RULES I TRY TO LIVE BY

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No idea, goal, organization, or objective should ever be put above a person. Never use your coworkers, colleagues, friends, or acquaintances as a means to an end. Never throw your coworker under the bus so you can make yourself look better; never not tell your friend about a job opening so you can increase your own chances; never, ever, treat other human beings as tools or objects towards achieving your own goals. This is not only ethical, but also smart: Life is the long game. Short victories are fleeting; winners are those who treat others with respect and love.

Some confuse hard work, which is a necessary condition for their success, with it being a sufficient condition for success.  Hard work is a necessary condition for success, but it is not sufficient.  You also need some combination of: privilege, luck, educated parents or support network, good friends in key moments, bosses that care, relationships that make you stronger, favorable societal conditions, etc.  Because without hard work you can’t succeed, some leaders are quick to extrapolate that success follows from hard work.  Great, truly empathetic leaders don’t make that presumption — or logical error.

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Luck is more statistical than accidental. Of course there are extreme cases, but as a general rule for self motivation: the more you put yourself in positive situations, the more likely you are to get lucky. It’s more statistical than accidental.

Organizations are living, emotional organisms: Sometimes they are mad at you; sometimes you’re happy together. Sometimes you need to speak up; sometimes you need to just listen. Sometimes you need to step back; sometimes you need to take charge. Sometimes you need to act fast; sometimes you need to slow down. Sometimes you need to show up; sometimes you need to give space.  Bring a similar level of emotional intelligence and agility into your relationships with your organizations, that you try to bring into your relationship with your partner.

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Sometimes we go to an event, a meeting, or have a conversation, and we come out with “nothing” — or so we think. But maybe the point is not to have an “aha moment” right then and there. Maybe the point is that things add up, slowly and over time; so that if you pay attention to any meeting, any talk, you will have more in your arsenal for things to click later: words, thoughts, concepts, tools in your arsenal of articulations, available for use later.

When you are in any situation — an interview, waiting to give a speech, attending a performance review, talking to a loved one — remember that all of your life is in this moment. Every experience you’ve had, every thought, everything you’ve learned, every obstacle, every challenge, every victory, every power — they are all with you, in this moment. This is what they mean by, “bring all of yourself into any situation” — except that you have no choice not to. Your only choice is whether to be intentional and thoughtful about it; and harness this realization to your advantage, by allowing yourself to draw on the totality of your life experiences, skills and tools for what this moment requires.

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How many times have you heard: “Don’t be afraid!” “Fear not!” “She/He is a fearless leader!” etc.  Maybe the point is not to not be afraid (which may be impossible anyways), but to accept fear, with courage, so that you can focus on other, equally important aspects of the situation.  Next time you’re waiting to do an interview; give a presentation; have a court hearing or negotiation session; are facing physical or mental health problems; remember, repeat: “I accept fear, with courage.”

Sometimes we defer our happy feelings now because we are so focused on attaining that “perfect job,” that “perfect relationship,” that “perfect balance.” “One day!”, we sigh, we plan, we work towards, we repeat.  But happiness — like sadness, like tiredness, like despair, like hope, like love — is a feeling, not a state.  Maybe the right approach is not to aim for that happy “state” — but to learn to recognize the happy feelings, when they occur; more and more on the spot; more consciously; more intentionally.

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The common expression "be yourself" assumes we have some objective core, which is both untrue and misguides us into trying to find it -- rather than moving and becoming.  Do yourself is a better expression. It's only in doing, and becoming, that we authentically exist.  Like the center of an onion as you peel off the layers, there is nothing else at the center; just more onion.  Life is a series of decisions, and whichever decisions we make will make us into different persons -- and is just fine.  Picture a fish in water: suddenly swimming this way; then that way; then yet another way. The point is to keep moving; to keep *becoming.*

Heidegger says that, to be authentic, is not just to “be ourselves” in making these decisions (from daily ones, to major one) — which is what we often mean when we speak about being “authentic.”  What it really means is to take a stand on those decisions, to own who we are being.  Today, take a stand on your being!

