Crazy ideas and meatloaf with a twist.



What do I do with all my crazy ideas?  And the perfect wholesome fall meal of the week-meatloaf with a twist.

 

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I love October.  I mean LOVE like there will never be another October that will come again, so I must soak up all of it's goodness RIGHT NOW.
A few things that bring a little more joy to October . . . my favorite wreath of autumn leaves hung on my mantle, hot cider, mini-gatherings, and a month of color brilliance and shifting seasons that always gets me in the mood for possibility.
So, I can't talk about the love of October without acknowledging that I miss the slowness of summer, and I don't miss the busyness of September.  I can only love it because it comes at the perfect time every year, just when I need it.
We love a night by the fire, all things cinnamon, and a recent tradition that I started last year . . . I take long weekends away from work for the entire month!  And there are a few reasons for that.
One main reason--shifting in to possibility.  I grow weary of busyness, and I start to feel like I am going to lose myself in all the tasks of being a parent, leader, wife, and everything else.  I have to get my bearings, find some love and create space for possibility.  The long weekends are intentionally designed to soak up the season and give me space to dream, write and create again.   To allow myself to get lost in the beauty of the present mixed with the dreams of the future.
And I start to get crazy ideas!  I have so many I write down . . . to launch something, share a new product, take a leap of faith, move across the country.  You name it, I start to think about it!
This might surprise you a bit.  Or it might not.  If you've ever had a conversation with me, you may hear me talk about a "wild" idea or dreams, the latest project, the joy of living . . . I am all about your dreams, and your fullest life.  I love not only taking time for my own possibility, but it brings me so much joy to hear YOUR possibility.  I want to hear YOUR crazy ideas!  Because the thing is, there really aren't crazy ideas.  They only feel crazy if you have boxed yourself into what we consider "normal."  And I like normal.  I like stable, and calm, and peaceful and all that, too.  I just don't mind shaking things up a bit here and there.  Because on the other side of it is sweet adventure and fully living.
So, I am going to share a few of my crazy ideas with you!
        1.  What if I moved across the country?  What if we just decided no more high school and normal school and whatever is normal, and we moved across the country, and home-schooled and adventured with our kids for the next year?  We just figure it out!
        2.  What if I started a leadership revolution?  One where we just decide enough is enough with the "professional" jargon and image-driven craziness, and we show up with love every day?  Coming together to solve problems, and share life, and celebrate if someone does something super cool at work, but even more if they do something outside of work that makes them feel alive?  Can we help people fuel their dreams when they are off the clock?
        3.  What if I set a goal to sell $1000 a month in Trades of Hope--and know that I know, that I know I am making a difference for another woman across the world--and dream about meeting her one day?  Sharing a meal with her, watching her work, making it real!
        4.   What if I sang my heart out on Sunday morning and didn't care what people at work thought about me on Monday morning?
        5.    What if I said something controversial in an email or a blog post or on my social media?  Something I believe but I am afraid to say out loud?
        6.    What if I said I want to help 100 women say their crazy ideas out loud?

My journal is getting full again.  Do you have crazy ideas that you think sometimes?  Do you have a safe place to talk about it?  Did you know that crazy ideas are the birthplace of revolution?  When I coach, we coach around the ideal self.  And let me tell you--it is what some think of as "crazy talk."  But our imagination is where we exercise the muscle of possibility.  And I know this for sure.  No matter what kind of crazy conversation I have had, ideas are born in those conversations, and they lead to something.  They ALWAYS lead to something.

I would love to hear one or two of your crazy ideas!  Even it is a a secret.  Or you're afraid I will judge you or you'll have tears come to your eyes when you want to talk about it, and you don't want anyone to see your tears.  You have my word.  Your secret is safe with me.  And I promise you this . . . your crazy idea has something to it.  I have no doubt of it.
 
Creative thinking inspires ideas.
Ideas inspire change.

