Yesterday, I attended the Women’s Leadership Network of Decorah’s 4th Annual Conference at lovely Hotel Winneshiek in downtown Decorah, IA. I find that if I blog about useful things I learn, I am more likely to retain the information. Plus, I like to give a shout-out to events that I find meaningful. And hopefully you will get something out of it too!
Leadership Lessons Learned on the Farm
Our first keynote speaker was Kathy Joblinske of Manpower. Her talk, “Leadership Lessons Learned on the Farm” combined stories of growing up on a farm with ten siblings with influences from Stephen Covey, the author of (among other books) The Speed of Trust.
She highlighted the following leadership lessons:
- Hard work ever killed anyone.
- Everyone has a job [to do].
- Communicate, divide & conquer. (I used this a lot at my last job!)
- Do it. Do it RIGHT. (Take pride in your work.)
- Work hard. Play hard. (Yes! What’s a success without a celebration?)
- If you commit, deliver.
- Live by the golden rule. (I’d love to hear from anyone where this principle didn’t work out for them.)
- Be honest.
It’s all about building trust. Building trust with your family, your co-workers, and your customers. How can you be successful in anything you do when trust is not present?
The Power of Personal Energy: Iron Wrapped in Cotton
Next up, I was fortunate to attend a break-out session with Brenda Harris, friend and acupuncturist (among other things!). She got us started with some basic qigong movements and talked about the applicability of martial arts to the business world. Brenda highlighted the connection between breath, mind, and body.
One of the key take-aways for me was the reminder to “focus on one thing to forget the 10,000.” If we could learn this skill alone, how much more effective would we be?
I also appreciated the theme of energy coming from relaxation. This ties in with the concept of replenishing your energy stores. How can you avoid burnout if you don’t give yourself time to recover from stressful situations? (Hint: You can’t.)
How Did We Get So Rude?
Our lunch keynote speaker was former Ambassador Mary Kramer. She spoke on the topic of rudeness. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. One of the most baffling realities of the corporate world (at least to me) is how people think it’s OK to be rude to one another. Openly rude. Not passive agressive email rude (of course, this happens too), but rude to your face. “Would you ever speak to a friend like that?” I would wonder silently.
Ambassador Kramer came at this topic from the public discourse angle. How political candidates start with character assassination rather than building up to it. She also discussed “The Big Sort.” How “the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart.” We need to get involved to make change happen. Every one of us. And we need more negotiation and less absolutism.
The talk reminded me about a great book I read a few years ago called The No Asshole Rule. It made me decide that when I started my own business, I would not do business with assholes. Now, it’s one of the key tenants of my new business.
Work-Life Balance: Living the Life You Want
I spent the next break-out session with Keley Smith-Keller of the Luther College Career Center. This seminar was on work-life balance, and who doesn’t need that? As you know, it’s one of my favorite topics.
Keley gave us five tips for what she likes to call “work-life fit”:
- Prioritize the time at hand
- Learning to say “NO!”
- Organizing tasks
- Don’t try to be perfect (my favorite!)
- Quality time may be more important than quantity time
We also did an exercise where we identified areas in our life with which we are satisfied, as well as areas where we would like to have more satisfaction. I think these types of exercises are important to do on a regular basis. I often review my goals list and make sure that everything I do is somehow moving me toward these goals. But, as Keley pointed out, it’s also important to celebrate those areas in life that are just right!
At some point during the conference, I scribbled a note in the corner of my notebook (after hearing at least two of the speakers talk about their “super moms,” and the fact that I often refer to my mom the same way).
How is it that all our moms were super moms?
Did our parents talk about work-life balance? Mine never did. They were active in their work, the church, and the community while raising five children with widely diverse personalities and interests. I’m wondering how much of our obsession with work-life balance these days is based on over-consumption, over-programming, and information overload? What if we consumed only what we needed, decided to let our kids pick only one after-school activity, and turned off the Internet? Would we still struggle? I’m not so sure.
Food for thought…
Faith, Fake Lashes & a Free Spirit – What I Don’t Leave Home Without
The next couple of sessions were spent with news anchor Tara Thomas of KWWL. She is a fellow blogger and has an amazing personality. Being new to the area (and a news loser), I had not had the privilege of seeing Tara on the air, so it was really great to get to listen to both her seminar on communication as well as her keynote (title above).
Since this blog post has gotten ridiculously long, I will only share the four points she highlighted during the keynote:
- Be ready to improvise
- Laugh at yourself or you’ll cry (Yes!)
- Count on embarrassment (I could identify with this one – on the way up to the conference, I literally got lost in the elevator)
- Remember your purpose
I think the last item – remember your purpose – is one of the most important things you should keep with you every day, all the time. Having a purpose is good for mental health and general wellbeing and when you don’t remember your purpose, getting out of bed becomes a chore.
Why are we here? What is our purpose? These are big questions that (to me) have very simple answers. I believe we are here to live in harmony with our planet, be kind, help others, and enjoy the talents of ourselves and others. We are not here to make as much money as possible, nor are we here to be rude to each other.
If you have an opportunity to attend a similar event to renew your spirit and connect you with others who are asking these same questions, I encourage you to just do it. It’s worth the time, and maybe you’ll make a new friend or two!
If you like what you read, please share it with your friends.