Leaders Say Thank You

I am stumped why so few leaders pause to say thank you. Maybe even saying “pause” is part of the problem. You can move forward toward your stake faster when people feel appreciated and included. Saying a sincere and thoughtful thank you in person is terrific. I also like a written note because as a recipient I can read it again and again. So few leaders say thank you in an intentional way.

In California Agricultural Leadership program we were taught to say a sincere and personalized thank you (sometimes with a gift) to people who gave to our program through teaching, speaking, or with financial gifts. I was not surprised when my end of year gift to the Foundation was followed within a month or so by a Thank you example from the Board Chair. I give to lots of different organizations and causes. Most feel that their autogenerated “thank you” with receipt is sufficient. The personal notes or typed letters I receive from the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation binds my loyalty to them as donor.

Last night  I hosted Taylor and Lauren from the Concordia University Irvine women’s choir. They performed beautifully at St John’s Lutheran Church and then I took them home and provided them hospitality. We had a delightful conversation, walked to get coffee and tea and Weatherstone coffeehouse, and they got a good night’s sleep. Twelve hours later I was dropping them off with very little inconvenience to me and yet they took the time to write a beautiful hand written note and leave it on the guest bed (that they made!). A handwritten note is the gold standard for expressing appreciation.

Is this leadership or just being a polite person? I encourage you to think of it as a critical part of leadership. Just ask yourself how much you appreciate when your boss or client recognizes your contribution and thanks you. For ideas about how to do this most effectively, listen to Episode 9 of Radical Candor podcast.  They emphasize the importance of being specific and sincere.

Mental Mistakes We Commonly Make

 

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My collage made in POTUS 45’s first week in office.

I am not alone in asking, “How the hell did we get to this point?” I am searching for powerful explanations as to how the United States elected an undisciplined, unfocused President who is completely lacking in humility, empathy or curiosity.

I have read brain science articles that suggest our political affiliations light up the part of the brain that identifies with our tribe. It is not reasonable.

The books I have been reading either address cultural divides, such as Hillbilly Elegy, or rebut “rational man” ideas. I’ve never been a fan of theories that require a rational actor. I could think of 2 dozen examples of decisions I  made for reasons other than my own best interest in a one hour economics lecture.

lewis-photoAfter listening to interviews with author Michael Lewis on several podcasts, I bought his hardback book (high compliment!), The Undoing Project.  His latest book is a profile of two Israeli psychologists who created a new branch called behavioral psychology and impacted other fields including economics, and military strategy. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky each possessed brilliant minds, but their collaboration was genius. Lewis tells the interesting story of how they developed independently, how they met and then describes their unique work partnership.

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Both Kahneman and Tversky were fascinated with common mental errors. Kahneman was especially observant of people’s tendencies to make mistakes. As a combatant and psychologist on the front lines of multiple Israeli wars, he was able to make improvements in how the army selected officers by questioning conventional wisdom and tracking actual performance against the impressions the same candidates made during the screening process. His improved method made such an impression the Israeli army still uses it with minor adjustments.

Biases towards managing with criticism or praise: We all tend to believe that one is more effective than the other. Kahneman was helping the Israeli Air Force train pilots and he noticed that the trainers believed criticism was more useful than praise. “They’d explained to Danny that he only needed to see what happened after they praised him for performing especially well, or criticized him for performing especially badly. The pilot who was praised always performed worse the next time out, and the pilot who was criticized always performed better.” (p 125) After observing he explained what was really going on. “The pilot who was praised because he’d flown exceptionally well, like the pilot who was chastised after he had flown exceptionally badly, simply were regressing to the mean. They’d have tended to perform better (or worse) even if the teacher had said nothing at all. An illusion of the mind tricked teachers—and probably many others—into thinking that their words were less effective when they gave pleasure than when they gave pain.”

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Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize and shared credit posthumously with Tversky

There were many fascinating ideas presented in The Undoing Project and the most telling for our current situation are the four heuristics or rules of thumbs they developed for the fallibility of human judgment.

