Drinking The Kool-Aid

I’ll cut to chase – I’m a little bit of a cynic. Maybe more than a little bit. So naturally, I don’t get the whole motivational speaker thing. I mean, I think Colin Powell was an amazing leader; and at 10, I wanted nothing more in life than to meet Sandra Day O’Connor – I mean – the FIRST female on the Supreme Court? Yes – at 10 I knew the impact of her appointment – I’ve been a geek that long.

I’m not so sure what I can learn from them in terms of leadership, or living my day-to-to day life as a Development Director for a small non-profit. Work hard. Set high standards. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do something. OK. Sounds good enough. But I don’t know how that actually is going to help me find a new donor, or get more people excited about my cause – the things I need to do daily.

I’ve been to some of those arena events with “motivational” icons, but after hearing two or three of them – meh. It’s all the same. So that’s my take on motivational speakers and “leadership” gurus.

For some reason, perhaps a mid-career crisis, I have been drawn into Intentional Leadership by Michael Hyatt. Hyatt is the former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson, a gigantic publishing house, and the world’s largest Christian publisher. I’m going to guess that were we to meet, we’d politely not discuss religion or politics. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t offer some great leadership advice and counsel, and the only religious slant is pretty much based around the Golden Rule. Of course, a good leader wouldn’t actually want to talk politics or religion, unless we met at a specific event about such topics.

The first thing I learned from the Intentional Leadership podcasts is that I succeeded in spite of really poor leadership in a previous position. Everything Hyatt mentions as a leadership pitfall happens to be how my manager operated. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t please her, and I see that it really was how our styles clashed – and that she really didn’t lead, but definitely bossed. This definitely increased my self-confidence in my own abilities.

The other main lesson I have taken from these podcasts and blog posts is honestly, to live with more purpose. This sounds completely hokey, and those who know me will think I am being facetious, but he has a point. I know that we let work drive our lives. We come home from work, tired, and generally have to do more work. We talk about work over dinner – generally the negative things. Home is a safe place to vent. But it all seems so toxic, and it can easily be remedied. I use my time more effectively now – turning off the tv, reading more, and eating dinner together. Again, the cynic in me says this is a little Stepford, but really – what’s wrong with it? We no longer have the tv on when we go to bed – we listen to music, and sleep much better. I get out with the dogs at least two times a day to give them exercise and for me to take a break.

I will admit that the man is not quite as into this as I am. And I’ll add, if I had him listen to the podcast or read the blog, he would think I am crazy – and fear that I’m becoming a stereotypical suburban Christian housewife or something (nothing wrong with that – it is just not who I am!). But bit by bit, I am impacting his life, and trying to make it a little lighter.

So yes, I am drinking some leadership kool-aid. It is delicious, and the best part is that I feel more organized, energetic, AND I’m back to blogging. For now, at least!