Laws of Motion

The inability of the leader to see beyond the immediately satisfying but negative action to the long-term consequences could create chaos for the organization, to include the leader.

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Isaac Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion

Inhale Vision, Exhale Delusion…
Inhale Action, Exhale Reaction…
Inhale Consequences, Exhale Chaos…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#Vision

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Culture of Consistency

I love Alabama Football! Not just because I’m an alum, but also because the program under Nick Saban has been the model for how to create a culture of success. The team-first attitude demonstrated by the leaders and most of the team reflects a recruiting philosophy that focuses, not just on talent but also on temperament.

That “team first” attitude is why Alabama is consistently in the national conversation and has won five of the last nine National Championships. And from the looks of the talent, they’re not done!

President Barack Obama is presented an Alabama football jersey during a ceremony honoring the 2009 national champion Crimson Tide football team.

Roll Tide!

“First of all, you’ve got to have a vision of ‘What kind of program do I want to have?’ Then you’ve got to have a plan to implement it. Then you’ve got to set the example that you want, develop the principles and values that are important, and get people to buy into it.” ~ Nick Saban

Inhale Vision, Exhale Delusion…
Inhale Plan, Exhale Happenstance…
Inhale Execution, Exhale Procrastination…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#Culture

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Crucial Crucible

Every leader has experiences, often traumatic, that test who they are and sometimes transform who they are. Leadership guru Warren Bennis calls these moments “crucibles” and they require leaders to “examine their values, question their assumptions, hone their judgment.

As much as the descendants of the sons and daughters of the confederacy would like to view Robert E. Lee as a hero, in his crucible moment, he choose …despite some misgivings… to lead the effort to secede from the United States for the purpose of keeping a people enslaved.

That does not make him a hero….

Some crucible experiences illuminate a hidden and suppressed area of the soul.” ~ Warren Bennis

Inhale Vision, Exhale Oppression…
Inhale Test, Exhale Treason…
Inhale History, Exhale Revisionary…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#Leadership

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Projection

Projection of our fears onto someone else or even into the future usually leads to fear-based decisions. We “what if” our way out of focus, make decisions with our blurred vision and wonder how it all went wrong.

The Man said, “The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it.” God said to the Woman, “What is this that you’ve done?” “The serpent seduced me,” she said, “and I ate.” Genesis 3: 12-13

Inhale Real, Exhale Fear…
Inhale Reality, Exhale Projection…
Inhale Right Now, Exhale “What If”…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#Fear

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World Vision

What is your vision for your world? What does the world look like when you are serving in your purpose? The world is waiting on you…what are you waiting for?

When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” ~ Audre Lorde

Inhale Vision, Exhale Fear…
Inhale Faith, Exhale Fear…
Inhale Belief, Exhale Fear…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe
Reflections With Renita

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Sight

A young activist, whom I’ve grown to respect, recently spent some time traveling outside of his south Chicago neighborhood. The experience opened his eyes, impacting the way he viewed his neighborhood, leaving him disillusioned…desiring more for himself, his family and those he has worked so hard to help…dreaming of a better life.

You can’t be what you can’t see.” ~ Marian Wright Edelman

Inhale Vision, Exhale Confusion..
Inhale Desire, Exhale Delusion…
Inhale Dreams, Exhale Illusion…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

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Renewal

Our cells are renewing daily; if they weren’t, we would die. If we are not also growing spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, we might as well BE dead. We have to develop our spiritual muscles through prayer, meditation and study, exercise our emotional muscles by being present in our relationships and just like we would our biceps or pectoral muscles, flex our mental muscles through exposure to new information.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12: 2 ESVbook-912724_640

Inhale Growth, Exhale Regression…
Inhale Labor, Exhale Laziness…
Inhale Production, Exhale Decline…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe

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Decision Making Secrets … from Sequence!