  1. Representativeness: when people make judgments, they compare whatever they are judging to some model in their minds. We compare the specific case to the parent population. “Our thesis is that in many situations, an event A is judged to be more probable than an event B whenever A appears more representative than B.” They had a hunch that people, when they formed judgments, weren’t just making random mistakes—that they were doing something systemically wrong. (examples p 186-187)
  2. Availability: a heuristic for judging frequency and probability. “The more easily people can call some scenario to mind—the more available it is to them—the more probable they find it to be. Any fact or incident that was especially vivid, or recent, or common—or anything that happened to preoccupy a person—was likely to be recalled with special ease, and so be disproportionately weighted in any judgment.”(examples p 191-192) Human judgment was distorted by the memorable.
  3. Anchoring: People can be anchored with information that was totally irrelevant to the problem they were being asked to solve. (examples p 192)kahneman-quote
  4. Simulation: the power of unrealized possibilities to contaminate people’s minds. As they moved through the world, people ran simulations of the future. They based their judgments and decisions in part on these imagined scenarios. And yet not all scenarios were equally easy to imagine; they were constrained, much in the way that people’s minds seemed constrained when they “undid” some tragedy. Discover the mental rules that the mind obeyed when it undid events after they occurred and you might find, in the bargain, how it simulated reality before it occurred. (p 300) Danny called this “the state of the ‘undoing project.”  This reinforces the importance of framing. Simply by changing the description of a situation, and making a gain seem like a loss, you could cause people to completely flip their attitude toward risk, and turn them from risk-avoiding to risk-seeking.

These examples of these profound rules are ubiquitous. One of Lewis’ illustrations of how these rules confine people’s thinking made a big impression: “It’s far easier for a Jew living in Paris in 1939 to construct a story about how the German army will behave much as it had in 1919, for instance, than to invent a story in which it behaves as it did in 1941, no matter how persuasive the evidence might be that, this time, things are different.” (p 195)

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Because of our faulty assumptions and thinking, we need to have some humility about what we know and what can be known. Leaders must remain curious and open to new knowledge.

I’ll let Amos Tversky have the last word: “The handwriting was on the wall, it was just the ink that was invisible.”

 

Most Impactful Books of 2016

I am enjoying reading the lists of books, podcasts, and movies that people compile at the end of the year. People’s tastes are idiosyncratic, so I figure if I find one or two things that are new and interest me then it was worth the time reading their list. Whilst reading the New York Times Book Review survey of writers and their favorites of 2016, I found quite a few new things to read in 2017 (more on that at the end).

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Three journals from 2016 and my current composition book… on my desk in winter’s light.

The challenge is always remembering what I have read in Q1 or Q2. This is why I write down the titles in my journal. Please allow me a moment to pause and say a word on behalf of journaling. I have been writing in a personal journal for most of my life. Okay, so when I was in third grade I called it a diary and it had a key that I lost somewhere over the years. Sometimes they devolve into a book of lists. Sometimes I take notes on a particularly moving podcast or documentary or copy passages from a book.

I also use composition notebooks for work. I learned this technique from Dr. Henry Vaux at the University of California. It is easier to look for notes based on the timeline of meetings and associations than to keep them in separate files by topic. When I begin a new comp book, I tear out a few of the most important pages from the old one and tuck them in the back. I hang on to the old one for about a month and then shred it because I find I rarely go back to find information. It is more important as a tool in the moment–writing helps me process information and improves my memory. I never understand the people who never write down a single word in a meeting. How can they relinquish so much power?

Back to the book list! I know a book has impacted me greatly when I give it as gifts to one or more people. So while Toni Morrison said that Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me was a must read, I couldn’t stop thinking about Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. I gave it to 3 people and I have one more copy to give away.

I participated in the Jane Austen Reading Group that meets at the McClatchy library in Sacramento. I read two books that I shared with others:  Paula Byrne’s The Real Jane Austen: a life in small things, and William Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education. This almost made up for the other months when I had to read the muck that passes as Jane Austen tributes, mysteries, etc.

Lynne Twist came to Sacramento to speak at our church and to nonprofit leaders about The Soul of Money. I reread her book and gave several copies to others to encourage them to attend her presentations. You have to be ready to hear the message. I know I didn’t cotton to her ideas the first time I read it. I just recently watched the documentary Minimalism on Netflix, and while it touches on a lot of topics shallowly, I still found it compelling.

Thanks to the podcast On Being, I discovered some new writers including David Whyte. I shared chapters of his book with friends and colleagues and used them as the focal points of discussions. One discussion of “boids” in The Heart Aroused led to reading the 1992 book Complexity by M. Mitchell Waldrup. I found so many of the ideas about complexity theory of interest to the challenges of managing a megaproject that I shared copies with our team before we went on holiday break.