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I called this mentor and was complaining about a new job, and kept saying "they": "They're not hiring enough people; they're not providing resources to associates; they're over-working us; they're not creating a community feeling among associates," etc.  He stopped me and said, "It's your firm!! It's your company! Do something about it!"

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Don't "they" "they" "they" a problem!!! It's your company, your school, your organization, your career, your country!

Turn burdens (of having to *extra-explain* yourself) into leadership opportunities, to help lead people from these questions into meaningful,  learning discussion.  Aside from a very, very few people, most people asking "strange" questions are just curious; or are trying to make conversation; more than anything, they’re just trying to connect.  This opens an enormous opportunity for you to lead: To lead the discussion, in an artful and teaching way, towards a safe, comfortable place for all.  Fortunate or unfortunate, we all have our burdens; but rather than to be triggered by them, let’s use them as leadership opportunities.

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We see the incredible power of stories all around us - in politics, religions, culture, and history.  When drafting your resume, or at a job interview, focus on stories, not facts.

I realized that I had never thought about loving my voice. I always thought my voice is not "great" enough, "clear" enough, "whatever" enough. But just as I consciously work on improving and loving myself, I can also consciously work to love my voice!  A coach used this great example: She said, imagine you want talk about how refreshing something is.  She then visualized drinking a refreshing, ice-cold glass Coca Cola on a hot summer day - and that immediately started *painting*, *coloring* her voice! When you speak, visualize and paint your voice!

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My brother was going through a major mid-life funk. His neighbor, an affable, thrilling, full-of-life force kind of a man - fittingly named Duffy! - came to visit.  Duffy and my brother got into a deep philosophical debate about whether one has to: feel their way into acting (my brother's position); or act their way into feeling (Duffy's position).  I often remember that conversation.  The older I get, the more I agree with Duffy: in life, in career, in relationships.  Don't wait for the feeling; Act your way into feeling!

One early epiphany I had, that helped me tremendously with pivotal life decisions, was this:  Sometimes, you don't need to know the right answer; but you have to answer the question!  The fact that you are in these situations - of having to make these pivotal decisions - usually is an indication in itself that you have a question burning inside you.  In that case, there is no "right answer," other than answering the question - whatever the outcome may be.  Be bold, be brave; and answer the question!

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For years, I conflated the fact that my passions and curiosities are not in my control - with the misconception that they are random.  They're not random!  They definitely have patterns.  But it takes intentional work; soul searching; paying attention; writing notes down; thinking; talking to people; reading books; pausing from time to time; and intentionally pondering about it - to discover the patterns.  This is true of emotions, behaviors, habits, thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams too. (That's why I put [passions] and [curiosities] in brackets. You can substitute other relevant concepts in their stead.)  Start paying attention!!!

Sometimes we think we can solve any challenge with talent.  For example, that the more we say about our talents and qualifications in an interview, the more likely we are to get that job.  This happens in sports too: super teams that buy the most talented players, but have no chemistry and implode.  But, a lot of times, the ability to read the need of a situation is just as important as, and perhaps even more so than, talent.  What does this interview, this team, this meeting, this situation, this challenge, *need* right now?  Instead of starting with “What can I say?” or, “What can I add?”, we can start with, “What does this situation really need right now?”

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From time to time, you may have the temptation of not wanting to share a job posting with friends, or valuable information with colleagues, in order to increase the chances of your own success. But the amount you will gain, over the long-run, by expanding your network of kindness, sharing and love, dwarfs the amount you may lose, over the short-run, by restricting your love. Focusing on your own integrity, quality and growth is a higher probability path to success than focusing on success itself.  Success is an outcome, not a goal.

❤️️

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Your role, title, the organization you are affiliated it (whether a majority org, a minority org, etc.): These are all EXCUSES to help people and communities, to feel part of something, to help lift up ourselves, our colleagues, our communities -- to be involved in something bigger and more meaningful.

To friends on the left: Let's not forget that these are all excuses to be helpful; so that we don't take ourselves too seriously, and forget why we do these things in the first place.

To friends on the right: Let's give the benefit of the doubt to this point; and remember that the world is big enough for all of us to pursue community service through our own unique excuses.

These are all excuses -- let's focus on the work and the lift!

❤️️

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