Youth

Appreciate: The Most Beautiful Thing You’ll Hear…

Around my senior year of high school I wanted to impress this girl (BTW, how much of our history has been caused by someone uttering those last six words?) and somehow I got this great idea to take her out on this moonlit stroll where, at a point I’d read her this amazing poem to show her how into her I was. Yeah, really original and not at all cheesy.

Well, my biggest obstacle was I didn’t know anything about poetry- how to write it, what was good, did it have to rhyme? So I started by reading every conceivable book of poetry I could get my hands on at Barnes-&-Noble. I did this for weeks in preparation for my big moment and I have to admit, it totally killed. She loved it and boom, we we’re dating.

Smooth, right? It was, but it didn’t last long – probably had something to do with my cancelling on her for prom three days beforehand. To take out my ex-girlfriend.

Yes. That happened.

But my main point here is that I never stopped reading poetry. I kept writing, for years and haven’t ever really stopped for a tremendous length of time. All kinds too; the classics, spoken-word, slam, Charles Bukowski, Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, you name it. That being said, this song (see the video) is not only the most hauntingly beautiful song I’ve ever heard, it’s also a remarkable work of poetry all its own.

Original writing is insanely hard. To capture the nebulous feelings you experience when you look at someone that truly matters to you, and to do it without sounding hackneyed, or trite, or derivative of a master – it’s like verbal alchemy. Damn near as impossible, too.

I think it’s easy for people to take for granted the unbelievable forces spinning inside them; love, jealousy, yearning, ambition, fear, grief, longing – and how hard it is to get someone else to know exactly what those feelings are like – using only the written word. How they make you tingle, or shudder, or how they change your breathing while sitting perfectly still. To get someone else to feel them all over again, just from reading them.

It’s a gift, and this young lady has it. Stunningly beautiful imagery,  intense feeling, uncommon honesty, all adding up to one hell of a song.

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3 Vital Principles of Leadership

Most people have at one time or another been a leader on a sport’s team, class project, or chaired a club they were in. The term “natural born leader” readily applies: You’ve got charisma, machismo, that something… extra – a spark, a way about you that makes others take notice and follow your lead. Congrats! Most proactive and driven young people have some form of this talent. Then, over time, it sort of seems to… vanish.

Learning and Leading buttons

Press the left button, then the right.

Like any gift or ability, it takes nurturing to make it grow. Great Leaders (capital L!) “watch tape” of themselves and learn WHY they’re so good and how to get even better.  This requires a high degree of self awareness, which, when combined with a desire for continuous learning, becomes quite a powerful asset.

To be any kind of a Leader, you’ll need to make sure you’re doing 3 fundamental things:

braveheart

"AAAAGGHHH, Follow me to greatly improved sales! AAAAGGGHH"

1. Inspire People – Everyone wants to be a part of something greater than themselves’ and it doesn’t matter if it’s selling ice cubes to eskimos or toppling a despotic regime – give them a vision of where they want to go – where YOU want to go – and why it’s so great there! A common purpose is a flag to rally around!
2. Communicate – Does everyone know the vision? Is it easily digestable? if you can’t explain your vision in less than 10 seconds then the answer is probably “no.” Give people a vision of a hill in battle and tell them how, with their help, you’re all going to get over that hill. People will pick up that flag and run into cannon fire if you’ve done it right.
3. Empower and Encourage – Free your people to solve their own day-to-day problems. Remove obstacles to their success, aim to make the road just a little smoother! Celebrate victories, however small, and be lavish in your praise for excellent work. It costs nothing but your caring -which is all people really want at the end of the day.

Patton is THE MAN!

“Now there’s another thing I want you to remember. I don’t want to get any messages saying that “we are holding our position.” We’re not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We’re going to hold onto him by the nose and we’re going to kick him in the ass. We’re going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we’re going to go through him like crap through a goose!” – General George S. Patton.

You can say a lot of things about Patton, but you can’t say that he didn’t have a way of communicating a vision!

These principles are only as good as the person who practices them. Are you kind? Devoted? Do you posses integrity and honesty down to your core? Are you flexible without breaking? Do you stand for something? Do you truly desire to see those in your charge succeed and move on to better things? Can you put the team above yourself? Can you see the best in those you lead, and work to get that ‘best’ out of them? To get them to see it as well?

A great Leader can only become so through a deeply authentic commitment to their people. Don’t baby them, but do lead and protect them. Don’t make excuses for them, rather help them to keep from making excuses themselves. Finally, let them lead you from time to time – you’ll be surprised to see where they take you!