10thHuman: Stress as a mismatch

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This meme speaks to me and, I suspect, a good number of people.

I would add to this stress is also a mismatch between what you want to be and the demands or expectations of others.

Be you.

Be the best you you can be, in the capacity that brings you peace.

That’s my goal. It manifests for me as being the best dad and human and advocate I can be.

What do we owe a toxic leader?

The question I’d ask today is, “When in a followership role, what do we as followers owe a toxic leader?”

Let’s first discuss the definition of leadership. My definition of leadership is the thoughtful and methodical application of a continually studied framework that becomes a mindset which promotes positive culture and ethics. 

I subscribe to a school of thought that believes leadership is a positive trait and should be defined as such. Of course, there exist “leaders” who embrace negative traits to achieve their goals. We tend to refer to these folks as ‘bad’ or ‘toxic’ leaders. I don’t believe they should be honored with the title of “leader” at all. One who is embued with the authority to direct others, but whom lacks the traits to be a good leader (or sees no need to implement the same) is, at best, a manager with the legal authority to direct action by subordinates. All that said, I will keep with the naming convention for the purpose of answering the asked question, “What do we as followers owe a toxic leader?”

What is a toxic leader? I suspect we can all name the traits that make an individual leader toxic. Such people are often arbitrary, negative, insulting, intimidating (or use intimidation), narcissistic and tend to rely on authority in lieu of actual leadership to achieve a goal, which is likely personally driven vs in service to an ideal.

What do we owe such ‘leaders’?


Such individuals are in violation of the social contract, the glue that holds us together in a society.

We do not owe such toxic individuals allegiance or deference.

I would go so far as to suggest we owe one another a duty to speak out against such individuals, as we are able.

What say you?

Empathy has no script. – Brene Brown

credit pixabay
credit pixabay

If you want to know the how of connecting to your tribe, I can think of no better words than what follows below. Do this and change the world, or your part of it.

Empathy has no script.

There is no right way or wrong way to do it.

It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgement, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone”. – Brene Brown


The effect we have on others-2Happy Monday, folks! I’ll take just a moment to apologize for my silence of the last month. I’m still very much committed to the idea of daily posts as a career decision and my battle rhythm. Life often has a…penchant…for getting in the way of our operational models for the same. Tangentially related: this is a good reason for having an operational model or framework. These aren’t meant to be necessarily hard and fast but are plans. You CAN deviate from your plan. Your framework should be your baseline, to which you can return to time and time again.

Anyhow, today leadership is very much on my mind.

It’s a topic I’ve written about several times here. Definitions abound but my working definition of leadership is this:

Leadership is the thoughtful and methodical application of a continually studied framework that becomes a mindset.

Leadership is study.

Leadership is explorative.

Leadership is evolving.

Leadership is learning.

Leadership is language.

Leadership is is perspective.

Leadership is an awesome responsibility and ought not to be undertaken lightly. The best leaders I know are committed learners who have a ripple effect on those around them.

People want to follow good leaders.

10thHuman: On the other side of every interaction is a human being…

The effect we have on others-2I’ve blogged previously about the need for authentic, civil communication.

Tonight, I’d expand upon this, maybe step back a bit and ask us all to pause and consider that on the other side of every interaction is a human being.

From a professional perspective, this will absolutely help your business. Consider, please, the last place you visited where the representative of the business didn’t make eye contact, didn’t engage with you, didn’t acknowledge you…is this a place likely to earn your business again?

On the other side of the equation, when you last visited Starbucks or the Apple Store (both known for their customer service), how were you made to feel? Likely, you were made to feel like you belonged, like you were a member of their team or tribe.

From a personal perspective, I think this is a valuable lesson to remember as we interact with our fellow people. We are all part of this tribe called humanity and I believe, if we could just try to see the world through one another’s eyes, we could accomplish wonders.

10thHuman: Why you should continually evaluate your framework

Every threat to the status quo is an opportunity in disguise.I’ve previously blogged about the need of businesses to evaluate their strategies as a function of thermodynamics:

The short answer is that a business that does not engage in the continual evaluation of their operations becomes isolated from their competition. Their entropy increases.

