Leadership, 2016 and Beginning Again

I like to read and really don’t have enough time to read as much as I want.  One of the books I’ve read about recently is “Year of Yes”by Shonda Rhimes.  I haven’t read it yet, but from the synopsis and reviews I think I get it.

Saying ‘yes’ also has the flip side of saying ‘no’.  Saying ‘no’ to some foods means ‘yes’ to a healthier me.  Saying ‘no’ to a suggestion that doesn’t make sense to me, or that I can’t get excited about, may mean an opportunity for someone else to say ‘yes’.  It doesn’t always have to be me leading the charge!

I’ve been reflecting on organizations and leaders going through crisis.  Many times I find leaders and organizations having trouble with the balance between three concepts:



Letting go

Many of us fear what might happen when leaders let members of an organization have a voice in their future.  A leader full of fear may have questions:

  1. What if I hear that I must take action?  I can no longer let the  organization take its own course.
  2. What if the situation gets worse as a result of my action?
  3. Some people are dependent on their livelihood from this organization.  What if our action(s) take away that livelihood?

Courage may have a very different set of questions or responses:

  1. I have all the answers, just let me do this!  Or, “Let’s do this” without  deliberation and intentional actions.
  2. I’m willing to take the responsibility for our actions.
  3. I want to know what everyone is thinking, even if the answers scare me.

Letting Go can be both scary and very liberating.  Perhaps the answer is somewhere out of our control.  And that’s the rub.  Control is so tempting.  We are educated, smart and experienced.  We’ve “been there/done that” enough times that we feel we have all the answers, we just need to mine our level of experiences enough to find the right combination of actions.

I just had lunch with some dear friends and one of them reminded me of what letting go feels like.  I’ve done that before  – let go.  It’s an act of courage to quit trying to come up with all the answers.  And letting go has a huge amount of fear attached to it.  What if by letting go something ceases to be?  Something that may be very precious to many people.

The flip side of letting go of something precious can lead to something even better.  I’ve experienced that at least four times in my work career.  Letting go of one job opened the doors to other opportunities.  Some of those opportunities I would have never dreamed about when using a career plan.  All of my work experiences have been related in one way or another.  If I had been following a plan of some sort, I would have never recognized the varied jobs and positions had a connection.  I only see that looking back.

So perhaps the same is true of 2016, myself, and an organization I’m close to.   I’ll follow my new mantra of saying yes (even when ‘yes’ really comes out as ‘no’) and I’ll see if my organization will embrace and follow an amended version of what Dan Rockwell talked about in the Leadership Freak blog:

4 ways to begin again – Jeanne’s version:

  1. Pursue excellence with self-compassion.
    • Stop beating ourselves up for perceived failures. Learn instead.
    • Ask – how might we bring forward our best self? Focus on our strengths.
    • Think about what is next, not the end. ‘Next time’ is better than last time. Ask how could we do better next time?
  1. Integrate our past don’t ignore it. What we have been is what we bring to this moment. Learn from our rich heritage.
  2. Practice letting go of what has not worked in the past and let go of the outcome for the future.  Go back to #1 and practice it faithfully.
  3. Be brave and adventurous.  Focus on the future.  We might be  full of joy with the results!

Each person in our organization will see something different in 4 Ways to Begin Again, and each will embrace something different.

As  for me, I’ll be practicing letting go, saying yes,  and letting God take control.  He’s done alright many times before.



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