Friday, June 23, 2017

7 Elements of Leadership

Lolly Daskal, founder of Lead from Within, a global leadership, executive coaching, and consulting firm based in New York City, wrote the following 7 Top Habits of Great Leaders:

  1. The habit of confidence. Confidence is the cornerstone of great leadership. You can learn high-level skills in problem solving, decision making, communication, coaching, mentoring and accountability — but they won’t take you very far if you don’t believe in yourself. Great leaders are called to be decisive, resourceful, competent and unwavering, and self-confidence is the basis for each of those attributes. Confidence is the quality that allows leaders to take action. They may not always be right, but they don’t fear being wrong.
  2. The habit of trusting intuition. Top leaders are able to make tough decisions because they have learned to trust their instincts. One of the keys to great leadership is the ability to be creative, think on the fly and make important judgments decisively and correctly, and intuition fuels those processes. Intuitive leaders don’t ignore data, but they don’t overthink or get stuck on details. They know their intuitive hunches aren’t wild guesses but are grounded in their ability to quickly assess a situation, filtered through their education and experience. Facts represent the science of decision making, and intuition is the art.
  3. The habit of candor. Great leadership is based on honesty and transparency. It requires speaking up about wrongs and making them right — and, on a personal level, being up front about your own weaknesses and mistakes. The habit of candor will never be the easiest path, but it allows for difficult conversations and deep dives into tough issues. Above all, honesty and candor show care and respect for those around you, which is why it’s the first step in establishing a reputation for strength and integrity. Candor is the cornerstone of character.
  4. The habit of courage. Great leaders are willing to make courageous decisions when others shy away. That kind of courage means having the ability to see your fears and the strength to not only face them but move beyond them. When a leader stands up for what they believe in, the effect is multiplied as others are prompted to act in kind. In leadership, courage is at the heart of both action and inspiration.
  5. The habit of integrity. A leader with integrity holds to the highest moral and ethical code in everything they do. Integrity comes about when you’re motivated by deeply held values, and it’s always characterized by reliability and excellence. Part of integrity — literally — is the word grit, which denotes firmness of mind and unyielding character. It takes grit to be true to yourself and the things you believe. In the end, though, it’s worth the effort, because your integrity is central to the legacy you leave behind. Great leaders make integrity a habit because they understand its value.
  6. The habit of trust. Without trust, you can never really have collaboration — only coordination or, at best, cooperation. It is trust that transforms and changes a group of people into a team whose members work together and succeed together. It’s a process best carried out with a great leader, one who understands and demonstrates trust and makes it a habit, one who delivers on promises and is consistent in everything they do. Trust is the most essential ingredient in creating and defining the meaningful relationships that lie at the core of leadership.
  7. The habit of loyalty. Great leaders have a profound sense of loyalty and service to others; they hold their team’s best interests closer than their own. A leader who is seen as loyal, committed, caring and protective has earned credibility and respect. Being loyal to your people is among the greatest virtues a leader can have.

Great leadership — the kind that inspires those around you to change the world — all begins with confidence. Confidence leads to purpose, which guides you toward the right actions. These actions form habits, which in turn determine your character, and your character fixes your destiny as a great leader. No matter where you are on the journey of your leadership, create good habits and you’ll be moving in the right direction.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

YES! A "most dangerous prayer"

by Frederic Brussat.

I have been rereading a book called "Praying Dangerously: Radical Reliance by God" by Regina Sara Ryan. She begins her book with a prayer, and the prayer ends with these words:

Let us say Yes, again and again and again.
and Yes some more.
Let us pray dangerously,
the most dangerous prayer is Yes.

This really resonates with me. I love the word, "yes." My friend and colleague, Naomi King, once told me that since she'd heard the opening of the Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word," she has liked to think about what that word might have been. She likes to ask people what they might think that Word was. And I told her, without hesitation, when she asked me, that I think that original Word was, "yes."

There's a poem by the Sufi poet Hafiz that confirms my opinion:

I rarely let the word 'No' escape
From my mouth
"Because it is so plain to my soul
That God has shouted, 'Yes! Yes! Yes!'
To every luminous movement in Existence.

