Love Warrior, Special Book Report post

Over the weekend, I read funny mom Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Love Warrior. I loved the Carry On, Warrior about motherhood and looked forward to her follow-up about marriage. I’m a married mom myself. As a casual fan, I had only the most general awareness going in about Glennon’s marriage- the infidelity, the separation, the reconciliation, and post-publish announcement that she and her husband Craig are re-separating.

I don’t just suspect that many other seemingly pulled-together people are struggling in their marriages. I know it from conversations with friends and the fact that hundreds of thousands of women like me preordered Love Warrior. Glennon’s book was a chance to get a deep, long look into another marriage while not feeling the need to be politely reassuring. It was also a chance to feel a little less alone.

I started it late last week on the day it came out and finished it over the weekend. I read every last word and some twice. I’m glad I did but am I’m feeling conflicted.

First, it’s hundreds of pages of Glennon’s “me, me, me”- which, I suppose, is the point of a me-moir. At times, though, it’s a bit much. I couldn’t help wondering what it’s like to be one of her close, personal friends. Is it as exhausting as it seems? And, her sister, oh my. God bless this woman. Glennon’s sister is some kind of emotional endurance athlete. She’s supported her for years throughout what is amounts to a daily 100-mile introspective race through Death Valley.

What’s more is that Glennon explains her binging and boozing as behaviors driven by the deep-seeded fears of a hyper-sensitive soul. On one hand, it makes sense but on the other comes across as a bit of a post-game analysis and rationalization. I made some bad choices too. Looking back today, they still just seem like bad choices driven by yes, fear, but also immaturity, inadequate life skills, and a limited perspective on the world.

I also feel conflicted because I’m not sure what to do next. I finished it with more questions than answers. Questions like:

  • Is everything “good” now? Is this kind of comeback from rock bottom a one and done- or two and done, in Glennon’s case. It would seem that counting Oprah as a new friend would make life pretty damn good from here on out.
  • Is there ever a time that you can just relax and live or must we always stay on treadmill of greater self-discovery?
  • How too can I have a personal breakthrough filled with wisdom-growing epiphanies? Is binging and boozing to extreme a prerequisite? I fall short in this regard.
  • Should I manufacture a crisis with my husband or just start digging and assume one is buried somewhere in my marriage? If, in fact, a crisis is necessary, where can I sign up for a relatively short and easy one? It seems time-consuming right when I don’t need another “to-do” on my list.

Though questions are swirling, there were a couple of important take-aways.

  1. You see what you expect to see. It’s true of your husband and everything else. What you believe about their intentions can be a misleading, often painful filter from which to view their actions in your marriage. Instead, see others as flawed people who are doing the best they can with what they know.
  2. Anyone who suggests they know God’s direction for you better than you know yourself should be promptly ignored. And if you still reserve your conversations with God for an hour or two on Sunday, you’re missing a much greater opportunity.
  3. You can share your story without sharing someone else’s. Glennon is a skilled and thoughtful writer who carefully and generously tells her side without presumptively sharing any of Craig’s. It’s noteworthy that this serial philanderer emerges as one of the most endearing and sympathetic characters in the story.
  4. You gain balance in yoga which is good for your tree pose and other stuff.
  5. Breathing in a group apparently can make you feel like you’re floating in fluffy cloud of forgiveness. As lovely as this sounds, you’re it also makes you vulnerable to smelling other people’s bad breath. I must not be that bad off because I’m not willing to risk it.
  6. And lots of other great stuff.

When I reached the last page, I was sorry for the book to end. To me, this is a sign of something well worth reading- even through the tedious parts. I admire and appreciate Glennon’s courage and look forward to reading it again someday.

On reading blogs

Seth Godin encouraged his readers this morning to read more blogs. He points out that they're free, full of good information, and a respite in a way from the noisier more marketing focused messages we're subjected to each day. Of course, I enthusiastically agree!

So, I thought I'd share some of the blogs I enjoy reading regularly.  

In addition to Seth's, the two other broad categories of blogs I like are food and things I think will make me laugh.