                                                             -Barbara Januszkiewicz
If you have an idea that you want to talk about and you need a safe place to share it, I'd love to hear from you.  Email me at jena@jenaleads.com to get the conversation started.  Also, if you know a woman that would be inspired by this email, pass it along!  These idea conversations are completely FREE because, you read it above-- I want to help 100 women open up to possibility and share their ideas!
 
 

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Meatloaf with a twist.
We gathered at her table, laughed, talked, and cooked together.  It was an afternoon to remember as we opened up to the possibility of one of us entertaining a dream!  And, the meatloaf was healthy and delicious.  I'm so thankful my friend Jenny is willing to share her meatloaf recipe with YOU--a family classic but with a twist!  And since @lovehowsheleads is all about sharing simple recipes, this one is a winner!
 
3 lbs ground turkey (this recipe can be halved or reduced on any of the ingredients, according to the person's taste or preferences)
1/4 cup flaxmeal
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped fine
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped (or only florets cut off)
1 cup quinoa or rice (optional - to extend the portions)
1 Tablespoon sage
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon rosemary
1 Tablespoon thyme
salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients into large casserole dish (or smaller dish if reducing the recipe)
Bake at 350 for 1 hour
 
Do you have a favorite simple dinner recipe you'd like to share?  Send me the info at jena@jenalopez.com!
 

 

 

How many late nights have I actually had during my raising kids?

This is something that comes up regularly for us.  Do we sleep? 

Yes, we do.  But, yes, we probably sleep a little less than before we had kids.  Maybe sometimes we sleep more.  Late nights.  Check.  They are certainly a part of the deal.

But, the answer for late nights may be different than you expect.  You see, late nights became a norm so we could study, do our passionate creative work, or spend time together.   Really early on, late nights were part of the deal because we had babies and we were up around the clock caring for them.  And I don't think I really embraced the crazy schedule until my third child.  I tried to with the first and second, but everything was new and I felt like I was still figuring things out. 

As the kids grew, though, late nights became an expectation; even started to become our choice.  And, if we wanted to go to bed early, then we would.  As a matter of fact, as I write this now, we decided tonight would be an early night.  We drink tea and come to bed and enjoy the quiet of our house with kids all peacefully asleep.  We know the importance of our sleep.

But, other nights, we make a commitment to work an hour or two on our creative endeavors--our music, our writing, our other work. 

Sometimes, yes, we do have to stay up late for functional things, like school forms and paperwork, emails, planning, or a project that wasn't complete, but needs to get done in time for the due date. 

There is a key to all of this--we choose and we embrace the moment.  Even on those task nights, we recognize the only way through it is to just simply do it.  And know that truly, our late nights are only for a season--it won't be long before all our kids are grown and on to their own lives.  And we don't want to miss a thing.

What can a working mom and stay-at-home mom find in common?

We are the same, you and me.  For years, I believed the lie that we were in two different camps.  We couldn't possibly have common ground.  You wouldn't understand me.  I wouldn't understand you.  We would each resent each other for what the other was doing or not doing.

I would assume things about you and you would assume things about me.  Assume things like how nice it must be to have freedom and not have to answer to other people for your day.  Or you would assume how nice it must be to leave the house and not have to deal with the kids all day. 

We would compare ourselves and feel frustrated by the lies that being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest job in the world and being a working mom must mean that you don't love your kids as much.  Or being a stay-at-home mom was easy, and being a working mom was easy.  Of course, we would each want to get trapped in the comparison of how her day was easier or better. 

But, no.  We are actually the same.  We both answer to other people all day--and have demands and pressures and shoulds and tasks.  We have duties and lists and appointments and things to manage.  We have to love people, share our heart, lead with grace.  We have to be tough and manage through our anger and try not to wear our heart on our sleeve.

We are the same.  We have eyes that watch us and ears that listen to us.  We have outside relationships that require our attention even when we have a list a mile long of things to do.  We have to call our own mothers and thank them for all they ever did.

