Many of us scratch our heads in disbelief daily at what goes on around the world. Then, moments later, observe acts of kindness and compassion which support my faith in humanity. This juxtaposition is dizzying. Wednesday I heard news that has my heart aching...
Mindfulness has become mainstream in corporate world. BEI provides some simple techniques to experiment with.
Greetings everyone. We just turned our clocks ahead 2 AM Sunday morning a sure sign spring is on the way. The full moon arrived that same morning and remained between 99 and 100 percent illuminated showing its brightly glowing face through last evening. Mother Nature in communion with La Luna gathered her powers to play havoc on the east coast today and possibly even tomorrow. In NYC we hunkered down for between 12 and 20 inches. When I awoke yesterday there was only a dusting of snow on the ground. The day felt different to me. Usually snow falling has a beauty associated with it, gentle and peaceful. Not Tuesday. This snowfall seemed angry, wet, winds howling. Most people heeded the Mayor's request to stay home so few were on the streets. Eventually we, (Dan and I ) had to go out and clear off the walkways. We are ever thankful to neighbors with snow blowers who cleared our sidewalk a number of times.
Everyone I spoke to yesterday commented on the need to hunker down. Nesting in. I made a big pot of chicken soup in the morning. Mother Nature is pounding us. Some of us coping with the weather, are still trying to find footing after the election. Concern is on so many people's mind. A friend forwarded an email that had a poem Wendell Berry wrote. Although I know I posted this in a previous blog or newsletter reading it again today I felt compelled to write to all of you and reprint the words again.
Before I do this I'll give a brief update about BE (aka Bova Enterprises, Inc.). I'm testing some new descriptive language and would love your thoughts. Please comment to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
BE...Blending the Art of Leadership with the Science of Management and Delivering a Better Future!
Helping people be more effective at their jobs, be they employees, owner managers or corporate executives.
What makes me different? I synthesize knowledge, skill, experience, wisdom and the unseen to craft solutions to clients' unique situations.
Presently, I am also upgrading my website to align with some of my fine tuning. I will let you know when it goes live.
Appreciating your comments in advance.
Till the next time enjoy Wendell Berry's words and a blessing from Peruvian Shaman
don Oscar Miro Quesada
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
May the gratitude in your heart, on this good day of giving thanks from our hearts, touch in deeply healing manner the hearts of all who have lost hope in their heart.
In heart service, don Oscar.
I know many of you will agree with me when I say I can’t believe we are just completing the second week of the 2017. Time is just flying by. I hope each of you had a good holiday season. Some like me celebrate religious and spiritual holidays with families and friends. Others may get swept into the fray. Hopefully you have had some enjoyable moments.
When I sat down to write this blog, I decided I should reread last months to see if I wanted to carry over the theme. My concern for the need to dialogue and have meaningful discourse remains. Without it we sink into negativity and negativity serves no one. It breeds distrust, antagonism and adversity.
Dan and I sat riveted to the TV Tuesday night as we listened to President Obama give a civics lesson in his farewell speech, reminding us that a democratic society is only as strong as its citizens’ willingness to participate fully. I ask each of you reading this to consider what you will do in 2017 to become a better citizen of our great nation. Please let me know what you decide.
This weekend we celebrate the birth and life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. My dear friend from college days at Brooklyn College, Luciana Duce is an artist and poet. She shared with me a poem written to honor him that appears in her newest book of poems. With her permission I share it with you:
Warrior of Peace
Today we celebrate
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King
Blackbird of Peace, of Passion,
of Courage and Compassion
You shone your light
on the dark forces of evil,
of hate, of racism, of bigotry
with wings open wide
you flew peacefully
but with a power so fierce
you shook the heavens
not to speak of thousands of souls
yearning for your message
You soared and flapped
and dove into our midst
Until the hunters came
hungry for the Blood of the Innocent
they shot you down
you fell as a Mighty Warrior bird
No bullet can pierce
The glory of your name
Nor can ten thousand guns
Silence your voice
Hallowed Warrior of Peace
Until the Light of your presence
Fills every dark corner of the earth
And every man, woman and child
Is Free to fly to the top of that mountain
You once named “I Have a Dream.”
From the book Wild Herbs, by Luciana Duce-Dugan
Last, but not least, my partner Dan Snow is the featured artist at the Cathouse FUNeral Gallery Booth at the New York Outsider Art Fair January 20-22, 2017. This is the 25th Anniversary of the Fair and “Totem” a piece by Dan that was in last year’s show has been selected to represent the 24th year of the Fair’s history. We hope to see you there. http://outsiderartfair.com/fair/1869
Wishing those that celebrate Christmas a Blessed Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza (it’s the 50th Anniversary this year of this newest celebration of Family, Community and Culture) and a Peaceful and Happy New Year 2017.
