Creative Tension – Part 3B of 7

Jennifer 3B-1

This is the motto of the Mudderella, a 5 – 7 mile obstacle course race created in 2013 byJennifer 3B-2 Christina DeVito, former Chief Strategy Officer for Tough Mudder. The Mudderella was designed by women to help women realize they are stronger, mentally and phyically, then they realize. The Tough Mudder, created in 2010, is a 10-12 mile obstacle course “designed to test physical strength and mental grit.” There’s even a Froot Shoot Mini Mudder for kids ages 7 – 12. All of these events are about teamwork and camaraderie. They are about helping the person next to you get through that obstacle, not about who finishes first. They are “about knowing what strong means for you–and owning it.”

So why am I sharing all of this with you? What does a muddy obstacle course have to do with leadership and the work of Trueness?

Actually – quite a lot!
Let’s engage in some divergent thinking and explore…

I was introduced to these events last year by a colleague who has participated in the Tough Jennifer 3B-3Mudder for about 2 years now. The initial draw for me was to support Mike as he completed the Chicago event in May of this year. The event was close to home so I thought it would be good to cheer for him. Then he told me about the Mini Mudder and I knew my 10 year old daughter would probably love it! And she did!

In September, we traveled to Wisconsin for another Mudder. Through all of this, I watched Mike, my daughter, and my husband, challenge themselves by participating in these events. They proved to themselves that they had the physical and mental ability to succeed. Seeing this has been an inspiration!

The leadership Mike provides isn’t just about completing a muddy obstacle course. It’s even more valuable. You see he leads with “influence through presence,” as Jeff mentioned in the previous post. Mike’s strength of character, discipline, and focus on self-improvement has a way of inspiring those around him, whether he realizes it or not. As we know, being a leader isn’t about a title or power over others. It’s about the presence you have that inspires others to CHOOSE to follow. And when you make the time to invest in yourself, you GIVE to others the best of you.

Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”
–Jim Rohn

These words seem to be echoed in many ways around me. Due to a recent change, a good friend gave me a simple, yet powerful book by Patrick Lindsay, Make the Most of You – 170 ways to be the best you can. The simple advice provided on the inside jacket sings of leadership and trueness, investing in yourself so that you may give to others.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

“The most important changes generally don’t come from the big things that happen to us; it’s the small things that really transform our lives – small things that have surprising, powerful ripple effects that go far beyond our expectations.”
–Patrick Lindsay

In a world of constant change, embracing the small things can make all the difference. I know the ripple effects of the leadership Mike provides are still being felt. His strength inspires the strength of others. And his potential will find a way to unleash the potential of others.

So as you think about your trueness as a leader, remember the advice shared by Patrick Lindsay,

  • Leave everything a little better than you found it;
  • Wear your scars proudly;
  • Unleash your own song.

Invest in yourself – Gather. Embrace your trueness – Give.
Own Your Strong! – Grow!

Mudderella, here I come!

Jennifer Rainey "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

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Through the Door of Possibility

Others and You (A Personal Reflection on Reach)

Influence radiates from the core of who we are. For influence to extend as far as possible, confidence at the core is essential. Without confidence, you cannot expect to influence others.

Confidence without empathy, compassion, and love is called arrogance. Arrogance radiates from the core, as well, and it is the destructive antithesis of influence. Influence must be a positive force. To think of “negative influence” is to tarnish the essence of influence. Arrogance is a blackhole sucking good will out of the relationship. It hurts. It destroys. It repels. It saps energy. There can be little to no progress and growth within the event horizon of arrogance.

The beauty of influence is that it is an extension of the good will inside of one person directed at others. It is a nurturing force. It stimulates interaction. It promotes growth. It encourages collaboration. It heals. It bonds. It draws positive things together. It is one of the manifestations of love within the vast net of human connections.

The event horizon of arrogance has limits. It is the distance from the edge of the sphere of corruption to the corrupt center. The distance can be measured. The space beyond that is untouchable to arrogance. Influence, however, is passed on from the loving core of one human being to the loving core of another. In this way, influence is immeasurable. It’s playground is everything beyond the reach of the feeble sphere of arrogance.

