Leading is Adapting!

To be a leader is to be a performer.  Always in the eyes of others, and always trying to reach various audiences in a way that works for them.  It is something that takes work, and is a never-ending process of learning.

I have found that the various leadership roles I have taken on have enabled me to grow, and that knowledge is something I can carry with me into new roles.  It is also knowledge I can pass on as I am practicing them now.  Every leadership experience is different, and advice may not work in one instance, but it may work very well in another.  As a mentor, I try to express the need to evaluate the leadership role individually and the people involved.  Everyone will react to different leadership roles in varying ways.  To be a leader, one must be able to adapt, to pick up cues, and to realize that failure will happen, but it is merely an opportunity to learn how to succeed.

A leader must be a chameleon, always changing to meet the needs of the environment they are in.  The trick is, they must do this while being true to themselves.  I have worked with many people, and the personality of each individual requires me to adapt to them, to communicate in a way that will help them to realize what my message is.  It can be incredibly difficult at times, and this is why a leader needs to be passionate about their role.  If a leader believes in their message, they will do what they can to convey it appropriately.

If you are a leader and not getting the results you want, you may need to change the methods you are using to fit your audience.  You should always look for ways to improve your abilities, ways to grow, and ways to adapt!

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Empowering Women Series!

I am going to write about this ever-important topic this week because this is something that affects both men and women.  There is still a gap in pay between the genders, a glass ceiling, and a social model that objectifies women.  There are women around the world with no control over their lives, their bodies, or their fates.  There are women in abusive relationships who struggle to keep any shred of confidence or dignity.

How does this affect men?  As times change, men are seeing how this inequality affects their mothers, aunts, wives, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters.  They see co-workers who work just as hard, if not harder, get less pay.  They see the statistics and actual benefits of having women at the top, at board meetings, in project committees, and in other leadership roles.  The data is there, and it will be explored later this week in a blog post detailing the ways women can benefit companies who invest in them.  When men and women come together, share ideas, and work together, great things happen.

How can we empower women today?  There are various avenues that should be taken to help women to succeed.  It begins with a change in stereotypes and mindsets that limit the expansion of women in fields typically enjoyed by men.  The sciences is just one example, and women are finally breaking the glass ceiling in this area, but not completely.  More work needs to be done.  From helping girls to realize their potential in the earlier years of school, supporting them when they have dreams to accomplish great things, allowing them to lead without being termed “bossy,” and listening to them, we can initiate changes.

Colleges tend to have higher rates of women working toward degrees compared to men, yet, men still hold a vast majority of the executive positions.  This is a problem.  Women are not hired or advanced in some careers because they are of child-bearing age.  It is time to cast aside the plague of discrimination that permeates our society and become a part of an advanced, equal, more successful 21st century.  Join me this week as I tackle the various reasons that hold women back, analyze the statistics related to this important issue, and explore simple changes we can make in our lives to become empowered, or for men, ways you can help to empower the women in your lives.

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What Advocacy Means to Me

There are more and more non-profit organizations being created, more policymakers seeking to advocate to prevent specific injustices, and more people recognizing there are problems in our society, our laws, our beliefs.  I began to notice these problems early on as I grew up in a home painfully divided by mental illness.  I saw, at a young age,  the struggles that are so prevalent in the structures of mental health treatment in the United States.  When families are left, stripped of normalcy, to cling to any shred of hope, there is a problem.

I have learned a great deal about the need to advocate for oneself and for loved ones when navigating the health care system.  As an adult, I have been thrown back into the torment of hospitals, insurance, and fear as my both of my children have serious conditions which require specialized care.  In the process, I have seen parents and caregivers lose themselves, unable to fight or not sure how.  When family members are traumatized by the serious illnesses of loved ones, they should not be confronted with a system as convoluted and stoic as what we have.  While we have received excellent care, we have also faced atrocious care and callous individuals.  We have been placed in situations that devastated us.  We have had to learn the “business” of health care because the humanity disappeared.

This leads me to the idea of advocacy.  I believe advocacy begins with providing a voice for those who do not have one.  It is working on behalf of others who need your help.  Caregivers have to be advocates, as well as teachers, lawyers, policymakers, non-profit representatives, etc…  Advocacy is growing as we realize the need for people to represent various groups of people.  It could be under-advantaged children, abuse victims, parents with an ill child, caregivers of elderly parents, and the list goes on and on.

For me, advocacy has become an important aspect of my life because I have had people advocate for me when I needed it.  Then, as I became stronger, I advocated for myself, and my children.  Now, I wish to use what I have learned to advocate for others.  The more people open their eyes and see the situations that need to be changed, many of which are right around the corner or even in our own homes, the better our world will become.  If I do not step up and work for change, who will?  And, if you see something that you could lend your voice to, speak up.  If you don’t, who will?

Inspiration from Jean Kwok

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to have breakfast with Jean Kwok, bestselling author of Girl in Translation, and Mambo in Chinatown.  She was a guest speaker at Cedar Crest College, and I was the one chosen to give a short speech/introduction of her before she spoke to the school.  One of the first things I noticed about her was how welcoming, energetic, and open she was.

There were eight of us at the breakfast, including Ms. Kwok, and she told us about her experiences as a writer, her joy at being able to share her life with others, and some hints about a book she is currently writing.  She made everyone at the table feel comfortable, and she listened to our questions.

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After my introduction, she complimented me and even said “that has to be one of the best introductions I have received”.  She didn’t know at the time, but I was so nervous to speak in front of a group of people, and to introduce a bestselling author was terrifying to me.  She helped boost my confidence, and because of that moment, I have been able to speak at other engagements where I have received more praise.

That evening, she spoke about her life and how her experiences after emigrating to the United States impacted her and her family.  She spoke about her family, her education, and how she worked in a clothing factory as a child, at night.  She has taken desperate circumstances, and worked hard to become an inspiration to others.  She now speaks to people around the world, and she is an icon for determination.  She inspired me to push myself even harder.

I highly recommend her books for anyone who has not read them.  She weaves a fiction from her real life experiences, but the honesty of her living conditions help to create a deeper understanding of what it means to struggle, and to find a way out.  If you ever get a chance to listen to her speak, take it, because she has an incredible story.

I will be having dinner with and listening to the Poet Laureate of Wales, Gwyneth Lewis, next week, and will post an update afterwards.  Stay tuned.