Friday night I was at an annual holiday party. Among those present, were people I worked with years ago. Two comments, made by the same former colleague, stand out and have gotten me thinking. One recalling a meaningful conversation with me more 30 years ago that caused him to miss a call from his then boss, and acknowledging the importance of a rare substantive dialogue at work. He later commented on enjoying reading, what he called, the thoughtful and substantive commentary in my blogs and newsletters, which he reminded me of late have been few and far between. Since I had been thinking of writing this holiday season, his comments energized me.
“Where have all the flowers gone?” What has happened to us? Our ability and willingness to listen and hear what another is saying and respect divergent points of view has deteriorated.
The Christmas party I referred to earlier has been held for more than 25 years. Usually a festive occasion, this time the party was different. The turnout was smaller. Most of the people present, I believe, were delighted with the prospects of a Trump presidency. A few of us were not, and were discussing that fact. Some deciding they could no longer be friends with Trump supporters. I commented that one of my closest friends supported Trump and we’ve worked hard not to have this fracture our friendship, and deep caring for one another. At one point the hostess came over, realizing we were not engaged in a conversation of merriment, she tried to shift the energy. It didn’t work and I realized people that had been friends with her for decades suddenly thought differently about her.
I leave you with a few questions to contemplate as we close out 2016 and spend time with family and friends this holiday season. What have we done????? How did we allow the primary season and presidential campaign to sink to such a low level? What have we taught our children about professional behavior? What is the role the Presidency? What is the role of business in a democratic society? What is the difference between government and business? What if anything do we give up if we stand by and watch business take over government?
My hope for everyone this holiday season is that we take a breath and slow down –sounds silly doesn’t it amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but it can be done. Advent is a season of waiting and watching. So, I ask you to think about the country you want to be proud to live in? What type of government do you want? What safe guards do you want people to have? What do you stand for? What does our country stand for? What do we want to leave our children?
Once you have reflected on these questions I ask you to take another deep breath and ask yourself what you can do differently so that you can engage in meaningful discourse with others so that we can revisit the values we believe in.
Those who know me personally know my passion is the world of work. I help owner managers of small and midsize businesses, and executives of large corporations create conditions where everyone thrives-the ultimate win/win mindset for employees, managers, stakeholders, customers and the communities in which business is conducted. How can we put aside partisan rhetoric and begin to speak to one another about what this country was built upon? Our future depends on it.
NYC June 12th warm temperature, bright sun and lots of wind. I don’t recall having windy days (in the absence of a storm) in June. I like millions of other Americans wake up to the horrific news of the Orlando murder rampage . For the next few hours we are glued to the TV watching and listening to the reports. Paris, Brussels, San Bernadino, now Orlando. What is next? I listen to one of the first news conferences and hear Muhammad Musri, the president and imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, deploring the horrendous act of violence and asking people not to rush to judgement. I see the subtle changes in facial expressions of police brass standing behind him and say to myself this is futile. They know something.
A multi-layered attack upon America and in particular our LGBT community during Gay Pride month, and the first week of Ramadan. Am I dreaming?
My heart goes out to the families of the murdered, the victims in hospital and those that were there who were able to flee but will have to deal with the post trauma memories; to the first responders and medical center doctors and staff who trained for such a situation but never thought their training would have to kick in.
I write this today because I worry about my own reaction. I scare myself with my own lack of response. Numbness. I’m in my head. I watch the reports as if I’m watching a TV police drama. This is not good, I think. Not healthy. Am I becoming complacent? Have terror attacks and savagery become routine? I am appalled at my own reaction…curiosity, wanting the facts, feeling numb, devoid of emotion usually felt in my body. Yet yesterday, in a monthly conversation with two healer colleagues of mine I learn that the body regulates how much we can take in at any given point of time. This is a healthy response.
It helped to watch the Tony Awards Sunday night. James Corden’s opening statement dedicated the night to the victims, survivors and country. Hearing Lin Miranda’s sonnet ending in “is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, cannot be killed or swept aside”, and Frank Langella’s eloquence regarding our choices of how to respond to such an event to “live in fear, let it define us or strengthen us”. I choose strengthen us. Stephen Colbert, reminds us love is a verb and requires action.
I have spent much of the last few years a student of “evolutionary consciousness”. I use the mantra, taught by don Oscar Miro Quesada “I am, We are, One, as a continual prayer. We have choice. What we focus on appreciates…increases. Years ago people used to speak of the 100th Monkey phenomenon. Not sure if it has any scientific grounding but it presented the idea that when enough monkeys engaged in a particular behavior, monkeys in other parts of the world suddenly started doing the same thing. Scientist Rupert Sheldrake’s concept of morphic fields, aka nature’s memory, in my mind, somewhat similar to Jung’s collective unconscious, provides me with hope we can shift our consciousness from hatred and violence to love, compassion and the fact “we are one”.
