In May of 2016 I wrote a reflection on Leadership and Hope, and how leaders cultivate hope in themselves and those around them in their daily work. Hope is an essential ingredient in leadership, because hopeless people generally lack the energy and purpose to inspire others to move together in a positive direction. Since that time I have been thinking a lot about optimism, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.
Psychologists often refer to the concept of defining moments – certain events in life that shape the person you have become. These events can be positive or negative, but they play an outsized role in the narrative that a person constructs about what has meaning for them and how they see life.
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Like many people who have spent their lives residing in colder climates, spring has traditionally been a time for cleaning and reorganizing. I start to get up earlier in the morning to do things outside before I leave for work. Some would call it spring fever, but I seem to have a lot more energy when the weather improves. My wife, Rhonda thinks my burst of energy is “seasonal hyperactivity” (compared to my normal hyperactivity). In addition to cleaning up the yard I begin to take a serious look at the garage and basement, finding inspiration to do what my mom always called “spring cleaning”.
My favorite story of the discovery of the complexity of relationships comes from an experience I had with my grandson, Ben when he was 5 years old. After spending the morning fishing together at a local farm pond he asked if we could stop at the Dairy Queen for ice cream on the way home. Being a typical over indulgent grandparent, I decided it was a great idea, even though it was less than an hour before lunch.
Integrity is the cornerstone of all human relationships. Integrity is also the central ingredient in trust, honesty, credibility, self-control, courage, and a host of other virtues that we ascribe to great leaders. The absence of integrity is a fatal leadership weakness. But if integrity is such an essential element in human relationships and the behavior and attitudes of leaders, why does it seem to be lacking in so many situations in modern life?
When I was working my way through nursing school I had the opportunity to work as a 3-11 chauffer and personal assistant for Cecil Runyan, the CEO and Board Chair of Southeastern Michigan Gas Company. It was a great job for a person working their way through college as I could study in between my various duties. As an 18 year old college student I spent a great deal of time with this 80 year old, cigar chomping, benevolent autocrat. The unexpected blessing was that I had a front row seat to the business world and the philosophical musings of a truly colorful character.