2013: Getting Out Of The Box Sooner

I have seen some interesting prompts for 2013 goal setting and visioning.

I have seen several suggestions that we create a “word for the year” such as this post and any number of boards on Pinterest, such as this one from Mary Nelson-Huffman, whose word is “grow.”

The image most representative to me of my 2012 is my square wreath:

cropped wreath

It’s square because it sat in the box (the wreaths are sent to us every year on behalf of my in laws) for three weeks before anyone liberated it and hung it.  A three weeks where I thought hubs was going to do it because he said, on a day when he was industriously doing yard work, “get out the hook so the wreath can be hung” (said hook was dutifully gotten out). A three weeks where my teenager who was dying to have the house Christmas-y was “doing homework” and didn’t want to hang the wreath (not that homework isn’t important). A three weeks where hubs (about a week into the three) said, “seems like if you wanted it Christmas-y you would have hung the wreath.” Eventually he hung it and said, “the wreath is square.” Indeed.

It has been a year where I did not achieve my only written-down goal of running a 5K in less than 30 minutes, but adopted a new goal in February of running a half marathon for Autism Speaks. The half marathon has been run (in September). The 5K goal is getting transferred to 2013 (not the first transfer of this goal) and the wreath is square.

I don’t regret the delay in reaching the 5K goal that resulted from the training change-up involved in working toward the half marathon goal. I do regret the square edges on the wreath and the multitude of other things that I have let go over the year. The cluttered house; the cluttered office; the Executive Director who kept poking his head in, looking at the clutter (I moved offices right before vacation and came back to many fires to put out) with what I interpreted as “why can’t she get her sh*t together” disdain; the failure to delegate what could be delegated and to just handle what couldn’t as opposed to procrastinating.

If it’s true that “outer order brings inner calm,” then I have nowhere to go but up.

To digress a bit, the best “framing your 2013 resolutions” post I saw was (not surprisingly) from Leadership Freak. Entitled, “Beyond Typical S.M.A.R.T. Goals in 2013,” Dan Rockwell in his typically insightful way asked:

How do you want to think and feel about yourself when 2013 slips away?

– Does your behavior and attitude make you proud of yourself?

– How can you enhance your strengths and minimize your weaknesses?

– What can you do for you?

– How can you help others?

What contribution will you make to the way others think and feel about themselves?

– What can you do to make the future bright?

– How will you bolster self-confidence [for others]?

– How will you let others know they matter?

– How will you make others feel they belong?

– How will you help others work with others?

I can’t tackle all of these questions tonight in one post. But I’m going to let them simmer. I’m going to hope they give you some food for thought as your 2013 gets underway.

Honestly, if I had any guts at all I would share the “kayak” dream with all of you. It’s super-personal and airing it via my blog could hurt me professionally. (But I’m more than happy to share one on one/privately.) In brief, the “kayak” dream told me I’ve missed one particular boat in my life. And that leaves me the challenge of choosing the next boat, the next trip, the next destination.


And maybe that does leave me with a word of for 2013: direction.

A word, direction, and a plan to hang a round wreath for Christmas 2013.

Picking On/Getting Picked On (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, random.org “chose” Mama Kat prompt number four for me: Describe a time you saw someone getting picked on.

When I try to imagine what the posts centered around this prompt will be about, the images in my head are all playgrounds, pulled hair, and “nanny nanny boo boo.” That’s not the image for me. Let’s see where the three scenarios that come to mind take this. 

The first incident that comes to mind involves me as the picker-on. I can so clearly see myself in the portable that housed seventh-grade science. There was a student in class, I think his name was Tom. Tom had some type of processing delay, part of which was an inability to read social cues. Flirting and (seventh-grade circa 1970’s) suggestiveness would  raise his hopes that the flirter really meant it. I still to. this. day. do not know why I got on the “flirt with Tom to be mean” bandwagon but I did. The only saving grace is that knowing I was once a perpetrator has made me doubly determined as an adult to be attuned to situations where kids are mean to other kids, especially in situations like this.

