Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thoughts on Leadership

Along with the rest of the world, I have been watching the rescue of the Chilean miners. I like this comment from President PiƱera of Chile: "We have learned from this accident that unity, faith, hope, and courage can achieve all the goals that we can set for our country." It is true, also, in our everyday lives and relationships.

Reading about Luis Urzua, the crew leader of the trapped miners gave great insight into what a true leader is: one who loves and serves those who are in his care. "As the leader of a group that was forced to live in perpetual darkness, high humidity and hot temperatures, Urzua kept up order, spirits and solidarity among the group, by setting everyone tasks and making sure that no one was marginalized."

It reminded me of the conversation I had with some teens in Washington. When I went to Spokane in August I covered a two-day youth conference for 1,600 teens. I also interviewed several of them about the qualities of leadership, as well as what it takes to be a good follower. The conference was well-done with group activities, service projects, and a spiritual program; the adult leaders were organized, kind, and helpful; the kids were excited to be there and had a lot of fun meeting new people and participating in the event. Several of them talked to me about the feeling of unity and friendship that was there. I enjoyed the whole experience, but the best part was getting to talk to the young men and young women; they were delightful.

Some of the group scenes from the conference.

During the discussions on leadership, they shared sweet experiences with me and gave insight wise beyond their years. They often mentioned the qualities of unity, faith, and courage. Said one young man: "Part of being in a leadership position means helping those that may need an extra hand. I have found that by helping others I help myself, and I am learning to be a better friend and person."

They also understood the importance of listening to what others have to say. One young lady commented: "Part of being a good leader is knowing when to put aside what you want and give others what they want. I think knowing when to step back and compromise is important." Someone else said, "You have to know how to serve before you can be a good leader."

They know that along with learning to be good leaders they need to be good followers also, and do what is asked of them with a good attitude. Said one: "followership is active." Observed another: "I know that followers behind a leader are like links in a chain. If a follower isn't helping another follower up, like a chain holds itself together, then the chain will fall apart and the leadership will be worth nothing."

Like the example of those trapped in the mine, their counsel applies to us all. When I follow these qualities in my relationship with David as well as with the rest of the family, it all goes so much better.

Scenes from Spokane: the clock tower, falls, and river

Monday, October 4, 2010

Changing Seasons

I always feel introspective around my birthday season, and this year was no exception. I had a good birthday weekend, complete with flowers and dinner from David, a family party, a happy phone call from my daughter Lara in Mexico, and two grandchildren (Gabby, 8, and Brad, 4) who spent the weekend with us. I couldn't have asked for better.

I had lunch with a friend last week. We talked about the way our lives are so different from what we envisioned when we were young. She asked me if I would change any major decisions that I have made.

It made me pause for a few minutes and think back over the years. I was very idealistic when I was young; I also didn't have a clear picture of what it was I wanted to do besides being a wife and mother. I have often thought that if I had had any idea of what was ahead for me I would have run the other way. But then I would have missed out on choice experiences; so no, I wouldn't change anything:
* Leaving school to work full-time (well, maybe that one); but that was when I met my first husband.
* Marrying my first husband. As difficult as it was because of circumstances and personality conflicts, I still learned important lessons about myself and life, and gained three amazing and precious children in the bargain.
*Divorcing that first husband. No, it needed to be that way for both of us to grow and move on. Twenty-five years later we have a good relationship. So, there again, no real regrets.
* Marrying David. I can't imagine life without him and the blended family we worked so hard to create, including the three children he came with and the two that we had together. Each one is important and loved. And while it hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, the last 24 years with him have been worth it.

The first week of April and October has traditionally been incredibly hectic with preparing the conference edition of the magazine. Because of changing technology and a streamlined schedule I have been freed of post-conference work; that means my life isn't put on hold for two weeks and I can do my regular work assignments. While I am not sorry for the change (28 years of running at a breakneck pace for two weeks is plenty!), I do feel slightly displaced. It's part of a cycle of change that happens in life, and I'm seeing that cycle of change happen more and more often at work lately: A dear friend that I enjoyed working with for 27 years retired on my birthday; news came recently of health problems that a good friend and former coworker is dealing with; hearing about the unexpected passing of another respected friend and former coworker. When I went to the retirement party for my friend I saw a number of friends, and thought back over the years. I realize that I have been truly blessed to work for the magazines and have been taught by masters in the field of editing and journalism. I can only hope to be as truly talented as they are.

David took me for a long ride this last weekend to celebrate the changing season, both in nature as well as at work. I enjoyed the fall colors in the mountains, the sleepy towns that we drove through, and the quiet conversation between us. His mood has been fairly stable, although he struggled at times last week with some depression. When he was manic earlier in the month he decided that he wanted to buy a harley-davidson motorcycle. I wasn't happy with the idea, but eventually told him that I would support him if he did. I also told him that I was not willing or able to cosign on a loan for one. He was sad when he couldn't get the financing, and I did my best not to be too happy about not acquiring a motorcycle. Happily, he's working through the disappointment.

He also decided to put together a fishing pontoon made of pvc pipe and styrofoam while he was manic, and he's been working hard at finishing his project. I think that part of the problem is that he doesn't have enough to keep him busy; having something to work on helps keep him stable. I'm hoping we can find something more for him to do this fall and winter.

This week is also Mental Health Awareness Week. You might want to check out the following for more information.