There is a new show on NBC this season called Madam Secretary starring the talented actress Teo Leoni. My favorite line in the season opener was when the Secretary of State (e.g. Madam Secretary) was told about her boss’s order (e.g. The U.S. President), “You don’t have a choice.” And her response, “Here’s the problem. I’ve never met a situation where I don’t have a choice in the matter.”
I like that attitude: With respect, do not defer.
Today I browsed a used bookstore in my neighborhood, looking to add to the pile of books I hold in reserve in the corner of my office for emergency reading.
As an author supporting the publishing industry, I should be shopping at a Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or 800-CEO-reads buying new books. But I read so much, I can’t afford my habit.
Smack dab in the middle of the $2 hardcover shelf I spotted a very familiar book: How to Think Like a CEO. My book. It was a Businessweek and New York Times business bestseller when published in 1994.
Of course I had to buy the book. I couldn’t let it sit on the $2 shelf next to thirteen Nora Roberts romance novels and four Lance Armstrong It’s Not About the Bike books.
At the checkout counter I told the clerk with mock exasperation (but really with pride), “I found a copy of a book that I wrote,” showing the book jacket photo so she could see it really was me.
“That’s way cool,” said the clerk, and I think she meant it.
At first I was disappointed that the original book buyer decided to get rid of it. Then I changed my perspective and decided to rationalize that the original book owner had learned all s/he could and wanted to generously pass on to others the great wealth of knowledge.
I chose the perspective I want because I remembered what one mentor told me many years ago: “Your ability to be happy is directly related to your ability to rationalize!”
Some of the last words my mother said to me before she died were, “…you teach people how to be good to other people.”
I’m glad she saw her daughter’s work that way. I’d just add, “…teach people how to be good to other people while still being a strong, strategic, decisive leader.”
You can do both; in fact, to lead today’s diverse work force you have to do be able to do both — or people will not trust, follow, or listen to you.
That is my life’s work: To help you be different and better than competitors — in how you think, act, and interact — in both your professional and personal worlds. It’s not to have control over others, but to be in control of your own world.
I constantly try to get better — to learn new or better ways of handling myself and situations that I face in my world. Everything I know and learn I’m eager to share with you, and that is why I write, coach, and speak.