One of the books that moved me most profoundly was Carla Power’s If the Oceans Were Ink about the modern Muslim faith. It really helped me fill in a giant gap in my knowledge and to see similarities to my faith in Jesus. I want to know more.

What is in my pile to read in 2017? Waking Up White by Debby Irving; Lit by Mary Karr; Evicted by Matthew Desmond, Tribe by Sebastian Junger; Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. There are more on my wish list: Ann Pachett’s Commonwealth, and Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad.

One final note, Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong had a real impact on me at the time I read it. And then the nastiness of the election overwhelmed the public space and now the world just doesn’t feel safe enough to be vulnerable except among friends and trusted colleagues. I still believe that Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability is hugely important in our world today. So if you haven’t read it yet: give yourself a New Year treat and download or pick it up today.

A Shot of Much Needed Leadership Inspiration

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You may not have noticed, but I went dark for a few weeks. I fell into a deep funk after the election. Once the outrage subsided I found my motivation at a very low ebb. I gave myself permission to retreat. I am coming out it now and one of the contributing factors was witnessing my friend Mai Vang’s swearing in to the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Mai invited her family and friends to attend and about 100 people filled the boardroom to support her on this momentous occasion. Four people actually shared in administering the oath: her high school teacher and mentor, a parent from the district who inspires her, a Burbank High School student, and an elder from her Hmong community.

It was so moving to hear Mai repeat the oath to defend the US constitution and the constitution of the State of California. Here was evidence that our democracy can still function beautifully.

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Mai speaking after taking the oath flanked by her grandparents.

This is Mai’s story. Her family was part of the wave of immigrants from Laos that came to the US after the Vietnam War. Mai is the oldest of 16 children and she worked hard to learn English while retaining the Hmong language to be able to respect her elders as that culture teaches. At the same time she didn’t want to remain in poverty, so she studied hard and accepted help from Ms. Crowder who helped to coach her to earn the grades to get into college and a Buck Fellowship. Mai went on to University of San Francisco and then UCLA to earn two master’s degrees. She could be earning larger salaries working in public health. She chose to return to Sacramento to organize her community. She is staff to a Sacramento City Councilmember and now a member of the school board representing a part of the school district that is challenged by low income and fewer opportunities.

As she took the oath my eyes teared up. Here is proof that if you work hard and participate in our democracy you can take a seat at the table. I only wish there were more Mai’s from her community running for office. More young people from all walks of life stepping up to leadership.

Rob Bell in Episode 122 of his RobCast “We need to talk about politics…” (October 16, 2016) He explains why politics needs to reclaimed as a good thing. The origin of the word of politics Greek is “politicos” and means citizens. It is essentially a good word and determines how we arrange our common life together. There is something sacred and holy about our shared life together. As a poli-sci nerd I don’t need to be convinced by Rob Bell that policy is also important.

We have to pay attention to actual policy to cut through the clouds of opinion in a post-truth world. We need to talk about the nuts and bolts of how things get done.

If you don’t step up, people and corporations who do not care about our common good take advantage of your cynicism or disaffection. This is OUR common good. Be part of the solution not part of the problem. But don’t kid yourself into thinking that doing nothing is anything other than being part of the problem.

Mai Vang is willing to commit a large amount of time to learn the issues facing the Sacramento City Unified School District and help to adopt policies that result in better outcomes for all students. I am digging into local housing policy to find ways to dramatically reduce people experiencing homelessness.

What are you willing to do?

 

 

 

Exercising My Particular Superpower

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I am devastated by the election results. I am experiencing all of the stages of grief. This is so much more intense than 1980 and 2000. Because in this election an ugly spirit was unleashed to stoke fear and attract votes. One candidate gave people full permission to express misogyny, racism, and xenophobia both in words and actions. And now winning the electoral college (but not the popular vote) these same people are emboldened and we are seeing a lot of ugly.

I am still struggling with how to express my dismay without closing down the possibility of dialogue with people who didn’t vote or voted for Trump and are not racists. I attended a Stronger Together organizing meeting in Sacramento with over 200 people on Veteran’s Day.  I hope they follow through with the ideas of communications training and a clearer message about the Democrat’s vision for the economy. This will help in 2 years.

