Next month I will bid farewell to my 30s and celebrate my 40th birthday. I’ve been reflecting on how I feel about this, about the number 40, this arbitrary age that seems to represent so much and inspires such a range of emotional responses. I’ve noticed that some of my friends have dreaded their 40th birthdays, as if the loss of one’s 30s is something to mourn. I see it differently. As a wise person once said, we should “not regret growing older; it’s a privilege denied to many.” Ponder that for a moment. To grow older, to experience more, to learn more, to spend more time with loved ones — is indeed a privilege. More than that, though, if given the choice, I don’t think I’d turn the clock back. I like who I am at just-about-40. This woman knows who she is.

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If you’ve ever led people, you’ve come across followers who would rather act the part than do their part. Those people are pretenders, and while they can sometimes masquerade as players, there are ways to tell the two apart. It’s important to find all the pretenders within an organization, because otherwise, they will steal momentum and damage relationships.
Here is my guiding principle: Pretenders look the part, talk the part, and claim the part, but fall short of fulfilling the part.

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It’s difficult to work with someone you think doesn’t like you, especially when it’s your leader. Most people don’t respond to it well. They often do one of the following:

  • Hide from the person: Many people go into avoidance mode. The good news is that there isn’t direct conflict. The bad news is that when we spend our energy hiding, we lose momentum.
  • Hinder the person: Another common response is to become passive-aggressive. We don’t do anything directly destructive. We just make sure not to be very cooperative. The problem with this is it hurts the team and causes us to be unfocused.
  • Harm the person: The worst of all responses is to try to punish or harm the person who doesn’t like us. That causes us to lose integrity.
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