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Who we are, how we lead, how we work, how we parent and decisions we make are all based on a frame work of morals and ethics that were ingrained with us from our youth. Sure over the years, our moral and ethical framework evolves, but the shifts are not crisp, nor are they tectonic in nature. Or are they?
I believe in servant leadership and have practiced it in my current role and at my previous company. My leadership style isn’t and wasn’t based upon a company or management philosophy in place, but rather based on how my moral and ethical framework interprets the role of a corporate leader. In other words, it is authentic to who I am and how I operate. My leadership style has never been a tool of expediency.
There are times in our lives, where it will be tempting to give into expediency and pivot from our ethical framework and our leadership style. Giving into the expediency may result in short term gains, but as a leader the voracity of your character will be questioned by your subordinates and those above you. Before you pivot to expedience, ask yourself if the short term gains will outweigh the longer term ramifications. How will your organization perform if they no longer have faith in you or your intentions? Is it worth the risk? I would argue all day every day that it is never worth the risk.
Brassy women often elicit one of two reactions. People either love them or hate them. Nobody fit the profile of a Brassy women better than Mae West. For her time, Mae West was considered by many to be brazen, a bit vulgar and tastelessly showy. While she was a huge box office draw on the Vaudeville stage, Broadway and at movie theaters nationwide; her plays and films were critiqued by morality groups and even city officials. West was even jailed in 1927 in New York City after debuting her play Sex on morality charges. She was sentenced to ten days and served eight days on account of good behavior.
Throughout her lengthy career, which spanned sixty nine years, Mae West stayed true to herself. Her performances and characters were brought to life through a lens she crafted. Even in her early Vaudeville days, her performances were injected with her spunky, brassy persona. In making the leap from Broadway to Hollywood, this didn’t change. She didn’t let Hollywood change who she was or how she portrayed her characters on film. She stayed true to herself and true to her craft.
It would have been easier for Mae West to abandon her brassy persona as she was the target of many moral groups and even the police throughout her lengthy career. She didn’t let the critics, society or the studio bosses dictate who she was or what she did. Whether you’re a fan of her movies or not isn’t important. What is important is to live an authentic life and not compromise who you are to get ahead or make someone else happy. In living a life that is authentic to your values, live fully and unapologetically without looking back.
Have you ever come across a person so sullen that you don’t think it is physically impossible for them to smile or laugh? Every interaction you have with that person is tenuous at best and horribly unpleasant at worst. Every interaction you observe between that person and another is equally poor. No matter how well you or anyone else treats them, they are always unhappy. In their unhappiness, they try to drag you into their dystopian world, but don’t take the bait. Don’ let their unhappiness define your happiness or lack thereof.
In life you have a choice, you can radiate bitterness and unhappiness as characterized above or you can be the antithesis to the negative Nelly. I’m not suggesting by any means that you become a Pollyanna, but rather that you don’t allow the negative Nellys in your life to define the way you see the world. Dealing with people that are consistently negative is difficult and taxing by radiating positive vibes you can counter the negative. So don’t be a Pollyana; be the anti-negative Nelly. Be the person that takes time to compliment someone on their outfit or their hair or hold the door for someone at the coffee shop. Be the person that chooses to radiate kindness, generosity and goodness. Small gestures of kindness go a long way in counteracting the meanness and negativity of those who choose to be miserable.
Long before I was reading Les Miserables, I was reading Roald Dahl and Judy Blume. What kid growing up in the 1980s didn’t read Super Fudge or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Roald Dahl wrote that “If you have beautiful thoughts they will shine out of your face like a sunbeam and you will always look lovely.” Nothing makes someone uglier than a mean spirit or a negative or hateful constitution. The choice is yours. What will you radiate?
There is no book or story I love more than Victor Hugo’s exquisitely written Les Miserables. A beautiful (and long) story of redemption, love, sacrifice and life set in revolutionary France. I first read the story in high school and absolutely fell in love with the book and then the musical. The musical is equally extraordinarily. I own both the 10th Anniversary and 25th Anniversary Dream Cast recordings on CD/DVD and the movie version on DVD. I could watch it every day of the week.
