Tag Archives: leadership

Leading by Instinct

There is not a Best M.O. among top leaders. Nor is there any M.O. that would exclude you from being a good leader.

My research shows that the best predictor of both productivity and sustainability in complex and complicated environments is the degree of conative or instinct-based diversity among the core leaders in the C-Suite. In smaller organizations, with only a few people at the top of a narrow pyramid, the conative criteria for leadership also narrow.

Instincts in C-Suites

In a large and very complex organization with a collaborative culture, it works especially well to have a CEO whose instinct is to initiate in both the Fact Finder and Quick Start Action Modes, sparking both research and development programs. Another essential part of the conative mix is for such leaders to instinctively resist or just mildly accommodate Follow Thru systems. This is how such leaders keep their organizations from getting bogged down in redundancies or becoming too bureaucratic.

It is essential, that leaders with this M.O. have CFOs, or other cohorts at the top, who deal with the complicated, more linear, financial, legal, and sometimes physical structures. It has proven wise to have a second in command who naturally plays the role of insisting on adherence to Follow Thru regulations -which he or she instinctively creates. It helps a set of such leaders to work in sync with each other if the second person accommodates Fact Finder strategies. When these leaders have equal levels of insistence in Fact Finder, they need to have clearly defined, separate responsibilities or they will end up with dueling priorities. Rounding out the M.O. of the cohort is a resistance in Quick Start, which adds a stabilizing force to the senior management team.

In today’s world, the CEO often serves as the chief PR person in the face of scandals, recalls, attacks, and hackings. I don’t see many resistant Quick Start CEOs surviving through major crises like these. Quick Start energy is required when being a spokesperson dealing with uncertainty (note what happens to the grand orator in Obama when he addresses uncertainty).

Resistant Follow Thrus are beaten up for not finishing what they start, but without their input organizations would stay put. The power of their randomness makes their resistance to sticking with the plan the ingredient that often saves the day. As confounding as it can be to their conative opposites, their natural ability to dodge bullets is a trait that helps organizations land on their feet.

It is the Implementor leader’s insistence on precision and manifestation of ideas that makes this M.O. the most difficult to put in the C-Suite. It is essential, but often better in the field than the executive offices – as long as he or she is empowered to halt processes for quality control purposes. Given the freedom to skip meetings and lead the on-site troops, these leaders will add significantly to the power and quality of products and programs.

Instinctive Facilitators are especially interesting to observe as they perform at high levels of leadership in organizations like franchises and health related situations; first, because in those environments leadership involves maintaining systems and second, because it involves maintaining ego-driven relationships – and the caring for a diversity of human beings. Their instinct to bring out the best in others and to build bridges between people reduces conflicts and keeps energy focused on purposes rather than personal issues.

Entrepreneurial Instincts

It is less complicated to diagnose the instinct-based leadership in an entrepreneurial organization. It is all about the naturally born entrepreneur trusting the combination of Quick Start insistent drive and back-up Fact Finder strategies. Without much Follow Thru budget making, a stand-alone entrepreneur needs to use the power of Quick Start persuasion to cut deals, and rope friends, family and vendors into becoming uncompensated co-conspirators. Of course, those who fill the need for creating Follow Thru systems are also essential. When a true entrepreneur builds an organization to the point where it requires the type of leadership team noted above, it is time for him or her to move on – and do it all over again.

Leadership is not just about the use of conative instincts. But, nothing in my experience indicates that leaders, regardless of their M.O.s, initiate problem solving by using processes they have been taught. Their cognitive powers come into the process when they edit their instincts – and certainly when they second guess them. Leaders’ actions, triggered by whatever motivates them, are as tied to their instincts as their best salesperson’s instincts are tied to asking for the order. I do not belittle the power of the cognitive (it is not an after-thought in the Kolbe Creative Process). It’s a matter of what comes first.