It’s taken me a few days to compose this blog. During this time, I become aware of the senseless killing of Christina Grimmie, a young singer while she signs autographs after a concert Friday night in Orlando. Her family needs our love and support. This morning the story of toddler grabbed by an alligator at a Disney resort there. Pulled underwater despite the futile attempts of his father to free him. What is going on? My heart breaks as I imagine the family watching their child being snatched in front of their eyes. I trust the outpouring of love and support from all over the world will bring comfort in particular to families who have lost loved ones, members of the LGBT communities, the Muslim community. We must eradicate fear and hatred. We must watch the language we use which incites negative behavior. We must send positive thoughts to the family who watched in horror as their child was pulled under.
How can we handle this onslaught of tragedy? We must take care of ourselves as well. I invite you to visit the website of Carla Reed http://www.carlareedpiano.com/ and listen to Keys For Healing. Her music will open your heart and heal the pain and despair you may be experiencing from this week’s tragic events in Orlando. I invite you all to revisit the words to Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind". The winds blew strong in NYC last Sunday all day long, and continued less strong on Monday. Do you think Mother Nature is trying to tell us something?
Yesterday was my mother Mary Bova’s 97th Birthday. We celebrated Sunday with a small family gathering. In a call with cousin this AM we reflected on the life my mother has had these 97 years. That conversation sparked the thought to write about her life, courage and transformation. So here goes.
Born in 1918 the seventh child of Italian immigrants, Mary (Marie Kathleen Ribellino) was born at 197 Hester Street in the midst of the Italian ghetto, and lived there until age two when my grandfather bought a home in Brooklyn at 1370 72 Street. Seeking a better life for his family.
Some of you may recognize the address as being the address of Bova Enterprises, Inc., Dan’s Art Lab and our home. She’s lived in this home all of her life except for a period of about five years. After marrying my father Frank in 1941 they set up an apartment close by, only to have WWII intervene. Within the year she went to live with my paternal grandparents.
Mom lost her mother at age six and a half, and was raised by her father and siblings. They did the best they knew to do, but she missed out on the attention of a loving mother. She was just 11 when the great depression began, which affected my grandfather’s business significantly. Like so many other families they huddled together in the family home, adult children and their families. Mom’s education was not a priority. Fortunately, the home, business and family survived.
Four months before the US entered WWII, at 21, she married my dad. They were married 56 years when he died in 1997.
Both my brother and I (and, our partners and his children) recognize how fortunate we are to have mom with us and able to participate in life. Sure she doesn’t go out very much, doesn’t bake anymore and has serious hearing problems that have made her more isolated and dependent on others, but she still is feisty and reads the paper everyday and will question what is going on in the world of politics.
Reflecting on her life these last few days my appreciation of what she has experienced and witnessed in her lifetime is heightened. Here are a few milestones that have helped shape her:
Mom’s a survivor. Somehow she learned early on in her life that she needed to stand up for herself and not focus on pleasing others. She did this out of necessity, likely intuitively for her own survival. However in raising us she taught us to put others needs before our own. “Be nice,” she’d say. “Extend a helping hand”, even if it might interfere with what you might want to do. Our life was pretty easy. Only recently, an outgrowth of deeply feminine exploration, did I realize I hadn’t built up the muscle of truly standing for what I want from an authentic place inside.
Mom never finished high school and so in the 1960’s she had to take a literacy course and pass a test in order to earn the right to vote. Since that time she has never missed voting in an election and, makes sure to remind the rest of us to do the same. She is passionate about her responsibility as a citizen. That term isn’t used all that much these days.
She has seen change in the world appear almost overnight. When my dad crossed over in 1997 we didn’t know how she’d handle it. He died 11 days before Christmas. She cleaned out his closet within days of his burial and insisted with our support that Christmas celebrations go on as usual. “Life goes on” she said.
When her last surviving sibling died in 2012 she became the matriarch of the Ribellino family line. Shortly thereafter, Dan and I bought my Aunt Sadie's former apartment, renovated it and moved in bringing a bit of Manhattan to 72nd Street. It’s been quite a learning experience living so close to her.
So why am I writing this today?
Obviously, I am honoring my mother. I’m also weaving together some recent aha’s, which I hope you think are worth your attention. I’ve learned to view unconditional love through a different lens and appreciate the power it can have. I’ve learned about the courage to move forward when life’s circumstances throw us curve balls. I’ve learned to appreciate gazing at clouds while sitting on the front porch to see new whats in them, putting the blinds up at night when the full moon shines brightly so moonlight can bathe you while lying in bed. Only since moving here have my mother and I realized we both love watching the clouds and the moon.