  • When I need some healthy inspiration: Oh She Glows and Love and Lemons are just lovely and delicious.
  • When I'm having a mom moment: Scarry Mommy is usually good for a quick laugh at some of the absurd moments that happen regularly with kids- though I don't know if it counts as a blog. However, most of the people contributing articles have blogs of their own that you can find if you enjoy a particular person's style.
  • I also love the big-time blogger Glennon Melton. She's hilarious and inspiring and just so, so right about a lot of things. The Bloggess by Jenny Lawson is raw and ridiculous. It makes me laugh and feel a little uncomfortable at the same time-- which somehow is a good thing.

Listing these just now, I realized that I've also read all of their books-- and each I loved as much as their daily material on the blog.

If you have a blog you write or enjoy reading, let me know! I'd love to check it out.

How to Love Your Job Again

You want to love your job but you just don’t. On top of that, you can’t quit—at least right now. Perhaps your job was better when you first started and the environment has changed. Or maybe you’ve changed and you’re now struggling to get motivated to do the same work. Maybe you got a new boss who you’re not that crazy about. Whatever the circumstance, not loving your job AND not feeling able to quit can leave you feeling really stuck.

This easy-to-follow worksheet was designed to help you better your immediate circumstances while keeping your eye on your long-term vision and dreams. By completing these simple lists and questions, you will identify what you like about your current job, what you don’t like, and what you can reasonably change. Do this with the intention of:

  • Finding out more about yourself and what you’re looking for an
  • Identifying some practical ways to bring more of those work experiences into your current role

Internet of Things

Are you interested in the internet of things? Whether you're in facilities or federal program management or general business, here are a handful of articles I found helpful when I went looking for more than just the basic definition to try and wrap my head around the magnitude of all of this stuff that will be connected and communicating in the future.

Fascinating, right?!

The Internet of Things Is Far Bigger Than Anyone Realizes, by Daniel Burrus

A Simple Explanation Of 'The Internet Of Things', by Jacob Morgan (INCLUDES A VIDEO!)

The Internet of Things, by Michael Chui, Markus Löffler, and Roger Roberts

Exercises for improving leadership skills

Each individual's leadership skills fall somewhere along a broad spectrum from truly terrible to incredibly inspiring. I believe that wherever we are in our leadership development, there are simple, daily exercises that we can do to improve our skills-- in between courses, trainings, coaching, and just doing the hard work of leading and motivating staff.

Here are 5 exercises with accompanying questions and examples to spark some reflection and self-assessment.

  1. Make conscious choices: lead, follow, or watch from the stands. In the very next meeting on your calendar several issues will be raised. Some actions will be agreed to and assigned. And still, there will be a larger or more complicated issue that will go unmentioned or unresolved. This happens in every single meeting- you just have to train yourself to see them. Each of these bigger issues is an opportunity to consciously choose your role. Can you lead your organization out of this bigger problem? Is someone better suited to lead and needs supportive followers? Or, is it best to watch this one play out? All three can be appropriate responses. The important thing is that you choose. You make a choice instead of passively going with the flow. Making a choice, taking a stand is empowering. So, speak up for those you want to take on and lend support to those you want to help. For everything else, make it clear that you’re sitting on the sidelines—because it’s not your leg of the race.
  2. Listen closely for other people’s perspectives. Are you able to hear someone’s point of view without assessment or judgement?  It’s difficult for me and I’ve wondered in the past why I should bother. It gets easier, and opens up more productive conversations, if you can reserve judgement and action until after hearing someone else’s point of view. Specifically, listen for times when people start with “I think” or “I feel” or “we should.” These are clues that they’re about to provide some insights into they’re processing the issue. They’re also words that trigger our subconscious and queue up a response of “well…I think, I feel, or we should…”
  3. Step up to solve today’s problem today. People I believe and respect* say credentials don’t matter as much as we previously believed. But they must matter, right? It’s a tough belief to shake. It’s been drilled into us since the beginning and the foundation higher education is based on. What matters instead are the results you can produce. This makes sense but putting all of the education and experience stuff on the back burner isn’t easy (at least for me) to do. What is more practical though, is resisting the tendency to not speak up because you presume that you don’t have the right credentials to contribute. There is so much important work to be done in our businesses and so much is going undone because the few in titled leadership roles couldn’t possibly get to all of it. They’re a bottleneck to brilliance—and rarely do they shut down good work intentionally. Never once in the history of all of my professional experience was a good idea turned away when someone offered to actually do the work too.
  4. Get the feedback you need—not just what your boss or team is offering. As a leader, you need to know not only if you're hitting targets, but also whether your team is content under your leadership. There's only one way to find out — ask them to tell you how you're doing and if there's anything they wish they could change. They’re likely to be really uncomfortable with this request at first. Reassure them that it’s not a trick and no one is going to get in trouble for speaking about their honest perceptions and experiences. You then back this up by thanking everyone who offers feedback, making adjustments in your approach (if needed), and continuing to enthusiastically lead forward.
  5. Pick yourself to be on the team.  Leaders create project teams and assume that everyone knows that they (the leaders) will fill a review and approval role. A more unique approach is to pick yourself for the team and make that clear upfront. State your role and how you’d like to work with everyone else. It's difficult to lead well if you don't consider yourself part of the group hashing through the tough challenges. What makes the project successful and the team look good is all of the same stuff that makes you look good too.  So, being an actual team player first while leading is a pretty novel and effective approach.