It is so easy, and so common, to respond to things with a strong "no." No, I don't know what that would lead to. No, we've never done it like that before. No, there just isn't enough (time, money, energy, what have you). No.

Often this is just our first reaction. Given time to think on things we make our way to seeing how something to which we'd first said "no" might be possible after all. We warm to the idea. But it can take a while.

Yet what if we could find our way to "yes" more quickly? What if our first instinct was to say "yes," and only then take our time to see what we'd just gotten ourselves into? Could our prayer become, "yes"? Could our lives become, "yes"?

Long ago I came across words from Dag Hammarskjöld that I would love to have as my epitaph:

For all that has been —
For all that will be —

The most dangerous prayer is "yes."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Today is World Peace Day

On this day of the most light, peace seekers from around the world will join in prayer and meditation during the 22nd Annual World Peace and Prayer Day.

From the website:

World Peace And Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites Day is an international and intergenerational celebration for people of all faiths, nations, races, ages and genders who share concern for the welfare of humanity and the Earth to share in One Prayer.

During World Peace and Prayer Day the honoring ceremonies, invocations and prayers at the main chosen site are observed in collaboration with local indigenous representatives. Wisdom keepers and activists share spiritual insight and discuss important environmental concerns and solutions on both a local and global level.

In addition to a main gathering at a sacred site chosen each year, we ask others to join us at their own sacred sites as well as in their churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other places of prayer.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Solstice -- A Celebration of Light

Click here for the exact time for Summer Solstice where you live.

On June 21, 2017, many time zones in the Northern Hemisphere welcome the first day of the summer, as the Sun reaches its northernmost position in the sky.

A significant turning point during the year - the days start getting shorter and the nights longer - the June Solstice is often associated with change, nature and new beginnings.

People around the world celebrate the day, which is also known as the Summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, with feasts, bonfires, picnics, and traditional songs and dances.

11 interesting facts about the June Solstice

An Ancient Celebration
Celebrations surrounding the June Solstice have a time-honored history. In ancient times, the date of the June Solstice was used to organize calendars and as a marker to figure out when to plant and harvest crops. Traditionally, this time of year was also popular for weddings.
Stonehenge: An Ancient Calendar Organizing System?

Some historians point to the Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England as evidence of the fact that ancient humans used the June Solstice as a way to organize their calendars. Some believe that Stonehenge's unique stone circle was erected around 2500 BCE in order to establish the date of the Summer Solstice. Viewed from its center, the Sun rises at a particular point on the horizon on day of the June Solstice. Some theories suggest that the builders of Stonehenge may have used the solstice as a starting-point to count the days of the year.

Celebrating Femininity in China
In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces. It complemented the Winter Solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of the Summer Solstice.

Midsummer Feasts
In ancient Gaul, which encompasses modern-day France and some parts of its neighboring countries, the Midsummer celebration was called Feast of Epona. The celebration was named after a mare goddess who personified fertility and protected horses. In ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes, pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. After Christianity spread in Europe and other parts of the world, many pagan customs were incorporated into the Christian religion. In parts of Scandinavia, the Midsummer celebration continued but was observed around the time of St John’s Day, on June 24, to honor St John the Baptist instead of the pagan gods.

Honoring the Sun
In North America, some Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the Sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals. Preparations for the event included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and Earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night).

Modern day celebrations
In northern European countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, Midsummer is a festive celebration. When the summer days are at their longest, and in the north it is the time of the Midnight Sun, festivals generally celebrate the summer and the fertility of the Earth. In Sweden and many parts of Finland people dance around Maypoles. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated with flower garlands, greenery, and tree branches.

New Age and Neopagan customs
There are many solstice observances held by New Age and Neopagan groups throughout the world. Thousands of people, including modern-day druids and pagans, usually gather at Stonehenge for this occasion.

In some parts of the United States, events that focus on the theme of the Summer Solstice are held. These events include: local festivals featuring art or music; environmental awareness activities that focus on using natural sunlight as a source of energy; and family gatherings.

--From Time & Date

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Knowing Kindness

A poetic thought for our times.


Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.