Mom, we are the same, you and I.  We must let go of comparing our to-do lists or accomplishments on the basis of another.  We must let go of comparing our "good motherhood" to another on the basis of how many minutes a day we spent tending to our childrens' needs.  We are all doing what we love, regardless of how it looks, and if what we love gifts our children with a variety of choices, then we are living very blessed.  And our children are learning that there is no one "right" way to live, but will have to form their own thoughts and opinions about what they long to do as they grow up by watching the women around us come together and recognize that we are all the same.  We are choosing love. 

Reflections from Ashridge: Failing Happy

In December 2013, I had the great privilege of attending an immersive experience facilitated by Steve Chapman on Creative Practices in leadership.  Being that December 2015 has come and gone, and I have spent the last few days reflecting as we have rolled into January 2016, I realized that this was a story worth sharing, because it is about "Failing Happy," especially as I look forward to some of the new things I may try this year!

Here I retell the experience from Ashridge, taken from the book, Can Scorpions Smoke? Creative Adventures in the Corporate World:

Before I came to Ashridge, I participated in a simulation exercise where I volunteered to be the CEO.  I failed miserably.  By the time we made it to Ashridge for our workshops, my heart had gone through a lot of emotions.  I cried because of how I let my colleagues down.  I felt the need to defend myself and quickly recognized I really couldn't.  I was afraid I was going to lose my friendships.  I felt humiliated.  I knew that the simulation could have gone either way but I wanted it to be successful.  I also knew that, no matter what the outcome would be, I just needed to do it anyway.  I needed to get to know what I was afraid of and it felt pretty safe to do it in a simulation. 

I didn't realize the intensity that would come from the exercise though, in particular hearing others express themselves about how I performed in the CEO role.  I had to listen and accept the responsibility for the ways in which I just simply failed.  When we got to Ashridge, I felt even more open to what I would learn and when the words Fail Happy appeared on the wall, I felt tears come to my eyes.  I had failed miserably in front of my colleagues in many ways just a few days earlier, but now I was able to realize that the risk was worth taking because I had actually failed happy.  However, I did not have a huge smile on my face and say, "Wow, that was so great!  Did you see how I screwed that up, hurt your feelings, and made a mess of things?!!! Woo!!!"

No, my failing happy was different.  I was happy because I took a risk in front of my class, not really knowing the outcome.  I was happy because I learned really important lessons.  I was happy because I had a great opportunity to listen to how people felt about the experience.  I failed happy because I needed to grow.  I failed happy because I was the recipient of an amazing experience, watching people's emotions, listening to their questions, and knowing what it feels like to really have to own when you just don't know what to do.  It is one thing to talk about the concept of failing happy, but it is only through experiencing it and taking the time to make sense of it, even through a simulation, that you really begin to get what it is all about.

The Modern Office

 

The Modern Office:  Working independently and collaboratively with ease

The Modern Office is not just about the people.   It is also how the people work in the spaces they are provided. 

We already know the impact of the quality of a space and working conditions contributes to the overall well-being and safety of the workers.  It is also about embracing how work culture is shifting in many professional environments.

I have a sincere appreciation for the aesthetics of a space (more to come on that soon).  However, design in the modern office is also about creating spaces that embrace the ease of moving from independent work to collaborative work throughout the day.

Research studies show that work is highly fragmented.  We are frequently moving from one task to another.  According to a Knoll study on holistic workspace solutions, we are changing tasks every 11 minutes, and once we switch, we will complete 2 more tasks before we go back to the original task (O'Neill & Albin, 2011).  

This sounds familiar to me—not just at work, but at home, too!  Just in the last hour, I did the following activities while I was writing:

  • Write.

  • Go get coffee.

  • Come back to writing.

  • Take a phone call.

  • Load the dishwasher.

  • Make a smoothie.