The last 60 years have seen the most rapid advances in technology and science than ever before in the history of humankind. New discoveries and subsequent required changes in how we live just keep emerging. Living moment to moment requires us to modify, course correct and or change how we view the world. An appreciation of that, which falls under the realm of the Feminine, is finally, after thousands of years coming to the forefront. It is not linear but more likely a circular spiral. Its essential each of us, women and men do our inner work. I've recently started cracking my inner "glass ceiling" freeing myself from the earliest programming.
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T S Eliot. I am finding my mother and seeing her for the first time. Seeing me for the first time, as a daughter unconditionally loved and loving.
Much has happened since I penned my last blog A Turn Of A Season late September 2014. An unexpected medical diagnosis shortly thereafter, resulted in a shifting of priorities. Rather than say more, other than I am fine, I choose to focus on what’s ahead. Suffice it to say it has been a long hard winter in many places around the world. Although we are 23 days into spring, it has only felt like spring in NYC these last few days. Saturday in Brooklyn was a lovely day. Windows open, I loved hearing the birds calling to one another and landing on still bare tree branches soon to be full of buds. Birdcalls I hadn’t heard all winter delighted my ears. I am so happy to have heard them. The house next store to ours has been under renovation for 8 months, the front yard the staging ground for equipment and materials. Yet an abundance of purple crocuses have popped through the barren earth. How delightful to witness the joy of new beginnings.
We hibernate in winter, hunkering down and then allow for new growth to emerge as spring unfolds. Will we like the crocus poke our heads through the tightly packed ground? I’m pleased to report just like nature, we at BEI are poking our head out to celebrate new beginnings with the launch of our new website look and content. In the midst of revitalization with enthusiasm like never before we announce our presence and availability to help new and returning clients create vibrant businesses and engaged workforces based on sound business values and practices which recognize a “rising tide lifts all boats”.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of David Brook’s new book The Road To Character out today. Over the last few years I’ve been noticing him speaking about his own yearning, and soul searching. Yesterday on CBS This Morning he was interviewed and gave a definition of humility, which is worthy of repeat. Humility is radically honest self-awareness. Teaching nowadays, he commented about how his students are yearning for what I refer to as life’s meaning, an inner moral compass.
You can get a taste of the book by reading his essay the Moral Bucket List, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/ which appeared in the NY Times Sunday Review Section this weekend. Character is such an important aspect of life and I’m concerned it has taken a back seat to the fast paced, goal oriented work environments we’ve created. Have we lost sight of it? To have a workforce that’s engaged we need to have accountable managers who behave based on the basis of a moral compass. Companies need expressed business values as well as their managers having their own personal moral compass. Their character becomes the beacon of their managerial leadership.
How does your character affect your effectiveness at work?
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world marched last Sunday, September 21st to draw attention to the importance of addressing climate change. At 10:29 PM Monday summer ended and fall began. Today, Thursday is the New Moon a good time to set intentions.
Like clockwork temperatures have dropped not much higher than the mid 70’s. Nights bring cool breezes. In NYC today heavy rain is expected. The UN is in session and for the first time there has been a resolution regarding terrorism. I’m reminded of Pete Seeger’s song Turn, Turn, Turn referencing a time for everything. lyrics
Personally, Uncle Larry my only remaining uncle, my father’s brother, passed away last week at the age of 95. A veteran of WWII Uncle Larry was in intelligence. He had a full military funeral. My brother and his son are the only ones that carry on the family name in the traditional fashion that is. What is the Bova legacy? I am aware of the end of an era; the mantle of patriarch passes to my brother now as the senior Bova male in our clan. Mom at 96 is the matriarch of her clan, the Ribellino's. She doesn’t like this role. Mom hates being the oldest at gatherings.
Transitions and new beginnings! In my uncle’s death I get to know his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Sadness lingers as I recognize the impermanence of everything around me. Change occurs. There is a natural ebb and flow, like the tides, seasons come and go, trees drop their leaves, fields whither and die. Change is everywhere whether we realize it or not. This is the thought I want to focus on today.
How important is it to recognize change? To honor transitions? Are some transitions more significant than others? My only niece gets married in two weeks. I remember receiving the call at 4AM the morning she was born announcing her birth. Soon she will be married. Likely raising a family of her own soon enough.
I’ve spent the last 18 months in transition. I’ve studied with indigenous teachers and have heightened my awareness of the natural world; ebbs and flows, patterns, timing. I watch clouds travel across the sky to change form before my very eyes. I wonder. I’m fascinated, amazed.
