Leadership Qualities: Doing Resolutions.

Do Not Set New Year Resolutions If You Want To Succeed! DO THIS INSTEAD

Effective leaders speak with their actions first and talk about resolutions later.

Human beings are so predictable!  So, the new year has rolled around and the yearly planners are taken out to set the resolutions for 2020. The list may look like this:

  1. Start an exercise program.
  2. Better time management
  3. Get married.
  4. Go on a cruise.
  5. Start a program of study.
  6. Quit smoking.
  7. Have a baby.
  8. Invest in stocks.
  9. Give more to charity in time and/or money.  
  10. Start a new business.

By definition, a resolution is simply, “A firm decision to do or not to do something” (Lexico, 2020; https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/resolution).  Collin’s Dictionary (2020) defines a New Year’s resolution more specifically as:

“a promise to yourself or decision to do something, esp to improve one’s behaviour or lifestyle in some way, during the year ahead.”

(https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/new-year-resolution).

We know from research that 80% of new year’s resolutions fail within a few weeks!  So, no matter how bold the resolution is at the start of a new year, they are often forgotten by the end of February.  

So, instead of making resolutions, why not just get up and start doing them?  At least if you do them a couple times one week, and then a few more times the next week, and again the following week, the actions to fulfill the resolutions are already in-progress.  And, after several weeks of repetition in the same context, it is unlikely that you will forget it (Gardner et. al. ,2012; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505409/; Quora, 2018; https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/02/13/the-science-behind-adopting-new-habits-and-making-them-stick/#568a9bf043c7).  Instead, you will make some way to keep it going by some small action on a regular basis.

What’s even better is to get some help!  Having someone else involved as an accountability partner or a co-labourer makes it easier to meet the goals that we have set for oursleves and our team.

Consider the resolution to donate to charity.  Generally, people give to a cause that resonates with them.  So, celebrity, Kylie Jenner, decided to show her support for wildlife by donating to the Australian Fire Rescue effort because of the wildfires that have been burning since September 2019 destroying their habitat as well as destroying homes (Calvario, 2020; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/lifestyle/celebs/kylie-jenner-donates-dollar1-million-to-australia-fire-relief-after-receiving-backlash-for-wearing-fur-slippers/ar-BBYIMbG?MSCC=1578500856&ocid=spartandhp).  But, in her simple act of making a donation we discover that other celebrities have also given their support at varying levels.  Why is this important?  Because it shows growing support for a cause that is of interest to large communities.    

And, if you are a leader determined to make a change, expect backlash!  There will always be critics who do not understand what you do and who will have something negative to say.  Let it glide over you like water on a duck’s back.  Just keep pressing forward giving the world the best that you have to offer.  

So, stop thinking about it and just begin to do it!  The details will work themselves out and a more regular pattern will be established once you make the first step.  See more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD . And, watch the powerful video of Steve Harvey’s personal journey when you have a little more time and see how his dream, his faith, his choices and his circumstances brought him to where he is today.

Steve Harvey’s Success journey | Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord…

Leadership Qualities: Nothing but Grit.

Joe Burrow RECORD SETTING FIRST HALF

Effective leaders demonstrate grit, carrying the burden of responsibility well, soldiering on when their team needs them the most.

What better way to encapsulate the power of finishing one year and starting a new one than to watch a championship game?

And, we had some amazing football games as we closed out 2019 that gave us more useful tools to battle 2020!  So, imagine that your team is up for the final game.  The buzz of excitement is high and everyone is gearing up for the final battle to win their hard fought road to the top.  But, just hours before the kick-off, the leader is struck with a family tragedy.  Steve Ensminger, LSU offensive coordinator, had to bear the loss of his daughter-in-law, Carley McCord, the 30-year-old sports broadcaster married to his son.  And, she died in a plane crash on her way to Atlanta to cover this semifinals match.   

Would Ensminger still coach the match? “There’s no question,”  responded LSU coach Ed Orgeron to SEC Network (White, 2019; https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2019/12/28/lsu-assistant-daughter-law-carley-mccord-killed-plane-crash/2764671001/).

