Christmas Lessons from An Unlikely Source

Merry Christmas
This is a guest post by Tammi Spayde. Tammi is an executive specializing in human resources, marketing, and operations.

The Reluctant Dog Owner

“Mommy can we please have a dog? I promise we’ll take care of it!”

Every Christmas, the plea for a dog was made.  I was going to have to find another way to ask what they wanted.

“Oh honey, your brother is still small. It might not be safe to get a dog right now.”

“Ok.”   Head hung, she walked away and was soon on to other things.

 

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” –Roger Caras

 

Through the younger years of childhood, we successfully diverted the annual dog question. “Not this year, we’re going to take a special trip!” “How about a ping-pong table instead?” “We aren’t home enough to have a pet—it wouldn’t be fair.” “Mommy and Daddy already bought you a gift. You’re going to love it!”   Squeals of excitement and distraction. Dog day averted once again.

 

Be Open to the Unexpected

That’s why it came as a shock to all of us one year when the annual plea was made and I said “maybe.”

WHAT?! Who said that? My husband looked at me as if I had lost my mind. I had and didn’t know why. Seriously, I had no idea why I said “maybe” but now I was in trouble. Three pairs of eyes staring at me with a mix of sheer joy and astonishment. And then the questions. “When can we get it!?” “Can it be a puppy?” “Can I name it?”

“Uh honey, can I speak to you privately?” My husband ushered me out to garage. “What are you doing!?”

“I don’t know but I have a plan.” During the questioning and walk to the garage, I had devised a strategy. We would just go and look. I had to maintain credibility but was certain I could find a way out.

I phoned my friend Rene. Rene had recently assumed the leadership role at a rural animal shelter. “Hey Rene”! Had to be careful here…didn’t want to give her the wrong impression. “You probably don’t have any suitable dogs and I’m not really a dog person but you know…the kids keep asking. I might consider it if you had something in the range of a 2-year old, house-broken, non-shedding, hypo-allergenic, 15-20 pound, special breed, child-friendly dog.” I felt pretty smug and slightly guilty. When Rene said “no” I would just go back and tell the children they didn’t have any dogs this year that would be right for us.

“You know”, said Rene, we don’t get a lot of dogs here with that profile but we have a few that would be perfect for your kids. Bummer.   Again, my integrity was at stake. “Can you and your family stop by the shelter tomorrow night?” Moving too fast Rene.

 

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” –Josh Billings

 

“Sure” I say.

On the hour drive to the shelter, the excitement increased. The adults weren’t saying much and the kids didn’t stop talking. We arrived at a small, colorful little building and were met by Rene and her friendly team. Secretly hoped it would be dark and smelly but no such luck.

Rene handed us a family questionnaire. Huh. Weren’t we here to look at dogs?  We completed the survey with questions like, “Do you want your dog to excitedly greet you and follow you when you arrive at home, greet you and then return to his/her spot or not greet you at all?”

 

Life’s Greatest Joys Are Not Usually Planned

After our family questionnaire was completed and scored, we were given a color that represented our family temperament. Dogs with the same color were brought out for us to “interview.” We were deemed to be “compatible” with two color groups. Interesting. Maybe we could use this system when we interviewed people for jobs at my company.

FullSizeRender (21)Among the canine candidates was Miles the Beagle. My husband had beagles growing up, albeit outdoors. He was cute and I thought “maybe.” Then he hiked his leg on the drywall. Rene saw the horror on my face.

You see, I am an indoor person. I view the outdoors pretty much as the space between two indoor places. “Now don’t let that bother you”, says Rene. Our reception area ‘reads’ as an outdoor space to him because of all the dogs. He probably wouldn’t do that once he was settled in your home.” Just the mere chance was more than I could handle. We passed on Miles. Another few interviewees and I was thinking we were home free. Even the kids were a little put off by Miles’ behavior.

And then Bonita was ushered in.   Fifty pounds, shedding, black hair, not sure of her age, rescued from the roadside. Not at all my ideal dog profile. Handed to our son to walk, she stayed right beside him. Stopped when he stopped, walked when he walked, looked up at us all adoringly. She was apparently bi-lingual and responded to commands in English and Spanish. Danger zone. I had to do something.

 

“The simplest things in God’s creation, even an abandoned dog, speak volumes about love.” -Tammi Spayde

 

“Thank you all so much for introducing us to the shelter. We’ll think about it. We need to get back home. The kids have homework.”

