Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Hope in the Next Generation

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I am trusting in the next generation’s ability and desire to embrace people who are different from them.

In my last TGIF, I told you of my son’s graduation.  After that ceremony, my husband and I drove off for a weekend wedding celebration.

At both events, the next generation were radiant.  The young adults proudly walked across the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas.

Graduating high school senior

The young couple glowed with happiness.

What fills me with trust in their ability to welcome differences is that they already have!  The students attend a multi-cultural school which integrates French and Anglophone teaching methods (VERY different).  The Franco-American couple welcomed thirty nationalities to their wedding.

It’s exciting to see the next generation embrace multiple cultures with enthusiasm.

Gratitude

I am grateful for being shaped by the next generation.  I am the person I am today partly because of who my kids are and how they helped me grow.

Mom's thanking kids for growth

I have long believed parenting is like leadership development.  We craft a vision (try to), communicate it (try to), and organize to make it happen (try to).

It’s in the “trying to” and the “messed up and trying again” that I have become the person that I am.  Thanks, next generation, for being such thorough (!!!) trainers.

I shared my appreciation directly to my one of my sons before his graduation.  We have this bulletin board by our front door, and friends often come over.  As the buddies were leaving, there was a quiet moment by the front door.  Then, “That’s cool.”  Later, I asked my son what that was about.  “The sign, Mom.” 😊

Inspiration

My inspiration comes from Mother Teresa.

“We train ourselves to be extremely kind and gentle in touch of hand, tone of voice, and in our smile, so as to make the mercy of God very real.”
– Mother Teresa

It is easy to think that some people love or are organized or lead others naturally.  It’s auto-magic.

I had thought that of Mother Teresa.  She was born good and kind and gentle.  And yet, she asserts otherwise.  She INTENTIONALLY trained herself and created training methods for all of the Sisters of Charity

  • to lovingly touch the leper
  • to genuinely smile with eyes and lips at the drawling and toothless elder
  • to soothingly speak to the person disformed by pain

As I train upcoming leaders and students, I am inspired to remember that kindness can be learned.  So can resilience, patience, optimism, listening….

Fun

It was a blast to see my son get his well-earned diploma.  We are proud of him.  Even more importantly, he is proud of himself.

Intrinsic motivation will help him more in life than approval from others.

Proud parents of high school senior

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What Motivates More: Encouragement or Compliments?

Denise Dampierre in workshop

Are some people born with intrinsic motivation (it’s auto-magic or genetic…) or can it be learned?

Scientists assert that the way you and I act can develop (or not) intrinsic motivation in others.  Read on…

4 Ways Kids Can Help Parents Resolve Work Challenges

Kids-give-lessons-to-parentsYour children are smart.  They have been around you.  They also view the world from a different perspective.  In our difficulties, sometimes we lose clear vision.  Discover these ways you and your child can grow in intimacy AND bring clarity to a fuzzy situation at work.  Read on…

Intergenerational Communication that Works – Insights from Dem DX

Newborn baby in hospitalThe younger generation seems more comfortable with diversity in nationality, race, and religion.  How about with different generations? That can seem tougher.

Learn how this start-up integrates the wisdom of senior experts with the expertise of younger generation.  Dem DX won the European prize for the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition.  Read on…

TGIF - Less is more

TGIF – Less is More

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I am trusting that less is more.

Period.

Life is complicated
Is that it?! There is so much more….
Denise Dampierre smiling
Yup. All for now…

Gratitude

I am thankful for chance encounters.

Two weeks ago, at a networking event, I sat down next to a stranger and introduced myself.  It so happens we share a vision for an entrepreneurial project and come at the concept from different yet complementary angles. We decided to collaborate and are both growing through the contact.  It is invigorating to have one’s ideas both acknowledged and challenged simultaneously. 

One clients described this kind of exchange as the epitome of benevolence at work:  to be demanding of your team member because you want the best for them and therefore to kindly yet firmly push the limits to have them recognize how well they perform and that they can go further.

I am thankful for those people who see your and my potential and help us reach it.

Inspiration

This week’s inspiration is like a conversation between sages.

Someone confides,

“Hell is other people.”  – Jean Paul Sartre

Another answers,

“Ask not what your country (or company or friend…) can do for you—ask what you can do for your country (or company or friend…).
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy from his inaugural address.

A third concludes,

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

And I am inspired by Brian Morton of the New York Times who verifies references and corrects us.

” The closest verifiable remark we have from Gandhi is this: ‘If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.’ ”

Fun

Yesterday was July 4.  How did you celebrate the US Independence Day?

The funny thing is…I forgot! 

Amazingly, on the other side of the ocean, Happy Birthday USA is not top of mind.  It is a regular workday here.  I realized the date upon sending an email to an American company and receiving the automatic reply message:

“I shall be out of the office on July 4 due to a national holiday.”

Aghhh!

(FYI, I will be celebrating 14th of July, the French national holiday and ooh-ing and ah-ing over the fireworks.)

Eiffel Tower July 14
The magic of the Eiffel Tower on July 14. From Le Figaro

This is definitely a time when more is welcome!

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What’s YOUR Focus Word?

Boy looking through telescope. Searching Focus word!We are featuring this article again (did it last week too) because of the comments from several of you.  Glad you liked it.

This afternoon, my focus phrase is “Make it to the school on time.”  Our youngest son is graduating from high school.  Read on..

Paris Heat Wave

TGIF – Swimming at the Eiffel Tower

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

My word for the year is “community.”  That means NO to taking on projects that I will lead solo, and YES, seeking out opportunities to collaborate.  This week I have fully benefited from networks of people I trust.  French school finishes next week and summer break is around the corner.  Many network events were planned while folk are still in town.

I mentor a young woman who is rebuilding her life after violence through entrepreneurship.  It was an honor to attend her graduation and learn how both she and her business grew.  “I am not the same person I was a year ago.”  I am honored that she trusts me and in my counsel.

I trust in the Harvard community in Paris.  In this case, I am the mentee 😊!  A senior HBS graduate counsels and challenges me as I embark on a new entrepreneurial venture.   Her input is both kind and demanding.  I trust that means she believes in my potential!

Station F corporate sponsor building

Here is a photo of Station F, the largest entrepreneurial space in France, where women from Harvard gathered for our most recent get-together.  There are three segments: this first hall is devoted to corporate sponsors (that’s why it looks empty.  It’s after business hours.)  The hall beyond the glass doors at the far end of the is where the entrepreneurs work on loooooooong tables.  Security is intense and we were not allowed in. And of course, there is a food hall!

Denise Dampierre at Station F in Paris

It felt eerie to be in such a place of connection (exchange of money, contacts, ideas…) when the lights were off.  Hope to see it in action soon.

Our moderator created a secure setting where we could express our conviction with trust.  Naturally, I did!

 

Gratitude

It’s heat wave time in France and I am grateful for water, especially drinking water.  It is so easy to take it for granted!

American friends ask if we have air-conditioning.  Like many Parisians, no we do not.  That’s why we freshen off where we can.  Temperatures climbed to 39.7 °C or 103.5 °F.

Calor!  Chaud! Hiess! HOT!  Yesterday I took it for granted.  Today, I am grateful for water.

Scorching sun.  Photo by Rob Potvin.

See more pics of Parisians combatting heat on Paris Match website

Inspiration

As you may know, I teach management in a French university.  On the final exam I asked a question about managers’ responses to failure.  (We had studied the impact of blaming vs. seeking solutions on corporate culture.)

I am inspired by the vitality and hope in this student’s response.

“If there is no solution, there is no problem.”

The phraseology caught me off guard, and I like it.  Challenges exist…yet they don’t have the last word!

Problem solving
Background image from Udemy’s Engineering Problem Solving course. Cool, isn’t it!

Fun

On June 21, the longest day of the year, Paris resonates with music.  It is the Fête de la Musique, a day where bands can set up on the street and play.  It’s fun and it’s free.

One of my sons sings in a band and I went to admire him.  I also ADMIRED this prancing princess who CLEARLY was having a blast.  Check out the video on the SoSooper Facebook page for more fun.  You get to see the boys dancing too!

Fete de la Musique
Shake it!

The cool of the evening is settling in…and I’m off to watch France and the US women’s soccer match.  Who to support?  All of them!

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What’s YOUR Focus Word?

Boy looking through telescope. Searching Focus word!Research reveals the debilitating impact of decision-overload.  Choose a word-for-the-year to better stay focused on priorities.  It makes it easier to say “No” with respect and confidence.  Read on…

Girl Power

Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry on French female soccer teamWhy women’s soccer is sooooo important!  Read on…

Winning insights from Rosabeth Moss-Kanter of Harvard Business School

French soccer team winning FIFA World Cup 2018

Moss Kanter’s research reveals the correlation between blame and losing teams and mindset focused on solutions.

It is also a soccer inspired post!  Would you believe it?  I prefer rugby 🙂  Read on…

TGIF - Girl Power Female soccer

TGIF – Girl Power

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I’m trusting in womens’ leadership and in the business case for diversity (gender and more) in executive teams.  Female soccer is a key player in this game.  Our family is cheering for the French in 2019 FIFA Female World Cup.  Are you watching the matches too?

Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry on French female soccer team
The action! TOGETHER. That’s teamwork.

Thought-Provoking Facts:

Twenty years ago, women and girls represented less than 2% of the soccer-playing population in France.  Today, close to 8% of the players are female.

Whereas the number of total French soccer players grew 15% from 1999, the number of women players multiplied fivefold!

What’s the big deal?  According to CEO Magazine, 95% of Fortune 500 CEO’s played sports in college.  I am trusting we can get more women into the boardroom by getting them on the field.

Les Bleues

The French fashion magazine Elle has added an entire section “Les Bleues” (The French women’s soccer team) to their website.  Great pics and daily updates.  That’s where this photo of “Les Bleues” comes from.

(Trivia: the men’s team is called “Les Bleus” without the second “e”)

Gratitude

This week in France all high school seniors are taking the Baccalaureate test.  It began on Monday morning with Philosophy.

On Sunday evening, around the dinner table, our boys tested each other on philosophy quotes. Here is a quiz for you:

Who said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” ? (scroll down for the answer)

Seen further standing on shoulders of giants

Food for thought:

On who’s shoulders are YOU standing?

My parents, among others.

What have you been able to see that you could not have envisioned without him?

The world.  They took us traveling as kids and I have not stopped since.  We now live on different continents!

How will you thank them?

I call them…try to do so weekly.  In several decades, I want my kids to call me too. 🙂

Inspiration

Of course Isaac Newton (quote above) inspires me…and I wanted to share wisdom from a woman too. Please, in the comments, share what woman inspires you!

I had the pleasure of hearing Leymah Gbowee speak in Paris after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.  As leader of the Women in Peacebuilding Network in Liberia, thousands of Christian and Muslim women prayed together for peace and held DAILY non-violent demonstrations.  Their efforts contributed to the end of the Liberian civil war.

Leymah Gbowee Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from LeMonde

“We are tired of war. We are tired of running. We are tired of begging for bulgur wheat. We are tired of our children being raped. We are now taking this stand, to secure the future of our children. Because we believe, as custodians of society, tomorrow our children will ask us, “Mama, what was your role during the crisis?”

– Leymah Gbowee speaking to dictator Charles Taylor and officials.

Food for thought:

What are you tired of? 

For what will you take a stand?

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from the Personal Development Café

“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”

– Leymah Gbowee

Food for thought:

Where do you feel powerless? 

What is One. Thing. YOU can do TODAY to make a difference?

Fun

It’s a double graduation year.  Here I am with our son graduating with a Master in Management from HEC Paris and with our youngest who is passing the Bac. (He’ll have his eyes fully glowing when the baccalaureate exam is over!)

HEC Paris graduation

Great memories of lots of work and lots of fun.

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

P.S. PLEASE share what woman inspires you in the comments below.  Thanks.

 

Neat & New Stuff

Insights from Vice-Dean of Sciences Po Management School

Vice Dean Sciences Po ManagementIn this interview, Olivier Guillet of France’s prestigious Sciences Po School of Management and Innovation addresses the 21st century leadership needs.  The Internet has revolutionized the management criteria and requires new skills for success.  Read on…

How to move from Book-Wise to Street Smart

There is knowledge to gain AFTER the degree.  It’s the wisdom of applying what we learn.

At work that translates into changing habits, like disciplining ourselves to gain a fresh perspective.  Tips to open our eyes, ears, and minds.  Read on…

Looking for Interview Suggestions

Can you recommend a wise leader with a message related to building constructive conversations at work?  Many of you appreciate the interviews I led with tried and tested leaders who overcame challenging conditions.

It would be an honor to know about them and to possibly interview them.  Please send me an email.

TGIF-rain in paris

TGIF – Us vs. Them

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I am trusting in the Power (and sweetness) of Diversity.

Diversity in icecream. Tin Pot Creamery

This past Monday France was on holiday for Pentecost.  It is the Christian “Diversity Day,” and what happened that day holds insights for how we create or break a sense of belonging. Let me explain.

Pentecost is a day when the group became defined by its center, not by its barriers.

Pentecost marks the day when the news about Jesus’ resurrection became international news.  His disciples, mostly uneducated small-town fishermen, spoke Hebrew and were following the Jewish calendar of celebrating Passover in Jerusalem. The city was full of people who traveled from other nations to celebrate the feast.  According to the Bible*, on Pentecost the disciples were given a supernatural ability to speak these foreign languages and told about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

In 2019 terms, this is like being confused while watching a foreign movie without subtitles. Then, amazingly, the actors come to you and play the scene in your own language and you understand.

What does this have to do with diversity?  Many groups are defined by their border.  It’s a barrier which describes who is “in” and who is “OUT.” 

  • We are women, you are men.
  • We are Ivy League School graduates…What’s your background?
  • We are…

and the list goes on.

Pentecost is a day when the group became defined by its center, not by its barriers.  By making the news of Jesus available to people of all languages, the focus became Jesus and not the cultural barriers.

Jesus Mafa African Mary & JesusI am trusting that each of us will choose to focus on common, centering principles such as justice and equal rights.  You and I, as we lead by example and act within our circles of influence, can make a difference in building inclusive cultures within our companies and communities.