And, despite the heartbreak among the family, the team, and the media fraternity, it was one of the greatest games in history (Bengel, 2019).  “Burrow finished completing 29-of-39 passes for 493 yards and a mind-numbing eight total touchdowns. As a team, the Tigers put together 692 yards of total offense”(https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/lsu-vs-oklahoma-every-stunning-record-joe-burrow-and-lsu-broke-in-the-peach-bowl-vs-oklahoma/).

LSU vs Oklahoma Highlights Playoff Semifinal – NCAAF 2019 (12/28/2019)

As we look ahead to 2020, we can take much from the grit exhibited by Ensminger, Burrows and all the players that stayed on task despite the heartbreaking tragedy of death.  Grit can be though of as, “a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state (a powerful motivation to achieve an objective).”

Other more commonly used words are: “Backbone, chutzpah, fortitude, guts, stick-to-it-iveness: All words that describe what separates brilliant slackers from the simply talented who excel through a passionate yet steady approach” (Packard, 2007; https://www.apa.org/monitor/nov07/grit ).

Research bears out the power of this little word and the difference it makes in the lives of effective leaders.  See a research by Angela Lee Duckworth, PhD, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 92, No. 6).  There is also a movie review of Unbroken by Paul Wong on the defiant power of the human spirit (2014; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282447816_The_positive_psychology_of_grit_The_defiant_power_of_the_human_spirit); seminal work by Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning; and more recent studies of University students by Kannangara et. al. (2018; https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01539/full).  

As you look ahead to the future, remember how much you have already faced behind you.  Let the strength that was forged in fire give you more grit that will refine you and keep you going to finish what you have started in the first 24 hours of 2020!  Scroll through the last year of Crystal Clear Vision blogs and discover more nuggets of wisdom that I have been packing into this leadership bag at https://crystalclearvisionblog.com/2019/10/21/leadership-qualities-celebrate-the-circle-of-life/ ; https://crystalclearvisionblog.com/2019/10/14/leadership-qualities-attitude-is-everything/ ; https://crystalclearvisionblog.com/2018/03/31/purpose/ ; and much more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

Leadership Qualities: Inspiring Homegrown Solutions…

Tarrus Riley – She’s Royal | Official Music Video

Effective leaders honour those who they believe brought them their greatest joys and have stood with them through their deepest sorrows.

So imagine a husband who is just thrilled to have his wife, his family, and all the partnerships that they have forged over the years.  With growing excitement, he calls his closest friends and enlists the support of his children to surprise his wife.  With no more information received about the event or the venue, he sends his wife off to buy a dress for a special occassion.  Absolutely at a loss, and wondering what her husband is up to, she goes shopping to please her love.  Despite the almost revelations made by friends who were secretly called, and children who were out of the loop about their dad’s surprise, no one could have guessed that the lavish spread and the lovely decor was simply to appreciate his wife!

Holidays and special events bring out the best in people!   They allow us to see pass the obvious differences and to celebrate what makes us human.  One of my favourite movies that depicts this was filmed close to Rutgers University where I rode some of the trains some weekends to visit with family and friends. See if you don’t agree as you watch a few moments from the closing scene of Guess Who.

Guess Who 2005 Ending

Holidays also allow us the opportunity of cherishing loved ones that we have lost.  So, when I saw news of my dad’s countryside home recently, I pictured him laughing in delight at how far they’ve come since he sat in those schoolhouses of the 1950s in deep rural Jamaica.

No matter how difficult the task at hand, music always seems to make the day brighter and the work a little lighter.  So let this singing teacher, Elvy Soltau a Science teacher at Denbigh High School, encourage your heart to keep sowing into the lives of your charges wherever you may be.

Creative Teacher On A Mission To Make A Difference/JBNN

In this season, remember that there’s always more than meets the eye at first glance.  Why not make it fun and be open to new experiences. See more in Be Prepared and other offerings at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

Leadership Qualities: Delectable Homegrown Solutions…

Effective leaders innovate from personal experiences that hold special memories for them.   

