This morning, my daughter Maggie taught me yet another lesson about leadership.
For the past year, I have worked on an ethics education research project with another brilliant student, Maddy Kapel. Maggie had just received approval to join our research team. We added Maggie for technical reasons; we needed Maggie's help with the technical transcriptions. But then I looked at Maggie - who at 22 is becoming a better researcher than I am - and asked, "Hey, would you like to join the research team for real?" Her answer: "Why not"?
Maggie explained her research experience so far has been a never-ending pattern of "why nots." On a "why not" note, she had joined a Toxic Leadership research project and gotten a paper published. Following the "why not" philosophy, she agreed to present at the International Leadership (ILA) Conference on Leadership and Courage. Then she joined the Student Case Competition at the ILA on Supporting Leaders Experiencing Mental Health Issues. Her next project? She is now planning a fascinating presentation on Leadership and Mental Health with two outstanding young professionals, Ngozi Igbokwe and Sarah Smith. How she got into all that? Two words: "why not"?
Sure, we need plans and new year resolutions, and strategic meetings. Sometimes, though, the path is too misty, and planning becomes impossible. The environment changes too fast. Connections between disparate fields can boost our brainpower, make us soar, bring puzzle pieces together. "Why not" sets us free from self-imposed boundaries, sparks creativity.
To my daughter Maggie: You are a young woman with a future ahead of you. You are humble and kind and brave; you teach me something new every day. Today's lesson? Stop all this planning and fussing and worrying. Join the "why not?" generation.
What about you? What's your "why not" moment?
Dr. Cris Wildermuth
Dr. Cris Wildermuth is Linked:HR's Community Leader and an Associate Professor at Drake University, where she directs the Master of Science in Leadership Development. You may find out more about Dr. Wildermuth's leadership development, ethics, and intercultural development consulting practice at THIS PAGE.