  • Help the kids get something to eat.

  • Go back to writing.

  • Check in and make sure everyone is working well and no one is hurting each other.

  • Help out with whatever is needed at the time (He took her spot on the carpet, and I have to mediate).

  • Go back to writing. 

Live scene (shown above) of me checking in to make sure everyone is ok . . .Don't worry.  All safe.

Let’s see how long I can keep this momentum going before I have to intervene in anything.  Now, I do need some time to focus and write, but I also find myself moving on even when everyone is around because the noise is normal in my world, and I feel connected in some way to those around me, taking all the surroundings and environment into consideration.  It was OK for me to have “mini-breaks” so I can just get up and move around, as well as make sure that I am attending to the needs of those around me, not getting stuck in my own world.

I also have times where I clearly need to be alone and reflect and get things done.  In this case, I go away to an office or quiet workspace.  So, everyone experiences their needs and their optimum work style in a different way at different times. 

While it is important to recognize how we move so quickly from one task to another, and need just as much personal space and down time, I am surprised to learn some facts and statistics that drive the changes in the modern office.

For now, based on O’Neill & Albin’s research, we will focus on two factors as it relates to our modern office:

  • Women form the majority of professional workers.
  • Companies are in a “war for talent” for business success:
    • Key jobs depend on a complex set of skills: problem solving, judgment, listening, data analysis, relationship building, mobility and many forms of formal and informal collaboration.

Let’s consider the impact of the above for workplace strategies.

We must keep a pulse on the needs of the working community if we are to go to combat in this war for talent (regardless of male, female, single, married, family and so on), as well as taking considerations for women in the workplace.

One key to this is Flexibility. This is not just a women’s issue, or even a mother’s issue anymore.  This is the way of the world.  Technology has allowed us to work remotely where we are and when we want. 

 

For example, my office tonight is on my lower level sofa:  research books, coffee, snacks, tablet, cell phone, and laptop all here with me.  On Sunday, I connected to email and did research during the waiting periods at my daughter’s gymnastics meet.   I work in a traditional office setting during most of the week, but work out of our production facility once a week.  While it is true that some jobs cannot be done remotely, that doesn’t mean flexibility is not still just as important. We can get creative with how we approach our design.

Here are a few more facts to consider (O'Neill & Albin, 2011):

  • Almost half all work occurs outside the primary workspace.
  • About a quarter of work happens at other locations in the building or campus.
  • About a quarter of work occurs at other locations within, or outside, the community.
  • This range of locations varies depending on industry.

Flexibility is about how people work during the day—start and stop times, how they organize their day, where they sit or how they get quiet time and collaborative time.  Many workers desire more flexibility, or at least want to be provided with choices in how they work.  With a rising entrepreneurial spirit and change in the marketplace because of technology, retaining workers will become much more challenging.

As women, thriving and flourishing includes our surroundings and how we work in a space.  It is also having the ability to leave the office for a game, a doctor appointment, or dinner at home with the family without having the “guilt” factor at work.  And, then, maybe going back to work after we put the kids to bed.

By embracing a creative approach to work style, it forces us more into a community, as it requires us to lean on those around us to be capable of performing well in our absence, as well as giving them “permission” to respond with the same freedom.  This is the dance of collaboration, community, and independence.  It takes coordination, empowered teams, and leaders who embrace the new working environment.

Success in space planning considers this range of activities: the actual job being done, the need for quiet space and meeting spaces, understanding the needs of those working in the environment, and taking an active role in understanding that work is now frequently being done remotely.  There are still some challenges with this, though, as we continually have to balance productivity with embracing community and collaboration. 

O’Neill & Albin go further in their research to reveal the disconnects of the current workspace designs:

  • There is a “facility disconnect”—collaborative work is viewed as having the biggest impact on business success—but organizations make the least investment in group space.
  • “Heads down” work makes an important, but relatively lower contribution to business effectiveness, than collaborative work.
  • While individual spaces will continue to play an important and enduring role, we found an under-investment in collaborative workspaces.