It’s the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving.  Many people are travelling to be with family and friends, while others make preparations for hosting dinners – in homes, in banquet halls and homeless shelters.  So, imagine that the meal has been served and everyone’s tastebuds hold the enticing tastes of perfectly baked turkey with cranberry sauce, loads of stuffing, candied yams and crunchy salads with their favourite dressing ranging from Vidallia Onion and Thousand Island to Balsamic Vinegar and Rasberry.  After eating everyone is enjoy moments being together, making music and cherishing family and friends.  And, just when you think you cannot take another bite, dessert is served!  What’s on the table?  Pies!  Pies!  And, more pies!  Among the most covetted at this time are the warm apples pies, pecan pies, pumpkin pies and sweet potato pies.

But, imagine taking a holiday experience into everyday delectable bites at Walmart where there are everyday low prices.  That’s the sensation that was created by Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pies which were selling at the rate of one pie every second at Walmart stores during the Thanksgiving season of 2015 (Hirsch, 2015; https://www.dailypress.com/entertainment/dp-walmart-scrambles-to-restock-patti-labelles-sweet-potato-pies-20151118-story.html).  

Within 24 hours after James Wright posted the video of himself eating the now famous pie, Wal-Mart stock ran down to dangerously low levels.  To supply the demand, Kerry Robinson, vice president for bakery and deli at Wal-Mart, said that they put everything into the stores, including the Christmas stock.  Sales from the prior year had made Wal-Mart double their order from the previous year to supply the growing demand.  However, it was not enough and so they were wiped out before Thanksgiving (Hirsch, 2015).

And, people kept talking about the scrumptious goodness and bought Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pies.  

Steve Harvey tries Patti LaBelle’s pie! || STEVE HARVEY

And, the wonder of the joy of the season allows friends to gather in delight as Steve Harvey had to join the conversation and share the experience.  

But, what happens when people cannot get what they have grown to love?  That’s where innovative leadership takes over to give people what they want.  Which sometimes means sharing the ingredients and the process.  So, in 2018, Ms. Patti shared the recipe of the famous pie that she had adapted from a recipe she had cooked up with her best friend and hairstylist, Norma Gordon Harris (LaBelle, 2018; https://www.today.com/recipes/make-patti-labelles-sweet-potato-pie-recipe-home-t56966).  Served with a dollop of whipped cream, it’s scrumptious to the very last bite!

So, in the spirit of the season, here’s a little more sharing from my store with Be Prepared and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

Leadership Qualities: More Homegrown Solutions…

Christmas Movies -Christmas Movies for Kids- Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Effective leaders know that holidays can be one of the most stressful times for families.  So, providing the tools for them to create fun experiences is a sure win.   

Imagine a little girl dashing about excitedly as the family’s guests arrive to share holiday dinner and gifts with them.  It’s a delightful treat for a beloved friend who is granted access to their inner sanctum only to be met with an enormous collection of Disney’s fabulous female – Minnie Mouse!  From blankets, shoes and clothes to stuffed dolls and other Minnie Mouse paraphernalia, one cannot miss the enchanting world of childhood fantasy that was birthed from the imagination of Walt Disney.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy gathering with my family at Christmas amidst all the competeing schedules and watching Christmas movies.  And, I confess that we have already begun!  There is just something so magical in the season of goodwill and cheer as you remember how and why people celebrated Christmas down through the years.  From the nativity dramas and children’s Christmas plays, to the Christmas trees and the gifts (store bought ones, but more heartwarming are the soulful gifts of a child returning home, a parent rediscovering purpose, a boss discovering afresh the joy of giving, and more).

And, today we share another homegrown solution that has become a global phenomenon – Walt Disney.  What began as an interest in drawing with crayons and painting with water colours on their family farm, blossomed into something more as Walt assisted his father in his newpaper business when they moved to Kansas City, Missouri.  The list of Christmas movie favourites include many Disney movies like – A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast: An Enchanted Christmas, Santa Clause, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, Frozen, and much more (Lunders & O’Sullivan, 2019; https://www.countryliving.com/life/entertainment/g5060/best-disney-christmas-movies/?slide=6).

