It’s been two years since the shooting and subsequent riots in Ferguson. One year after that event, I wrote about having the dubious honor of witnessing three generations of protests related to race, inequality and injustice. In the 1960s, protest marches were televised nationally, inspiring many of us. Yes, some protests became violent riots, but some gave rise to long-term institutions promoting racial equality. Those of us deeply invested in the movement shared a vision and were committed to making a difference through advocacy, education, politics, and, as I did, urban planning. However, after the shootings of unarmed African American men in Baton Rouge and St. Paul, the killing of police officers in Dallas, the numerous street protests, and the ongoing threats, I am less hopeful than I was coming out of the sixties.
We are still dealing with the Atlanta area shooting of African American jogger, and now the death of George Floyd by law enforcement. In the midst of this violence, Chattanooga announced progress in creating a physical space to remember the lynching of an African American more than a century ago. The memorial will be a contemplative space near the Walnut Street Bridge and despite the pandemic, the expectation is that people will come to learn, reflect, mourn and learn from history. And hopefully, to apply those lessons going forward
I often hear that leadership is greatly needed in these challenging times. But what does leadership mean? Is it a matter of personality? Is leadership defined by mission and goals? Are leaders inspirational figures who leave the nuts and bolts to others? The more we try to define leadership, the more the concept undefinable. “There are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept,” said Ralph Stogdill, a Professor of Management Science and Psychology known for his research and publications on the Personal Factors Associated with Leadership.
Step Up Writing Skills
Climb Up the Ladder
Why bother writing when technology does much of the work for us? Templates plan for us, spell-check edits for us, and there’s enough information online to produce a ocean of plagiarized work. It’s no surprise that technical and business writing skills are becoming lost arts. Yet, successful communication with colleagues, teams, and clients relies heavily on written memos, emails, reports, proposals, and evaluations. Professional development , especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) should have a strong focus on technical writing skills, but rarely does.
If you want to lead in STEM…
- Write to organize your thoughts
- Write to increase your visibility
- Write to develop your credibility
- Write to establish your influence
Working from home isn’t a new concept, just an increasingly necessary one. Computers have pointed us in that direction for almost 50 years. When my mother insisted that I take the first computer programming elective offered at my high school during the 1960s, I thought she was nuts. I was focused on learning Russian and preparing for a catastrophic moment in the Cold War. But Mom informed me in her soft sweet voice that computers were the change shaping the future and she was commanding, not suggesting. And if that weren’t weird enough, she insisted that I take a typing class to ramp up my keyboard speed.
I was excited to return to Cincinnati where my father had been the CFO of the American Jewish Archives. I was on the road, speaking on Religious Diversity in our Schools and at Work at the invitation of a Women of Faith event sponsored by American Jewish Committee, Xavier University & the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, and the Jewish Community Relations Council.
Now that so much of our work is done online and out teams communicate through cyberspace, it’s vital that cultural awareness, sensitivity, and competence in the area of religious diversity be part of the leadership tool box. Lessons learned from in-person presentations like this one should be reviewed and updated for a new world of long-distance work.
In the early days of the coronavirus, during the Lunar New Year Celebration, I asked my cousin who had worked in Asia years ago if Americans would pay attention to what was happening. The coronavirus family include the common cold, but this virus had never been seen before. Despite reports that 41 people died and 1,400 were infected, my cousin was not optimistic that Americans were paying attention, at least not yet. Early information reported that only a quarter of cases were severe and the dead were mostly elderly people with pre-existing conditions. But the muted reaction in the USA is changing, as it did in China.
Despite the downplay of the severity, pharmacies in Wuhan began to run out of supplies and officials urged people to avoid crowds. Soon the city was on lockdown with no public transportation in or out of the city. McDonald’s and Starbucks closed and the US, France and Russia tried to evacuate their nationals. Disney closed its resort in Shanghai and tourism began to shut down. A friend reported that all of her consulting work in China had been cancelled through May.
When an anniversary falls on Yom Kippur, the most solemn holy day of the Jewish calendar, thoughts of living and dying take on cosmic proportions. Fortunately, it’s rare for the two milestones to collide given the differences between the secular and Jewish calendars. Both are celebrations, but Yom Kippur which ends the New Year’s ten Days of Awe, is a sacred time when the celebration of life is combined with contemplation its finite nature. This year, I have a double dose of introspection and my mind sought the path separating living from dying and wandered from wonder and gratitude to mourning and humility.
When the Jewish New Year arrived, I got many questions about faith and calendars from Human Resource departments. They wanted to know why the holiday occurs on a different day each year according to our secular calendar. And they asked about food associated with the holiday. Offering the traditional apples and honey for a sweet New Year was the easy part. Explaining the timing was the real challenge.
What should I write about religion and religious calendars in these contentious times? I know that many organizations and companies would prefer that the issue of religious diversity would disappear. But every year, thousands of religion-based lawsuits claiming a “hostile or offensive work environment” are registered with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
Hear Deborah Levine’s interview with Rabbi Tzvi and learn about the art of perseverance and endurance. She shares her personal stories that are captured in her memoir, The Magic Marble Tree. In this interview Deborah talks about her journey through pain and incapacitation and why she decided to write the book.
Click below to hear true stories that will inspire you to Never Give Up!