Not another Wall

One of the more offensive stories of the past six months had this headline:

Florida residents demand border wall around Habitat for Humanity Housing

And guess what? They got what they demanded. An eight-foot-tall, concrete, no less.

I don’t know where to being in describing how I feel about this situation. It is tied – philosophically and materially – to so many other forms of systematic exclusion, practices that are kinda illegal but apparently not completely.

These are the kind of mistakes that, 50 years from now, communities will be struggling to fix. It won’t be easy and it will be super expensive. One day, all of that concrete will be choking mother nature in a landfill. And then someone will figure out another way to make segregation (whether racial or economic) not only legal but desirable.

Unless we change our culture. We need to recognize our interdependence, create more openness and cooperation, and make decisions that are inclusive. For everyone.

Why I Don’t Have (or Want) a Mindset

If you’re a self help junkie like me (and even if you’re not), you’ve probably been repeatedly exposed to the word mindset. We should shift our mindset, we’re told (with nothing but good and honorable intentions), if we want to create and achieve the wonderful life that we deserve.

I don’t have a mindset. Nor do I want one.

To me, a mindset is a fixed place in our emotional-cognitive space. The theory suggests that we ought to move from one fixed place, where we are apparently stuck, to another predetermined fixed place.

But what about the rest of our emotional and intellectual capacity?

From my perspective, we should instead practice mind elasticity, or mind resilience — the ability to freely move around in our mind in response to internal and external stimuli. Rather than simply move from Point A to Point B, we should recognize the infinite points of wisdom within and joyfully explore them from moment to moment.

Changing the Culture of Leadership

A striking headline recently caught my eye:

Masculine Traits are Still Linked to Leadership

The researchers created a list of stereotypically masculine and feminine words associated with leadership – both those with positive and negative connotations (though I don’t necessarily agree with the binary assignment to categories, for example, ambitious to masculine). They found that traits associated with women were seen as luxurious – valuable, but superfluous, to leadership. Nice, but not necessary.

Steering our priorities toward the austere, I would argue, is a masculine trait – if one must choose at all (perhaps forced choice can also be thought of as a masculine approach). And one that makes our world more bleak, divided, unnecessary tumultuous, short sighted, and wasteful. So making this choice to veer toward the masculine, regardless of our gender, reinforces these stereotypes and creates the type of world described above. Artful integration of masculine and feminine (and uncategorizable) approaches to leadership, I think, is a more interesting and helpful way to realize the world we dream of living in.

Leadership Should Be Messy

Leaders have historically been portrayed as polished to perfection. As a result, we sometimes unfairly expect leaders to be superhuman. We ridicule and shame when they make mistakes and reel in disappointment when they don’t live up to our ideals.  

That concept of leadership is dying. People are increasingly recognizing leadership as complex, emergent, and shared regardless of formal position. In other words, messy.

Some people resist messiness. To them, such disorder reflects a lack of discipline, healthy habits, and quantifiable results. It goes against how we have been programmed for decades. Others, like me, are open to messiness because it creates possibilities for challenge, engagement, and transformational results.

So unstraighten the surely minimal piles on your desk, misspeak and offend someone, let someone make a mistake, and try something that seems daunting if not impossible. Heck, throw up a bunch of papers in the air. Give up the seductive illusion of control. Let go and see what happens.