Instincts are precognitive. If that weren’t true, we would have no heroes – or top leaders. Having closely observed the creative efforts of thousands of leaders in vastly different types of problem solving situations, I have yet to see an example of solutions being initiated by them during a period of contemplation. The actions that spark productivity are born from the innate, authentic powers of a leader’s instinctive drive.

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Why Monday Morning Blues During Happy Hour Sunset?

How could they be my friends and spend a lovely Sunday evening (while they could have been watching a magnificent sunset change from vibrant colors to muted tones) talking about how they were dreading going to work the next day. Both very intelligent, well-paid professionals were planning for their Monday Morning Blues.

“Why don’t you find jobs that you would love to do?” I asked, even though I knew the answer.

“It’s not that I don’t like my job, I would just prefer not to work,” one said.

“My job is filled with joy,” I said, realizing this would ruin their fun in complaining about their jobs, and make me an outsider. “Monday mornings are great, because I get to dive in to what I love doing.”

“You are not normal,” said the second, with a tone close to disgust, “I have to work at my stressful job until I can get my full retirement, because we want to be able to do lots of traveling when I’m done with it.”

“You’re your own boss, Kathy, so you don’t know what it’s like to have to work at a job where you have to do what others decide you should be doing,” said the other person.

“Yes, I created a work situation that gives me the freedom to be myself,” I said, “which, by the way, doesn’t give me retirement benefits. I’ll never retire. I look forward to working at doing something that I love doing for the rest of my life. I’m not waiting to have freedom, I have freedom.”

Eyes rolled and they both ordered another drink.

“You are not normal,” they said, in unison this time – with shared disgust in both their voices. “Part of the fun of Happy Hour is complaining about your job. Stop being a party pooper.”

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My Theory of Creative Problem Solving

You will never create anything without a conviction that it’s worth creating.  

If you try to create something by making an effort that doesn’t fit your M.O., you won’t get very far with it.

It takes a Commitment of your conative abilities for you to solve a problem in a sustainable way.

Creative Process

Creative Problem Solving takes more than just Doing something you want to do, you also have to evaluate whether what you’re doing makes any sense.

Judging whether another person is fully engaged in Creative Problem Solving is easier than judging levels of beauty. You can evaluate the process without judging the outcome.

Q: Why bother evaluating the process if the outcome stinks?
A: Because those who engage in the process are more likely to get consistently creative results.

 Q: Couldn’t someone who is not using a Creative Problem Solving process create something by dumb luck?
A: Luck happens when you create the opportunity.

Q: Is that all there is to your Theory of Creative Problem Solving?
A: No, but I’ll wait for you to ask more questions here so I can tell you the things about it that you are motivated to discuss.

Creative Process ladder

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5 Simple Steps to Avoid Getting a Job Interview

You have an equal opportunity (or as one recent job candidate wrote in the first line of his resume:  “an opertunity”) …to destroy your chances of getting called in for a job interview.

Simple 1st step for getting out of a job interview is what 80% of on-line job applicants are doing: send blah, or blah that should have been spell-checked and proofread.

Step 2: Show laziness + ignorance by either not including a cover letter, or (even better – for your purpose) sending a one-size-fits-all cover letter that doesn’t even mention what the company does or what the job requires.

When you don’t take time to individualize your application for a specific role at a particular company, you won’t need to worry about a quality company taking your time for a job interview. They’ll immediately put you where you seemed to ask to be put – in  the Not Interested pile.

Step 3: If you’re still in danger of having to be interviewed, your next line of defense requires going beyond canned blah. You may need the help of an overused, senseless expert in bad blah, like the book, What Color Is Your Parachute. By using all of its meaningless “key” words, you have a recipe for avoiding the disclosure of any spark of your own creativity or insight. This me-too approach will keep companies from expecting too much from you.

Step 4: You shouldn’t have to put this much effort into not being selected for interviews, but this just-in-case step improves your odds of not being interviewed because it insults the intelligence of whomever makes those recommendations. Be sure you take this step to extremes. Unfortunately for you, many others seem to be catching on to this trick. You’ll have to one-up what is being said by all the other wannabe losers.

