Month: July 2018

Leadership and…Chicken Shit

Leadership and…Chicken Shit

So, there I was, cleaning out my chicken coop.

Wait…let me give you the backstory on this…

***

I’ve raised chickens off and on since I was a teenager. One of the unsavory duties of this wonderful pastime is cleaning the poop, outta the coop. There’s a lot of poop in a coop.

My last set-up, I would shovel poo out of the coop, and then deposit it into a nearby compost pile.

Every. Single. Day.

I’d shovel chicken shit from point A to point B.

My chickens were NOT helping with the poo duties either.

They’d watch from the edges and cluck. Probably laughing in chicken talk, while watching me shovel their shit.

There had to be an easier way.

After some self-education, I started a deep litter method.

Here’s how it works…

Layer the bottom of the coop with straw about six inches deep. Then, after a few days, go into the coop with their favorite treat.

There I stood, ankle deep in litter, their shit all around me, and I sprinkled treats on top of the litter.

What I found was that the chickens would stand right next to me, scratch and peck at the treats. They loved it!

In doing so, they turned over every piece of straw looking for goodies. In the process, they turned over their own shit, which caused the litter to work as a compost pile.

Problem solved! And…no more smell!

End result?

Eight months later, I would haul out some very nice compost.

I have to tell you, the best veggies anyone’s ever tasted came from that mix in my garden. Plus, those chickens were probably the healthiest birds I ever kept.

Back to the story…

***

So, there I was, cleaning out my chicken coop—the compost that is.

I thought back to the days when I shoveled chicken shit from point A to point B—shovel in hand and a heap of poo dangling at the end of it.

Every. Single. Day.

At that moment, I had an epiphany of sorts…

This is what managers do.

Leadership and management are worlds apart.

A title doesn’t make you a leader any more than standing in a chicken coop makes you a chicken.

You do NOT need a title to be a leader.

I have seen plenty of men and women lead their peers, and their superiors, without any title, rank, or position affixed to their name.

Then…I thought back to some of the worst managers I’ve worked for.

Self-centered and insecure managers who rule their people with fear, tyranny, and browbeating—which is akin to flat out disrespect, bullying, and intimidation.

Their management style causes their subordinates to feel fearful about making the smallest decision, afraid to speak up, and their efforts usually do not rise above mediocre.

These managers wind up working harder, are more stressed out, and get only the bare minimum out of their employees.

AND…all they do is shovel shit from point A to point B.

All the while complaining to their boss about how the employees are stupid, can’t think for themselves, and are unproductive.

I’ve worked for a lot of shit shovelers in my day.

There have been times when I’ve asked myself, “Why the hell do I work here?”

On the other hand, I have worked for some excellent leaders, and have always been fascinated with how they operate.

They have a way of bringing out the best in you, and you don’t want to disappoint them.

What is it that creates such a desire to launch yourself over a cliff for them?

Leaders are the folks who will strap on their boots, stand in waist-deep shit with you and not only show you how to shovel, but they will gladly help and shovel shit for you.

“Hand me the shovel,” you implore.

“Naw, I got this,” your leader says with a smile.

“Come on, give me the shovel,” you protest.

“Okay, but let me get to a stopping point,” your leader replies.

They set the standard.

By example, they show us how to work, what it looks like to work, the kind of effort necessary to accomplish the task, and they define what the objectives are…all by being in the shit WITH us.

Leaders seem to have healthier, more productive, and enthusiastic employees than the managers who shuffle poo from one side of the desk to the other.

You might think I’m talking just about work—the space on earth where we go to the cubicle every day to slave away for someone else.

Sure, there too.

But leadership is something that transcends the cubicle.

What about leading ourselves?

That’s really something worth pondering.

To make positive changes, no matter where we’re at, who we’re with, or what we do, it’s necessary to learn what it means to lead ourselves.

I don’t want to shovel shit from point A to point B in my life. I want to thrive and flourish like my garden did from all that compost!

***

Lead yourself.

Be kinder to yourself.

Give yourself an incentive to reach your dreams, and reward yourself when you accomplish something in your life—no matter how small it may seem.