Although rejected from other movie studios, and told that his dreams of producing animated films was a dead end street, Disney was the first to use the combination of sound and color to produce Steamboat Willie (1928).  And, it featured Mickey Mouse, the forerunner to my little niece’s beloved Minnie Mouse.  Since that first production, the list of Disney characters is endless including Donald Duck, Goofy, Snow White, and Mary Poppins (Crowther in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019; https://www.britannica.com/biography/Walt-Disney).  

So, don’t let the negative reaction of others arrest your dreams.  Keep living and experience the Courage to be Free and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

Leadership Qualities: Homegrown Solutions…

Photo by Derek Owens on Unsplash

Effective leaders know that the most sustainable way of growing their business is by meeting the needs of their customers, even moreso by using homegrown solutions that celebrate their community.   

It’s closing in on the holiday season, so I will be devoting these blogs to topics that are reminiscent of this special time of the year.  As we approach the American Thanksgiving, we can probably all find a memory associated with it via family members or friends who have shared this special time with us.  One of my favourite memories of this holiday is welcoming a newborn into the family.  Born in this cold season, and bundled up in warm winter apparel, the message could not be clearer to us to be thankful for life and all the unending miracles that it holds.  

Another, thought that comes to mind is how to select clothing that is attractive, practical, durable and comfortable for child(ren)?  Of the many brands that exist in children’s apparel, one of my all time favourite brands is OshKosh B’gosh.  That being said, you have to ask how on earth did a company that started by manufacturing overalls for farmers and railroad workers become one of the most notable brands in children’s clothing (Carter’s, 2019)?

Branding is:

“The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”

(Business Dictionary, 2019; http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/branding.html).  

So, what’s OshKosh B’gosh’s story?  How did they become this household name for high quality, durable and adorable children’s clothing?  Well, history tells us that the company was founded in 1895 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin specializing in

“hickory-striped denim bib overalls for railroad workers and farmers. It was the brilliant idea of designing a pint-size version for the children of these customers that gave OshKosh B’gosh its true meaning and purpose. …The World’s Best Overalls embody the hopes, dreams and pride of every parent for their kids.”

(Carter’s, 2019; https://www.oshkosh.com/oshkosh/okbg-story.html?id=oshkosh).

So, knowing their roots and celebrating the familial bond in dressing children like their parents has been the hallmark of OshKosh’s success.  As they adverstized the children’s version of the overall, sales grew first by mail order and eventually through department stores, overtaking the sales of their adult work clothing line.  By 1979 children’s clothing contributed to 15% of the company’s sales.  However, by 1993 sales from the children’s clothing line dominated 95% of all sales.   

Today, 117 years old, OshKosh B’gosh has remained true to its roots. By partnering with the Carter’s family of brands in 2005, they only strengthened their commitment and expanded their reach. Today, they are still two of the oldest, largest and most-recognized brands of baby and children’s apparel in the world, forging generations of family ties with customers and memories of timeless quality (Carter’s, 2019).

So, as we celebrate life and all the endless possibilities in it, what are some of your favorite timeless memories of this season?  OshKosh B’gosh knows that their success is built on a strong emotional bond between the generations which gives them an enduring legacy.  What legacies can you make this holiday?

Check out For a Teacher’s Heart which commemorated another holiday season, as well as more offerings at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

Leadership Qualities: Promote What Works.

How To Give Product Demos That Sell Using These 5 Tips

Effective leaders know that a good product may have a flaw, but they only promote the features that work.

Imagine a young wife shopping for her family.  One day she stumbles upon a local manufacturer of handmade herbal soaps.  She listens to the benefits of using herbs not just for cleansing the skin, but nourishing it and supporting optimal skin health.  Then she asks the question that she has been holding.  “Do you have anything for liver spots?  My husband has a really hard time and we have spent so much money trying all kinds of products.”  The manufacturer smiles and says, “No.  But, I could make something.  Give me 3 weeks and I will get back to you.”  