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”

Mark Twain

How To Create A Positive and Contagious Culture

Contagious Culture

How To Create A Positive and Contagious Culture

 

“For better or worse, your presence has impact. It is contagious.” -Anese Cavanaugh

 

You’re contagious.

No, I’m not talking about a virus. But I am talking about the fact that you influence people in a way that you may not realize.

Anese Cavanaugh’s new book, Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives, is one of the best guides to understanding this influence and showing up in a way that generates positive energy. When a leader creates this positive presence, everything changes.

You can be that leader. You can be positively contagious.

Anese is a speaker, advisor, teacher, and thinking partner to some of today’s most innovative organizations. We recently talked about her book on creating a contagious culture.

 

“To create impact you need people, purpose, and personal nourishment.” -Anese Cavanaugh

 

Leaders Are Contagious

Let’s start with the first word in the title of your book, Contagious Culture. How are leaders contagious?

In so many ways: our mindset, our regard for others, our attitude, our energy – it’s all contagious. Going a bit deeper, I look at “contagious” in two ways: 1) how a leader makes others feel, and 2) how he or she influences how others show up by how he or she shows up.

A leader’s intention, energy, and presence has a big impact and huge influence on the people around her. It’s felt in her presence, how she shows up in a room, how she regards others. People respond to that and are either inspired and uplifted by it or demotivated and deflated by it. The minute a leader walks into a room he or she is setting the tone – if they’re in a good mood, people feel it. If they’re in a bad mood, people feel it. If they’re optimistic, people feel it. If they’re worried, people feel it. We are always having an impact with our presence and how we show up. This impact is felt by those around us and is often paid forward.

Just think of the last time you were in a conversation and in a good mood, and the person you’re talking to starts complaining or gossiping or their energy is just negative, and all of a sudden you start to find yourself complaining, gossiping, feeling negative. Or, you have a positive regard for someone in your company, and a leader in the company starts to “bad mouth” them – even in a lightly nuanced manner, and you start to feel your regard shift. You’ve “caught” that person’s state. We do it all the time. It’s easy to match a “low vibe” or “negative state.” We’re driving our kids to school and we’re in a funk, all of a sudden the whole car is in a funk. You’re in a great mood, your teenager is giving you grief, and slowly but surely you feel your energy start to drop and that good mood turns bad. The company is going through a challenging time, and the energy of doom and gloom starts to take over. Fortunately it works both ways… An executive with great energy and presence walks into a room, and all of a sudden the room feels lighter, creative, more alive. You’re in a funk, you have a quick chat with a colleague who’s got great energy, or meet a random stranger in an elevator who feels nice to be around, and voila, your state starts to shift. You’re feeling “ick” about one of your colleagues and someone shares positive regard for them, and you get a glimpse into another possibility.

At the end of the day when you want to look at how you feel walking away or walking into something (a conversation, a meeting, a room) – do you feel good, big, fuller, awake, expansive? Or do you feel exhausted, small, drained, yucky, constrictive? That’s energy – and it’s contagious. It works for the positive (it’s a super power) and it also works for the negative. Gossip, complaining, making stories up, regarding other people poorly, negative energy, these are all contagious and highly influential. Fortunately it works the other way too: accountability, seeing the good in people, optimism, and positive energy. We can choose which way we want it to go and that takes leadership.

 

“You become what you believe, decide, and act upon.” -Anese Cavanaugh

 

5 Components of Showing Up With Intentional Energetic Presence (IEP)

You developed the 5 Components of Showing Up With Intentional Energetic Presence. How’d you develop this model?

ContagiousCultureThis came from experiencing for myself and watching over and over again with clients and our program participants the cycle of how I notice “impact” and “showing up” really happens – and what’s necessary to make it sustainable and effective. When I broke it down, I could see these 5 components forming a cycle. You can enter at any point, but you need all five. Some days, depending on where you’re at and what you need (and what the room, project, your team, or the other person needs), the entry point might be different.

I find that intention and impact are really good book ends or anchors – what’s your intention for the impact you want to create? Your energy, your presence, and your actions & skills are going to help make it so. I noticed years ago that people often would go really heavy on one or two of these components, but they’d leave out the others and it would cost them – impact, relationships, peace, results – so I put them all together. These work with the IEP Leadership Model shared in the book, in that each level of the model helps strengthen and nourish these 5 components.

 

“Your meetings and agreements are where culture shows up.” -Anese Cavanaugh

 

Choose Your Impact

12 Secrets Your Kids (and Employees) Want You to Know

Listen Up, Parents
This is a guest post by my friend Lee Colan and his three children: Cameron, Grace and Lexi Colan.

