Archive for April, 2011

Being and Influence: We Lead as We Are

I’ve been thinking a lot about influence lately and about how our everyday, small behaviors and attitudes impact those around us.  Eleanor Roosevelt, possibly the most dynamic First Lady in our history, writes that “The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you’ve become yourself.”

This is true both in our home lives and in our work lives, in our spiritual lives and in our mundane lives.  When we awake in a bad or a good mood our husbands or wives, our children, are influenced by how we feel. Even my pets, I’ve noticed, pick up on the little signals I give off.  Those around us influence us in return, their own signals effecting small changes in our reactions, our thoughts, our feelings.

As leaders we obviously exert influence on those we lead, but how we influence those people is up to us.  We can pressure, insist, demand and force.  We can coax, cajole, persuade and convince. Certainly there are times when any of these approaches may be needed, but our approach, our preferred behavior, will have a long-lasting effect on those people.  We should never forget that the way we influence them will impact the way they influence others when some of them, too, become leaders in their own right.

How do we consciously influence others to be good influencers?  How do we teach negotiation, compromise and consensus through our influence?  There are scores of books on the subject, from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to “The Art of Woo.” How do we pick and choose not only what works, but what will work for others who learn from us? What tenets do you subscribe to?  I’m interested in hearing what you think.



Growing Relationships

April has just begun and, after a brief April Fool’s Day snow storm has melted away, tiny green daffodil shoots are poking up in our front yard. Thoughts of sunny, warmer days ahead are playing in my mind; it will soon be the beginning of the CSA farm season.

For those unfamiliar with the term, the CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is an opportunity for black-thumbs like me to support a local farmer — in our case, Roger and Lori Noonan of Middle Branch Farm in New Boston, NH — by investing in a share of their vegetable crops. This is a win-win proposition. Roger and Lori receive financial support to help sustain their land, equipment, feed and such. We receive in exchange a weekly share of fantastic vegetables and fruits conveniently delivered to a central pick-up location where share owners like myself meet, select from what’s available that week, share recipes (what exactly can I make with this much kohlrabi anyway?) and then head home to slice, cube, puree, saute, bake and preserve whatever we’ve selected.  Then we do it all again a week later, with the ritual continuing into October, when the last of the pumpkins and squash signal the end of another seasonal cycle.

As you might imagine, our relationship with “our” farm goes well beyond the one-to-one collaboration we have with our farmer. We are contributing to and participating in the well-being of the farm, absolutely; we are also contributing to the well-being of our ecosystem, our earth, by supporting the Noonan’s efforts with clean farming — devoid of harmful pesticides, hormones or unnatural farming practices. He, in turn, provides us with — hands down — the best tasting produce we’ve ever had and rich, tasty eggs with dark-yellow yolks. We truly believe that we are both feeding ourselves and feeding the earth.

But for me the most valuable thing about being part of Roger and Lori’s ecosystem is the tremendous respect the entire system has for itself.  The Noonan’s do what they do best, the soil does what it does best, and I do what I do best.  The result is seed-to-table nourishment for all. But the ecosystem only works when it is nurtured, when attention is paid.  Without it plants would dry up, eggs would be tasteless.  Respect and attention is what’s needed.

It occurs to me that all of our relationships are part of an ecosystem just like Roger and Lori’s, if we only pay close enough attention to them.  Our friends and family, the people we work with, the people we buy things from or sell things to.  Being aware of them–respecting them–is all important. It’s what makes it all… well… nourishing.

Best to all,


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