I played the board game Sequence for the first time over the holidays. I know it’s been around for a while but our family usually plays Bid Whist so it was new to me. If you’ve played the game, you know it can be kind of slow…unless you have trash talking Bid Whist players at the table! If you haven’t played, the object of the game is to place 5 poker chips on a board in sequence based on the cards in your hand.

It was a great demonstration of how people make decisions. Some spent (what seemed to me) an interminable amount of time pouring over the board, looking at their hand, back at the board…I kept suggesting we incorporate a timer!

Others seemed to go with their gut… or maybe they had a predetermined plan. But most players took their time to make the best decision.

Why people make the decisions they make was also on full display. Those motivated by a sense of competition were of course significantly more vocal than those who just like to perform well.

I’m a pretty quick decision maker so once I picked up the basics, I was off to the races … when I finally got a turn. But I missed at least one opportunity to win the game for my team because I was so focused on MY plan to Sequence, I didn’t see it

Isn’t that how it is with leadership? You see an opportunity, formulate a great plan but fail to get a win for your organization because things have changed by the time you’re ready to execute. I was reminded of three keys to executing a plan of action that I learned in the Air Force.

Make sure your execution plan is flexible enough to react to new realities.

At one point in the game, I was so busy fending off efforts to block the sequence I was trying to create in one corner that I missed a chance to complete a sequence on another part of the board!

A plan is a great way to help you focus your vision but don’t let your plan turn into blinders that prevent you from seeing what else is going on. Circumstances change; make sure your plan is a springboard not a concrete block!

Communication is key to executing your plan.

In Sequence, team members CAN’T talk to each other; in business, they often choose not to. But the beauty of a team is the diversity of perspectives. So first, make sure your team is as diverse as you can make it to include gender, race, age, strengths, experience, etc.; second, make sure you are creating space for all member to point out the pitfalls of your plan as well as protect it to mission accomplishment.

Sometimes to see the perspective of the other person, you have to sit where they are sitting, be where they are or trust them to make the decision.

I realized that I was missing possible sequences primarily in one corner of the board. That’s because from where I was sitting, they didn’t look like sequences. I had to rotate the board and look at it from all angles to see ALL the possibilities.

Your reality is really your perspective; your team members may have different perspectives. Simply communicating conflicting realities may not result in understanding; sometimes intense interrogation and even immersion in information that is unfamiliar is required. But getting all the information available to determine the best possible action is worth the discomfort.

Good leaders are able to articulate a vision and plan of execution that attracts those who see themselves contributing to the vision. Great leaders invite their team members to expand the vision and create the best action plan.

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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American Experiment: Hypothesis Disproved?

“America is an idea” Bono.

America is a great idea. It’s an idea full of hope. It’s an idea that speaks freedom, shouts equality and invites peoples from all over the world to pursue happiness HERE…youshouldbeherebanner

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Of course, the truths espoused in the American Declaration of Independence have never been true for all Americans. America has never willingly extended unalienable rights to all its citizens unless they demanded them. For those segments of the population whose rights were initially and deliberately withheld, the 2016 election seems to be a repudiation of everything fought for, hard-earned…never given. Like many Americans, I’m left wondering if America can really ever achieve its promise

Social and cultural psychologists like Jonathan Haidt, one of the creators of the Moral Foundations Theory, would seem to suggest it’s going to be really difficult. In his widely read piece “What Makes People Vote Republican?” he describes a conservative mindset that sees in diversity a breakdown of social norms and feels a decrease in a sense of belonging to a shared community. Haidt suggests the more liberal among the population focus on those conservative concerns and adjust their rhetoric accordingly.

But if the conservative, predominately white part of the country sees diversity in negative terms, what does that mean for an increasingly diverse America? alt-right-protestersIn a generation, America will no longer have a majority white population. If the determined 25 percent of the country who voted for our 45th president, decided an unqualified candidate, one supported by American terrorist groups like the KKK and spouting fear and division, was the president we deserved, are we supposed to believe they won’t support the repeal of rights gained over the past 50 years? And if the 50 percent of the population who didn’t vote is tired of fighting, too cynical to believe their participation matters or too disengaged to understand the impact of their non-participation, will there be enough to prevent what may be coming?