Fast forward.  The product is made and offerred to the suffering husband for testing. Now on the 4th bar of handmade herbal soap, the pleased wife smiles upon greeting the manufacturer who has just handed her a couple fresh bars of soap.  Then she says, “It really works you know.  I should let you see my husband.”  Not only does the manufacturer have a committed repeat customer, this loyal customer is now networking to ensure that the product will get into the hands of many more who need it.  It’s a win-win for all!

Psychologists define persuasion as, “… the process by which a person’s attitudes or behaviour are, without duress, influenced by communications from other people.

(Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019; https://www.britannica.com/science/persuasion-psychology).

Persons in marketing and sales departments have applied this understanding to close the deal and generate large revenue streams for their organizations.  In fact, research conducted at the University of Chicago explored the impact of extensive persuasuive communication on consumers, voters, donors and investors ( DellaVigna & Gentzkow, 2010; (https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/ARE_Review.pdf).  The results are mixed, but here are some salient highlights:

Simester et al. (2007) saw an increase in clothing purchases just by varying the number of catalogs individuals received by mail from a women’s clothing retailer. In an 8-month period, catalogues were increased from 12 to 17. Purchases during the test period increased by 5 percent for customers who had purchased frequently in the past, and by 14 percent for those who had purchased relatively infrequently (p. 7).  Compare this with a negligible difference between more than 1 million Yahoo users who were exposed to an online buying campaign and those who were not (approximately 3%).  

A door-to-door fund-raising campaign at East Carolina University was studied by Landry et al. (2006). … 36.3 percent of households open the door and 10.8 percent of all households contacted (including the ones that do not open the door) donate, for an implied persuasion rate of f = 29.7 (p. 12).

When it comes to buying stocks, the media can be a significant source for action to buy or sell a stock.  “Engelberg and Parsons (2009) … use individual trading records for a brokerage house to study the way local investors respond to coverage of earnings announcements in local newspapers. … a company whose earnings news are covered in the newspaper experiences significantly higher local trading in the 3 days around the announcement. The low persuasion rate (f = .01) reflects the fact that individual investors trade relatively infrequently” (p. 13).

**** pics insert

But, what about the skeptical consumer who sees the promotion as gimmickery or whitewashing?  How do you win them over?

Offer them an incentive.  I know that providing a trial size, with a money back guarantee if the customer is not satisfied is an effective technique.  When skeptics see that you are willing to put your money where your mouth is then all (certainly most) debate ceases.  And, it is highly unlikely that your neighbour will promote a product that they have not tested.  

So, listen carefully the next time that you are offered a solution to your problem. Financiers sell investment options because they know the value of huge capital investments.  Teachers sell education because they know the power of a disciplined and developed mind.  Doctors sell prescriptions because they know how debilitating it is to be critically ill. Fashion designers sell beauty because they know that a good outfit can make the wearer feel like a million bucks!

Whatever product or service you have to offer, promote the best features.  Acknowledge the flaw if asked, but always promote the best features so that your client will make an informed choice about what works.

For more innovations in work check out https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/46932764/1.pdf?response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DThe_Caribbean_Psyche_in_Work_Wealth_and.pdf&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A%2F20191104%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20191104T163554Z&X-Amz-Expires=3600&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=981c89f9398ea2b4c1d2e13d11d936a8bd4430eb6ea9e4494e9ec8c6fc57376e and more encouraging solutions are also available at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

Leadership Qualities: Esteem the Honourable.

Barack Obama speaks at Elijah Cummings’ funeral

Effective leaders understand that to esteem honourable acts is to challenge their team to strive for a higher standard – in performance, in productivity, in quality, and also in morality.