Use highly unbelievable statements about how much you have done in so little time (“I worked for a very high status company for 6 months, and during that time I increased corporate revenues by 28%). Or how you saved an entire company from disaster by your discovery of all of their mistakes (“Reviewed and redesigned corporate strategic plan and established a workable system that impacted the productivity of all departments.”) Or how just little “newbie-you” outsmarted the corporate culture (“I introduced the company to the world of social media and got thousands of on-line followers to chat with us.”).

 Step 5: Not sure you can sound more boastful than so many others? This last step is what some have used as the dagger in the heart of an almost-ready-to-interview-you situation. You may even find it fun:  Complain about the potential employer’s hiring process.

There may be an employee who will give you credit for being outspoken (or agree with you that their company is not doing a good job) so be sure when you use this technique that you call the company owner or CEO on his or her personal cell phone. Here’s a sample script that is pretty sure to get you out of the interview:

“I don’t know why you think anyone would want to work for your company. I shouldn’t have to show you examples of my private, personally done work, or spend my free time reading your website, or put up with you snooping around my Facebook stuff.  And, I shouldn’t have to fill out that stupid Kolbe Index.”

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Scholarship: About Doing, as Much or More as Thinking

It feels like there is mostly Thinking going on in many academic programs, from fourth grade through undergraduate programs in universities. Where does the Doing get done? Not in lecture-based classrooms.

How inappropriate that parents, not teachers, often end up helping kids DO their homework – where most of the learning actually gets done.

Ask undergrads what they are Doing at school, and they usually tell you about what they are Doing in their “free” time or extra-curricular activities. Ask what they are doing in class, and the answer is probably, “Nothing but sitting and listening.”

Decades of research shows that learning happens by Doing. It’s called Active Learning in today’s literature. The proper term for the Doing domain of the mind is Conation.

Every field of study deals with conation. Yet, a century of perseverating about cognitive Thinking has led to contemporary blindness of the pervasiveness of conative Doing.

  •  Marketing textbooks, when discussing the fallacy of focus groups asking for opinions (Thinking), point out that they are not a good predictor of what people will Do in the actual purchasing process.
  • Law school texts warn of the need to distinguish the difference between Thinking about and actually Doing (or committing) a crime.
  • Religion and philosophy courses deal with the difference between Thinking in moral ways and actually Doing moral or immoral acts.
  • Language classes teach the difference between passive verbs (Thinking) and active verbs (Doing) – the latter even known as conative verbs in some languages.
  • Engineering programs tackle issues of sustainability – this does not mean keeping a level of Thinking, but rather sustaining levels of energy or Doing.
  • Medical and health related programs cope with issues related to getting patients to Do what they need to Do, not just Think about what they need to Do. The term coming into greater use is now referred to as the patient being Active, as opposed to the former negative labeling of patients as Non-compliant.

Name a field of study and there will be issues dealing with the differences between Thinking and Doing. Doing will always be the key to breakthroughs, innovation, discoveries – or any other word synonymous with Success.

The programs that “Get Conative” become the leaders in their field.

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Like Forcing Water to Flow Uphill

Having spent a good part of the past weekend on a steep hillside, trying to get my amateur watering system to flow up to outlying trees, I was reminded of it being an analogy for conative stress.

Trying to get water to flow up hill is like dealing with:

1. Barriers to Innovation:
Convincing a determined Fact Finder boss that something that has never been done before could work well.

2. Inflexibility:
Getting a mega Follow Thru to adjust the schedule.

3. Misplaced Dependency:
Waiting for an empowered person, who is short on Implementor, to repair equipment.

4. Overcoming conative Conflict:
Having to get two totally opposite conative people to work together cooperatively.

5. False expectations:
Getting your short-lined Follow Thru friends to RSVP – or even find the invitation.

6. Endless Inertia:
Watching a team of conative clones trying to get something done.

7. Stunting Growth:
Helping an entrepreneurial Quick Start stick with the tried and true.

8. Making a Temporary Fix:
Making it easier for a conative Facilitator to choose a side – any side.

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Goals with Purposes

 

Goals are for keeping score. Purposes are for making differences.

