This week, I’m in Florida, spending time with witches and wizards. My son and I have been reading the first Harry Potter book over the last few weeks in preparation for butter beer, chocolate frogs, and casting spells.
While literal spells and witchcraft are not a part of my life, I do believe in magic. The magic of possibilities. Of inspiration. Of joy and love.
Magicians transform what is into what can be. Fix what is broken. Unlock doors.
We do not need a wand or crystal ball to create magic in our own lives, or that of our families and teams. Being present, creating opportunities, or resolving challenges – they may all sound simple, but can be powerful to those around us.
Open yourself to magic, and you can transform your life and that of those around you. And if you happen to keep a magic wand in your office (I do), all the better.
The end of winter in New England begins an array of color. We will see rich scarlets and ambers as leaves begin to pop. They’ll eventually turn green, but for a little while, it’s a promise of the autumn we’ll see later this year.
Fall in New England is stunning. Absolutely gorgeous. Having been to see the colors change in many parts of this country, I can confidently say New Hampshire is my favorite, since long before I became a resident.
Though I am no longer an avid photographer, each year I make a point to go color hunting on a few different weekends. The target is peak foliage, with the hills alive with reds, oranges and yellows.
On a recent trip, I was spending a few days with my photography mentors, Margo and Arnie, who always push me to look past the obvious. To get up and stay out before everyone else. To find the shot no one else can get.
Spending time with them, absorbing their lessons, I realized the pursuit of a stunning image is no different than the pursuit of leadership.
Look beyond the easy win for the real opportunities
Anyone can get off a bus, point at a pretty tree and click the shutter. I’ve done the same thing in countries around the world, when I have a day to spend to see as much as I can.
Getting at the real beauty, or true image, of anything takes time. More than a few minutes making snap photos (or judgements) about what’s on the surface.
Sometimes, I feel like we are all in the middle of a vast ocean, looking for an elusive oasis.
The water could alternately be calm, with a light current that carries us along, or rough, with waves of change crashing all around.
We all react to our circumstances differently, but there are definite patterns.
If we spend our time treading water, we will do a lot of work and not get very far. Our energy gets spent, we stay in the same place, and we’re worn out before the water even starts to get rough.
Some of us float, letting the current take us where it may. While we’ll move forward, it’s at the whim of our environment, rather than choice.
Picking a direction and moving forward is the only way to get anywhere fast. We may not know what’s on the other end, but it’s not here.
When rough water comes, as it is bound to do, some of us will dive under the waves. While we’re less likely to get hit, we can only hold our breath for so long. At some point, we’re going to get hit when we come up, but we won’t know when it’s coming.
Instead, we should keep our head above water and figure out how to ride the waves. Not every wave will be ours, but we can move with them until we see the perfect one. It’s possible we will crash and feel like we’re drowning. But along the way, we’ll have the best view, and experience a rush like no other.
There may be times when we all need to tread water or float, just to keep our heads above water. But keep an eye out for the waves – changes in our environment – as they represent our biggest challenges and opportunities.
I just celebrated another birthday. It was wonderful for so many friends and family to reach out and wish me well. To receive the call that includes an off-key rendition of “happy birthday” that always makes me tear up.
Several of the well wishers wished me a happy 39th or 29th birthday. I’m pretty sure they meant the energy, blush and/or form of those earlier years. I proudly told them I was thrilled to be celebrating 43.
Whether or not it makes me crazy, or at least in the minority, I love my birthday and each year it brings. Even the tough ones. Especially the tough ones.
I still have a ton of energy, but now I can hone it on what’s really important. I’m more selective about what that means. I have a perspective that my 20’s and 30’s couldn’t provide. I’m sure in my 50’s I’ll think I was misguided in all my 40‘s profound-ity. And I look forward to it.
In my late 20’s, I remember talking with my grandmother, worried that I had passed up too many relationship opportunities because I was so focused on my plan. I was working hard, traveling, and had a list of things I felt were necessary to experience or achieve before I settled down on my terms.
Mistakes. We all make them. Some big. Some small.
Then there are those we carry with us. The ones we can recount years later, hopefully on one hand (maybe two).
Most folks will say “put it behind you” or “move on.” While that is commendable advice, some mistakes require addressing before that.
If you get that sinking feeling in your belly, it’s not going to go away. Having trouble sleeping? The mistake has to be addressed.
Likely, the mistakes that don’t sit well are those that involve other people. For example, delivering something late may not keep us up at night. If it impacts someone else’s work, that’s a different matter.
No matter how big a mistake, there are steps we can take to move forward.
1. Own It
Apologize. Genuinely. Demonstrate an understanding of the wrong – what it is and why it is.
2. Fix It
If possible, undo, redo and/or fix whatever the mistake is. If this is not possible, the best we can do is…
3. Prevent It
Consider the root cause of the mistake. What could be done differently next time to preclude it from happening again? The only way mistakes turn into failure is if we fail to learn from them.
4. Close It
Once you’ve done what you can to make things right, and keep them right, let it go. Get a good night’s sleep, as you’ve done what you can.
5. Check It
While it is important to move on, it is equally important to ensure the mistake is a one time event. We can all reflect, whether it’s weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually on how we’re doing relative to our goals. Add a checkpoint regarding prevention measures to ensure they are still appropriate and working as intended.
There is no time table for these steps. The important part is to begin. The sooner we apologize and try to make it right, however, the more likely it is that we can salvage a relationship that might otherwise be at risk.