The second involves a family gathering — of people who only see each other once every 5-10 years, and usually for a funeral. The particular cousin involved is one I see only every 5-10 years but to whom I felt pretty close – I had visited him over the years and felt we had a good bit in common. He started telling a joke about African Americans, Jews, and the Holocaust. It doesn’t even matter the specific content of the joke; it was despicable. And although there wasn’t an African American or Jew in the room, it still was … wrong.  I said something like, “Oh, is that a South Georgia joke?” which is a kind of cruelty on my part to lump all South Georgians together. But I felt compelled to a) not laugh and b) point out somehow that this joke didn’t ever deserve to see the light of day again. And even if there wasn’t an African American or Jew in the room, there were children. Children who listen. Intently. Even when we don’t think they’re paying a whit of attention.

Lastly, coworkers can pick on coworkers. In this case, it was an unintentional and unfortunate slight at best, or an intentional, meanspirited power play at worst. When I was transferred by my employer to a different position, one of my new tasks was a monthly conference call with 10-15 leaders of organizations we dealt with. The calls had reached the point under my predecessor that they were (to a degree) a technicality. (During an earlier phase in our organization’s life, they had been a critical lifeline as we went through a computer platform transition.) One of my coworkers (who is higher on the org chart than me) said during the call, “I wonder if we ought to be having these calls anymore.” It could be argued that the individual who said that was truly putting out a discussion point that needed to be vetted, but as someone new to the position, trying to establish authority and communication with all of the others assembled on the call, I felt undermined and unable to really rescue the situation with everyone listening. I said something like, “Maybe so but that needs to be decided offline.” But the moment for me was lost. I needed (wanted?) support, not dissent.


“Picking on” someone boils down to a lack of respect. I did not respect my classmate in Scenario Number 1 (and I was old enough to know better); My cousin did not respect people of other ethnicities in Scenario Number 2; My coworker did not respect me in Scenario Number 3. My favorite leadership blogger, Dan Rockwell (Leadership Freak) talked with Verizon’s former CEO Denny Strigl here. Mr. Strigl points out that one of the six ways managers build distrust between themselves and employees is by “lack of respect.” In my opinion, lack of respect is at the root of most “picking on” incidents, not just those between managers and employees.


May You Be Strong (A Post for Dan Rockwell)

May You Be Strong, Dan
(and How We Can Help)

Dan Rockwell has been writing succinct, powerful, inspiring posts about leadership via his Leadership Freak blog since December 2009. In the first Leadership Freak post, Dan said, with typical candor:

Among others, my battles include, selfishness, the need for the
spot light, and the need to control things.

While I would differ with Dan’s view that he is selfish and greedy for the spotlight, I have read almost every Leadership Freak post and it is clear that one of his battles is the “need to control things.”

That need for control was smashed in an instant in November 2011 when Dan had a serious automobile accident that rendered him flat on his back in a lifeflight helicopter, with a long recovery ahead once he survived the initial near-fatal injuries.

In Pulse magazine, Dr. Bill Ventres wrote about how a case of Guillian-Barre syndrome descended upon him rapidly while he was traveling in Guatemala, transforming him from an average tourist to a bedbound, 99.9% paralyzed patient within six hours. This condition would have been difficult for anyone, but for a physician it was especially grueling. He marvels at the transcendent power of kindness, such as the “nurse who massaged my feet as she trimmed my toenails–a gesture of humble yet profound caring in the face of my devastating loss of control and power.” Dr. Ventres’s nurse reminds me of the medical staff Dan lauded in this post about the healthcare professionals he has encountered since his accident. Despite Dan’s difficulties, he saw the potential in every individual who crossed his path.

In his “Hidden Power of Weakness” post, Dan shares the following observation: “Weakness lets you highlight the strength of others.” Although I know Dan’s spiritual and mental strength remain strong, I also know that the physical challenges caused by the accident are coupled with the financial challenges of mounting medical bills and expenses.

It is time for the strong Leadership Freak community to
unify on Dan’s behalf.

I encourage you to join in this effort immediately so we can get closer to the goal of raising $30,000 by December 31, 2011. The link to donate is here. Even if you can’t give money, you can help by sharing this post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or by tweeting this:

The @LeadershipFreak community is giving back to Dan Rockwell, who has given us so much. To contribute, go to http://bit.ly/rYOgCR

In his post about his battle with Guillian-Barre, Dr. Ventres shares the mantra/prayer that he repeated over and over while struggling to breathe: “May I Be Strong.” I would like to borrow and modify that mantra in order to send a wish to Dan.

May You Be Strong.