What does all this have to do with work, the hours we spend doing our jobs, running our businesses? Sounds corny but I think “slowing down to smell the roses” is essential to our overall well-being and effectiveness. Take a breath and notice what nature has to teach. Some of the most important scientific breakthroughs have come when people are out in nature. Wasn’t it Einstein who had a major aha while sailing?
I invite you to take 3-5 minutes during each workday, while at work to be exact, to look out the window, go outside, focus on a live plant, a fish tank. Gaze! Wonder! Over time reflect on your own behavior, have your thoughts changed? Consider making a daily notation After three weeks to a month are you more calm? Relaxed? Creative? Engaged? Has your energy increased? Have you noticed changes in your relationships with others? Let us know.
Summer fully upon us, bizarre weather patterns occurring around the globe. We took a pass on a July blog but feel compelled to write now. Will be brief and to the point. Friday August 8th 2014 is a Global Day of Peace. Numerous organizations and groups around the world are asking members to focus on peace that day. Each and every one of us needs a more peaceful personal existence. We all know too many places in the world where people are terrorized by their own governments, governments that threaten their sovereignty, terrorist organizations. and thugs. Natural disasters and the Ebola virus also terrorize innocent citizens of the world. I long for peace and know many in my circles of influence long for it too, which is why I’m writing to you today. Below is a link to an initiative in which I will be participating.
Visit globalmeditation and sign up to be part of this important global meditation event of the year. You need not know how to meditate to participate. Or can just google Global Peace Day and find out about more ways to participate. Simply if you just set an hourly reminder on your smart phone and sing (or hum) or say the phrase "let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me" you will be adding to a ground swell of worldwide peace consciousness that day, as well as on a cellular level bringing peace consciousness to the cells of your body.
Also this weekend, on Sunday, August 10th at 2:09 PM EDT the moon enters her full stage and this is the second “super full moon” of the three that will occur this year. I looked at the moon Tuesday evening and couldn’t believe how bright she was. So I encourage all of you to spend some time gazing at what many Native peoples refer to as Grandmother Moon as she radiates in her fullness. Treat yourselves to this awesome sight.
An earlier blog addressed some of the changes underway at BEI. It continues to be an important time as we find a new balance in our work, client base and other undertakings. Enjoy the heat of August. As the song says "see you in September"!
A few weeks ago the NY Times OP Ed page featured an article by Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath entitled Why You Hate Work. Apparently it was one of the most widely read and responded to pieces in the Times, having more than 500 comments made. Obviously it struck home to readers. A 2013 Gallup Poll report states only 30% feel "engaged at work". Schwartz’s company partnered with Harvard Business Review last fall to survey 12,000 plus people some of the results of which are discussed below. The Schwartz Porath article identifies four essential needs that when absent, diminish a worker’s experience dramatically, having a domino effect on the culture and effectiveness of the entire organization. They are opportunities for Renewal, Value, Focus, and Purpose.
On a recent webinar conducted by the Institute For Corporate Productivity on Managing Talent I was pleasantly surprised to see that current research about companies considered high performance organizations confirmed the importance of an employee’s experience at work, and consistent definitions and language across business units and whole systems, as leading indicators to corporate high performance.
Their findings aligned very nicely with the findings of Dr. Elliott Jaques, my mentor, who over a 50-year period of social analysis developed the comprehensive system of building highly effective organizations known as Requisite Organization. Although they used different language the message is the same. (Read: Social Power and the CEO available at Cason Hall. Here is my take on a few of the points made. • A requisite organization is by definition a high performing organization • Business strategy and values inform the work to be done • Managing, consisting of assigning work clearly, providing parameters within which an assignment needs to be done, and giving feedback regularly are all aspects of Jaques’ role of a manager. They are also consistent with the new data on high performing organizations. • Consistent language and agreed upon definitions were a passion for Dr. Jaques. They are a requirement for scientific rigor to be applied to the field of management making it a science in and of itself. The complexity, size and cost of multiple systems now necessitate common language within companies. However as a field of science, management is not yet there.
Elliott conducted his social analysis throughout the world on six of the seven continents and in every workplace he entered he found workers who wanted to do a good job, wanted to be treated with respect and integrity, and wanted feedback as to how they were doing and how they could do better. They wanted fair remuneration. My career also confirms that most workers want to do a good job at work. They want to be appreciated, valued and recognized for their efforts. They want to be paid and treated fairly and have opportunities for advancement from which to choose.