I’ve also discussed this as a function of the evolution of a business in a competitive marketplace.

What got you there will not keep you there. 

Today, I’d expand that line of thought by citing Anthony Giddens, a sociologist, and a particular thought on structures:

Structures do not determine outcomes, but define the potential range of outcomes. (Giddens)

In the context of the running discussion here about strategies and frameworks, I think it reasonable to posit that a framework and strategy do not determine an outcome but helps define the potential range of outcomes. Specifically, it helps you consider input, evaluate your options and execute your decision in accordance with defined parameters (such as goals and values).

10thHuman: Language as a framework for knowledge

credit: pixabay
credit: pixabay

I recently blogged about the importance of language in leadership, relaying that “leadership and language are essential partners in business (Van Etta, 2016).”

In the same post, I wrote that language reflects our thoughts, our essence. Leadership is the thoughtful and methodical application of a continually studied framework that becomes a mindset.

Building on the same thoughts on the importance of language and viewing language as a framework, I would share this thought:

The entirety of human knowledge is contained with the framework of ‘language’. Without an agreed upon framework, this knowledge would cease to be decipherable. It would cease to exist. – Me

Fundamentally, language is a construct we use to house and share knowledge and ideas. Language is important. It’s use is important in the spread of ideas, in the motivation of people and the implementation of ideas.

I’d share one more thought with you today.

Words are not just words. They are thoughts given life, an act, which inspire others to further action.

10thHuman: Perspective. Have you seen the world through my eyes?

credit: pixabay
credit: pixabay

Have you seen the world through my eyes?

The question was asked in response to my having offered assistance to a complete stranger. When I relayed what I’d done to a friend, they offered that they would have wanted to do the same but would have hesitated in doing so for a fear of physical safety.

This is a question I think about every day and could be – should probably be – the subject of a much larger post than this is likely to be.

Have you seen the world through my eyes? 

This question stopped me in my tracks when it was asked and still resonates with me today, in a profound way. It’s a question I have asked thousands of young leaders, when I taught a course on leadership, ethics and perspective at the United States Air Force Academy.

The short answer is, of course, “No.”

The longer answer is, “What a powerful question to ask. While I cannot do so, I can and surely ought to try.”

From a personal and business perspective, sincerely asking this question launched a journey of introspection of which this blog is the current manifestation.

From a business perspective alone, what an incredible cornerstone of a framework to consider our actions through.

Have we seen the world through the eyes of a consumer or a client?

Have we seen the world through the eyes of our partners or vendors

Have we seen the world through the eyes of our employees? 

Phrased and applied another way:

Have we tried to see ourselves as others see us?

I don’t offer definitive answers here, just food for thought.

Leadership and language are essential partners in business

The effect we have on others-2

In a recent conversation about The Value of I don’t Know, a friend and valued mentor of mine, Theresa Lewandowski Van Etta relayed this:

Leadership and language are essential partners in business.
– Theresa Lewandowski Van Etta

This resonated with me. Let’s chat about the ‘why’.

I’ve previously blogged about the power of language, which I think is also summed up by Leah Boroditsky when she says:

What we have learned is that people who speak different languages do indeed think differently and that even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world.

Words are the physical manifestation of an intent to speak, the audible result of will.

If we can readily agree that language, that our words, matter then it is not a leap to see why our words impact leadership.

Language reflects our thoughts, our essence. Leadership is the thoughtful and methodical application of a continually studied framework that becomes a mindset.

If our language does not reflect the culture we are trying to build in our businesses, it impacts and affects our leadership ability and credibility.


10thHuman: Do I need a grandiose vision?


No, you do not.

This is not to say you don’t need a long term plan, or that you don’t need to be thinking about the future of your business.

Here, I mean does your vision have to be grandiose…does it have to solve a global problem?

I suggest the answer to that question is, “No.”

In my profession as a Realtor®, my mission is to help people at their level of need at the moment in time I connect with them.

In my passion as a blogger here, my mission is to connect with YOU and share my thoughts on personal and business development.

I don’t think I can change the world; I’m just trying to change the small part of it around me.