Monthly Archives: November 2011

Tuesday Minute with Mary (and Mark)

The “Mark” in this case is Mark Twain. Tomorrow is his birthday, and I wanted to pay homage to one of our country’s great writers. Perhaps my special affection for Twain comes from the fact that like Twain, I was born in Missouri. I still recall a family vacation, visiting his boyhood home in Hannibal on the Mississippi River. Just for the record, Mark Twain was Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ pen name.

Food for Thought ~

The Mark Twain quote that I chose for you is representative of his wisdom and his love of water-related themes. I appreciate it for its universal applicability and most assuredly, how it relates to leadership. I hope you enjoy it.

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Question of the day ~

In what ways might you explore more, dream more and discover more?

For those of you who also love stamps, one of the current commemorative stamps features Mark Twain. It’s a beauty! And because I can’t resist sharing another Twain quote… “Always do right. That will gratify some of the people and astonish the rest.”

Special Edition

One of the things I am grateful for is my work. I make my living doing something I love – helping good people be successful. I work with business owners and leaders, and when they are effective, their companies grow and thrive. In turn, these successful companies provide jobs, generate economic activity, produce important products and services, and share their talents and resources with the community. This is my mission.

I was curious about the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday, so I did a little research. Included below is a very abbreviated version of the story of the first Thanksgiving, plus a short history of the evolution of this national holiday. I hope you find them of interest and enjoy sharing the stories with your family and friends.

This season of Thanksgiving is the perfect time to express my appreciation for your business, your referrals, and your trust in me and my work. May your holidays be warm and wonderful and the coming year be bountiful.

The First Thanksgiving

Life was hard in the New World for the Pilgrims. Out of the 103 who emigrated from England in 1620 and crossed the Atlantic in the Mayflower, just 51 people survived the first winter. After the critical first harvest, Governor William Bradford declared a day of thanksgiving and prayer. The gathering took place outdoors in the Autumn of 1621. It was a 3-day event. Along with the Pilgrims, there were 90 Wampanoag Indians who had helped the colonists get settled. The Indians brought 5 deer to the celebration and along with the venison, they all feasted on roast duck, roast goose, wild turkey, cornbread, squash, berries, maple sugar, wild plums and pumpkins.

A Short History of the Holiday

In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming November 26 a day of national thanksgiving. For many years, there was no national holiday, although some states observed a yearly Thanksgiving holiday. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving, a tradition that was followed by presidents every year for 74 years. In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt moved the date up one week earlier to help business by extending the shopping period before Christmas. In 1941, Congress ruled that the fourth Thursday in November would be a legal federal holiday. Thus, we have Thanksgiving, the holiday.

Observe Thyself

What activity do we all engage in that most profoundly affects the rest of our activities? It’s thinking. You might be interested to know that the most effective and creative problem solvers are people who engage in the process of meta-thinking, or “thinking about the thinking.”

Food for Thought ~

Meta-thinking means being aware of how we are thinking while we are doing the thinking. In other words, it’s consciously observing and evaluating our continual inner dialogue and then testing, challenging and re-directing our thoughts as needed. We all carry on a fairly constant stream of internal thoughts, and this concept reminds us that we are not passive bystanders in that process. We can actively choose our thoughts and assess the quality of our thinking. It’s likely that from time to time we’ll find we need a mental tune-up to upgrade the quality of our thinking.

Question of the day ~

Do you pay attention to how you are thinking or just to what you are thinking?

The readership for my current article continues to be strong, which delights me because it’s based on a brilliant definition of leadership by John Quincy Adams, our country’s sixth president. In nineteen words, he sums up the essence of leadership! If you haven’t already done so, click here to read his definition, and the article.

Dancing Shirtless Guy

There’s a popular piece on YouTube called “Dancing Shirtless Guy” that has also become a lesson about leadership. Actually, in the end, the narrator makes the assertion that leadership happens when the “First Follower” joins the leader, thereby validating what the leader is doing. If it weren’t for the First Follower, who then inspires other Followers, the identified Leader would be, in this case, just a shirtless guy dancing by himself.

Food for Thought ~

I would say it takes two parts and a proviso to make this equation. A leader has to be willing to be the lone voice/dancer/initiator, to be different, to march to a different drummer. Were it not for the leader’s willingness to take a risk and step out from the crowd, there would be no one for the First Follower to emulate. A First Follower is then, by definition, dependent on there being an identifiable Leader. Furthermore, the proviso is that the Leader must be doing something that others care about and admire. Otherwise, indeed, he would be just a shirtless guy dancing by himself.

Question of the day ~

What’s your take on the relationship between leadership and followership?

I am particularly fond of my current column in the North Bay Business Journal because it’s based on a truly brilliant definition of leadership by John Quincy Adams, our country’s sixth president. In nineteen words, he sums up the essence of leadership! Click here to read his definition, and the article.

A Lesson in Trusting my Intuition

My previous two posts featured an insightful analysis of the distinction between excellence and perfection. In a poetic sort of irony, I made a mistake in last week’s piece, and not on purpose! A particular point of interest here is that I actually woke up in the night thinking about it, before the email was to be sent early the next morning, and talked myself out of believing I had made an error. I knew the fact in question, and persuaded myself that I would not have made such a silly mistake. Surprise! This background story serves as an opportunity to remind myself, and you as well, to listen to our intuition. No doubt the inconvenience of getting up in the proverbial middle of the night colored my receptivity to the inner alarm that woke me up.

Food for Thought ~

I have increasingly learned over the years to trust my intuition. This example aside, I usually do. We all have an inner knowing and inner wisdom that can’t necessarily be explained, but is usually accurate. At the very least, it is a useful resource to be respected and cultivated.

Question of the day ~

Do you listen to your intuition? Has it been a valuable resource in your life and work as a leader?

Oh, in case you’re wondering about the mistake, it was in the description of my new column in the North Bay Business Journal, based on a brilliant definition of leadership by John Quincy Adams, our country’s sixth (not second) president. His father, John Adams, was our country’s second president. Click here to read the article.