We see the debacle that has unfolded at the VA. It took courage for those that blew the whistle, in some cases incurring the wrath of management and co-workers, to stand up for what they believe. At GM the ignition switch failure has resulted in a first round of firings. Will CEO Barra be able to keep her word that this will not be tolerated going forward? Will she be able to restore pride and a productive culture at GM? Time will tell. Both lapses resulted in people dying. Yet criminal action is not being talked about openly.
Summer Solstice begins tomorrow morning. The cycle of summer begins. It happens every year about the same time. Solstice requires no human effort or courage. It happens naturally. People however, require courage and effort to change. We have power over how we perceive what is happening to us and around us, and what we do about it.
More now than ever in our lives we need to slow down and allow time to reflect, to know what we value and whether we are living a life based on our values and beliefs. If we are, fine. But if not, we must muster the courage from within to do something about it. Only then will we have greater personal satisfaction and bring greater positivity, productivity and profitability to our organizations.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Gandhi
Happy Solstice weekend! Let me know what you think.
EngagedOrg.com, our blog was initiated to create awareness and dialogue about the importance of people being engaged at work. This is not only essential for individual well being, but also for the creation of vibrant organizations, communities and our country as a whole. We must fix what is broken!
In a recent NYT Metropolitan Diary feature a reader lamented why s/he finds him/herself more concerned about a rat in a subway station than a homeless person on the street. I thank this person for having the courage to put his/her experience out there for all of us to reflect on. This person is not alone.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The day we celebrate the loving relationships in our lives. Many of you reading this have that certain someone who is special in your life, the person who you call your Valentine. Are you one of the hundreds of thousands spending millions on chocolates, dinners, flowers, jewelry and hundreds of other gift items in an effort to demonstrate how much they mean to us? I’ve been
struck by this year’s Hallmark Cards advertisement on TV. Simply it’s a variety of people saying what they’d like to hear someone dear to them tell them. Not overtly a valentine ad, it can be used most anytime because the sentiments are so universal.
Recently I’ve taken an unplanned breather from blogging and the BEI newsletter. A few people have mentioned how much they enjoy my blogs and compendium newsletters. They find them stimulating and a vehicle for keeping up with me personally. Hearing that today from two very different sources inspired me to sit down and write. So as we approach Valentine’s Day I want to express heartfelt gratitude to those of you who read what I write, keep current with my thinking and follow my personal and professional journey.
May I also suggest you wish a stranger or two a happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow. That simple gesture can make someone’s day. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Current events have created an interesting window from which to view the subject of leadership. At BEI we always are interested in leadership that builds a sense of engagement among those who we consider followers. The examples spotlighted today are not from employed work systems. Rather they come from current events, which tell us a great deal.
I remember as a child being fascinated by stories of the sinking of the Italian cruise liner Andrea Doria, after a collision at sea with the MS Stockholm off the coast of Nantucket. That fascination re-emerged with the grounding of the Costa Concordia off Giglio, Italy. I’m intrigued by this story. Why you might ask? Ship captains have always held a place of high regard in my psyche. I didn’t put them there consciously but somewhere in my upbringing and education a fascination with the sea, captains and voyages developed. More than a romantic notion, the fact the captain is always the last to leave the ship inspires a sense gallantry, admiration and respect for their leadership. The Concordia’s captain Francesco Schettino, abandoned his ship before all the passengers were accounted for, this is hard to understand.
Audiotapes of his conversation with Captain De Falco of the Italian Coast Guard, outraged by Captain Schettino’s actions, ordered him to return to the ship. De Falco has become a national hero in Italy. Uncomfortable with this image he says he was just doing his job. One news report stated Italian citizens don’t want the world to see them as “Captain Schettino’s”.
For the last 17 years the people of Italy have been living under the ether of scandals – sex, greed and corruption. The exploits of their former Prime Minister, media mogul Silvio Berlusconi are well documented. Yet he was re-elected repeatedly. Has it taken this fatal disaster, viewed around the world to let the people of Italy “wake-up”?
I’ve no answers here. Only questions. Is there is a phenomena of leadership that permeates cultures wherein people become resigned and allow themselves to be led by individuals they don’t respect, or don’t like? Do cultures need tragedies to wake-up? What is it that lulls each of us into a state of resignation and non-action? How does this macro leadership phenomenon influence leadership in work systems?
This may be a bit much for a morning blog, but I am thinking of all the work we have to do here in the US and around the world to save our planet and reignite our humanity. Each of us needs to revisit our values and beliefs about power. Are we living according to our values and beliefs? If not, why? Personally, I don’t think there are any valid excuses for not doing so. The stakes are too high.