Kids learn a lot about making goals in soccer games.

They learn:
Who is best at making goals
What it takes to defend against others who make goals
Where to position themselves for making goals
When to shoot for a goal
How to use soccer skills to score goals

It’s easy to make the Who/What/Where/When/How list regarding goals of almost any kind.

Who on the sales team is most consistent in reaching sales goals?
What will get a lot of good PR?
Where can you find the best new team members?
When is a right time to buy new equipment?
How is it possible to save enough money?

What’s missing is the WHY

Why is it valuable for kids to play sports like soccer?
Why is good PR an important goal?
Why are new team members a necessary goal?

For all of the other W’s, there is always a Why.
In the Why, you will find the Purpose.

As a journalism student at Northwestern,
I was taught to always include the 5W/s and the H in a news story.
The Why often became clear only when I wrote the headline
–or at least contemplated Why the story mattered.

Kids Prove Teamwork Pays
PR Leads to an Increased Number of Job Applicants
New Employees Add to Team Synergy

Goals, like Deadlines, focus our conative energy.
They help us fulfill our Purposes.

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It Pays to Know Others’ M.O.s

It’s just not worth it to ask people to do things if the way they do them doesn’t work for you.

Don’t ask initiating
     Fact Finders for an answer – if you aren’t prepared to provide lots and lots of background information.
     Follow Thrus for help – unless you’ve cleaned up pretty well ahead of time.
     Quick Starts for ideas – if you aren’t willing to take at least some of the recommended risks.
     Implementors to fix something – unless you have plenty of time to wait for it to be done really, really well.

When you know another’s M.O. you can predict what they’ll do based on non-prejudicial information, not on myths regarding gender, age, and race. You won’t make the mistake of making false assumptions that can hurt feelings and ruin relationships.

Don’t assume you can change people or that they will “wise up” and stop being whatever part of them may annoy you.

You might even see the humor in
     a perfectly healthy, resistant Fact Finder forgetting important details.
     a seemingly sensible initiating Follow Thru rejecting time-saving shortcuts.
     an introverted initiating Quick Start surprising others with sudden decisions to do the unexpected.
     a resistant Implementor pushing the wrong buttons and messing up technology.

If you know those things will happen, you have a better chance of stopping them from causing problems.

When resistant Implementors grab one of three remotes and operates it by instinct, they often mess it up.
(I just gave my resistant Implementor husband the latest, greatest universal remote. I’ll let you know if it helps.)

Leaders – and bossy spouses – have told me that knowing a person’s M.O. wouldn’t help. They would just demand that people do what they were told to do.

How has that worked for them?

When they have demanded
     Fact Finders cut to the bottom line – they got errors.
     Follow Thrus use short cuts – they got sloppy work.
     Quick Starts stick to the script – they got turnover.
     Implementors sit still and listen– they got disputes and disobedience.

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Don’t Mess with Truths of Conation

Unfortunately, some think that it would be a good idea to try and figure out how to make the brain conform to a job or educational system. For example, some say that it would be wise to find a way to get students to conform to regulations and do their work all in the same way. They don’t see the harm to the individual in doing this because it will “help” them do a better job. Many researchers are looking for ways to use QEEG technology to “change” brains so they are not ADHD. Some researchers are also trying to claim that since the brain has proven to have plasticity, my theory that conation is a constant isn’t accurate.

Yes. There is a way in which all human beings truly are equal. It is in the quantity of their conative abilities.

Yes. There is a part of all human beings that is consistent and sustainable throughout their lives. It is the conative modus operandi.

Yes. There is a renewable form of mental energy within all human beings that provides a natural resilience. It is a life-long, replenishable, conative drive.

