A message to ship captains: Leaders leave last

IMG_2168Dear Captains Lee Joon-seok and Francesco Schettino,

Leadership is a choice. When you decided to lead, you were agreeing to look after your people, both your crew and your passengers. Leaders accept risks for others, wrote Simon Sinek, innovator, educator, and author of Leaders Eat Last.

The passengers of the Sewol ferry and the Costa Concordia cruise ship expected safe and enjoyable rides. They trusted that you knew your job well, that your crews were skilled, and that all of you were committed to working together to achieve success and reach your destinations. When your vessels encountered trouble, the passengers expected you and your crews to put the passengers’ safety first. They expected “noble conduct.” Instead, you abandoned them. Read the rest of this entry »


Living with less and feeling great about it

Jane EyreI’m getting rid of stuff, all kinds of stuff. The dust-collecting kind, the time-sucking kind, the brain-muddling kind.

I’m going for open, light, flexible, mobile.

I found ideas and support for this process in a variety of places, including these blogs: The Minimalists, Becoming Minimalist, and Be More With Less.

I started by streamlinging my wardrobe, focusing on neutral colors, easy-care fabrics, and no duplicates. Who needs multiple pairs of black boots? This list became a guide for me, mostly because I already had a lot of these items and the style suits me. Having a clothing plan has saved me both money (impulse buys, drycleaner bills) and time. When I get up for work I have time to read, drink an extra cup of coffee, or watch the birds at the feeder.

Although I never thought I’d make the transition to digital books, I did. My bookshelves have been reduced to a few favorite editions, which, in turn, has meant I’ve needed fewer bookshelves.

“Just in case” items–the shoeboxes I hoarded and years of receipts–have been recycled. My workhorse of a shredder is helping me move from a four-drawer to two-drawer file cabinet. Read the rest of this entry »


Bucket list: Complete half-marathon. Check.

In January I committed to running my first half-marathon. The event is now over, and, as runners often do, I’ve been thinking about how the race experience relates to the rest of my life, particularly to my work life. The lesson breakdown:

1) Have a goal. Race organizers recommended that first-timers set one goal: to finish. In the excitement of race day, they explained, novice runners who attempt to finish fast may not finish at all. As it turned out, race day was unseasonably hot. Reminding myself over and over that 13.1 miles was the goal, I slowed my pace and then slowed my pace some more. In truth, I had actually set two goals: I didn’t want to walk. Fortunately my liberal definition of running permits shuffling, thereby allowing me to accomplish both goals. (Don’t judge.) The most successful work projects I’ve been involved with have also started with a specific goal, such as reaching a standard for quality or achieving a learning outcome. Goals guide decisions. Read the rest of this entry »


“Cursive writing does not mean what I think it does.” -Bart Simpson

Cursive writing is a disappearing art.

As a child, I looked forward to the point in the school day when we would pull out the special paper, the paper with the alternating solid and dotted lines that served as a frame for our early swoops and swirls. We were moving past those baby-ish stick letters. Cursive was mature beauty.

Mastering cursive meant I had grown up. With time and practice, my penmanship evolved with me and became mine. Read the rest of this entry »


Eulogy to the bees…

Do you know much about bees? I didn’t, but I’m learning, and I need to share with you what I’ve learned. Hopefully you won’t make the same mistake I did.

Let me explain…

Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, May 23, a cloud of what appeared to be some kind of insect approached my ground-level office window and began landing in thick layers on an adjacent brick wall. Bees. Thousands and thousands of bees.

I yelled for others to come check it out. No one had ever seen anything like it. We stood there for a few minutes, first just watching and then taking pictures.

I called the manager of the building to alert her to what was happening, and she came to take a look. She asked one of her staff members to put safety tape across a nearby exterior stairwell, so that no one inadvertently walked into the area.

One bee made its way into my office, and I promptly killed it. I had been stung several times in my life and wasn’t going to let it happen again. I thought about the potential danger this many bees presented. I also wondered why they stopped here. Would they stay? What would they do next? Read the rest of this entry »


Innovation: Attending to the places left behind

“Space is the breath of art.” – American architect Frank Lloyd Wright

Lego building

Creativity and innovation are propelling us forward and sideways and in directions and dimensions that boggle the brain. Virtual is supplanting tangible in significant ways. We hang out with friends on Google and shelve our movies, music, and books in the cloud. Exciting, for sure.

I’m left wondering, though: What should we do with what is left behind? In particular, what do we do with the very real brick-and-mortar, board-and-nail spaces that we once valued but may no longer need?

They include:

* Malls, celebrated in the 1950s for bringing convenience to shoppers’ lives and now increasingly abandoned, and “big box” stores closed by such specialty retail giants as Barnes & Noble and Best Buy,

* Public libraries designed to warehouse thousands of books that now fit on a personal hand-held device thinner than a single paperback, and

* Schools, once the hub of all formal learning and today facing growing competition from the Web, where on-line educational sources offer affordable study to anyone anywhere.

Innovation has spawned the need for other innovations–or perhaps re-innovations. Read the rest of this entry »


Want to wear a holiday sweater? Fine by me.

Lisa's very old and very comfy overallsI am a rule follower, and, as such, I prefer as few rules as possible. Therefore, I am proposing that we dispense with all rules that have to do with clothing. Frankly, I don’t need this kind of stress.

For me, it all started with Glamour magazine’s “Don’ts” page–photos of everyday women caught in public breaking fashion rules. TLC’s popular show “What Not to Wear” operates in much the same way, by exposing the wardrobe blunders of unsuspecting victims.

These days everywhere I look someone is telling me to wear this and not that. I’ve learned, for example, that workout clothes belong in the gym, pajamas belong in the bedroom, overalls belong on the farm, and holiday sweaters belong, well, nowhere. Read the rest of this entry »