Tag Archives: Empowerment

Is Helicopter Parenting Causing School Shootings?

angry kidLet me start by saying that we clearly have a gun problem in our society.  But running with the knee-jerk reaction of banning them and protecting people is only a Band-Aid solution.  It’s what got us here in the first place.

Has anyone else noticed that mass school shootings started with the Millennials?  No, I’m not saying that Millennials are the problem.  It’s the adults who raised them.  That’s all of us—parents, teachers, lawmakers, and so on.  We’re the ones who disempowered a whole generation of children and we’re continuing to disempower the next generation too.  The Z Generation are the victims of the Florida shooting and the shooting every three days since the year started.

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.  –Chinese Proverb

We live in a dangerous world with lots of dangerous things.  Shielding kids from the dangers of the world only makes them at higher risk of being hurt by them.  Eventually, they will venture—or sneak—out on their own when you’re not there to protect them and they are more likely to get hurt if they don’t know what they’re doing.  Teaching kids how to protect themselves from danger and why it is important to their well-being allows them to develop judgment which will serve them throughout life.

Sticks and stones may break my bones

But names will never harm me.  –Nursery Rhyme

By protecting and mandating good behavior we’ve set up a situation where there is no tolerance for imperfection.  Kids at school have to sit still, get good grades, and be nice to each other at all times.  Even though competition is fierce, children have to be inclusive and never express a negative sentiment.  Teachers too.  If you slip up even once, you’re out.

Think about the pressure this creates.  Imagine a steam engine with no vents.  If you keep adding pressure with no outlets, eventually you’ll have an explosion.  People are the same way.  Research shows that bottling up emotions can make people more aggressive and that diffusing them may help avoid lethal violence.

Kids need to be able to express their anger and aggression.  They need to be able to fight, to call each other names, to yell at each other, and to cry, feel pain, and get back up again.  This is how they develop a healthy constitution.  Prohibiting kids from feeling any pain and expressing all aggression is what’s leading to unhealthy eruptions.  Boys shoot and kill others.  Girls cut and kill themselves.  Both of these problems are at an all-time high.

Kids are remarkably resilient if we let them be.  When we shield them and protect them and do things for them we are creating little monsters.  Look at Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for classic examples of kids gone awry from misdirected parents.

What our country needs right now is less control and more empowerment.  We don’t need to ban free speech and guns.  We need to teach people how and when to use them appropriately.  Stop helicoptering and start empowering.

The Art of REAL Life: Interview with Rose Hagan

Symphony by Rose Hagan, sunset painting
Symphony by Rose Hagan

Have you ever thought about scrapping your traditional career and following your passion in art or something crazy like that? It sounds impossible, but it’s not. What it takes is courage, resilience, flexibility, and independence.

Rose Hagan began her career as a lawyer before pivoting to pursue her love of art.  Listen to her story as Joanie Connell interviews her on Women Lead Radio.

Give the Gift of Independence

gift boxIt’s a simple gift, but it’s one leaders often overlook. There’s so much pressure to perform these days that it’s tempting to keep our employees on a tight leash. But, in doing so, we disempower them and cripple their growth. Although it may be a winning strategy in the short-term, it is doomed to fail as we count on the capability of our protégés over the long-term.

 Why don’t leaders give employees independence?

 It’s scary.

“What if something bad happens?” Yes, that is always the risk, but it’s always a risk no matter how closely you supervise your employees. The downside of over supervising your employees is that they won’t learn how to take care of things when something bad does happen. And even if they could, they wouldn’t have the power to. When you’re home sick, can your employees get things done without you?

To let go, you have to face your fears, says Elizabeth Grace Saunders in How Office Control Freaks Can Learn to Let Go, in Harvard Business Review. Maybe it won’t be done exactly the way you would do it and maybe you won’t even know exactly how it’s done. But if you hire good people and train them, you can trust them to do good work.

We can also mitigate risk by giving appropriate levels of responsibility for the experience and character of the employee. For example, we wouldn’t want to give a new graduate a $10 million project to run, but we could give them responsibility for a piece of it, like researching what the competition is doing.

It’s hard.