Yes. I have discovered the patterns of a person’s M.O., and try to help individuals and organizations use this powerful resource for productive purposes.

Yes. I have found evidence that this resource emanates from a very deep region in the brain.

Yes. I can help individuals self-manage this resource to maximize their mental efficiency, reduce functional stress, and bring them the joy of accomplishment.

Yes. Ethical leaders have a responsibility to give those they lead the freedom to act, react, and interact according to each person’s M.O.

No. I absolutely, positively will not allow my work to be used to justify denying individuals the freedom to act according to their conative strengths.

No. I will not sit quietly and watch children and adults be medicated in an attempt to alter or dull their M.O.s – so that they “fit in” or act, react, and interact in a culturally more desirable way.

No. I will not assist faulty management systems that try to make human beings “more pliable” or force them to conform to work processes that denigrate their conative strengths.

No. I will not go along with brain researchers who, because of ignorance of conation, confuse the neuroplasticity among the three faculties of the brain with the absence of a need to protect the integrity of the brain’s M.O.

Bottom Line Conative Truths:

• Consistency of conative M.O.s assists an individuals’ Sustainability and Resilience and is compatible with theories of neuroplasticity.

• It is not only unethical to deny the free use of natural conative abilities, it is also unethical to try to alter the conative functioning of the brain.

• It is just plain stupid for any human being to think he or she is smart enough to create a better source of human power than the conative energy with which each person is endowed.

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Journalists vs. Today’s Media

Journalists dig behind the words.
Today’s media parse words.

Journalists interview subjects to get the story, not to be a part of the story.
Today’s media promote themselves on entertainment shows.

Journalists try to keep personal biases from being apparent.
Today’s media flaunts views in “panelist” roles.

Journalists seek unique angles and untold stories.
Today’s media repeat (and repeat) the story that is going around.

Journalists seek a wide variety of sources.
Today’s media interview people in the “Spin Room.”

Journalists don’t use the weird phrase, “Take a listen;” or begin a segment by issuing the command: “Look, what you have to know is…”
Today’s media believe it’s imperative that we pay attention to them.

Journalists don’t moonlight for the candidates or organizations in his/her stories.
Today’s media boast about insider connections with subjects in the news.

Journalists don’t confuse reporting the news with giving opinions about it.
Today’s media are confused about their role.

Journalists give the most important news at the top of the story.
Today’s media tease you to stay, but save the best part ‘til last.

 
(My bias: I am a long ago graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism)

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When a Fast-Forward Mind is Forced to Rewind

By my own reckoning, my instincts compel me to be future oriented and to resist living in the past. I’ve thrived by living according to my instincts, even when others have wished I could explain exactly when and where I had done what.

It’s not easy to avoid the past.

The Past is Omnipresent.

Everyone talks about it – a lot.
Most writers start with it.
Teachers tell you about it and test to see how much of it you recall.
Friendships are built on it.
Religions celebrate it.
Friends relive it.
Doctors dwell on it.
Politicians rewrite it.
Lawyers restate it.
Accountants refigure it.

How can the Past be avoided when:

Problems recur?
Events are relived?
Dialog is repeated?
People reappear?
Plans are reinvented?
Ideas are refreshed, reinvented, and reproduced?

What’s a person to do when redoing and remembering doesn’t come naturally?
Look stupid? Seem uncooperative? Satisfy requirements?

When I meet others with my conative MO, I often ask them about their survival tricks. They don’t want to talk about what has and hasn’t worked in the past. Worst of all is recalling times they had to justify steps they had previously taken.

Having to clean out a storage area in which I’ve dumped 3½ decades of my past efforts has made me realize there are 100s of products, programs and manuscripts that I could retrieve and reinvigorate.

I wouldn’t need another new idea as long as I live.

 

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Kids & Sports: Time for Sharing Values

Something I did the least well in my school days, has helped me do what I care about most now. I was an Activities Major: student government VP, a newspaper editor, co-director of the original musical production – almost anything and everything, except for sports.