Imagine a mother raising her young sons and wrestling with the strong and persistent popular culture.  I remember one case where a young mother was at her wits end with her son who seemed to fight her at every turn, trying to assert his individuality.  In this instant he wanted to wear a Mohawk.  And, he came to me and told me that when he came home with it after a trip to the barber, she promptly took him back to have it removed.  After listening to his rant, I explained to him that his mother was someone who held authority and was esteemed by others.  Consequently, she and her family were also called to display the same high standard that she required of her team members.  So, some unconventional styles, albeit cool, were not the wisest choice for her son.  He heard.  He pondered.  And, he received it.  Years later, he has grown into a responsible young man following in his mother’s shoes, already bearing responsibility in unversity, work and community activities.  

Honorable, according to the Cambridge Dictionary means “honest and fair, or deserving praise and respect.”  It is also “a title used before the name of some government officials, and in the UK before the names of some people of high social rank” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/honourable).  

So, when an honored elder in the community speaks we tend to ponder carefully what they have to say.  At the celebration service for the life of the Honorable Elijah Cummings, former President Barack Obama revealed his heartfelt response to the tribute given by the daughters of the beloved congressman.  He also shared insights from a father’s heart on advice given to his own daughters.

“I tell my daughters … being a strong man includes being kind, that there’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion.   There’s nothing weak about looking out for others.  There’s nothing weak about being honourable.  You’re not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect.”

(Obama, 2019; 8:25:-9:35 mins.)

In a time when women’s rights to choose are celebrated around the world, hardly anyone would frown upon an elderly woman becoming pregnant and choosing to terminate the pregnancy for the obvious health risks posed to her and the baby.  However, older mothers are choosing to do the honorable thing when they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant.

 In a surprising case in China, a 67-year-old woman became the country’s oldest new mother after giving birth to a baby girl on Friday (Zhang, 2019).  This woman had already raised her family and was set to take life easy.  Both she and her husband were pensioners, and enjoying their retirement when she suddenly found herself pregnant.  There was strong opposition to her having another baby, even from the would-be siblings, and the youngest grandchild who is 18 years old and in college.  But, they chose to have their baby, deciding to name her Tianci, cherishing her as “given by God” (Zhang, 2019; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/asia/asia-top-stories/woman-67-becomes-chinas-oldest-new-mother-as-baby-girl-is-given-by-god-reports-say/ar-AAJsLuw?MSCC=1572273532&ocid=spartandhp#image=BBOZfUQ|29).  

No one knows what is in the potential of a person or a new beginning.  No one knew that at their earliest stages Apple, Samsung, Amazon, or Ikea would grow from an idea to become the global brands that they are today (Money Morning Paper, 2019; https://moneymorningpaper.com/first-products-famous-brands/10/).  But, the honorable among us will choose to acknowledge the effort and celebrate the journey.

So, never despise the day of small beginnings. You never know what lies ahead for you or for the one just starting out on the path.  Instead, be a source of encouragement and be prepared for anything!  Check out a book of the same title and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

Leadership Qualities: Celebrate the Circle of Life.

Morgan State University Graduate 2019 – Elijah Cummings

Effective leaders understand that the keys to success are found in celebrating the circle of life.  

So, when a leader is called to encourage his or her community when they face a crossroad, every word spoken is carefully weighed to direct the future. Such was Rep. Elijah Cummings’ opening remarks as he spoke to the 2019 graduating class of Morgan State University in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. The words encapsulated the circle of life.

“We seldom achieve anything meaningful in life by our own efforts alone.”

(Cummings, 2019, 9:22-11:04 mins.).

The circle of life is commonly described as,

“Nature’s way of taking and giving back life to earth. It symbolizes the universe being sacred and divine. It represents the infinite nature of energy, meaning if something dies it gives new life to another.”

(Collins Dictionary, 2019; https://www.collinsdictionary.com/submission/6884/Circle+of+life).

Successful leaders know how to transition their teams through the circle of life, especially through seasons of grief by pointing to future joys.  Oftentimes we look to the sages among us to find answers to the adversities that we face.  Why?  Because we consider them experts in facing adversity.  

