Can I start by apologizing for doing such a poor job of staying up with this blog? While I have no excuse (see my thoughts on "No Excuse" leadership), I have been going a million miles an hour and have been focusing on the urgent at the expense of the important. Ever been there? I've been on the road for 17 of the last 19 nights. Ugh! I definitely need to slow down!
So while I have not been writing, I have sure been thinking. The events of the world around us and in my own life have provided a number of opportunities to ponder various elements of leadership -- my own and others. In fact, this week has given me a number of things to think about:
-- I watched as Brett Favre almost led the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl at the age of 40. In the discussion of leaders knowing when to hang them up, Brett can sure justify his remaining in the game. Despite the cynics, he had the best statistical year of his career. Let's hear it for the 40+ year old athletes! And let's hear it for leaders with the passion for life and for their profession who leave it all on the field -- every snap, every game!
-- I smiled with appreciation when Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner announced his retirement at the age of 38. This was a superstar who left the game on his own terms. His story is an inspirational one. Undrafted out of college in 1994, bagging groceries and stocking shelves in 1995, Kurt went on to play in 3 Super Bowls, winning one, and set numerous records for his position. Along the way, he remained humble, was a model citizen, and demonstrated true leadership on and off the field.
-- I went to a dinner where former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich spoke. That's me and the Speaker in the grainy photo up above. One does not have to agree with his politics to admire his vision, his leadership, and his intellect. He spoke with confidence for 30 minutes -- no notes and no teleprompter -- weaving in historical vignettes (military and political) while connecting with his audience. Very impressive.
-- I had the experience of a lifetime when I was invited to the State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington, DC. The thrill of being in that small room with the Supreme Court justices, cabinet secretaries, all the Congress, the VP, the First Lady, and President Obama made for an amazing night. While the speech was long, the President did what he does best -- communicating his ideas in a powerful way. He identified his priorities, talked about aligning resources, and broke his vision down into ACTIONS that will become his administration's "marching orders" for the next year. I can't say that I agreed with everything he said but I did appreciate the way he said it. (Sorry...no cameras allowed in the room but...you can see the picture of my ticket!)
-- In between visits on Capitol Hill with six Congressional Members from my delegation, I spent the week at my agency headquarters in Washington DC aligning our strategic plan. It was great to see that the tasks and initiatives launched by my team in Los Angeles do in fact contribute to success at the higher level. While we are still struggling as an organization with how and what to measure to ensure we are on the right track, I have full confidence that we are doing the right things. Strategic planning, no matter how painful the process, has definite value. Without that clear, consistent, and fully-aligned road map, we just cannot have certainty that we will get to where our goals and objectives point us.
Different stages, different lessons. This was all in just one week. I can't wait to see what happens next week! Bring it on. But first, I'd like to sleep in my own bed for a few nights! Ha!
That's Leader Business!