Nov. 21, 2022

What Are You Thankful For? (Challenge #42)

What Are You Thankful For? (Challenge #42)

As you listen to this on release week, I will be in a small 1980s suburban home in Tornado Alley, most likely fresh back from a grocery store run and probably debating with my mom about the merits of doing squash casserole or roasted brussels sprouts for the token “healthy” thanksgiving side dish.  As we head toward the end of the year, I think it’s time to take a moment to be thankful for the good things in our lives as leaders. And yes, I promise you there’s something to be grateful for.

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Connect with me:
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LinkedIn

Go to kindleadershipchallenge.com/conversations and enter your email to start having the conversations that will impact your community for the better.

Transcript

As you listen to this on release week, I will be in a small 1980s suburban home in Tornado Alley, most likely fresh back from a grocery store run and probably debating with my mom about the merits of doing squash casserole or roasted brussels sprouts for the token “healthy” thanksgiving side dish. With my brother and I living in the Pacific Northwest and the east coast respectively, This is usually the one week a year our whole nuclear family is in the same place at the same time. We usually have a group in the teens for the big day itself, between in-laws, my aunt, and a few other cousins and plus-ones who may pop in depending on the year. It’s a fun get-together, as we all get along pretty well, and there’s rarely any drama. I’m grateful for that, of course, and it got me thinking. As we head toward the end of the year, I think it’s time to take a moment to be thankful for the good things in our lives as leaders. And yes, I promise you there’s something to be grateful for.

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Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge! I’m Sarah Clark, founder of the Kind Leadership Guild. 

My PhD in higher ed Leadership, my experience advising educational and library leaders all over the world, and a career working in academic libraries from the front desk to the Dean’s office taught me how any leader in any situation can transform their organization so they can make their communities more educated and informed places to live, work, and thrive. 

Kind Leaders know how to make the tough decisions without becoming jerks. We grow our organizations’ impact without burning anyone out. And we’ve learned that when we stop controlling and start collaborating, the impossible becomes effortless. It all sounds pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. So if you’re up for a challenge, stick around for the next 10 minutes as I teach you to part with perfection so your organization can build a better world. 

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The First Thing we as leaders should be grateful for is our ability to see the world as it is, warts and all, especially the aspects of it that we aren’t grateful for. I wanted to start out with this one because it can be too easy for a gratitude practice to slide into toxic positivity, or even a weird form of Stockholm syndrome where you find yourself feeling like you should be thankful for even the broken or abusive parts of your job. After all, at least that job pays you a salary. The ability to see the strengths and flaws of your organization as it is can be something that makes or breaks a leader’s morale, AND it’s a necessary pre-requisite to making the changes you wish to see. After all, you can’t build a better world if you’re unable to face what’s broken. 

And speaking of broken things, the second thing that leaders can be grateful for is the fact that we have increased ability and responsibility to improve our organizations and communities. Now, I am the first to admit that we deans and directors and principals and other library and educational leaders have a lot less power than our positions on the org charts might indicate. But let’s be honest—our words carry a lot further and more powerfully with those titles amplifying them, for better and sometimes for worse. Because we have that privilege, we have to be a lot more thoughtful about how we communicate and when, and why. But when we do use our words wisely, a well-timed comment can move mountains.

There’s a third thing that anyone listening to this podcast can be thankful for, and that’s having the courage and self-awareness to make your leadership practice more effective, humane, and collaborative. If I can confess a little secret here, many of the things I talk about on the podcast are issues I need to improve on myself—or at least remain mindful of. And since I’ve found in my journey that most leaders genuinely want to do the right thing by their teams and the communities they serve, it stands to reason that others listening to this show want to improve as well. But not every leader is brave enough to take action to grow in their practice, even if that action is as small as hitting play on one of these little episodes. So if you’re listening to this, I want you to be thankful that you are aware enough and brave enough to take action to become a kinder leader. Not every leader is. 

And now that I think of it, the thing I personally am most grateful for this year is…you. If you go back to episode 1, you’ll hear that it took me a little while to work up the nerve to start this podcast. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I had the skills to do it—I’ve been a hobby podcaster for almost ten years. It was that I wasn’t sure I had all that much to say that other leaders would find interesting. Turns out I was wrong. I won’t be giving Brene Brown or Tim Ferris competition anytime soon, but I don’t want to be some huge celebrity podcaster either. I just want to provide simple, actionable tips for leaders like me whose dreams are often bigger than our budgets. Who feel the urge to use our skills to leave the world better than we found it, but not burn out in the process. And I’ve discovered in the last 10 months that there are more leaders like us out there than I knew. Each time my download count ticks up or you respond to me on social media, know that you’ve made me smile, and kept me going at this. And that’s why I am and will always be thankful to anyone listening to this podcast, wherever and whenever you are. 

So, that’s enough sentimentality for one episode. Here’s your challenge, if you haven’t already guessed it. What or who are you thankful for? Write it down, and share it if it’s appropriate, either to the folks in question or in the Kind Leadership Challenge community. And keep it in your heart, so it can sustain you in the tough times. 

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Thanks for listening and for taking action to become a kinder leader. If you found this week’s episode insightful, give the show a rating or review—or even better, share this episode with your fellow leaders!  Never doubt that day by day, you’re building a better world, even if you can't see it yet. So until next time, stay kind now.  

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