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Monday, December 6, 2010

ice fog

... tiny ice crystals suspended in the sub zero air. it looks like fog, but it's intensely cold, and the pale rising sun hasn't strength to burn it off.

i've been signed on for 'Executive Coaching'. it's a bit foggy too.... leadership training with a fancy name, really... and a fancy price tag to go with it. fortunately, the national office and my local board are paying for it, and the 'coach' contributes a sizable discount, in support of Habitat. i'm remembering some things about myself, being reminded of things about the society i live in. and i'm getting an uneasy feeling that 'corporate' leadership has some unsettling manipulative qualities about it. semantics become very important. if we are to persuade people to behave in the ways we want them to, we must never make them feel defensive. if we are to channel them in the directions we wish them to go, we cannot 'challenge' them, but must 'suggest' and .... coerce, really.

i was in a meeting earlier today with a 'facilitator' who used exactly that kind of language and behavior modification. and i thought, 'how politically correct her speech is. how cautious, how flavorless and insipid." i don't want to be like that.

but my board DOES need some leadership. we need to do some long range planning, and it's the Executive Director's job (good grief, that's me!) to initiate that and oversee it. so, ok.... i can spell moderation, but i'm still learning how to practice it. there are skills i need to learn. but i'm damned if i'll be some bland mealy mouth with secret motives.

mainstream lifestyle is not something i strive for. i cringe at the SUV's and monster houses, at the latest fashions in luxury lifestyles. i've never owned a new vehicle or had a manicure in my life. i'm not attracted to the artifice that seems to be a requirement for 'respectability'. not that new vehicles or manicures are a bad thing.... but they and their ilk have become the measures by which society judges its members. not that i don't appreciate craftsmanship and quality, but these things too are judged through the grimy lens of artifice, and seem to have value only if they carry a large dollar value, or are 'impressive'. some folk don't seem able even to recognize quality or value without an attending price sticker.

my challenge (oops, not supposed to use that word) is to be respected and listened to in a society whose values, for the most part, i reject. i'm expected to bring about change in this society, for the benefit of an organization i passionately believe is making the world a better place. how do i do that without prostituting myself, and with integrity and kindness?


lindsaylobe said...

Coaching used to be confined to the province of sports in my early days in business but I notice today it is burgeoning industry with the so called life and corporate coaches. It seems to me to be an attempt to develop a panacea for a lack of trust between employer and employee to identify respective needs and objectives. Having said that I think it can be helpful however if it identifies one’s relative strengths and weaknesses. One area that I think can be helpful is in the field of evaluating one’s emotional intelligence. That quite often is an area where we tend to take ourselves far too seriously - myself included, because increasingly with more information there are more grey areas than ever before. Staying calm cool and collected so that you’re considerate of others points of view (however bizarre) is a skill that will get better results rather than trying to define up front what is right or wrong. Best wishes

susan said...

I understand the problem you're anticipating in regard to becoming a member of this society you've spent your life avoiding. All of those ideas we've been fed about changing the system from within certainly haven't worked out too well from what I can see.. or have seen. I remember hippies carrying brief cases in Toronto long ago and thinking then that this wouldn't end well, although perhaps it did for them.

It's a real conundrum you face but I also believe that with your maturity and experience you don't have much to worry about when it comes to wondering if the 'Executive Training' will undermine your beliefs and way of operating in the larger world. In fact, I think you're going to do just fine and may even get to kick some ass on the way. The Habitat program is one of the world's really great ones and I have every confidence you have the skills to make it even better.

Lindsay's practical advice is very good.

btw: Your frozen fog picture made me shudder even here in damp and chilly Halifax :-)

clairesgarden said...

my brain is too cold to make any sense of anything

susan said...

Happy Christmas, my friend. I hope all is well with you and that you're enjoying warmth, light and good company.

gfid said...

lindsay - it's not so much the 'right or wrong' as the constant judgement by affulent (and thus, powerful) people who have extrememly low environmental intelligence that gives me trouble. if one doesn't conform to 'norms' of consumerism and fashion, one is judged to be of no value, and has no voice.

susan - i'm not so much concerned about compromising my values, as about making myself heard. the bigwigs look right through people they don't consider to be their societal (read 'affluent') 'peers'. and i have no skills, or interest in developing the skills, to play the social games that are so much a part of that lifestyle.

claire - warm wishes

gfid said...

susan - merry, merry holidays :0)

susan said...

Thanks for always coming by to visit and taking the time to leave such rich comments. I'm very glad we're friends and I want to wish you a very Happy New Year. May you have all the time you need to do what feeds you :-)