Let those who would remain closed and embrace arrogance maintain their myopic, short-sighted focus. The reach of your story is limited only by your capacity to open up to love. Look farther.

As influence grows, reach expands.

Regarding Collective Facilitation Skills: by Ricardo González

“If you want to impress me, go get something done with a group of volunteers who have no reason to follow you at all.” –Seth Godin

It’s one thing to “lead” others when the company you all work for anoints you as the leader and manager.  That kind of leadership is easy to do. You can do it on auto-pilot.  I know; years ago I did it.  There was a period, many years ago, in my professional life when I was just going through the motions.  I had become so cynical and so de-motivated that I just showed up to work and “led” my team by rote.   I was like a ghost of the leader and manager that I could have been.  I was paid to carry out tasks x, y, and z; my team was paid to carry out tasks a, b, and c; and we were all paid to pretend that I was in charge.  We all carried out our tasks.

The prior year, I had fought hard and worked harder to bring everything I had to the workplace.  I strove to be innovative.  I strove to connect with my team.  I strove to be involved and understand the business of my team.  I was rewarded at the end of that year with an average review, an average salary increase, and absolutely no mention of the fact that I had done more to develop the business of my team than my direct manager.  Somehow, though, they got the credit.

That’s when I gave up. I vowed that I would do nothing but the minimum requirement for my job from that point forward.  I dotted every “i” and every “t” that my manager asked me to. I jumped through all the hoops they wanted me to jump through.  I was a good little boy, sat at my desk, raised my hand, and did all the assignments precisely as requested.  I did no more and no less.

The next year, I got an exceptional review, an above-average compensation increase, and lots of thanks for a job well done and for responding to feedback.

Something inside me snapped. That’s when I realized that I had wasted a year in the professional lives of the people on my team.  I was ashamed. I had done them a disservice.  I punished them, nobody else.  The company wanted a cog, I played along, and I had started to turn my team into a team of little, corporate cogs.  I vowed at that point to never do that to anyone again.

So, yes, leading others when you’ve been organizationally anointed to lead them is easy.

What’s hard is true, spiritual leadership.  I’m talking about the kind of leadership that comes from your soul.  It’s the kind of leadership that focuses on the spiritual work that each individual is longing to undertake that is hidden behind the guise of the tasks they have to get done. Manage the tasks; lead the people.

This is the first step to impressing Seth Godin.  It’s also the first step in collective facilitation.

Anyone can follow the rules for effective meetings.  Anyone can learn essential facilitation skills.  Anyone can take notes, assign tasks, follow up with the people assigned to those tasks, track progress in a project plan…  There are so-called “boot camps” to teach project management skills. There are classes to teach organizational skills.  There are even apps you can get for your PC, smartphone, and tablet that can aid in the management of your task lists. There are plenty of tools at your disposal.

That’s all easy.

The hard part is the connecting part.  You know when a meeting has no soul, when the person attempting to lead is going through the motions.  If everyone is paid to get work done…let’s face it, work will get done.  So, to open yourself up to spiritual leadership and the connecting art of collective facilitation, lead a group of volunteers on a difficult, challenging journey.  Forget the Fortune 100 company; you know how to dance their pre-choreographed dance.  That will hold for now.  Instead, identify a void, find out where the volunteers congregate, and try to move them to action.  THAT is a challenge.

I know; I’ve done it.

You’ll have no choice but to be yourself.  You’ll have no choice but to be sincere.  You’ll have no choice but to be genuine in your approach.  You’ll have no choice but to listen.  You’ll have no choice but to inspire.  You’ll have no choice but to innovate.  You’ll have no choice but to influence. What worked for you at your place of employment might not work for you in this space. Chances are, you’ll be faced with far greater hurdles than you’ve ever faced before. More challenges.  More roadblocks.  More resistance.  More failure.

And do you know what? Chances are you won’t even notice, as long as your spirit is engaged.

That, my friends, is the essence of collective facilitation.

Ricardo González is an IT manager for a Fortune 100 company who strives to inspire freedom to innovate, teach the value of personal leadership, and influence others to exceed their limits.

I am privileged to call him Friend.

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