In the long run, the only way the American Experiment will survive is if we all recognize the fragility of our Republic and work together to overcome the fragmentation that threatens to break it apart.

I pray it’s not too late.

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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Leading Differences

My dad turned 80 last month…a blessing I’m grateful I got to celebrate with him. Longevity runs in the family so while we’re not surprised, it’s not something we take for granted. He and my mom are doing aging the way it should be done: engaged in life, enjoying the fruits of their labor, and exercising enough to keep their bodies able to move.

My dad’s celebration and a planned joint birthday party for both parents not withstanding, birthday celebrations are not something our family really does well. I don’t remember many (any?) birthday parties, just the occasional birthday present…unless you were born in December or January in which case you had to make do with a Christmas/birthday present.

As my brother says, if our parents and a majority of the five siblings acknowledge your birthday, it’s a good birthday!

My sister-in-law is appalled. APPALLED, y’all! She does celebrations in a big way with ALL the bells and whistles, so our birthday behavior, or lack there of, is different, foreign, alien to her.

This is the kind of difference that can cause conflict in any relationship. Fortunately, my brother and sister-in-love understand how our individual experiences inform our choices, what we perceive as normal behavior, and what we might judge as abnormal. They’ve opted to reserve judgment and strive to accept and enjoy their differences.

Our individual experiences inform our choices, what we perceive as normal behavior, and what we might judge as abnormal. Tweet this now!

Here’s the thing. We sometimes assume everyone has had the same experience, has the same perception and will react the same way as we do. Of course, they haven’t, don’t and won’t. Even in the same family… my brother is a decade younger and my experience as the first child born to young 20-somethings just starting out, is remarkably different from his as the youngest of five.

Now, if we could just silently “Bless their hearts” and keep our perceptions and judgments from outwardly affecting our reactions, our interactions would be absent of conflict. Unfortunately, when the other person doesn’t react in a way that is familiar to us, we often judge them negatively. Tweet this now!

“…man is so imprisoned in his type of thinking that he is simply incapable of fully understanding another standpoint.” ~ Carl Jung

On a team, negativity toward differences can stop differences from being expressed, create unresolved conflict and result in a team imploding. Tweet this now!

How can a team leader prevent differences from destroying a team?

Embrace the differences!

Differences in thought, experience, and perception are what give a team its edge. Tweet this now!

As the leader, you have to understand that differences are good, enthusiastically embrace the diversity of your team members and create a culture where they can be fully themselves.

Express differences!

Maybe you aren’t comfortable with hearing a difference of opinion. Maybe you equate disagreement with disrespect. Maybe you’re not sure the person with a different perspective is as committed to the vision of the team as you are. In my experience, however, the team member with a different perspective just wants to make sure the team has considered all possibilities when choosing a course of action. Tweet this now!

“Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?” ~ Oprah Winfrey

On a team, each member has the right, even the responsibility of expressing fully who they are, what they know and what they bring to the team. Tweet this now!

As the leader, you’re responsible for creating a safe space for your team to express their differences.

Explain differences!

It can be difficult for people to explain the origins of their reactions to their life experiences. Or maybe their knowledge in their area of expertise cause them to reach an obvious conclusion so it’s NOT obvious to them that an explanation is necessary. However, if the differences are causing conflict on your team, it’s imperative that you seek to resolve the conflict. If there is no explanation, ask for clarification!

It won’t mean the other person agrees with you or that you have to change who you are, but it can lead to deeper understanding and more compassion on either side. Digging deeper for a greater understanding, greater clarity can bring greater success to your team.

It’s the differences on a team that makes the difference! Embrace them, express them, explain them if necessary and, most of all ENJOY them! Tweet this now!

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

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