But I was an avid sports fan. I learned how to keep detailed baseball score cards before I learned Roberts Rules of Order.

Sports have acted as glue in our family, a source of shared fun and for sharing values with my parents, kids and grandkids. Even my seven in-town grandkids, with whom I spend lots of time, have yet to get a lecture from me about writing or putting on a musical, but they know exactly what I think about errors in baseball, the importance of assists in basketball, head-butting in youth soccer, and the plethora of medals in gymnastics.

They know I will watch them play any game they choose, but will be outspoken about the unmitigated dangers of football, and the silly sexist style of little girls’ “baseball.” I’ll cheer loudly for any team that’s playing hard and watch in the rain for the final play of a team that’s working to the bitter end. I’ve also been known to ask, “What made you feel really good about that game?” Win or lose.

Herein lies the beauty of sports with my kids and grandkids. It’s in the banter about the game, the plays and the players that we share values, perspectives and opinions that would bore them in any other arena. Watching sports together means they knew exactly how strongly I felt about drug use without my ever having lectured them on the subject.

No way, no how, should a drug user be admitted to a Hall of Fame. Period. Got that? Yep.

A loss with a bunch of errors is for losers who didn’t give it their best shot. No sympathy – and don’t ever blame it on the officiating.

Basketball is a team sport, so I’m done cheering for that pro who makes sure his stats look good in spite of the team losing games. “See how he took the shot but could have drawn the foul – which would have helped us more in the long run? I’d bench him. You wouldn’t!? Just cuz he’s a star? What’s the deal?”

“How much money is it costing the organization to have that guy sitting on the sidelines? Maybe we ought to just trade him? Fans love him. What if we divided his salary up among all the season tickets holders and gave them a refund? Oh yeah, math does matter.”

Sports has led us to natural discussions about work ethic, morality, trust, respect, team work, staying focused, following the rules, overcoming the odds, holding your ground, strategizing, non-verbal communications, dress codes, music as a manipulator of the masses, drugs, loyalty, economics, understanding the odds, persistence, fear (including of mascots), racial discrimination, sexism, self-confidence, embarrassment, punctuality, uses of customs and rituals, safety, abuse, celebrations, anger, duty, vendors who brand themselves, honesty, attitude vs. intelligence, luck, not burning bridges, parking strategically, practice, trusting your instincts and appreciation of individual differences.

Wow, I just got started, but will give it a break.

Some weeks my husband and I go to five or six grandkids’ sporting events, and/or with them to pro games. Bring’em on.

Today we’re celebrating our 26th anniversary by going to a Diamondback’s game with two grandsons in our blended family. I know both will be totally disgusted if there are a lot of errors, and will high-five us in recognition of a great bunt as well as a home run. Both have learned how to be team players in sports and within the family– and what to say to get a grin from Grandma.

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Why is it Good to Fail?

Failure can be informative, insightful, energizing, clarifying, character building, team building, equalizing – and very funny.

Lack of failure is a sign of an avoidance of creative efforts.

Fear of failure stunts innovation.

Overcoming failures fuels future success.

Not making an effort is a far more egregious error than making the wrong one.

Defining and assigning failures to those who caused them is an essential step in improving group processes – and individual performance.

Those who don’t own up to failure will not have many reasons to be singled out for success.

Those who are uncomfortable when failure is pointed out betray a desire to hide in the midst of mediocrity.

Failures in children can spawn humility.
(A good reason to sign kids up for activities that will be difficult for them)

Failures in arrogant adults are blamed on someone else.
(A good reason to find the actual culprit and not do group punishments)

Games of chance make failure the luck of the draw. They provide no chance to experience the benefits of failure.

Winning means less to those who have not suffered losses.

Conatively inclined risk takers (Quick Starts) are not authentic if they don’t fail fairly often.

If you want the benefits of failure you have to reward it. How are you doing that?

 

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High School Musical by MO?

