Monday, September 10, 2012

16 Lucky Tokens for Leaders

             Okay, so the title is a little disingenuous.  But we will be talking about both the power of luck and the power of the leadership role in the magical community.  Just hang in there.

             Because I’m a leader, though not quite in the typical business-world sense, I subscribe to a number of not-quite-typical leadership items, including a terrific blog, Leadership Freak (by the inspirational Dan Rockwell).

            I mention this because in the past few months I’ve seen many of such blogs clearly apply not only to coven leaders, but other kinds of leaders in the magical community like teachers, parents, elders, authors, and even website and newsletter writers.  It’s an odd validation of what we’re doing that our troubles are so like those of other organization builders.  And it’s an even greater one that so many of these traditional individuals are willing to share their knowledge with us across the vast expanse of our two mindsets.

            What follows is my take on one of the most eye-catching of these informative tidbits.  It invokes the blessed name of Good Fortune, which as most witches will agree, is a major part of what we’re all striving to achieve on a daily basis.  Good fortune is that kind of constant luck that needs no tending, but simply is a part of who we are.  Fortune carries us through difficult decisions and hard times to come out the other side a great deal wiser and with as little dusting as possible.  In my professional spellcasting business, besides love and revenge (because I’m an equal-opportunity spellcaster), good fortune is the request on every client’s lips.  How happy I was to find the following list describing mundane ways we can build this effect all across our lives, even when we forget our best amulets!  

            Note: The list belongs to Mr. Rockwell, but I have noted after each how they can be applied to our community specifically.  To see the original and a whole lot more, check out:

The Sweet 16 of creating good fortune:
  1. Stay open. The thing you seek may not be the thing you find.
It’s easy to get a picture in our heads about exactly how an event/group/meeting/etc. should—nay, WILL!—turn out.  After all, that’s what we do with much of our magical time, visualize.  But, as in spellcasting, with so many variables (read: other wild people with their own wild wills), we need to stay flexible.  Have a basic goal and stick to that.  If other things crop up (such as major location change for your event or a typically closed ritual featuring tag-along guests), start with damage control and then just roll with the rest.  So long as the basic goal stays intact, you’ve succeeded. 

  1. Keep asking questions.
I’m a question-asker by nature, but I’ve also seen how important it can be even if I wasn’t predisposed to it.  When we ask questions, we do more than find out what others know.  We show interest, raise others’ self-esteem, solve problems without blame, and open the way for creative thought.  Before taking on any kind of leadership position, ask a ton of questions: 

What’s the group/organization about?
What would I be doing specifically?
Who would work with me?
How long do I have to prepare?
How often would I be called upon to perform my functions?
Who would I be speaking/writing, etc. for and to?
Are there costs or travel involved?
Would I work with other groups/organizations/other leaders?  In what capacity?

It’s these kind of questions that help you understand if you actually want to deal with all the different aspects of this proposed position.  But they also clarify the job and give the person you’re asking the chance to point out the good qualities and brainstorm how to circumnavigate the bad ones.  Only once you have as much information as possible can you make a truly wise decision, and not just one based upon ego or emotion.
  1. Look for favorable circumstances. People see what they look for.
When there’s a disorderly event, find a way to bring people together.  When everyone is arguing, seek something on which they can all agree.  There is a way through any forest, but you have to train your eyes to find paths.  A calm head keeps us looking for solutions, not problems.
  1. Set direction and goals; they help you understand favorable winds.
Every step of the way, you should be working towards a goal.  To keep the ship analogy, don’t ever sail without a heading.  Once you’ve achieved a goal, celebrate it, and then set a new one.  Being tossed around by circumstances can only happen when you don’t know where you’re going.  Give your group or coven a definite purpose beyond the pleasure of group rituals; set a destination for your writing and art; know what you want to be when you grow up!  How many ways can you impact your community—now go make a map to do them!
  1. Adapt to favorable opportunities that aren’t perfect.
I’ve often said that when I’m trying to accomplish something, my first choice never works as well as my second.  You may not have all the money or know-how, you might be short on supplies or help from others, but you can do great things with a little creativity.  Stay focused on the rare opportunity you’ve been given to do something important.  Don’t give up on the imperfect—it just needs a little molding.
  1. Keep moving forward even if direction changes.
Again, giving up is never a smart leader’s option.  Just like you can’t give up on your kids no matter what, you can’t give up on those you lead in the magical community.  Situations are never static, and we need to work around issues as they arise.  But don’t let your need for a strong defense keep you from trying to score points!  Move on always!
  1. Prepare for adversity.
Delays, arguments, loss, enemies…they’re out there and they will happen eventually.  You need to know what you’ll do when they find you.  How do you plan to handle these threats to your goal?
  1. Embrace turbulence; it opens hearts and minds.
My father always says, “Hard times make good people.”  When things are imperfect, people need to band together and bring out their very best.  You’ve got to be okay with circumstances that force you to be as good as you can be.
  1. Let go of failure.
I like watching Yahoo’s “Failure Club” now and again because the message is that no matter what the goal, we’re all driven onward by some hungry, mysterious force and also  that we’re all scared out of our wits.  But don’t focus on the fear.  It’s going to be there no matter what.  What’s even scarier is the thought that someday, when it’s too late, we’ll be sitting alone saying “I didn’t even have the guts to try.” 
  1. Talk opportunities. Talking problems elevates and validates them. The more you talk about problems the more problems you see.
Here’s some magical thinking if ever I saw it!  Focus on the bad, and bad is all around.  Especially since we’re in an entire community of magic-workers, we need to see problems as a new chance to hone our skills and stir up something unexpectedly wonderful. 
  1. Learn from mistakes.
Two quotes come to mind:
1)  “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” 
2) “A smart man learns from his mistakes but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

So here’s two sides to the coin.  Repeating inadequate actions gets you nowhere, but also that other people can easily model what we don’t want just as easily as what we do.  Before making a big change, check around with others and listen to their stories.  Plan your best for avoiding their stumbles.
  1. Push through resistance.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  That is all.
  1. Disregard convenient activities; do what is right.
There’s usually a huge gulf between what is nice to do (or polite, socially acceptable, safe…) and what is right.  Should your group endorse something horrible in order to win more popularity?  Should your organization to host a coffee klatch or a conference? 
Where are you needed?  Be there with no regrets.
  1. Build a network of friends.
This one should be pretty easy for us witches, since we spend so much of our time in communication.  Each of the people you know has his/her own skills and specialties; they each have their own extended circles that don’t coincide with yours at the moment; they’ve undergone their own trials and come out with their own successes.  That’s the networking part—we’re each useful to each other in different ways.  But the friends part is the most important.  People who understand you and your undertaking, who seek your success as much as (if not more than) you do, can do you the greatest favor in any undertaking—they can make it all worthwhile. 
  1. Ask for advice, a lot. Seek out experts and others who share your experiences and vision.
Covered a bit in different sections here, seeking out people who’ve been there will help a lot when you’re not certain what the future will look like.  Listen well, write things down, be gracious.   
  1. Express gratitude.
Probably the most important part is to show your appreciation.  You had the vision but there were a whole lot of other people who went into your success.  Thank them along the way and once you arrive.  Thank the Gods and guides.  Thank the Earth, thank your ancestors, thank everybody.  I thank you.

Bonus: Do your best where you are.
I believe that we should always live below our means and above our station.  You can do great things right now, even without the best of everything around you.  You can embody greatness right now and impact the lives of those you have yet to meet.  If you can see it and go boldly into it, you will have all the good fortune you need and more.

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