When you take the lead over your own life, you will find yourself a bit less stressed, more fulfilled, healthier, and far more productive.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Leadership, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement
Ants and <em>The</em> Straight Line of Life

Ants and The Straight Line of Life

Here’s the definition of a Straight-line — containing, characterized by, or relating to straight lines or motion in a straight line.

Hm…let’s try this one: A line with no curvature; a line with constant direction.

Okay…got it.

***

Ever see ants scurrying about?

It appears they’re lost, confused, and well…just lost.

They bump into a grain of sand, turn around and head back toward the direction they just came. Then they’ll scamper around a blade of grass, dodge a twig, summit a mound of worm castings, round a dirt clod to find themselves bumping into the same grain of sand again.

Did you know that ants use a variety of means to find home?

Vibrations, chemical trails, eyesight, peeping—yeah…peeping. Peeping is where they drop their large cache of food, look around for a clue as to where they are, adjust, and BAM! Home again.

If you or I get caught peeping, we’ll have to explain ever so delicately to the officer that stops us as to why we’re…peeping.

Oh, they count steps. I can barely count anything with all my digits without having to start over. Seriously, I have NO clue how many steps I need to take out my front door to reach the curb.

There are three different types of memory they use. I can’t even successfully recall one memory thingy:

“Honey, where’s my sunglasses?”

”Um, on your head?” she gently reminds me.

”Oh.”

Here’s something mind-boggling…

An experiment in an attempt to confuse ants by surgically removing or adding a portion of their legs!

WTH!? Who thinks this stuff up?

Apparently, some sadistic researcher was finally able to confuse an ant or two by this surgery, and they couldn’t find their way back home.

The good news here is that because I have a hard enough time remembering the simple things of life, where I am, or what I’m doing currently, I doubt any lunatic is going to try to confuse me by surgically altering my limbs.

***

Detours suck.

Some general, way back when, said, “No plan ever survives first contact.” Grrr.

We plan, we analyze, we run analytics, we study the data, we get it all figured out…

And still, the uncertainties of life rear up in the midst of our perfect plan!

Right in the middle of our straight line.

It’s hard enough to execute on a life-changing plan without all these unknown elements life throws at us.

Then, I begin to wander around like an ant—except for said ant actually knows where the hell they’re going!

So, the wandering becomes a detour.

And detours can lead to massive frustration because they’re NOT part of the plan.

And in the midst of a detour, it’s far easier to try to numb the mind with distractions: T.V., music, doing a chore that doesn’t necessarily need to be done right now; email, Facebook, and a plethora of other things; instead of the hard work of quieting ourselves and spending time with our thoughts and emotions.

And…

In the midst of a detour, it’s easy to get caught up in the blame game; blaming others, and…blaming ourselves: for being stupid, for not thinking, for not doing it right, and for a ton of other things that lead us into self-guilt, self-hate, and self-induced stress and worry.

And…

In the midst of the detour, if you’re like me, you’ll impose some strange self-imposed time constraints as to when the detour should end.

It’s all very draining.

***

I’ve spent a lifetime in which I have thrown myself onto an anvil and incessantly beat it into a shape with the heaviest and coldest hammer I could find: hammered into a form that I thought I would gain love, acceptance, and understanding from those who I wanted that from.

I didn’t love myself. I was more worried about forcing and coercing love. It’s all I’ve known.

I realized that I needed to change from trying to gain approval from others and learn how to approve and love myself.

To forgive myself.

And with graciousness, let others walk out of my life that wanted no part of me unless I performed a certain way, or said certain words, or believed certain whatevers.

Even when I did try to pound my life into their molds, it never felt comfortable, and always left me empty, confused, and stuck—stuck in the muck and mire of someone else’s insecurities and fears.

Then I’d fret over the time spent in detours because I hate just simply waiting…waiting for the lesson to be learned while in such detours.

Today…

I try to quiet myself more and spend time in silence loosening the bands of self-imposed time constraints of those detours, because if it were not for those detours, I’d be the same while repeating the same ole.

I am grateful for all the detours and wanderings.

I am grateful for all those who’ve handed me a life based on conditions.

I am grateful for all those who said they loved me and walked away.

It hurt. It wounded. It helped.

Now, there is none to blame, only gratefulness of the experiences of those detours. A life filled with amazing squiggles, deviations, crisscrosses, and curves.


Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement