Ask intimidating boss about priorities

How to Ask Your Boss About His Priorities without Sounding Disrespectful

In this time of confinement, we are each more aware of our limited resources: finances, time, energy, focus, humor, patience, and more.

Knowing our priorities helps us invest these personal and professional resources more wisely.

Our work priorities depend upon those of our boss.

Do you really know what three numbers keep our managers up at night? What are they measuring?

They be looking at different issues during confinement than in “normal” times

  • Cash
  • Sales pipeline
  • Employee health
  • Access to technology
  • Employee morale
  • Team communication
  • Employee autonomy
  • Interruptions during a workday

Especially during a crisis mode, it is vital to (re)align our efforts with our boss’ imperatives.

YOU and YOUR BOSS

How is your relationship with your manager?  Do you know there are 150 Million responses to “I hate my boss” on Google?!  (FYI 670 Million search “I hate my job.”)

Few of us are at ease calling our boss to ask about her priorities.  Coaching clients tell me this:

  • “It’s not my job to ask my boss about his priorities. My job is to follow his directives. He chooses. I act.”
  • “It would not make a difference if I asked my boss about her priorities. I still must do the same work.”
  • “We don’t have that kind of relationship. I am not her confidant. She asks us what is going on in the field. We don’t ask her what is going on in the board room. I think she’s a great boss because she listens to US!”

Employees expect the boss to take the lead.

And yet, you have the most to lose by not being aligned with your boss’ prioirities.  Your peace of mind, energy, and possibly job security depend upon it. 

How can YOU take this positive initiative and ask your boss about his priorities with utmost respect?

Prepare both the PEOPLE and the Content

Often preparation for a meeting focuses on getting the content right.

This process prepares the people too.

Prepare Yourself

The first person to prepare is YOU (and me!).  Mindset matters.

We all have some degree of the imposter syndrome. The underlying questions are, “What gives me the right (validity) to …?” “Should I ask my boss about his priorities?”

Try reframing the situation slightly to focus on results. You’ll discover empowering questions.

  • “How can I ask my boss about priorities in a way that makes her want to share them and even appreciative of the opportunity to do so?”
  • “How can I better help my boss perform well during these times of stress?”

Here, we focus on overcoming obstacles. Merely formulating these questions helps us to birth an action plan.

Prepare Your Boss

It is more the exception than the rule to enjoy strategic exchanges with our manager. He might be taken by surprise by your request.

Consider a two-step process to help him adjust.

  1. Tell him you want to ask about priorities
  2. Ask him

Prepare the Discussion Content & Process

I like to have a basic structure when engaging in open-ended discussions. Sounds counter-intuitive?!
Structure provides safety when venturing into less certain territory.

The following steps guides us in launching and closing the discussion with confidence. You will also gain pointers on how to stimulate the exchange if your first attempt does not generate the hoped-for response.

1. Explain the trigger for the discussion

Your boss might be wondering what makes you act “oddly.”

As humans, we fill in knowledge gaps with our own interpretation. And oftentimes with negative news!
Let her know from the onset this is a forward-thinking exchange. 😊

When you explain the trigger for the discussion, point out your motivation to grow professionally.

2. Confirm your objective to support your boss in her/his priorities

Products and services that sell well are those that satisfy a need. Your boss has needs too, among which performance criteria. Assure him that you are committed to those as well.

It sounds obvious, yet we can get caught up “doing our work” and forget the reason for it. The purpose of your discussion is to add purpose to your work!

3. Present the context which depicts the relevance of your question

As we work in increasingly complex organizational structures….and as we work from home during confinement (!)…your boss might not know exactly what you do.

He might be oblivious to the fact that you spend HOURS on projects that get dropped and that your motivation has taken a toll.

This is your opportunity to provide a succinct glimpse into your preoccupations. You can present these concerns in ways that reinforce the interest of the company or of the department.

  • To best use your time and focus
  • To maximize learning for the department
  • To best reach our quarterly objectives
  • To fully tap into collaborative teamwork

4. Make your ask

Your boss is the person who knows her priorities better than you do. There is a time for you to ask that she express them.

Directly.

Expecting an answer.

It’s O.K to leave a few seconds of silence. They might feel like hours (!). Your closed mouth puts the onus on your boss to speak.

It’s O.K to leave a few seconds of silence. They might feel like hours (!). Your closed mouth puts the onus on your boss to speak.

Many of my coaching clients fall into the trap of filling in silence. It makes them uncomfortable, so they speak.

Change your mindset about silence. Remember that when you ask a question and pause, your silence communicates loudly. It speaks of

  • Intent
  • Confidence
  • Self-Control
  • Interest

And more.

I was recently on a videoconference meeting where the decision-maker had been avoiding making a choice about when to kick-in an emergency plan. One of the participants finally presented the issue as a direct question.

“What is the minimum level of cash that triggers the emergency plan?” Silence.

His silence kept us quiet.

Finally, the manager responded. “I guess I have to make a decision.”

The participants remained silence still.

“Ok…” and we FINALLY got an answer!

Be serious about asking your boss about her priorities…and you will be taken seriously.

5. Prepare to listen MORE

Have you noticed how it is easier to listen when topics are relevant to us?!

The more we understand how our boss’ priorities relate to our work, the more fruitful the discussion will be for you or me.

You can guide the discussion with well thought-out queries.

  • If _____(such and such happened) what impact do you see that having on our work?
  • What might maximize our chances of success?
  • Where are the risks higher and where are the stakes lower?

6. Have a back-up plan

I teach a class on resilience. One of the keys to being able to pick up and get back into the game is to have a Plan B.

Think of professional soccer players. They fall all the time. And get back up again. They even have training sessions on how to fall so that they can rise up again quickly.

A Plan B gives room for margin.  You and I don’t have to be perfect on the first attempt.

A back-up plan is like a life vest. When we swim out of our comfort zone and into deep waters, we have something to keep us afloat.

As a Plan B, anticipate several of your boss’ priorities and ask her to comment on those and even to rank them in order of importance.

You could even present potentially conflicting priorities and explore how your manager evaluates and compares them.

7. Link strategies to actions

In the interactive story mentioned above, The Calamities of Jade, Jade had been previously assigned a Project A. She brings it up during this strategic discussion with her boss. “How does Project A fit in with your priorities? “

(We don’t know the answer yet. In fact, it’s YOUR vote that determines it! Click here to vote on #SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork.)

Our companies thrive because ideas get implemented. Your boss’ priorities impact decisions about how you and I spend our time, energy, attention, affection, and finances.

In the end, it comes to “Just doing it.”

Gain clarity on what needs to be done!

8. Close with thanks

Thank YOU!

Working with a Challenging Boss

How is your relationship with your boss?

I help managers and high potentials manage themselves and their bosses with confidence.

You spend most of your hours at work.  If your manager is a source of discouragement, you carry that with you in all facets of your life.  You used to have the commute ride home to unwind.  With confinement, that discouragement enters your own home.

Let’s (re)build your confidence and your positive impact.

Send me an email to share your goals and the obstacles that keep you from reaching them.  Let’s connect to see if my online training and coaching is the right solution for you to boost your confidence and your career.

Cover photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Resilience to keep from hitting wall

Resilience: How strong is yours?

It’s the second week of confinement in Paris. It was tougher to set myself to work this morning than last Monday.  How about for you?

The realization hit.  BUMMER!  This thing is going to LAST. 

I’m going to need two vital skills:  Resilience & Endurance.

“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Revolutionized World Overnight

I am reconnecting with friends by phone.  Many conversations begin with, “I can’t believe how our world has transformed, quasi overnight…” 

Life two weeks ago

At work

  • Which products and services to push?
  • Where to invest for growth?

At home

  • With whom to go out for some fun?
  • Where shall we meet to eat?

Today

At work

  • Which which employees to keep?  And for the others…??!? 😕
  • Where to find funds?

At home

  • What can we do at home?
  • Where can I find pasta?!

Last week’s vital skill:  Adaptability

Transformation went into full swing last week as companies put in place remote working and dealt with the overextended Internet.  Everyone had to be adaptable.

Did you too have the sound cut in videos and it took forever to exchange files?  We dealt with it.  If Internet cut, we used the phone.

Last week we were in frequent contact with colleagues.  We were establishing remote work.  This week we are trying to initiate “business as usual.”  That’s when we discover that we’ll need to change our weekly team meetings.  They were designed to be face-to-face.

Last week we understood when people checked in a few minutes late for the online meeting, but this week it’s less unacceptable.  That’s TOUGH, especially in cultures where the 9 o’clock meeting begins at 9:09.

On the personal front, maybe you had cleaning help and now….  Who will take the initiative to scrub the toilet and swipe off the toothpaste guck in the sink?!  And this is on top of extra childcare, longer lines for grocery shopping, and more.

What Skills for Today & Tomorrow:

Resilience & Endurance

Growth curveWe each want MORE than survival.  Thriving would be nice.  We want to grow.

In an ideal world, we hope for a perpetual upward trend.

OK, I can get my brain around the fact that there will be ups and downs.  But more ups than downs!

Now, with the upheaval of our society, I finally recognize that success might look more like this:

Stuck. need resilience BAD

What are the keys to thriving in this confused context?

Have you tried to unwind an unruly KNOT?

As a child, I used to have long red hair that I could tuck into my pants…until my dad was in charge of me for a few days.  Unlike my mom, he did not brush my hair daily.  My hair got tangled up.  A little the first day.  More the next. Until the only solution was to cut my hair short. (Now it’s short!)

Hair is easy to fix.  Life, career, client and relationships, and family are another matter.  That’s why these are ESSENTIAL.

Resilience – noun.  The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Endurance – noun.  The ability to bear an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.

Resilience BUILDING

How strong is your resilience?

Resilience is like a muscle.

When our resilience muscle is in shape, we can handle challenges and come out of top.  Obstacles are just that:  obstructions in our path that require a strategy to overcome. Until we reach the next one.  We might stumble, but we have the physical and mental strength to get up and try again.

When our resilience muscle is out of shape, obstacles become a wall.

Runner with resilience
Will you keep running…or hit the wall?

That’s what I want to help you avoid.

PLEASE plant the tree before you need shade.

Huh?

You and I have a long, tough road ahead.  Life has always been a marathon…and this next one might take us through desert terrain.  We will need shade for restauration and a fresh perspective.

NOW is the time to build the resilience muscle.

That’s why, during confinement, I am posting a daily #ResilienceBuilder.  It’s one step to gain the positive mindset, the constructive communication skills, and the endurance to thrive, even during tough times.

It’s my gift to you and you’ll find it on the Facebook group #SafePlaceToTalkAboutWork.

Enjoy your daily #ResilienceBuilders…and good mood boosters! 😃

P.S. AND they are designed for YOU to buid resilience and for you to HELP YOUR TEAMS OR KIDS build resilience too.

#ResilienceBuilder
#ResilienceBuilder
Last photo with my dad

TGIF – Remembering Al McDonald, my father

Hello.

I have been silent these past weeks.  My parents recently moved to a senior residence.  Once Dad was assured that Mom was settled in, and I had just had time to hang pictures on the wall, my father passed away.

This newsletter is quite personal, and I share my faith in Jesus Christ.  If this turns you off, now is the time to close this email.

So, here goes for a politically incorrect and totally genuine TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I am trusting in eternal life.

My father, Al McDonald, died last Thursday, one week before Thanksgiving.  I am trusting in eternal life that is a gift through Jesus Christ.

It is with sad but grateful hearts that we commemorate the extraordinary life of co-founder Alonzo (“Al”) McDonald, who passed away this past week at the age of 91. Al’s remarkable life included service as CEO of McKinsey, President and Vice-Chairman of the Bendix Corporation, White House staff Director for President Carter, Deputy Special Trade Representative, and Harvard Business School faculty member. Al also founded and chaired the McDonald Agape Foundation, and served as founding Chairman of the Trinity Forum, which he helped launch with Os Guinness in 1991. 

extract from The Trinity Forum newsletter

Click here to read the tribute to Al McDonald by author Os Guinness.

Dad himself wrote about his faith in three essays printed by The Trinity Forum.  You can get free copies (scroll down on this page for instructions):

Trusting in eternal life means believing that the best has just begun.  I consider that eternal life begins NOW…and the best experiences we have in our life here on earth are merely signposts of our life after death.  Life as we experience it daily resembles the light of a lamp, whereas life after death is like basking in sunlight.

I am trusting that my father is in the best time of his life ever!

Gratitude

Grief is real.  We grieve because we love and were loved.  What a privilege to have shared tenderness with my father throughout various times in my life.  I am grateful to having loved, to continue loving, and to be loved.

Al McDonald young father
When he believed in me even though I fell LOTS.
Al McDonald father
During my awkward years. Gotta have vision!  (No Photoshoping!)
Al McDonald grandfather
When he welcomed my husband and invested in our kids and the next generation.

Inspiration

Here is what I learned from my father:

You don’t try, you don’t get.

Opportunities come to those who take risks.  Wise risk-taking centers on identifying your personal perspective on potential gain and potential loss.

Dad spoke of decision he had made where colleagues had focused on the discomfort (moving internationally with young kids to a country speaking a foreign tongue) or the downsides (leaving headquarters and the center of power).

He had seen and sought out challenge and growth opportunities…and choosing the less travelled road made all the difference.

Keep growing.

My dad embraced life through learning.  He devoured books.  He sought opportunities to go out of his comfort zone.  And he only settled for excellence.  If we could do better, then why settle for less. 

When he read our report cards, his tone of voice changed from satisfaction to questionning when an “A” turned into an “A – “!  Yes, he put on pressure to perform!

Maybe in reaction to this intensity, each of his four children chose a career path quite different from his.  And yet, we each integrate love of excellence, hunger for understanding, and wonder of life.

Be strong
…and sometimes that means being weak.

For the first half of his life, my father sought strength through power. He reached his level of professional success through exceptional strategic intellect, political savvy…and some bulldozing.

When I entered college, my father’s faith in Jesus Christ had a transforming impact on his life.  Before, Dad “did the right religious moves.” On Sundays he was a respected church member.  Yet, during the week, he forged forward, sometimes leaving debris on the wayside.

Then he chose to follow Jesus. Not just to proclaim allegiance, but to put his beliefs into action.  I remember a special dinner when I was in college. He asked for forgiveness for the mistakes he may have made as a father.  It’s not that he suddenly became Mr. Nice Guy and immediately adopted non-violent communication tools.  It was a beginning of a new trend, of seeking strength through humility.

The end of his life is crowned in tenderness.

Last photo with my dad
My last photo with my father.

Fun

Dad had two things read to him the day he died.  The Bible and the lunch menu.  He loved God’s word and fine dining.

We are having a party to celebrate his life and legacy.  I am soooo looking forward to being with people he loved and to cherishing his memory and their company.  It’s bittersweet…and also fun.

 

Next…

I am taking time off from these TGIF letters.  We can be so busy doing.  Doing our work.  Being busy.

I want to take some time to be.  Sip tea with my mom.  Bask in sunshine.  Celebrate Christmas, family, and life.  Clarify priorities for the new year.

Let’s stay in touch.  With love and appreciation,

Denise

TGIF - Halloween in Paris

TGIF – Collective Intelligence on Halloween

Helloooooooo…..  How was your week and Halloween?  It inspired me for the TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

“What do you do when there is a relationship challenge at work?” It’s a question I often ask folk around me.

Many people respond with some kind of avoidance.  Either to avoid the issue  (“I pretend it’s OK.  It’s not worth making a fuss over it.”) or they try and create distance with the person (“I look for another job.”)

I have been helping professionals find alternative ways to handle these uncomfortable situations and to come out with win-win solutions.  We meet as a group with the specific purpose of identifying alternative ways to manage difficult and delicate situations.  The results are amazing.

I am trusting in the power of collective intelligence.

People feel heard.  They realize other people share similar issues.  When someone else experiences the problem, they are able to step back and find helpful solutions to get unstuck.  They also hear of alternative ways to overcome the problem, ideas they would not have come up with on their own!

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. – John Donne

Here is how it works: one person presents a challenging issue.  The others share what they would do if they were in that situation.  We address topics as varied as

  • How to manage the colleague who is trying to impress your boss when you are presenting a new project
  • How to get team members to meet their deadlines
  • For are a company with a kitchen for coffee and tea.  How to handle doing the dishes in a fair and just way?
  • How to better include the foreigner (or woman or the “different one”…) in decision-making
  • ….

I lead these groups within companies (where people know each other) and with groups that get together with the sole purpose of transforming “stuck-in-the-muck” into do-able inspiration.

Gratitude

I am reading Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Aldom.  It’s a collection of conversations between a previous student and his dying professor (he has ALS known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.   The body loses muscle control, starting from the feet and moving up.  There is no cure.)

Here is what Morrie Schwartz says about the window. (!!!!)  How often are you and I grateful for a window?!

He nodded towards the window with the sunshine straming in.  “You see that?  You can go out there, outside anytime.  You can run up and down the block and go crazy.  I can’t do that.  I can’t go out.  I can’t run. But I appreciate that window more than you do.

I look out that window every day.  I notice the change in the trees, how strong the wind is blowing. It’s as if I can see time actually passing through that window-pane.  Because I know my time is almost done.  I am drawn to nature like I’m seeing it for the first time.

Inspiration

Here are a few more inspiring nuggets from Morrie

“Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.

Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

It is inspiring to read about death without it being gory or dreary.  Death is a reality.  Maybe you too have aging parents.

Thank you Morrie for the inspiration to challenge me to live every day as PRECIOUS.

Fun

Collective intelligence and Halloween got me thinking.  Lots of eyeballs giving fresh perspectives and many brains all together.

eyeballs and brains

Yes, we did have Trick-or-Treaters come by our Parisian home.  I offered them eyeballs, brains, or toffee….eeeeehhhhhh!

“Can I taste an eyeball?” !!!!!

Cracked me up.  Lots of fun.

 

Wishing you a great week.  A bientôt (next week), Denise

TGIF - Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Thanks for saying, “Thank you”

Hello.  I just returned from a visit with my aging parents.  What a bittersweet time of memories and tenderness.  That’s why I am trusting in gratitude.  Read on for the entire TGIF rundown – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

Thankfulness is a game changer.  I’m trusting in gratitude.

This past week, I spent doing some pretty unpleasant, menial tasks as I cared for my parents.

Holding hand of aging parent
From Long Island Pulse online magazine.

Their genuine and heartfelt thanks made serving them easy and tender.  I experienced first-hand how gratitude transforms a chore into an opportunity to connect.  I am trusting in the transformational power of gratitude.

Image from Tinybop

Gratitude

I am grateful for the clear-headedness of my recent workshop participants.  I was leading a session on project management and one of the members fainted.  One second she was standing.  The next she lay inert on the floor.

The group of upcoming leaders rallied to her succor: two rushed off to secure medical assistance, others led stragglers out of the room to keep the place calm, others kept talking to her and rubbing her face, … Each person found a practical way to contribute to an unexpected and potentially dangerous situation.

Everyone survived…and as a group, we thrived.

Inspiration

On September 30, 2019 Jessye Norman died and left this earth.  What an inspiration of character, hard work, grit, as well as talent.

I love how she interpreted the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, at the 200th anniversary of the French revolution.

Jessye Norman’s dress à la French flag. Seen here with the designer, Azzedine Alaïa.

Here she is captivating the French audience with her talent.  Click on the image to enjoy the short video!

Jesse Norman sings La Marseillaise

Fun

Tomorrow I’m going apple picking!  Fun & Yummmm…

 

Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

Neat & New Stuff

Enjoy these posts inspired by my father’s wisdom:

“Aging isn’t for sissies!”

What’s YOUR Focus Word?

Boy looking through telescope. Searching Focus word!

As life passes, one realizes time is…limited.  That’s a focusing thought!  Read on…

 

When It’s Urgent to Reflect

Man reflecting in parkI wrote this post after a hearing a professor speak on leadership and reflexion at a Harvard Business School reunion.  My father had encouraged me to attend the school and the place holds a soft spot for us.   Read on…

Serenity.  To Accept the Things We Cannot Change

Serenity of lighthouseWe cannot change the passage of time and the impact it has on our bodies and our relationships.  But discover what we can do about it!  Read on…

Interview with Elizabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France

Jumping across rocks. Risk taking.Lenovo speaks of taking risks:  how she learned how to embrace risk-taking with confidence and thrive.  Read on…

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Practice What You Preach

Oh, what a beautiful day.  It’s Friday and TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

This week I’m trusting in what I preach.

I train in conflict resolution and constructive communication skills and carefully design curricula around neuroscience-inspired group activities.  These generate Aha! moments, (“Yikes.  I sound like THAT!  It’s demotivating!”) and participants then open to learning new ways to interact.

Not the group I led this week. Some of the participants were assigned (they did not choose) to attend and they tested the limits.

The two people that created havoc in work relationships were at it in our group too.  They were on the phone and then interrupted the group to catch up.  They crossed their arms and refrained from partaking in the group activities. Yes, these were adults!

Yet such resistance also creates the opportunity to practice what I preach.  All eyes were on me to see how I would handle the situationThrough this challenge, everyone realized that one can still respect people while correcting unhelpful behavior.

(Find out more about these trainings here.)

I am trusting in applying respectful communication tools and to staying respectful even especially when it’s tough.

Gratitude

Calm reigned in France and the US this past September 11.  It remains a somber date.  It’s the day we remember what we were doing when we heard the news of the Twin Towers ablaze.

Even in a world with strife, we can still be thankful for the countries that are at peace.

Image from Landlopers, not your ordinary travel site

Inspiration

We welcome a gorgeous Swiss woman in one of my classes.  Here was her training take-away which is today’s inspiration.

“I feel like a Swiss cow.”

cow with bell in Alps

The men (who had been ogling her) and the women (who had been envying her beauty and charm) looked at her even more avidly.

“Yes, I need to chew on this stuff.  And then some more.  And afterwards, just as a cow produces creamy and delicious milk, I will help create a fruitful and engaging work environment.”

I have a new liking for cream!

Fun

Have you too heard that “great” parents spend one-on-one time with each child?

We have four boys.  Do the math.  More kids renders individual attention more challenging…and more rare.

We created the ritual of Two-on-One time.  For his 5 year birthdays (10, 15, 20 years…), Mom and Dad take the child out to dinner.  For one evening, each kid benefits from the full attention of BOTH parents.

“Every five years!  Can’t they do better?” you may wonder.

We created a ritual that we could fulfill with our finite energy, time, and budget.

Tonight, we are on our 16th Two-on-One dinner.  Looking forward to this opportunity to learning more about and from my grown and growing son…and having fun with a night on the town!

Check our birthday rituals below.

It is good to be back.  Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

Neat & New Stuff

4 Gifts Colleagues Crave…and Never Make the List

Birthday Wishes for adult

What do you offer your team members for their birthday?  Chocolate? Nothing!  

Try these gifts which build belonging and confidence.

Read on…

The Million Dollars Birthday Chair

Boys blowing out birthday candlesGet lots of bang for little buck with this fun way to celebrate birthdays.  Works with kids of all ages, those at home and folk at work.

Read on…

 

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Flying High…and Sometimes Crashing

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

Only it is Saturday.  Catching up

Trust

I am trusting in the growth that results from asking delicate, intrusive questions that expose our beliefs.

Asking questions can feel awkward.  People wonder if they are being interrogated and can respond with wariness.  Or they are surprised to be listened to; they expend so much energy trying to be heard!  That’s why I lead training on asking questions effectively – getting to meaningful answers without putting people on the defensive.

This week I have been asking questions about hope for the future.  One of the students speaking at my son’s recent graduation condemned us, the older generation, for passing on a world in destruction:  damage from climate and strife run rampant and without solutions in sight.

The world left to next generation
Image from The Conversation

While she spoke, her vehement speech put a damper on the graduation ceremony, yet many allowed her words to enter one ear and leave by the other.  We returned to celebration as usual.

And yet, I was perplexed, and I started asking questions to young adults around me and engaging in insightful discussion about priorities, sacrifice, decisions, and more.  None of us prone concrete answers.  Yet, in the process of asking and responding to authentic questions, we all grew in purposefulness and in mutual appreciation.

I am trusting in asking questions…AND LISTENING TO THE ANSWERS!

Questions lead to learning.

Gratitude

I am so grateful for forgiveness and second chances.  Just this morning, I tried asking a delicate question and it came out all wrong.  I struck out.  I feel bad…and the other person must feel even worse.

Striking out

Reparations are in the works.  More will be required.  When the sh** hits the fan, there is clean-up.

Yet it is still worth confronting sensitive topics.  The air and space get refreshed.  And I learn humility in the process.  I am also grateful for humility!

Inspiration

The young woman who spoke courageously and with passion at my son’s graduation inspires me.  She had a provocative message; the stakes were high for her; and she delivered her speech with aplomb.

If she were a man, I wonder if we’d say, “She’s got balls.”

She’s got balls!

Instead folk expressed that she’s abrasive.  I am inspired by her gumption.

Fun

Here I am literally going outside of my comfort zone.  Flying high (the person paragliding in the background is moi) !

Flying in the mountains

Fun..and freaky!

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What Kids Hear when Parents Repeat 1000 Times

You ask nicely.  No response.  You ASK insistently. Still undesired response…. Check out the family workshop on listening skills.  We reversed roles between parents and kids and “Aha! moments” abounded!  Read on…

Give the Gift of Time

Father and son spending time together

During the holidays, give kids what they crave the most:  your full attention.  We made it easy and fun.  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…

Express Your Values and Give Them Purpose

On a sampan in the Mekong riverSummer vacation is a great time to share your values with those you love.

Try traveling to transmit open-mindedness, tolerance, adaptability, patience, and more.  Read on…

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

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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 - 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

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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.

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…