I will keep this blog short and to the point. We at Bova Enterprises, Inc. Building Engaged Organizations wish each of you a Blessed Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year. The thought occurred to me as I wrote Blessed Christmas, if I was being politically incorrect? Am I offending friends and colleagues of other faiths, or no faith at all? I hope not, as that is not the intention. We at BEI celebrate Christmas and in the spirit of the holiday I am extending blessings to you from my faith base. At this time we say goodbye to Yong June Lee our intern from Baruch College who has been helping us with our social media. We appreciate his efforts this semester and wish him well in his career.
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season!
We just arrived home from a glorious 11day vacation in Hawaii. First stop Maui for the fairytale wedding of friends and then off to the Big Island Hawaii. We arrived in Maui in what was for us the middle of the night, made it to our hotel and crashed till our breakfast date with the bride and groom. The real vacation did not begin until we landed at Kona Airport the following Monday. Just the drive from the airport to the home we were staying in was awesome. Pulling out of the Dollar Rental lot onto the highway we were awestruck by mile after mile of lava rock. The flow thousands of years old from the active volcano, (there are three or four on the Island I believe) goes into the sea. The contrast from Maui itself was startling, from Manhattan dramatic. Compared to our life in NYC we were on an uninhabited island. As I said to Dan when we landed at JFK, we’ve seen more people in the airport than we did all week on the Big Island. The Big Island is beautiful. Eleven of the world’s 13 eco systems can be found and experienced there. The air is clean and fresh except in those places that “vog” is prevalent. Vog is the combination of fine volcanic ash with the atmosphere that results in a haze that hangs over parts of the island.
What was most striking though was the sound of silence. I’m reminded of the famous Simon and Garfunkel hit Sounds Of Silence. (SONG LYRICS)
We spent a week enjoying the sounds of the Pacific Ocean lapping up the shore, of birds singing at different times of the day and the occasional golf cart going by our home. We played music occasionally, turned the TV on for news, mostly read or took in the sights of the Island. Whether at Volcano National Park, or Akaka Falls the combination of nature’s majesty coupled with her natural music made for an extraordinary experience. Coming from NYC where residents have become unconscious to the bombardment of noise, I found myself luxuriating in the sound of silence. In last week’s NYTimes, Maureen Dowd (CLICK HERE FOR LINK) writes about the new film The Artist that made a splash at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a silent film in black and white. It’s hard to believe but we have generations of people throughout the world who have no appreciation of the importance of silence, quiet moments alone or being with another with no interruptions.
I speak for both Dan and I when I express our gratitude for the “sounds of silence” we experienced on the Island of Hawaii. Look for our holiday newsletter coming out shortly.
While driving back from the East End of Long Island Sunday evening I had to do some dancing along the airwaves to find the music I wanted to listen to for the 115 mile trip. Traveling through different counties interferes with FM radio reception. As I went from rock, to Greek, to classic and jazz, I couldn’t believe that one of the stations was playing non stop Christmas Carols. We haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet and they have full Christmas programming? What is this saying about our culture? Autumn itself seems to speed up time. In what seems like a blink of an eye we go from Halloween to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. In between a variety of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and other religions are celebrating special feast days. I’d like to use this blog to invite us each to slow down and breathe.
I’ve heard a lot of people comment recently about how they love Thanksgiving. No gifts, being with friends and family and sharing food. For the past fifteen years or so I’ve decided instead of sending Season’s Greetings to clients in December I send handwritten thank you notes at thanksgiving. Appreciating clients have a choice of who they hire I like to let them know how much I appreciate they’re choosing Bova Enterprises.
Similarly I invite you to take a moment this Thanksgiving to thank your employees for the effort they have expended for your business, and to you personally. When people feel appreciated they want to give more. As managers we too need to recognize how grateful we are. This week spend a moment in gratitude to reflect on what you do have.
These are trying times. Most of us have less than we had before. We are doing more with less staff at work. Perhaps it’s harder to close that new deal. Are we being asked to adjust our price? I encourage each of us to reflect this Thanksgiving and express gratitude for our gifts. Thank the people you work with on a daily or scheduled basis. Slow down, take a deep breath, smile and express your gratitude to someone else. Not only will you feel good but you will make their day!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
FYI we are off to Hawaii and will return to the blog the week of December 7th .
In a recent conversation a woman who was lamenting her recent college graduate son has been unable to find a job. I asked what he majored in and she said he was an engineer. I commented. “I thought engineers are in demand” to which she said, “he wants to work in finance”. “Guess he wants the big bucks” I said and she smiled. Throughout the years people have debated what really incentivizes people in the workplace. If you listen to those in the finance industry they say its clearly money. From a Requisite Organization perspective being paid fairly for the work being done coupled with working in an atmosphere characterized by trust, respect and recognition is the answer. I recall discussions with Dr. Jaques wherein he’d express outrage and frustration at the belief you have to dangle a carrot in front of people to make them work effectively. He’d invite his audience to look at the underlying values and belief systems from which they were operating. Now with the younger generation in the workforce we have a new set of wrinkles that complicate the situation. They come with a different view on the role of work in their lives. See Younger workers.