And, I love this image of the Madonna and child by Jesus Mafa.  Why should Jesus look like a well-fed, richly clothed Italian infant from the Renaissance period?!   This image made me aware of some of my unconscious biases.

Maybe you too have seen the T-shirts that read, “I met God.  She’s black.” 🙂  When we meet God, I think every one of us will be surprised.

*For the Pentecost story, see Acts chapter 2

Gratitude

Thank you to the people who support the “cause” of others

  • For the men promoting women to leadership
  • For the whites insisting on equal rights for people of other races
  • For the atheists welcoming prayers of the faithful
  • For the healthy investing in equipment for the disabled

I am also grateful to one of my sons, he was about 10 years old at the time, who said, “Mom, you do stuff for Christians.  What do you do for non-Christians?”  That question changed how I invest my time and energy…and eventually to why I am writing you right now.

Thanks, darling.

Inspiration

Following up on these meaning-of-life thoughts, my inspiration this week comes from an Excel file!!!!!!

Isabelle Roux-Buisson is mentoring me on an entrepreneurial project, and she sent me an “Assumptions Dashboard” spreadsheet.  This has been so helpful and grounding.

assumptions entrepreneurs make

Entrepreneurship is like navigating in the fog.  We move forward step by step and try to get as much clarity as possible.  Writing down assumptions gives shape to potential obstacles.  Testing these premises opens the way for opportunities.

Her inspiring impetus boosted me to test market presuppositions and to move from the “I hope” stage to the “that door is closed but this one is open!” phase.

Isabelle is a senior executive in the tech field and a jury for the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition in Europe.  You can learn from her too!  Here is her interview on how she developed Emotional Intelligence throughout various stages of her career.

Fun

Last week, I hinted at our D-Day inspired haircutting ritual.  The Allied forces brought the harbor to Arromanches-les-Bains; we bring our hairdresser to our home.

It’s been going on for over two decades.  That means it’s working…and we make it fun!

Haircut at home for boys
Haricut at home for men

All six of us pass through Adrien Bracon’s expert snips.  When the kids were tykes it was exhausting having them sit still BOTH while in a barber’s chair AND while their brothers’ Chewbacca (massive head of hair) got trimmed.  HELL.

Instead we sip flavored coffee, exchange music, and send emails (!) while getting our hair reshaped.  And since there are six of us, haircutting time always falls around mealtime.  We easily transition to wine and cheese.

These pictures were taken at the same place with the same people, 15 years apart.

I love to take the bore out of a chore.  What small shift in perspective – a reframe – could make your life more pleasant? 

Get in touch.  This is what I talk about with clients: transforming a relationship challenge into an opportunity for growth.

See below the article on fresh perspectives inspired by inclement weather.  The cover image on the TGIF is from Christophe Jacrot, an amazing photographer taking pictures in the snow and rain.  It’s been raining every day in Paris this week.  That was less fun for me, but the plants love it!

Looking forward to being in touch next Friday.

Neat & New Stuff

Interview with Isabelle Roux-Buisson

Isabelle Roux-BuissonIsabelle shares how she leaned on emotional intelligence (EI) skills throughout her career.  Each stage of leadership requires different skills to connect with and motivate team members and other stakeholders. She shares how learned about emotional intelligence and then intentionally integrated these skills into her management style.  Read on…

3 Managerial Insights from Snow in Paris

Paris in the snowIt’s not literally freezing in Paris, but the weather sure is cold for this time of year and intense precipitation falls every day. This post presents fresh perspectives on work that were gained from inclement weather.  It’s a reframing with the intent to make your management as productive and more fun.

Read on…

Looking for Interview Suggestions

Can you recommend a wise leader with a message related to building constructive conversations at work?  Many of you appreciate the interviews I led with tried and tested leaders who overcame challenging conditions.

It would be an honor to know about them and to possibly interview them.  Please send me an email.

Remembering Normandy D-Day

TGIF – Remembering D-Day

Seventy-five years ago, yesterday, the Allied forces landed on the Normandy beaches and defeated the Germans in the Battle of Normandy.  An Allied victory for World War II was in sight.  Nazi exterminations and indoctrinations would be exposed and stopped.

June 6, 1944 remains one of the world-changing days of history.  Our world would be vastly different without that day.  There would be no state of Israel.  Europe would have been “culturally cleansed.” My imagination cannot fathom the consequences.

The above photo is from the movie, The Longest Day which recalls the event.

Trust

Today, I am trusting in Democracy.

It’s a scary thought as I view political unrest among nations.  It is true of countries that boast democratically elected governments and those of other regimes.  So what gives me hope?

Normandy d-day
Town center is named after D-Day, June 6 in 1944

Democracy can and does evolve.  After World War II, when many of the French political leaders were tainted with collaboration with the Nazi’s, the country adopted its 4th constitution.  In order to limit abuse of control, power was concentrated in the legislative branches.  In a divided country, there was insufficient support to implement unpopular reforms.  War, again, led to the establishment of the 5th Republic.  The president, elected by the citizens, runs the country with consultation of the prime minister which he appoints and who is approved by the elected legislative representatives.

With the recent Yellow Jacket unrest there is talk of a 6th republic.  What is the role of the citizen?  What does representation mean in the Age of Information?  Who decides what?

My trust in democracy is like faith as described in the Bible:  confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

I see the need for an evolving democracy.  I trust it will come about.

Gratitude

Gravestone from Normandy D-Day
Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.

THANK YOU to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for you and me 75 years ago.

When our sons were young, we visited Omaha Beach, Arromanches-les-Bains, and the American Memorial and Cemetery in Normandy.  As the boys read the gravestones, they calculated the ages of the soldiers.  Many were 19,20, 21 years old.

These young men did not all fight by choice.  They left behind grieving families.  Each one was a person with a unique story…even the unidentified soldiers.

I am grateful for their sacrifice to me, an unknown stranger of a future generation.

Inspiration

During our visit to the Normandy beaches I discovered the artificial harbor at Arromanches-les-Bains.

Frankly, I had not thought much about wars and how they are fought, lost or won. In this quaint seaside town, I learned of the vital importance of logistics

  • Medical supplies for the wounded
  • Food for the soldiers
  • Gas for the tanks
  • Bullets for the guns

Because of these needs, the Germans expected the Allies to land in an established port.  The waters of Gold and Omaha Beaches were too rough to allow for unloading from tankers and transportation on land.

That’s where the Mulberry Harbor played a vital role.  The British devised a transportable harbor.  What inspirational, ingenious out-of-the-box thinking!

On the horizon, you can still see the sunken cement blocks that created the artificial harbor.

D-Day landing in Normandy
Mulberry Harbor on the horizon…and in front!

Fun

I had fun looking through old family photos to find those of our Normandy beach outings.  When I came across these I laughed out loud.  The hair!  The boys’ energy!

Stay tuned for next week.  We use the Allied philosophy on hair-cutting.  Bring the barber chez nous!

Clearly our family is not perfect…nonetheless, we are precious!

LOL

In the Spotlight

When Values Translate into Behavior

Inspiration from the Normandy D-Day that you and I can apply at work and at home.  It’s about choosing where to invest our time, attention, energy, and finances in order to reach our goals for 30 years from now.

Read on…

Precious or Perfect?  Wisdom from Notre Dame

Being good enough.  Is that perfection?  But we’ll never reach it!

Inspiration from the drama at Notre Dame on the dark sides of perfectionism.  All it takes is a spark to burst into destructive flames!

Read on…

When Values Translate into Behaviors

Clarify Values – Know What Matters

Today, we celebrate 75 years since the Allied Forces invaded France’s Normandy beaches.

When our sons were little, we traipsed them off to visit Omaha Beach, Gold Beach at Arromanches-les-Bains, and the cemeteries of those who died for a mission.  We wanted our kids to learn of the price of freedom and to consider these freedom-fighter as heroes.

D-Day beach
Mulberry (artificial) Harbor at Arromanches-les-Bains in Normandy, France

President Eisenhower, in his June 6, 1944 speech to the embarking soldiers, appeals to their love of liberty.

What do you and I live for? What gives us the courage to face the impossible? 

When we tap into our mission and our deepest values, we unleash the courage needed to step outside of our comfort zone.

According to Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Jay Light, previous Dean of the Harvard Business School, put it this way, “We need to know where we want to be in 30 years to decide where to invest the next month.”

That’s what the Allies did when conceiving the Normandy beach landings.  Let’s gain insights for our life today.

How Values Matter

Values facilitate decision-making.

Consider even the way we organize and manage our meetings.

Steven Sels, then CEO of Primagaz, share how their values guide their weekly schedule.  He handed me a fun-to-handle foldout that dedicates one page per core corporate value: growth through performance – go for niche and market share – invest in people – keep things simple – listen, learn and react – look for the unusual – manage change.

He went on to explain that their Executive Committee meets every Monday afternoon to hear project presentations for any team in the organization.  Teams are to submit a written pitch the week before and are allotted thirty minutes of discussion with senior management.

Through these Monday sessions, the company kept innovation simple, uncovered niche market opportunities, taught teams to collaborate and to pitch ideas, and modeled listening and learning by the executive team, and were able to move fast when implementing new ideas.  They lived their values and these principles took on meaning.

Compare that to corporate meetings that last looooong, where too many people are convened, and decision-making is slow.  Fuzzy values breads lack of focus.

Make Values Crystal Clear

In my workshops, I often ask this question which brings out people’s values.

“What would we need to function as One. Great. Team?” 

“What would we need to function as One. Great. Team?” 

In a few minutes we have a list of a dozen or more ideas and ideals which run the gamut from “Respect each other” to “Be on time” to “Listen” to “Have food.” 😉

It is worth digging deeper.

