planners start to lose it).
Finding the strengths of our team members is an important part of developing them as individuals, because it shows us what types of tasks will help them grow and which ones will give them the opportunity to shine. Development is a balance of validating the skills they already have while pushing them to try new things.
Start now by building relationships and getting to know what those around you are doing well. Make note of when they ask for help and what those tasks are. As we build these strengths profiles for those around us, we can open ourselves to finding the right balance of tasks to lead our employees to become better versions of themselves.
Finally, personal development mandates that you also make a list of your own strengths. What are you good at? What do you struggle with? Where do you have room to grow? Learning to recognize and leverage your own strengths will show you best how to do this for those around you.
Tip #9: Find the balance between doing what you know you are good at and trying something new.
Bonderud, D. (2018). How to identify and leverage employee strengths. Spark.