When I first read Les Mis, I fell in love with the story. As an adult, I have ready it two more times and I love it more. Funny how a little life experience changes the reading experience. I found this to be true in re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird as well. The subsequent times I read Les Mis, the themes of redemption, pure selfless love, and sacrifice became really meaningful.
Victor Hugo once said, “We are all under a sentence of death, but with a sort of indefinite reprieve.” The problem with this reprieve is that nobody knows the length of their reprieve. In the midst of our busy lives, it is easy to get lost in craziness forgetting that our reprieve is not infinite. All too often, it takes a gut wrenching loss or diagnosis to remind us that tomorrow is not promised.
Jean Valjean, Hugo’s main character in Les Mis, could have chosen to live a bitter life as Javert pursued him relentlessly over stolen bread, but he chose a different path. Rather than live an embittered life, he chose a life of selflessness, love, forgiveness and sacrifice that ultimately led to his redemption. Much like Jean Valjean, we too have a choice. We can choose a life embittered by our circumstances or we can choose a full life – a life that is full of love, experiences, selflessness and even forgiveness.
Many people choose to exist and that’s all. Before you know it, it is too late to do the things they dreamt about. Don’t sit dreaming about your goals, places you want to see or experiences you want to have, go out and and make them your reality. One hundred and fifty five years later, Hugo’s tale of redemption, love and life remains as timely as the day it was published. So what are you waiting for?
Every day, at every stage of our life, we have a choice. Do we settle for the status quo or worse for mediocrity? Or do we strive for greatness? Often we choose to simply exist. Day in and day out we follow the same monotonous routine as the day before. Choosing to exist in relative comfort instead of pushing ourselves to greatness.
It is on that precipice, where most sit in relative safety for most of their lives. Instead of choosing growth and opportunity, we balk at the risk that jumping of the precipice represents. Afraid to fail, we sit and we stall. The fear of failure can be paralyzing, however, even the worst situation could end up being the opportunity of a lifetime. We have to accept that failure is necessary for both growth and success.
It’s not always the fear of failure that drives us to maintain the status quo. Sometimes it is us accepting that being good is good enough, but I would submit to you, in the immortal words of Jim Collins that “good is the enemy of great.” Accepting “being good” is choosing to settle for what will ultimately become mediocrity. Akin to the great sports quote “hard work beats talent; when talent doesn’t work,” these words charge us to not accept good as adequate. Instead we should always strive to be better. We should strive to be great. In order to be great, we need to say goodbye to what is comfortable and jump off the precipice and fly.
Daily prompt: Precipice
It may seem strange to many that I’m a hockey mom living in sunny S. Florida, but life has a way of throwing curve balls our way. In 2005, we headed south from Minnesota to explore what South Florida had to offer. Our kids were still quite young at the time, Jacob was going into first grade and Colin was only 18 months. It was truly the perfect time for us to relocate without much interruption to their lives. While Jacob had played hockey at the Super Rink in Blaine the winter before we headed south, he decided not to continue playing in Florida.
Several years and a Zachary later, you can imagine our surprise that despite living in Florida for five years (and Zachary being born in Florida), our boys (especially Colin and Zachary) were still drawn to hockey. We tried numerous other sports (karate, soccer, etc.) to no avail. I guess you can take the boys out of Minnesota, but you can’t take the Minnesota out of the boys. Consequently, since 2010 we’ve been living the hockey lifestyle in sunny South Florida. With three boys playing at three different age levels on three different travel teams, our life has been busy. I would be lying if I told you that laundry, non-hockey friendships and household chores don’t fall by the wayside during hockey season.
This blog is about my attempt (any my family’s) to find balance between motherhood, hockey, fitness, survival and career. In writing this, I hope to both amuse and perhaps help others striving to find this balance. For others it may confirm what they already knew; hockey moms are crazy.
This blog is also about saving money! Managing a household with three hockey players, two of which are now teenagers, encompasses a lot of food and a lot of expenses. I’ll be sharing deals, flash sales and my best finds. You can also expect reviews of our favorite products and new products we’re trying.
I hope you enjoy reading the blog and that the window into our crazy world provides you with both entertainment and good information.