Research by psychologist Anders Ericsson suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in your field (Bradley, 2012; https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20121114-gladwells-10000-hour-rule-myth).  So, given that there are 365 days in a year, let’s say that we battle adversity for one hour every day.  At that rate, it would take us approximately 27.4 years to become experts.  If we spend only 15 minutes each day, a quarter of the hour, then it would take about 110 years to become an expert.  Conversely, if we spend 4 hours per day fighting adversity then we would only need 7 years to become a young sage.  

So, there is great wisdom in a leader who builds on the accummulated expertise of his or her team as they navigate the circle of life together, especially when facing adversity.

Life is a series of celebrations and sorrows.  But, especially this week, as we celebrate the lives and the accomplishments of loved ones that we have lost, especially the ones that we consider to be national heroes (like Elijah Cummings; and, Jamaican heroes Marcus Garvey, Alexander Bustamante and Nanny), let us not forget that their past successes serve to inspire us to future victories, personal and also professional ones.  

Harrison Ford demonstrates this well at the homegoing celebration of his lifelong friend, Whitney Houston.  After he shares memories that have solidified to temper the burden of his grief, he turns his community’s attention to the future and the dreams of other little girls like Whitney, reconnecting the community to the circle of life (15:32-16:18 mins.).

Kevin Costner’s emotional speech in full at Whitney Houston’s funeral

So, assess your situation well.  Recognize that sorrow is a part of the circle of life, then use it to position you for the next mountain to be scaled.  Wonderful lessons can be learned from athletes who lose one race and go on to win the next championship at http://www.indusedu.org/pdfs/IJRESS/IJRESS_876_93216.pdf and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

And, no matter where you are and what you face, never forget the power of music to comfort the weary soul and anchor you to the circle of life.

Whitney Houston and Michele Lamar Richards – Jesus Loves Me (from The Bodyguard).

Leadership Qualities: Attitude is Everything.

The Link Between Attitudes and Behavior

Effective leaders know that their response to adversity can be the deciding factor in advancing their enterprise.

Successful leaders deposit their wisdom into those team members that they trust. The attitude of the recipient determines how much will be deposited.

Consider the following case of a newly hired CEO,

Brought in to run a $65 million, family-owned business.  He is the first president from outside the family so he was carefully evaluated.

… during the interview he was asked why he had to leave his previous job.  His response was that he had been fired because he had failed to confront subordinates and hold them responsible for their poor performance.

It was still an emotional trigger for him because he began he showed signs of stress.  He got red and flushed.  He started waving his hands.  He was clearly agitated. He also reported that his NEW boss (the OWNER of the company) had criticized him for the same thing that morning. He also went on and on about how hard it was for him to confront low-performing employees, especially those who had been with the company a long time.  The researcher noted that, “While he was so upset his ability to handle cognitve complexity – to reason – plummeted.”

(Goleman, 1998, p. 22).

Attitudes describe our “overall evaluations of people, groups, and objects in our social world” (Haddock & Maio, 2004)).  Attitudes reveal our decisions about liking versus disliking or favoring versus disfavoring an attitude object. They are important because they affect the way that we perceive the world and how we behave (https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/attitudes/).

In contrast to the mature CEO above, imagine a teenager who has been given an unexpected gift.  Grateful and excited, they smile and extend a hand for receipt.  But, in the handing over, something falls and a small dent is made in what would have otherwise been a perfect item.  But, instead of grumbling, frowning or ranting, the teen picks it up, brushes it off and says, “It’s O.K.  I can fix this part.  I’ll just decorate it with something that I have.”

Wow!  A breath of fresh air to anyone working with teenagers who are known to be moody as they navigate what has been dubbed the “storm and stress” of adolescence (Hall, 1904).  For more on this topic see a video at https://study.com/academy/lesson/g-stanley-hall-storm-stress-in-adolescence.html.

So, the next time that you are tempted to go off the rails because things did not go seamlessly along, put on a smile instead of a frown!  For more on the power of attitudes see lessons from sports at http://www.indusedu.org/pdfs/IJRESS/IJRESS_876_93216.pdf and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

If you have a little more time and you are interested in the power of attitudes to overcome adversity, listen to Nancy Shore Howard’s interview after her husband’s failed plot to kill her at https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-44521209 .