“I don’t have time.” It’s often quicker to do it ourselves, but that is only a short-term strategy. Not having time to delegate is a classic excuse and it’s one that causes managers to work excessively long hours unnecessarily. Amy Gallo suggests looking into the reasons you’re not delegating in her article on how to delegate in Harvard Business Review. Are you working long hours and feeling indispensable?

“Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off,” says Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and author of What Were They Thinking?: Unconventional Wisdom About Management.

When you keep doing it yourself, you’re wasting your time and your employees’ time. When you empower your employees to get things done without you everybody wins.

It’s painful.

“It feels good to be needed.” Yes, we all like to feel needed—by our kids, our jobs, our community and so on. But at some point you have to let go. It’s the right thing to do. When you continue to put your own needs ahead of everyone else’s, you’re risking greater pain than the pain of letting go. When you hold on too long, people resent you and the greater family/organization/community suffers. Suck it up, be a good role model, and develop your people to manage without you when the time is right.

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”  ― Ann Landers

Empower your people. It’s the right thing to do for you, for your employees, and, most of all, for your organization.

Photo courtesy of Master isolated images from freedigitalphotos.net

Yes You Can! 4 Steps to Empowerment

Photo by stockimages from freedigitalphotos.net
Photo by stockimages from freedigitalphotos.net

Feeling stuck? Still living at home? Can’t get the job you want? Not getting ahead at work? Lacking control over your life? Millennials, this post is especially for you. It’s time to take things into your own hands.

These four steps to empowerment are straightforward, but not necessarily easy. You’ll need to gather your courage and tenacity to get through them.

  1. Take Responsibility

The first step is to think of moving forward, not backward. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is that you haven’t done something. Blaming won’t get you anywhere. To empower yourself, you need to admit you haven’t done it and take responsibility for doing it. No excuses.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” ― Anne Frank

  1. Take a Step Back

If you haven’t taken action because you don’t know how to, now is the time take a deep breath, be humble, and step backward to learn a skill that you may have missed. It’s far better to pause and learn than to offer yourself and others false expectations for success.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ― Ernest Hemingway

  1. Take the Risk

Empowering yourself is taking charge and facing the consequences. That can be scary and there’s a good chance you’ll make mistakes along the way. Let me tell you a secret: we’ve all been there. Even if you grew up in a seemingly “perfect” household with “perfect” grades, parents, teachers, and bosses alike have all made numerous mistakes. It’s how we’ve gotten to where we are today.

“A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.” ― Albert Einstein

  1. Try Again, and Again

Brace yourself to be resilient as you take risks and make mistakes. You’ll need to pick yourself back up from setbacks and keep a positive attitude as you do it over with the information you learned. It may take several, if not many tries to get it right. Remember Alexander Graham Bell’s 10,000 light bulbs that didn’t work.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” –Winston Churchill

How I’ve Kept It REAL

Joanie speaking at book release party smaller

Someone asked me the other day how I maintain confidence and treat others so respectfully at the same time. She didn’t say it exactly like that, but the gist of the message was how come I’m not an arrogant snob? Without even thinking, I blurted out, “I work hard at staying true to my values.” Fortunately, one of my values is authenticity, so speaking without thinking didn’t trip me up.

But it’s true. To the best of my ability, I embody the values I teach others. Fortunately, being aware of my imperfections is one of those values. I in no way pretend to be perfect at any of the REAL Life values, but I strive to do the best I can. And that’s all any of us can do.

REAL Life

Someone else said to me just this week that I seem perfect. That shocked me on several levels. First is because it is so far from the truth that I didn’t even know how to respond. The second was that I was so curious how she could have that impression of me. What air was I giving off?

The only thing I could think of was that my resilience was showing through. At least to her, I was staying engaged and maintaining a positive attitude. Then again, she hasn’t seen me at 6:30 in the morning, or when I have really gotten frustrated or down. I haven’t known her that long and I don’t see her that often.

All this is to say that things aren’t always what they seem. Keeping it REAL is hard work, every day. I don’t pretend it’s easy. I have been through the test on all four components of REAL Life over the past several months (not to mention my whole life) as I published my first book. Trust me, I’ve had to overcome numerous obstacles, receive countless corrections, flex in more ways than I had ever conceived of, and work independently as a writer and promoter of my book. It is no easy task.

But that is the whole point: real life is not easy. We need to be resilient, empowered, authentic, and limber to succeed in life, no matter what we do.