There was also a story this week about a young entrepreneur in SC who has instituted a $50,000.00 bonus for all of his full time employees if they work at the company for 5 years. See Money. At 30, Dan Schneider, has already had two successful companies. His last company sold for $35m. Presently he has 30 full time employees. The company, SIB, is three years old with revenues of $6M projected for 2011. He has recognized that hiring and training employees costs thousands. By offering the $50K bonus to full time employees he hopes to engage them and create a sense of loyalty. He has two years to test out his theory. Anticipating rapid growth over the next 18 months he is hoping this incentive will develop loyalty. He also anticipates that the longevity bonus will keep people happy. “When employees are happy they perform better”, he says.
Schneider is experimenting with a new model. Only time will tell how effective it is. Personally, I’d like to think that effective managerial leadership within a culture characterized by colleagueship, coupled with fair pay is enough to motivate employees to be and do their best.
Inspiration comes from many sources. But you’d never guess it from the negativity we hear about everywhere. I was just listening tovideos of Benjaminn Zander on YouTube. You can learn more about him at http://www.benjaminzander.com At a business meeting last Saturday a twenty minute video was played from his Art of Possibility series. I found it truly transformative. He describes the "aha" moment he had years ago when he realized as a musical conductor he makes no sound. A conductor has power and is ultimately accountable for the music the orchestra plays, but makes no sound. After his aha moment he began to look into the eyes of his musicians for an answer. Simply, if their eyes were shining brightly the music they played was bright. Getting many musicians all to play different scores brightly to create magnificent music people feel and experience is the goal. The contrast to managerial leadership is obvious isn’t it? Here are some other gems from him.
“A leader must not doubt for one iota that which s/he is asking of employees is possible".
If your employees, teams, children, lover’s eyes are not shining we must ask ourselves “Who am I being now?”
The story he told to get this point across is a poignant one. It's worth paraphrasing here to capture the message. A Holocaust survivor after having been separated from her parents found herself on the train to one of the camps with her younger brother. She looked down at him and noticed he’d lost his shoes. She scolded him for not keeping his things in sight. The train arrived and they were separated. She never saw him again. She survived and upon leaving the camp made a vow. “I’ll never say something that won’t stand as the last thing I ever say to someone again". She’d been haunted by the last words she said to her brother.
Lastly he emphasizes the important distinction between “positive thinking” and his phrase of “radiant possibility”. I for one have had difficulty with positive thinking in that, it has often felt empty, inauthentic. I was raised to tell the truth and have difficulty even with “little white lies”. Radiant possibility acknowledges what is so and creates an optimistic perspective on it. His illustration of this distinction comes from his childhood. His father would say, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”.
I suggest visiting his website and listening to some of the You Tube videos. There is much to learn from this very special man and beautiful music to listen too as well.
Are you one of those people who like to read your horoscope in the newspaper regularly, or follow an astrological newsletter? Most who have been reading my blogs know I frequently mention mercury retrogrades. I guess I am one of the curious about the influence astrology has in our everyday lives. Yesterday I received a newsletter from Rose Marcus discussing the current astral configuration as one “moving great multitudes over great distances” Go to Rosemarcus.com In the past week my mailbox has been flooded with invitations to listen to webinars or sign up for teleconferences addressing the need to come together and influence the course of events here on earth. You can visit the Shiftnetwork.com or worldwidetippingpoint.com to learn more about these efforts to align people to focus on world peace, responsibility and accountability. In its simplest form this is an attempt to test out the Hundredth Monkey Theory that was so popular years ago. Why not participate? The thought of having millions of people aligning towards world peace is thrilling to me.
From the standpoint of the workplace wouldn’t it be exciting if management and employees truly did align according to a set of core values and actually walked their talk. I met with a company last week, which seems to be doing just that. A bank intent on realizing its strategic plan to become a full scale commercial bank ( I won’t name them without permission) has trained branch managers and personnel in new ways of thinking and shifting their mindset by introducing some of Napoleon Hill’s concepts. They’ve expanded the program to tellers and corporate personnel. The Napoleon Hill work stresses self-responsibility for what happens in one’s life. This is an exciting attempt to build greater engagement throughout their organization.
I do hope you will check out some of the websites I’ve referred to. Note that mercury will begin retrograding at the end of the month Thanksgiving Day to be exact. Wishing you all a Blessed Thanksgiving. BEI will be closed from November 24th –December 6th. Watch for our next newsletter in mid December. Blogs will continue weekly.