Bad Boss Stories

Collections aren't cool as they used to be, you know, with all of this tidying up we're doing.  So if you've been good about clearing stuff out but still have the urge to pile up some random stuff in one place, consider adding to this short, e-collection of bad boss stories.

  • "Giving the first employee of the month award to himself.", Huffington Post
  • "My first boss was the founding partner of a mid-sized law firm in Boston….He used to come in every morning, vise-grip my head with his hands, kiss the top of it, and say 'hello my luv, ho-e-you, ho-e-you'. Then he'd proceed to shred me all day long. His best moments were after I was sick and lost too much weight, used to walk around screaming 'where's the damned stick with t*ts?.' Really. I worked for him for 15 years. , Huffington Post
  • “I had a boss who tried to fire a retired employee. She had told him that he could not retire because there was too much work to be done, but he retired anyway. When she found out, she was heard throughout the office screaming into the speakerphone at the personnel director that she wanted to fire the employee. The personnel director chuckled as he told her that she could not fire an employee who had already quit.”, PennLive
  • “The first thing he does that is horrible is he points to his office when he wants to see me. He doesn’t call me by my name. Then he gives me a list of things that the higher-ups specifically told him to do and tells me to do it. He then tells me that the higher-ups don’t like me and I shouldn’t be friends with them. ( I know this isn’t true from talking to the higher-ups). He goes golfing and says that it’s company business and gets paid to go golfing while I do all his work and mine.”, PennLive

Newly pregnant at work

Mega snowstorm Jonas kept many of us inside for days straight. It's precisely these conditions that result in most babies being born in the fall-- yup, about 40 weeks later.  It's not too early to start thinking about maternity leave.  Here are some thoughts to consider...

Inventory and institutionalize your work

  • Now is a good time to take a look at the process and product of the things that you lead or contribute to in the organization.  What things can be transferred?  What things need to be written and described for others to take forward?  Reflect on the roles and responsibilities of your position and how that work can be addressed in your absence.

Figure out your “stay connected” plan

  • This isn’t to suggest that you shouldn’t fully be invested in your maternity leave.  You should, but you must also identify how you will stay connected to the work that occurs in your absence.  Communicate your intentions to check email, periodically respond to issue or answer questions, and how you will stay connected to the work, albeit in a modified or remote fashion.

Interview daycare providers

  • Research and then physically go and check out a couple of different daycare options- Even if you think you know what you want, I found it worthwhile to go visit an in-home daycare and a daycare/preschool center.  Seeing the set-up and getting a feel for the places really helped me imagine what it'd be like to drop off this little person that I hadn't even met yet myself. I also talked with a handful of nannies, moms with nannies, dads with au pairs, and grandmas doing a second tour as daytime caregiver. The experience will either make you feel more confident in your choices or help you narrow down the range of options.

Congratulations on this big, impending change.  Good luck!