So, now what does all this mean for me? 

As leaders or change agents in an organization, embracing collaboration can be difficult because it feels like letting go of productivity.  Creating a space that brings people together doesn’t always feel like it makes sense in the quest to make things happen.  It may feel like it will take up more time, impair us from checking off the lists, and encourage too much conversation.  I am still personally challenged with the productivity vs. collaboration mentality (which we often view as “not being productive”) in my leadership.   It just seems like it will take less time if we all have our own spaces, get things done on my to-do list, and tell people what to do rather than listen to their ideas.  Build the walls and give people an agenda.  Make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do, and then start over again--every day, every month, every quarter, every year.  Get results! 

Many of our organizational spaces are indicative of this culture, and it is pretty uncomfortable to move into new territory.   However, it is clear that collaboration and community are integral to business success.  How many times have you felt isolated or disengaged, disconnected from the greater good of your department or your organization, thus not very productive at all? 

Have you found yourself at times just staring out the window saying, "What does this report have to do with anything?!?!  Why am I doing this task? It doesn't make sense!"  Only to have no one to tell, to engage in brainstorming, or to understand or connect you to the bigger picture.

As leaders, our decision-making becomes impaired because we are not personally involved in what is really happening in the organization.  As a C-suite executive, we don’t always readily embrace that mindset.  Now, let’s be sure we understand that we are not suggesting micromanaging—we must be careful of that.  We are suggesting working in spaces that encourage mindfulness:  more listening and understanding, scanning our environments, and engaging with our work communities.

While we still need to respect autonomy, we must embrace the balance of building workspaces and organizations that equally integrate collaboration and community.  Tomorrow is a new day with creative possibilities.  Lead for thriving.

 

Human Workplace Resources:

http://www.knoll.com/knollnewsdetail/a-holistic-perspective-of-work-infographic

http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/workspaces/individual-workstations/canvas-office-landscape.html


Other references:

Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2005). Resonant Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

O'Neill, M., & Albin, T. (2011). www.knoll.com/knollnewsdetail/a-holistic-perspective-of-work-infographic. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from www.knoll.com: www.knoll.com/media/11/529/wp_HolisticErgonomics.pdf

 

Grace & Truth in Leadership

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The Balance of Grace and Truth in Leadership

The breathless melodies are intoxicating for the listener engaging in response to Keith Jarrett and his beautiful classical compositions.  Then, unexpectedly and equally mesmerizing is the groove of jazz, improvising with the greats like Miles Davis and Chick Corea.  

Keith Jarrett is a renowned musician, thought to be one of the most prolific of the late 20th century, and considered one of the “masters of improvisation.” As described in the documentary, The Art of Improvisation, the narrator describes Jarrett: “Keith Jarrett is that rare combination, a great jazz improviser and classical pianist . . . Keith has also written classical compositions for others to play.  He has used the sounds of classical music to discover his own journey.” (www.youtube.com, 2013)

In exploring leadership in the coming years, achieving the balance of grace in leadership is like the ability a musician has to improvise.  Distinguishing the ability of one musician to improvise from another who cannot is a matter of internalization, not memorization, of a song.  It is not a matter of notes.  It is really a sense of harmonic awareness.  It is the intimate knowledge of a song, so intimate that it allows the musicians to take a risk in the performance without being too dependent upon the composition itself.  It is really defining the difference between internalization and memorization.  To compare to Keith Jarrett, it is the unique ability to master both classical music, dependent upon notation, and jazz, dependent upon improvisation.  The ability as a leader in the coming years to balance truth and grace, structure and improvisation, policy and creative freedom is the way to release from the limitations.  The basis for innovation is not solely dependent on one or the other.  Civil rights law is policy born out of the expression of freedom from oppression.  The law protects where awareness lacks.

