As someone who enjoys driving in almost any weather condition, I am always reminded during the first good storm of the year (sometimes in some scary ways) that not everyone shares that enjoyment. Poor visibility, poorly maintained vehicles, unexpected roadway obstructions and yes, stoopidity, all contribute to increased stress and aptitude for panic in bad weather. Following some basic rules can elevate your calm and make you, your loved ones and your fellow drivers much safer.
I like questions that inspire thought.
A Facebook friend just recently posted, “Anybody else know what they’re really doing? Asking for a friend…”.
The answer that danced to the tip of my tongue with little thought might surprise even the people that know me pretty well. The answer: “Yes…and no”. The reasons for this answer have been hard-learned…earned really…through experience.
Traveling often provides you with opportunities to read, but rarely does it offer good guidance on what to read. A marvelous exception jumped out with my January trip to Malta. As the three of us on the trip stole a little time one afternoon to explore the sites and enjoy an exceptional meal, we each posted some pictures to our social network streams. Matt, the Solutions Architect on the trip, heard back from one of his friends within minutes of his post… Continue reading
When I was in B-school pursuing my MBA, one of my professors asked us all a haunting question. “Are leaders born, or are they made”? Before anyone could formulate a response to the question, the professor stated that, given our participation in the program, it was obvious we believed that leaders were made…not just born. Otherwise, most of us were wasting our time in the course of study to which we had dedicated a two-year chunk of our lives. I’ve carried this question with me for years now, and it is only now that I have come up with my own answer…partly because the professor’s conclusion was somewhat vexing to me, but mostly because I needed to make certain of my beliefs prior to taking responsibility for a graduate-level business course this coming Fall.
To begin to formulate my own conclusion on the nature of leadership, I referred back to one of my favorite sayings, given to me by one of my former personal training clients, a retired Lt. Col. from the Army Rangers. He said, “Managers manage things, leaders lead people”. Going back through my coverage of Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s views on leadership in “Rule 13, and Rule 14: Leadership at its Core“, published to this weblog on April 19, 2003, I found a similar viewpoint from another well-respected military leader. Management, as an art, or as a science is possible to teach. Things such as common or best practices can be documented, and followed as a procedural check-list, making it possible to train-up a manager. This, however, doesn’t touch on the original question regarding the origin of leaders.
Those that know me well will tell you, few things make me crazier than having to witness people attempt to do things they are fully incapable of doing. I’m not just being mean here…I’m an instructor, and I enjoy seeing people challenge their preconceived notions of who they are, and the things they are capable of doing. I do, however, draw a line in the sand watching someone nearly run me off the road while trying to smoke a cigarette, eat breakfast, talk on the phone…and DRIVE.
I learned how to play chess from a man named George Cinti. I had been exposed to the game as a young boy, but did not begin to understand the value of flexibility, forethought, and strategy in chess until meeting Mr. Cinti. In playing the first couple of games with me, he noted that, although I understood how each piece moved, I failed to grasp how their strengths and weaknesses could be used in tandem to realize the ultimate goal…winning. From that point on, my chess studies with Mr. Cinti were comprised mostly of “chess puzzles” in which I was set-up with a finite number of pieces, and was forced to formulate a strategy by assessing what I had to work with, and matching that up against my rival’s position. Seldom being set up with a guaranteed win, I was forced to see the whole board, and make the best of the very worst of situations.
I spent last week at a conference for the enterprise resource planning suite currently used by the company for which I work. Not particularly interesting to most, and thus, not the topic of this article. What was of interest is what I found during my investigation of the conference agenda. One of the opening session keynotes was being delivered by General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. This kernel of information did exactly what it was intended to do: it piqued my curiosity. For, nowhere in my mind could I reconcile a technical conference with a presentation by General Schwarzkopf. Although most would characterize him as a leader worthy of a place in the history books, General Schwarzkopf is not the first name that pops into your head when you think, “business”.
Turned out that the keynote was about leadership. What is it? What are its key components? General Schwarzkopf stood in front of a crowd of thousands and openly admitted he did not have a clear answer for either of those questions. He related to his audience that in preparation for delivering his address, he started where many of us might: the dictionary.