Live Forward. Look Back to Honor and See What You Could Do Better…

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

–Soren Kierkegaard, 19th Century Danish philosopher

The plan: Lisa would restart our WLS blogging with a reflective post on her learning truths from the last year. (It was wonderful!) I would follow with my own reflections in a week or two.

Instead:  I did a lot of other things. I marched with 20,000 advocates on a sunny day in St. Petersburg for women’s rights and other unity principles; played host for long-weekend visits from three groups of dear friends and family; cooked experimentally; biked; went to the gym; cleaned house…each week (brutal); and kayaked with mermaids and manatees.

No surprise then that January blew by, a fully lived month. The lovely memories will sustain me for a long time. Read more

On Memorial Day, Remembering Leaders of Yesterday and Today

My father was a decorated World War II veteran, and Memorial Day is certainly about remembering all of our fallen veterans, but for me, especially my father. He was in Africa, England, all over the European theater during the war – one of the first to ship out, one of the last to return. We have a big scrapbook he kept during the war about where he went and what he did as a quartermaster in the Big Red One. He did not talk about his experiences with us until the end of his life, and even then, not that much. When my sister and I took him to the newly opened World War II memorial in Washington, DC he viewed the friezes along the walls and started to cry. “The war was really like that”, he told me, overcome with emotion. My father was a veteran for peace, and believed in equal rights for all. He lived his beliefs.

As I remember my father, I also remember his quiet brand of leadership. He and my mother were mentors for many people, were active in our community, and were consulted often for their opinion and good sense. Both of my parents were modest people, and helped others see what would work for them, doing so with compassion, good listening skills, and strong advice when needed. They were just my parents, so I did not really realize their leadership qualities or positions when I was growing up. Now I do. Read more

International Women’s Day and Women’s Ways of Working

Monday was International Women’s Day, and it was inspiring and sobering at the same time to hear how, in some cases, far women have come but also how far women still have to go to achieve parity in the workplace, safety in their homes, economic security, and value in society. Many women live in poverty, are considered property, enslaved, or are still chattel.

It was an opportunity to celebrate the many gifts, talents, and skills women have to offer the world. Begun in America in 1909 as America’s National Women’s Day to highlight the poor working conditions women were subjected to, it became an international holiday observed by Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland in 1911. In 1975 the United Nations declared it an official international holiday. On Monday the official international holiday turned 40 years old. Read more

Internet, Digital Technology, and Aging Well

From the time we are born, everyone is aging. I just have more experience at it. We should all be so lucky.

So said a speaker at the first listening session at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) held in Tampa on February 19. The WHCOA listening series started in Tampa and will continue in Phoenix, Seattle, Cleveland, and Boston before the Conference convenes late in 2015. The listening sessions are an opportunity for those interested in public policy to help all Americans age with dignity and health in the most independent living environment that we can manage. Ideally a majority of us wish to stay in our own homes, but if that isn’t possible, then in supportive settings that allow us to experience life as fully as possible for as long as possible.

History of Aging Programs in America

2015 is the 80th anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act, our country’s first and most comprehensive effort to date to help people survive losing their income due to disability or advanced age. President and Mrs. Roosevelt in the White House spearheaded the passage of the Act to keep sick and old people out of the proverbial poor house. However, it took the federal policy recommendations of the 1961 White House Conference on Aging and the leadership of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to convince Congress to implement Medicare and Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act in 1965, 50 years ago. More recently, WHCOAs have led to Congress-legislated protections for older workers from job discrimination (for those over age 40 because many employers wished to avoid paying into retirement plans or higher health care costs for their workers), annual cost of living adjustments in Social Security benefits, and Long Term Care ombudsmen to help residents of long-term care facilities. Other programs preventing elder abuse, assisting elders with legal issues and adult protective services have been added in the last decade. Millions of Americans—as well as their families—depend on these public pillars to live with less vulnerability and more security. Read more

The new leader: an online convener of diverse perspectives for systems change

We write frequently about online leadership in this blog because Doris and I are continuing to formulate an online leadership model. We have already noted that online leaders build networks, encourage diverse perspectives within and outside an organization, and create an environment of openness, working out loud, and work as a learning experience (see our previous blogs Sighting Leadership in Action, Women Network to Lead, and Take the Lead in Learn, Lead, Connect Online).

This week I came across two resources about the new leadership paradigm in the online, in-person, and blended (combining online and in-person) environments. Both of these resources (and they are bookmarked in our open-to-you Diigo account) are by people I follow and admire: Beth Kanter and Peter Senge. I trust their expertise and know they are very substantial sources.

What interested me was even though they wrote about different approaches to this new leadership, there was a congruence of thought. Leaders for this new age are systems leaders – able to not only see the connecting pieces of an intractable issue or problem, but able to convene a very diverse group of stakeholders, including competitive businesses and organizations, at the table to work through how to tackle it. The convening is not just inviting people to a meeting, but creating an atmosphere and providing the structure to really examine each stakeholder’s perspective on the problem and each other to break stereotypes and move beyond turf and proprietary interests.

Read more

My Learning Dashboard: A Plan and New Habits Needed

I am a serendipitous learner, one who often rejects questions at the start of events that ask me to identify my learning goals. I prefer the Open Space Law of Two Feet to open myself to possibilities.  I like being surprised by what I learn and when I learn and with whom.  This outlook has led to magical interactions and new knowledge for me.  On the other hand, following any current of curiosity could mean no self-accountability.  I could miss deeper learning because I waited too long to commit to a learning focus.  All of the above has happened to me.

A learning event is one thing to negotiate without a personal plan but learning online is 20 times more demanding and slippery.  My aerie-faerie-reverie approach to learning became counter-productive and even destructive online.  Why?  Because there was always something new to distract me, I could seldom finish anything. Read more