Translate Values into Behaviors

We continue defining how to collaborate effectively.

“What does ‘respect’ mean to you?” 

“Respect means not interrupting.”

“So, how do handle when one person monopolizes the discussion?  They might not realize it AND we do want to hear other people’s input.”

In this point of the discussion, the group begins to understand the value of valuesBeliefs lead to behaviors.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there are plentiful solutions for showing mutual respect.  In the ensuing discussions, values become clearer and more meaningful.

Behaviors are “real” and visible.  When associating beliefs with specific action, the ideals become more relevant too.  It’s a virtuous circle.

Commemorating D-Day Values

Normandy d-day
Town center is named after D-Day, June 6 in 1944

The soldiers, military, resistors, and civilians who contributed to the Allied victory on the Normandy beaches translated “freedom” into the action.  They all risked (and some lost) their life for it.

  • Some climbed into a boat on a stormy night and jumped off onto mine-filled beaches.
  • Others imagined, designed, and built an artificial harbor made of concrete blocks and old tankers that they would sink at Arromanches-les-Bains. This assured the logistic supply for the troops.
  • Others spoke and listened to the coded “personal messages” on France Libre, the French resistance radio channel on the BBC from London.

Thank you.  Their decisions to invest courage and valor 75 years ago allows us to live as are today.

In what will you and I invest so that we are where we want to be in 30 years?  Let’s think about it now.  A family friend and veteran says, “If I knew I would be living this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” 

Let us live without regrets with purpose NOW.

P.S.

Sometimes sharing values looks messy.  Here is a picture of our four boys at the American Cemetery and Memorial by Omeha Beach.  We invested energy in having them stand somewhat reverently in the cemetery…clearly not in having them sit quietly at the barber shop!

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
LOL

Photos of Arromanches by P Bracke

Notre Dame cathedral easter 2019

Precious or Perfect? Wisdom from Notre Dame

Do we have to be perfect to be precious?

On Monday evening, the fire at Notre Dame cathedral decimated the roof and the burning spire (called the “arrow” in French) crashed from the sky to the ground.

Memories disappear in minutes.

The recently cleaned stone, usually brilliant in the sunlight, is now 50 shades darker.

What lies ahead for this most visited site in Europe?  As of Monday evening, donations flowed in to contribute to Notre Dame’s renovations.  She lost her perfection.  She remains precious.

Are you convinced of that in yourself?  Each of us knows that we are not perfect.  Are you and I also convinced that we are precious?

This mindset determines our future.  What we think about ourselves influences how we invest in ourselves to grow.  It also impacts how other people invest in us.

Perfection Perverts Relationships

It took me decades to come to truly know that I am enough.  Period.  I have value as a human being.  Not because of what I do or who I know.  Because I am.

I don’t need to be perfect to be precious.

When I am convinced of that in me, then I can be convinced of that in other people too.

Beforehand, I fixated on being “good enough” by being “better than.”

Comparison focuses one towards critique and reinforces unconscious biases: to find what is “wrong” with the other person and to highlight what is “right” in me.

We find what we seek.

If you and I are looking for weaknesses in others, we will find them.

At the same time, when we seek qualities, we find them too.

The same behavior could even be viewed as either a liability or as a potential strength! It depends upon our mindset.

  • Is your colleague dissipated or highly curious?
  • Is your boss arrogant or focused?
  • Is your child stubborn or a person with convictions?

Wisdom from Notre Dame

Notre Dame has been with Paris for centuries.  Even without her roof, she remains precious.  Maybe even more so.  She “needs” us now.

Perfection Perverts Perception

We all make judgements about people, and our predisposition is to believe that we are right. 🙂

Psychologists warn us of several ingrained biases.  The correspondence bias is when someone makes conclusions about another person’s character based on a behavior.  Context is insignificant.

  • When Samira leaves a large tip at a restaurant, she is considered generous. We overlook the specifics of the situation.
  • When Sydney arrives late to work, he is unorganized or uncommitted. No excuses.

On top of the correspondence bias we add the actor-observer bias where a person undervalues the situational influence in other people’s behavior and over-values it in his own.

  • When you or I just landed a lucrative contract and leave a large tip at the restaurant, we might feel generous.  It is our mood, not who we are.
  • When you or I arrive late, the traffic was terrible. We are not making excuses; we are relating a fact!

The perfectionist mindset limits someone’s ability to accept these research-proven biases.  Divergent viewpoints would call our analysis into question and destabilize our sense of value and entire being!

For the perfectionist to “be right,” other people are wrong.

Wisdom from Notre Dame

Among the statues of Notre Dame (and they still stand), we find both saints and goblins.  Grotesque gargoils don’t make her beastly.  Gorgeous handiwork does not make her divine.

Reframing Empowers
Reframing Frees from Perfectionism

True or False: “I see it, therefore it is real.”