Leader as Parent, Parent as Leader

The more I lead, the more I work with leaders, and the more I parent, the more I see compelling parallels between leadership and parenting. Leaders are parents, and parents are leaders. They are in different settings with parallel roles.  To illustrate this, here is an excerpt from a refreshing parenting book that was written by three children, Please Listen Up, Parents: 12 Secrets YOUR Kids Want YOU to Know. This excerpt addresses creating connections – on its surface this is also a clear priority for leaders. What is compelling is the parallel actions for parents and leaders even below the surface. As you read this, consider how you can apply these insights from kids to your own team at work and family at home.

 

“Adults are just outdated children.” -Dr. Seuss

 

Even though our technology helps us stay connected, it doesn’t mean we are really connecting. A family is made up of real connections: connections between individuals, connections to values, and connections to a bigger purpose.

 

“The first duty of love is to listen.” -Paul Tillich

 

Show us how to make connections with other people.

Remember, we learn by example. Let us see you talking to other adults at the playground, park, or museum. Nudge us to interact with other kids when we’re feeling shy. Show us that it’s OK to say “hello” and strike up a conversation. Offer to host backyard cookouts and sleepovers with our friends. Encourage us to go on group outings and field trips with our friends and their friends. It’s a great big world out there, and the more connected we feel to it, the better lives we’ll lead.

 

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” -Will Rogers

 

We also need to feel connected to our family values.

We’re navigating an endless stream of confusing messages from advertisers, coaches, friends, movies, teachers, TV, the Internet and more. Having clear family values keeps us grounded. Gen. Colin Powell once said, “The greatest gifts my parents gave to me were their unconditional love and a set of values. Values that they lived and didn’t just lecture about. Values that included an understanding of the simple differences between right and wrong, a belief in God, the importance of hard work, and education, and self-respect.” Our maternal grandfather and “family general” Ron Davis always says, “Family comes first, and they will always be there for you.” This phrase is more than just words for us. It helps to remind us of and reinforce our family’s values.

In addition to trying to live his values, our dad also wrote them down for us to make sure we knew them and had them in writing for safekeeping. Here are a few of them:

  1. Everything starts and ends with our relationships – with God first, then family.
  1. Respect the three P’s: people, property and perspectives. Leave people, places, and situations in a better condition than when you arrived.
  1. Do more than expected before it’s asked of you. Anticipate others’ needs, and take initiative. Think of others more than yourself.
  1. Give more grace to others than you think is necessary because, at some point, you will need more grace than you think you do.
  1. Perseverance and hard work beat natural talent every day. Our trials are God’s way of molding us into who He wants us to be.

When we’re not sure about what to do or how to feel in a new situation, sometimes we think about our family values to see if they can help. The values might not cover everything, but they usually do a good job of pointing us in the right direction.IMG_5358

It helps to discuss family values so we can each interpret what they mean to us. Also, keep them visible (usually in the kitchen) so the whole family can see them, refer to them and remember them, and hopefully, live by them.

We also need your help to begin to figure out how our gifts – artistic, athletic, comedic, intellectual, mathematical, musical, scientific, social, or anything else – can make the world a better place. We’re just kids, but understanding how and where we fit in the world is still really important to us.

Our dad once explained to us that sports equipment like golf clubs, tennis racquets and baseball bats all have a certain spot that, when a ball hits it, gives the best result. Hitting this sweet spot creates a long drive down the fairway, a swift crosscourt return, or a powerful homerun. When the ball hits that sweet spot, you barely feel it. The ball goes where you want it to go, even farther and faster than normal.

 

“Don’t promise when you’re happy, don’t reply when you’re angry, and don’t decide when you’re sad.” -Ziad K. Abdelnour

 

We need your help connecting to our sweet spot in life.

When we were little, you asked us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Now it’s time for the next step, which is, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Start by helping us answer two simple questions:

  1. What am I passionate about?
  2. Which tasks are easy and natural for me to perform?

You probably remember when you connected to your sweet spot in life. You knew you were “in the zone,” and other people acknowledged your skills and abilities. Maybe you connected to it when you were young, but it was probably a long process of self-discovery that lasted into young adulthood at least. So please don’t rush us. Watch for the right times to ask us these questions because those are the conversations that will help you understand us and really help us understand ourselves.

 

“There is one thing we can do better than anyone else: we can be ourselves.” -Arthur Ward

 

Help us explore new challenges and opportunities