As a leader, where should the focus ultimately be held? Is it possible to create a safe environment where people are respected?  Is there a way to coach people into developing a mind that moves beyond the judgment of their perceptions?  Is it possible for leaders to begin to move beyond, “perception is reality” and search for truth?  Grace must be present on the journey to truth, and leaders of the future must be committed to seeking this truth.  Being a gracious leader is not weakness; it is the ability to understand that a person’s existence is not only in one moment.  Using the example of improvisation in jazz, the leader is not merely allowing creative freedom or willing to give up his or her own spotlight to allow the others to shine.   In that willingness to let go, the leader is actually pushing the other musicians to a new place.  They are not willing to settle for the learned behaviors, but rather challenging the band members to stretch themselves to grow, immediately on the spot.  At that moment, the learned knowledge becomes the basis of the innovation, and the band members, including the leader, are equals.  When that happens, the norm immediately changes and a new structure becomes your base, which then pushes each one into yet another opportunity to be challenged. 

In those moments, each of the members has a choice.  The leader is recognizing that ability to choose, and rather than fighting it, they give in to it.  This leader lets the rest of the team own it, which requires them to be willing to listen to the others.  If they are not listening intimately to where the music is going, and what each member is contributing, and they are not both self-aware and socially aware, they lose confidence and don’t play anything at all, or they hold the team back because they want to stay safe while the others are pushing forward.

Stephen R. Covey states, “If you can put the new skill-set of synergy together with the new mind-set of interdependence, you have the perfect one-two punch for achieving competitive advantage.  When you have the mind-set and the skill-set, you create effective structures, systems, and processes that are aligned with your vision and mission.” (Covey, 1996)

In exploring this idea of grace, the limited view of elegance or generosity of spirit cannot be enough in the coming years.  As stated above, improvisation certainly allows for the forgiveness of mistakes so that it frees people to actually pursue.  This type of grace is transforming if partnered with the truth.  After informally interviewing several people regarding the fit for grace in leadership, not one person was simply accepting of only one side to the story. 

Grace must be a catalyst for change.  The grace that is defined in improvisation is the challenge to allow others to exist with purpose in any given moment.  In leadership at any level, the ability to drive others toward purpose will be necessary for transformation.  The leader’s ability to discern the needs of others in the moment will drive that transformation.  Leaders must be willing to challenge the innate need for purpose rather than dwelling on the acceptance of the policy that keeps a person bound in things that essentially don’t matter or limit them from their own true capabilities.  For example, if the United States had continued to accept the law of slavery, and worked within the confines of that law, change would never have happened.  The acceptance of that law was accepting the oppression of others and not allowing them to have freedom over their own lives. 

The lack of purpose and meaning, and the willingness of organizations and societies to tolerate actions motivated by fear ultimately leads to change.  Great leaders are willing to sense this change and are willing to take risks, using deep emotional awareness centered on valuing life.   A leader maintains a healthy recognition of when people are becoming fatigued and intolerant of mindless contribution and feelings of worthlessness associated with living numb to their emotions.  A leader that will be willing to press on those emotions may have the opportunity to engage people in a revolutionary way, not simply giving them an opportunity to thrive in the workplace, but to thrive at home, and may begin to push on the nerves that will compel them to contribute meaningfully in society as a whole. 

This is moving beyond perception and into reality; the pursuit of truth, listening to the people who you are interacting with on a daily basis.  This leader is willing to graciously accept others in the moment, but be ready for anything, especially in tune when it is time for change.  It will then be critical for that leader to be fearless in leading through that change. 

It is like that of Keith Jarrett’s description of jazz improvisation:  “There’s never been a time when improvisation was given the respect it deserves. By virtue of the holistic quality of it, it takes everything to do it.  It takes real time, no editing possible.  It takes your nervous system to be on alert for every possible thing.  In a way that cannot be said for any other kind of music.” (www.youtube.com, 2013)