I have learned we see what others choose to show.

Few of us expose our dark sides.  In fact, we go to great extents to hide them, sometimes even to ourselves.  We readily display confidence and results-orientation at work and keep out of sight the fear of not measuring up or lack of motivation.  These represent the underwater portion of the iceberg,

Fear drives many of us to invest time and energy to hide our imperfections.

Fear of what?  Fear of whom?

Naming our emotions initiates our ability to tame them.  

I have also learned that facing our emotions is an effective way to live life with few regrets.  That is what I wish for you and for me.

Wisdom from Notre Dame

I arrived in Paris after my MBA to work in marketing at l’Oréal.  Our training included six months in the field meeting customers.  My work week began early on Tuesday mornings as I headed by train to a provincial French town to arrive in time for store opening at 10 o’clock.  I returned to Paris well into Saturday evening, where my friends were already galivanting around town.  Not surprisingly, they did not want to go out on Sunday night.

I was lonely.

On top of that, my boss believed in motivation by critique.

I was demoralized.

That’s when I regularly walked the streets of Paris on my own and frequently rested on the Pont de la Tournelle which has a view on the back of Notre Dame.

I marveled at how, from the front, the cathedral’s towers emanated strength and majesty.  The buttressed rear view exposed another angle: architectural ingenuity and graceful stone.  The slim buttresses are essential to hold up the imposing towers and the elegant spire.

There is more than one viewpoint.

The same applies to my life and yours too.

I stand in awe before Notre Dame’s regal facade.  It’s her “imperfect” side that encouraged me.   In those solitary months, she helped me learn to like being with myself.

Perfect to Grow

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle

Wisdom set in stone.

You and I have a task: to embrace our limitations so that we can learn.

Did you know there is a bell named Denis at Notre Dame?!

Bells of Notre Dame
The new bells on display in February 2013. My namesake, the Denis bell.

 

 

 

 

Thoughtful brother

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, be more generous. To child, learn through a job.

We are coming to a close of our Family Feedback of the year. One son remains to give and receive his feedback with his parents.  This is the fourth in the series of posts to give you a glimpse into one our most precious and powerful family moments.

Click here for our How To’s.

Read on to learn how my son told me to be more generous and I encouraged him to grow by working simple jobs of manual labor or service.

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

We are seated at the dinner table and the boys chose to go around in the order of seating. It’s our second son who finally got the floor.

Son (17 years):  “Mom, what I really appreciate is your flexibility with letting me spend time (like the night) with my girlfriend.”

This is a very delicate issue between us because his behavior is in contradiction with my values.  Yet, you see, my job as a parent is to provide him with an education and to present him with a set of values.  He graduated from high school this summer and now lives out of our home.  My role as a mother has evolved now:   to allow my son to fly with his own wings.   I did my BEST while he was under our roof.   It is his life, not mine.  I have made mistakes and learned some of my best lessons from them. He too will blunder.  He might choose some or none of my values for his life.  He will live with the consequences of those choices.

With regards to my life and beliefs, I try to follow Jesus Christ.   Try.  Because invariably I fail. But  Jesus loves me.  Still.  So, if I follow Christ, I am to love.  Still.  And loving my son now means to be “less of me and more of him.”

Mom:  “I’m glad you appreciate it.”

To Change

Son:I really don’t have a way where you could change…

This is our son who has complained and COMPLAINED about …everything and anything.  He’s an expert at finding faults.  We have purposefully taught him to identify other people’s strength and to encourage them.  It’s been WORK.

Son: “…ah yes.  You didn’t do it this year for Christmas, but sometimes you offer people the gifts you would like to receive.”

Mom:  “What do you mean, exactly?”

Son: “Last year you gave everyone kitchen tools.  The ceramic knife, the knife holder, the latest fashion cookbook…you used them all.”

Embarrassingly, this is all true!

Mom:  “I see (all too clearly) what you mean.”

Son:  “Ok, what about me?”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to My Child

Well Done

Mom: “What you have done excellently last year is master your schoolwork.  You graduated with honors. Intelligence contributes to these results, and you also worked for those grades.  You exhibited discipline and determination…along with balance in your social and spiritual dimensions of life.  And it was not just last year.  This year your academic demands are even heftier and you’re at the top of your class and keeping up with a life.”

Dad:  “You’re ranked N°1 in your class?”

Son: “Didn’t you know?”

Banter between son and father where the younger bull gets to show off his size and the senior one grunts his consent.

To Change

Rowdy teen boysMom:  “And what you could do to change is considering getting a job.  Try working for money.  The jobs you’ll have at your age are mostly entry level manual labor or service positions.  It’s a good thing to know first-hand the value of sweat and smile.

Son: “I’ve thought of that.  But you see, I don’t feel the neeeeeed to work yet.  (oh, oh!)  I work at school and then deserve a vacation.  I can afford not to work now.”