When people ask me about the beginnings of my leadership theories, they’re usually surprised that it started with a high school musical.

In 1957, I was a part of an extraordinary adventure. Over 200 kids at New Trier High School, Winnetka, IL, wrote and produced a musical comedy, performing it for several nights running. The annual show was known as Lagniappe, a Cajun word meaning a little bit extra or something more. It was developed from scratch each year.

For me, it was the something more that no MBA program could have provided. As co-director of Lagniappe, I experienced the innovative process from brainstorming about what type of show to do (ce.g. musical review or comedy sketches) to selecting and leading a group of amazingly talented young lyrists, composers, singers, actors, choreographers, dancers, salespeople, set builders, lighting experts, costumers, choral directors, orchestra members, props people and numerous other essential crew members

My co-director and I selected those who originated the music and lyrics based on challenges we created and sample solutions we received. Given the talent we realized was available, we decided to take on the challenge of having all original songs. Auditions were tense  with over 400 students trying out or applying for roles in cast and crews. We recruited some whose efforts we’d seen  in other school projects such as the newspaper, sports, government, debate and  the arts.

Ann-Margaret may have had her start in musicals with us. (She had a last name then, and as a sophomore, was considered a risky choice. We put her in the chorus.)

Over months of working together, our efforts became collaborative, self-determined, persistent, persuasive, and passionate about seemingly impossible goals. Because we were dependent upon one another, we began looking after one-another with an inordinate amount of compassion (which dissipated after the show, but proved the possibility).

During that time, I began writing short quips about the natural abilities or “Creative bent” as I called it, of those involved. I had an ever-present clip board with tasks I’d check-off on the front of pages, and notes-to-self about how to deal with the creative needs of individuals/groups on the back. (Would that I never did throw anything away, as some believe.)

I recall making a list of the people who I could count on to be precise in everything they did. They argued  about specifics that improved the final production – and I rarely sat through the entire discussion. Sure enough, many became scientists or lawyers. In current emails, these are the people who have detailed  memories about those debates. For instance  Dick Wirtz, our musical director, is still weighing the pros and cons of the show’s title:

We went around and around on the title.  Some of us thought “On the Rocks” was good because (1) Laurentz was approached by Duke Boniface through the “towering Alps” (lyric) so it must be in the mountains somewhere and (2) Laurentz was broke.  Others thought that sounded too much like the title of a previous show (On the House?) and the title ought to be “In the Year 1173.”  I argued against that because I thought the audience would mistakenly believe that the show was set in the year 1173.  My side won.  In retrospect, I think we should have lost.

Another list was of the quick-take ad libbers. They were fun to let loose on ideas, but a challenge to keep to the final script. I predicted they’d do their own thing at some point and many of them did become entrepreneurs, PR people, TV personalities.

Many Lagniappe ’57 participants are now communicating about the difference the show made in their lives. It didn’t make any of us different from who we were, it gave us confidence  to BE who we are. We were able to celebrate our differing contributions and share a sense of purposefulness that brought out our natural strengths – our MOs.

In an email this week from a cast member Laura Coleman Keith:

I know a lot of the wellness I feel about being me can be attributed to my participation in Lagniappe, where being a part of the team rounded me out.  It taught me about talent and genius, which I was able to see close up.  A person whom I wouldn’t have suspected of having gifted skills, nor someone I would probably never have known, I got to be around and appreciate in awe… I loved being there with you.

Free from the confinement of the traditional classroom requirements, we literally did our own thing – and made it work.

Lagniappe was more than just a little bit extra. It was an extra-curricular activity, done without the hovering of faculty members or parents that gave a group of high school kids the self-confidence to act on our own instincts or natural abilities — our innate conative strengths..

Lessons learned during my leadership role in this student-produced project provided a foundation for my life’s work. 

How often are today’s students given the freedom necessary for this level of thought and self-discovery?

UPDATE: Several Lagniappe ’57 alums are putting together a CD and libretto from the show. Next you may see us take it to Broadway!

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