What can I do in the meanwhile, when so many people feel fearful and are experienced harassment or worse? I read a post by one of the women in Pantsuit Nation on Facebook where she introduced the idea of wearing a safety pin to let people know you are a safe person committed to standing with them against the threat. She read that this started in Britain after Brexit when they had a similar increase in racially-motivated violence.  As the writer said she is a little overweight, grey-haired and looks like someone’s grandma. She is invisible most of the time. Yet, she is also non-threatening to the fearful person and yet a formidable foe to a bully. This is me!

safe-with-meI can use my superpowers of invisibility. I look powerless and benign. However, I prepared to stand up or beside anyone who is threatened verbally or physically. I’ve been the person who needed someone to walk me to my car, or to sit with me while I wait at a scary train station. Now it is my turn to provide safety in numbers.

Some say that I am appeasing my white guilt and can keep my damn safety pin. I am not acting out of guilt. Yes I am privileged because of my lack of pigment, and my relative wealth. And I’m a woman so I know what it is to be made less than because of my sex. I know what it is like to stand up to bullies alone. And I have asked for help and received it. So I will put my safety pin on with intention and ask God to help me stay awake and alert to what is going on around me. I will  make eye contact and engage with all people in a friendly way. And if needed, I will respond to assist people to safety.

Coda: Good advice on having a plan if you do wear a safety pin: https://isobeldebrujah.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/so-you-want-to-wear-a-safety-pin/

Coda2: Sometimes it feels like this:

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Power and Vulnerability

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Grendel as imagined Betterlifethroughgrendel

In David Whyte’s book, The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, he takes up the story of Beowulf to illustrate power and vulnerability in the workplace. I never read the story before. It is a fascinating tale of a warrior Beowulf asked by the King of Denmark to slay Grendel, a monster coming up from the lake and dragging people from the castle to tear them limb from limb. Grendel is also a metaphor for the inner demons that keep us from living the life we were meant to live. The fears that keep us from living wholeheartedly.

Beowulf slays Grendel, but then Grendel’s mother appears even more fierce than her son. Isn’t that how it often goes? We address some surface fears only to have more difficult demons take their place? The first was a quiz, this is the final exam.

Beowulf must enter the dark lake to reach Grendel’s mother. The dark lake is so scary that a stag pursued by hunting dogs would rather die a certain violent death than enter it and be saved. The only way for Beowulf to be powerful is to be vulnerable first. Find his voice, speak out against a bad idea or injustice.

It isn’t hard to remember a time when I’ve sunk down on our haunches like that stag at the shoreline. I am human and it is not easy to face down the demons every time. There is help available if I am willing to tap into the ancient feminine wisdom found in vulnerability and self-compassion.

This is where Brene Brown so marvelously illuminated the path to becoming more vulnerable. I have read all of her books and participated in her online courses and recommend any of her books. In her most recent, Rising Strong, she explores what happens when you take a risk or enter the arena. At some point when we risk vulnerability we will slip and fall. The key is to remain wholehearted and continue to stay open.

It is a choice to continue to put my faith in the long game or eternal story because my life is at stake. “The mythologist Joseph Campbell used to say that if you do not come to know the deeper mythic resonances that make up your life, the mythic resonances will simply rise up and take you over. If you do not live out your place in the mythic pattern consciously, the myth will simply live you, against your will.” (Whyte)

Be the hero of your own story; not a side character, as Sara in Katrina Bivald’s novel would say.

Healing Our Democracy After the Election

hart2After the last 10 days of the is election season, women who’ve been assaulted are experiencing PTSD, and many more people are experiencing anxiety. People on both sides are fearful of the outcome of the other candidate succeeding. And yet, on November 9 there will be one person with the most votes/electoral college delegates and we all need to find a way to live together peaceably.

This is all the more challenging because of the large number of people who are expressing racist and misogynistic views. People are discovering that people that they planned PTA fundraisers or studied the Bible with are expressing feelings and values that repugnant: defending sexual assault, or saying that all Muslims are a threat. As Dylan Matthews at Vox news said, “What’s needed is an honest reckoning with what it means that a large segment of the US population, large enough to capture one of the two major political parties, is motivated primarily by white nationalism and an anxiety over the fast changing demographics of the country.” (Vox, “Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously means listening to what they are actually saying,” October 15, 2016)

So I began searching for ideas for how we can begin the healing. We need to find a way to build empathy bridges over the chasm. But if you cast the other people as feminazis or racists, then this is difficult to do. Indira AR Lakshmanan’s article “Surviving an ugly campaign: Advice from the Dalai Lama and Bishop Tutu,” (October 13, 2016 The Boston Globe) offers the perspectives shared in their book, The Book of Joy. “…when people vote for candidates who promote fear and anger, it’s because they’re afraid, hurting and suffering…fear, anger, hatred exist in our own minds and hearts as well, not just ‘out there.” If we realize that we can have compassion for what’s underneath the vitriol.”

Her parting words are wise, “The key to finding our way back to civility may be to recognize that that anger is out there and face it, head on. Our political, spiritual, and media leaders have an obligation to speak, listen and find common ground–even with those that are slinging the last dregs of mud.” One way to do that is to find a softer way to think of people who hold white nationalist views. I’m not suggesting we tolerate hate speech, but unless we can find a name for what’s underneath the vitriol, we cannot be empathetic.

EJ Dionne offers a way to do this in his Washington Post column (October 14, 2016). The late Rev. Andrew Greeley called those who love the particular patch where they were raised or that they have adopted as their own as“neighborhood people.” Being “citizens of the world” is not high on their priority list, whereas it is a point of pride for “cosmopolitans”.

Dionne says, “I suspect that many of Trump’s backers are neighborhood people. Economic change, including globalization, is very hard on them. It can disrupt and empty out the places they revere, driving young people away and undermining the economic base a community needs to survive. Liberals and conservatives alike insufficiently appreciate what makes neighborhood people tick and why they deserve our respect. Liberals are instinctive cosmopolitans in the citizens-of-the-world sense. They often long for the freedom of big metropolitan areas. Free-market conservatives typically say that if a place can’t survive the rigors of market competition, if the factories close, the people left behind are best off if they find somewhere else to live.” And it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand how for a neighborhood person such a sentiment would feel hostile.

Finally, we are all in this democracy together. As tempting as a divorce may seem, we need to find a way to restore the respect and care for one another that makes our community at large work. I am reminded that the opposite of love is not hate it is disdain or disinterest. That is an emotion we cannot afford to indulge.

 

This Moral Moment

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What world are we creating for my grandson Calvin?

I have been trying to process how anyone can justify voting for the Republican presidential nominee. This became even more mysterioso after the Friday tape drop. I try to “build an empathy bridge” to my Republican friends. I imagine if the Democrats had a candidate who was truly unqualified, who regularly insulted groups of people, and acted like a petulant child, and now likely committed sexual assault. Would I still vote for him/her out of party loyalty? Or because I thought the future of the supreme court was more important than the deficiencies of the candidate? It gets me part of the way (Bill Clinton springs to mind–especially the second time around) and still there is a chasm.

I marvel at both the Republicans who since Friday have claimed that are now so outraged they unendorse him, and those who, even with this latest garbage spew from the candidate, say that at least he doesn’t support abortion. (Does he or doesn’t he? Really, you believe that?) To the former I guess you can see where they might have given Trump’s public pronouncements a pass before, thinking he’s just trying to mobilize a segment of angry voters, and then once you hear that even 11 years ago (at age 59 past the point of “maturity”) he was saying vile things in private. This is a direct window into his heart. It’s ugly and it becomes the final straw.

And now I have a whole new understanding of how Germany ended up with Hitler (no I am not called the Republican nominee a Hitler–the comparison is more to their shared deep narcissism and willingness to race bait to win elections).  Especially my fellow Christians: How can you give his behavior such a complete pass just to have access to Presidential power or to maintain Anglo-Christian privilege? I continue to read on Facebook posts from Christian friends who say Trump is the only true Christian. (I guess Methodists aren’t followers of Christ??)

This is why I believe we are living in a moral moment. In her article,  “Derailed” by Kathryn Schultz in The New Yorker August 22, 2016, she suggests we do not usually recognize moral moments.

“It is to our credit if these are the Americans [Underground Railroad engineers] to whom we want to trace our moral genealogy.  But we should not confuse the fact that they took extraordinary actions with the notion that they lived in extraordinary times. One of the biases of retrospection is to believe that the moral crises of the past were clearer than our own–that, had we been alive, we would have recognized them, known what to do about them, and known when the time had come to do so. That is a fantasy. Iniquity is always coercive and insidious and intimidating, and lived reality is always a muddle, and the kind of clarity that leads to action comes from without but from within.”

I like to think that when there is a critical moment to make a choice with heavy moral portent that I will recognize it and make the right decision. It might be hard or come at a great cost personally or professionally, but I would be on the right side of history. I believe this election will shape our society’s moral compass for years to come.

Dan Rather agrees with me. As he said on the evening of the second Presidential debate:

For those of us who have lived long and eventful lives, we often are able to find calm in the crisis of the moment by invoking the perspective of time. You understand that history is always rough in the early making and the years and decades that follow will often smooth these jagged peaks into the gentle contours of a rolling landscape where big themes and movements hold sway over the details that overwhelm us in the here and now. But this is not always the case. There are some inflection points that explode with such violence and monstrous effect that any semblance of continuity is hopelessly disjointed.

Most often these moments are ones of violence – wars, civil unrest and assassinations. But make no mistake, what we have seen in the past few days is proof that we are living through such an instance. And the violence here has been in ripping asunder our self-confidence in our system of government and in the unity we share with our fellow Americans.

We have serious problems facing our nation, and our world. Our ship of state must be prepared to navigate the perilous shoals of our complicated world – and yet I feel tonight as if we have been hijacked into an alternate universe. This national nightmare will end one way or another and we will awaken to the same world from which we have been so disengaged. That is our challenge and it is a challenge from which none of us can opt out.

As citizens we must repudiate the hate, the bigotry, the vile character we have seen eating up the public space for the last year and VOTE for Hillary Clinton so there is no way the Republican nominee is allowed to win by any measure.

Fix or Fight?

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Fritz Durst, Board chair of Reclamation District 108, gives opening remarks at Wallace Weir

At the celebration of the construction of the new Wallace Weir, Fritz Durst called everyone to join the assembled collaborators to fix problems instead of fighting. People often refer to California “water wars” and as a result many problems remain intractable. The Northern California Water Agency and its members have been working hard to find ways to solve problems, sometimes at risk to their own interests. This project is one of over 49 identified to improve the chances for endangered salmon to return in the Sacramento River Salmon Recovery Program. They are joined by other stakeholders including local, regional and state agencies.

I have been working in the Yolo Bypass on behalf of Metropolitan Water Agency of SoCal to try to find common ground with a diverse group of stakeholders. We are seeking solutions that will allow endangered salmon fish to benefit from the floodplain in the winter whilst limiting the impact to the other land uses already in place, that is flood control, farms, waterfowl habitat and terrestrial species habitat.

It has taken a few years, but at last  we all agreed to move ahead with the fish passage projects. The Wallace Weir is one of the first to be constructed. Its purpose is to keep returning salmon from migrating up the Colusa Basin Drain where they are then lost and cannot spawn in the upper reaches of the Sacramento River. The weir has traditionally been installed each year to allow farmers above to pump water from the Ridge Cut. Then it is removed at the end of the irrigation season. This new structure will serve to control the water and catch up fish to be rescued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A definite fix.

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I had the good fortune to also hear Lynn Twist, author of The Soul of Money, speak several times at What If? Conference and at St John’s Lutheran Church the day before the Wallace Weir event. She had similar advice. We can take a stand or take a position. Most people take a position, adopt a point of view ,and look to argue and fight over it. If we take a stand, say for equality as Martin Luther King Jr. did, then we must be willing to look at many perspectives and find solutions.  Fix not fight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Energizing Leadership Discussion with Up With People

Up With People is in Sacramento this week. The program participants exercise their leadership by organizing various events including a leadership round table. Fourteen local leaders, including me, joined the 100 cast members to talk about leadership. In each group of about 6 people, we could ask each other anything, follow any aspect of leadership. We talked for about 10 minutes and then moved on to the next circle.

I was very impressed by the young people from around the world who are a part of the program. They are a terrific reminder that many 20 somethings are ready to take on leadership and make our world a better place.

They also sing and dance. If you are in the Sacramento area, please support this terrific program by attending their performance on Friday September 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium. Tickets available on-line or at the box office. $25 per person.

Postscript:  In a couple of our circles I was asked questions that led me to reflect my early leadership training was all about the externals: running a meeting, public speaking, time management, setting goals. Then midway through life the leadership tasks before me were more daunting and these externals were not enough. I found myself seeking out executive coaching, then CTI Co-Active Leadership training. This program focused on my inner life and becoming clear about my motivations and self-management to be a more effective leader.

I was reminded of this again this morning when I read Chapter 6 of Parker Palmer’s The Hidden Wholeness. He uses the story of the Woodcutter to explain how circles of trust help us to do “the work before the work”. This is a great way to describe the CTI training: the work you need to do internally before you can do the external leadership.