Mom:You can afford it?  Who’s paying for your time off?  Until when?  Why?

Now that you have more of the privileges of adulthood, isn’t time that you also take on more of those responsibilities too?”

Silence.

Mom:  “Aagh!  It’s tough when you want to eat your cake and keep it too!” (In French we say, ‘To have the butter and the money for the butter.’ ‘Avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre.’)

We can all relate…and smile.

Dad: “Are we finished with the analysis and mutual-flagellation?”

Everyone:  “Poooooor Dad!”  “If it were THAT bad, why did you stay with us?” “Yes, dear ”

Mom: “Everyone clear his plate and takes at least one other thing back to the kitchen!”

Thus closed the evening meal and the Family Annual Review.

Follow Through on the Family Feedback

Our comments now hang in our Frame of Fame…where they’ll stay several weeks and re-appear from time to time over the year…as behaviors might deteriorate and the need arises to

  • be humble,
  • be generous,
  • think before speaking,
  • advance step-by-step, or
  • dress one’s age

 

Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.
Pre-teen

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, stop being a fashion victim. To child, think before you speak

Two of our sons have already given (to parent) and received (from Mom) feedback about what each does well and should continue doing, and about one behavior to consider changing. (Catch the beginning of the discussion here).

Business (a.k.a. the meal) continues as usual.  We’re at the dinner table, getting close to dessert time, and it’s the turn of youngest of four sons.   The meal keeps on flowing throughout the exchange.

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

Mom:  “Darling, what would you like to tell me about what I do well and what I should think about changing?”

Son (12 years old):  “Well, like, you know…”

Brothers:  “No we don’t.  Be specific.”  It’s said with both a touch of impatience and sense of humor.

Son:  “Well, like, you’re more flexible…”

Mom:  “Flexible seems to be a key theme tonight…or last year!  What do you mean, exactly?”

Son, after some more humming and hawing and searching for words and being teased by his siblings:“It’s like you can laugh more at yourself.

Mom:  “Thank you.  And what about something where you want to see me change?”

Son:  “Well, like, you know…”

Brothers:  “No.  We don’t.  Move on.”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to My Child

Well Done

Mom:  “I’ll give you some feedback about what you do really well.  I’m so impressed by your insights into people.  Sometimes you’ll come home from school and describe a situation and comment about how that reveals the person’s character.  Wow.  You are making connections between what people think and how they behave.  It’s impressive.

Son:  Shy smile.

To Change

Teen thinks he's coolMom, quickly so that the older ones don’t break the positive momentum with a questionable comment: “What you can do to change is to think before you speak.”

Guffaws in agreement from the boys.

“Sometimes you call my name, I answer, and you reply, ‘Nothing.’   It doesn’t happen just once…and we’ve already talked about it and you’re better not doing this as often.  Yet now, you regularly react to your brothers by insulting them slightly.  Not surprisingly, they respond.  Then you reply, ‘Just joking.’”

Boys:  “Yeah, you do it all the time… It sounds stupid.  Either mean what you say or don’t.  Dig, dude?”

Mom, talking right at Son 4 without paying attention to the siblings:  “You don’t have to defend yourself, darling.  If you think before you speak, you’ll avoid many slippery slopes.”

Dessert time = Hungry for closing time.  Read here for our final exchange on the 2013 Family Annual Review.

Continued…Feedback to Mom

Well Done

My youngest son and I had not finished this conversation.  So, the next afternoon, when the older boys were not around, I approached him again.

Mom:  “I did not quite understand your feedback yesterday.  Could you please tell me again what I do well and what I should think about changing?”

Son:  “Mom, you are more flexible now.  Before you used to be too intense.  Now you can laugh at yourself.”

Mom:  “Can you give me an example?”

Son:  “Remember when (and he recalled a time when a friend of his described me as the ‘old lady’) Well, I remember not being embarrassed because you did not lecture him.  (Was I THAT bad?!)  Instead you laughed.”

To Change

Mom fashion victimMom:  “Thanks, darling.  Now, what should I think about changing?”

Son 4:  “Don’t be such a fashion victim.”

Mom:  “ME!”  (Are you kidding? My humble self thinks, “I make fashion; I don’t follow it.”) “Please, give me an example.”

Son:  “Your nails.  Stop wearing blue and green nail polish.  (This past spring and summer, I adorned my fingertips in turquoise and spring green.  In early fall, I opted for navy on my hands and a deep green metallic hue on the toes.)

“It’s just not you, Mom.”  (When the kids were small, manicures were UNIMAGINABLE.  I barely got to shave one leg at a time. So, this nail craze is new.)

Mom:  “Thanks for letting me know.  I see what you mean. I’ll think about it.”

I probably will give it up…and present him with my orange fingertips telling him how I hesitated on the purple and pink stripes but followed his advice instead.

Little bother for me.  ‘Lotta meaning for him.

NEXT SON…

 

Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.