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Tightropes are still hard even in sterling silver

Why does this time of year have to feel so much like a tightrope? The pressure to meet deadlines, close out the books, update the strategic plan all hit in December. Add in decisions around closing the office for both Thanksgiving and Christmas (as if business just stops around November 15 and doesn’t start back up again until January 6) and you’re not just walking a tightrope — you’re doing it balancing spinning plates that are on fire.

Contrary to how this is going to come across, I am not Scrooge and I do actually like the holidays.

Granted, I feel somewhat meh about Thanksgiving (driven, no doubt, by having to produce three types of stuffing and other assorted side dishes suitable for a variety of dietary needs, restrictions, and fond childhood memories), but I adore Christmas. I like having a few days where time stands still and we live in a space where you can have both glitter and pajamas in the same moment. …

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Every GenX woman in a leadership role asks herself this question at least once. Miranda Priestly is ghastly, exacting, imperious, cagey, and surgical in her ability to eviscerate her underlings. She’s not just a tough boss, she is THE tough boss. The one who cannot be pleased. Cannot be cozied or managed up. She is both the very worst stereotype of a female leader and yet also the form and model of a female leader who creates something extraordinary out of both her product and her people.

In case the name Miranda Priestly does not ring a bell with you, she’s the title character from The Devil Wears Prada, a thinly veiled tell-all book-turned-movie based on the inestimable Anna Wintour, the long-time editor of Vogue. The movie, starring Meryl Streep, came out in 2006 — just as many Gen X women were heading into their forties — which is the decade where most women take up the reins of leadership in some way. …

[Editor’s note: I am the ex business partner, and I approve this message.]

I was on the phone with my friend Kathy today. She was listening patiently while I rambled about business decisions I needed to make and frustrations I’m facing with the pace of business growth. Etc. Entrepreneurship is lonely and complicated, so most of my close friends and family invariably end up listening to my periodic tumult. Kathy gave me a pep talk and some insight. She’s especially good at that because, you see, until about ten months ago Kathy was not just my friend, she was my business partner. …

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Let’s talk about being a “snowflake” and get to the heart of this thing we face. I’m not a snowflake. What I am is a parent. And as all parents know, there are five fundamental lessons of parenting:
1. Be kind
2. Share
3. Don’t bite
4. Tell the truth
5. Don’t get too full of yourself

If you want to know why the majority of Americans — and yes, it is the majority and yes there are statistics to back that up — are fired up about the Trump presidency it’s because his actions have activated us as parents. We the People are Mom and Dad when we are at home.
And part of being a good parent is saying to your child,
“Do not bully that other child. You are no better than they are.”
“Oh, you think you are so special you don’t have to follow the rules? Let me take you down a peg.”
“That was a lie and don’t you think I didn’t hear you telling it. Liars never prosper and don’t you forget it.”
“We do not bite other people. It’s mean and it hurts.” …

Forgiveness has been one of many lessons sponsored by the year 2016 and, like most hard lessons, learning has been a combination of throwing the textbook against the wall in disgust and shrieking my joy of mastery to an empty room.

To even be in a position of a forgiver means someone has transgressed against you. Further, you have to actually KNOW about the transgression and carry the burden of that knowledge for at least a hot minute. Right away knowing you’ve been done wrong puts you on a dangerously unequal footing if forgiveness makes you feel superior. Too much superiority and you aren’t just on moral high ground — you are in danger of wanting to own the ground you are standing on. The moral high ground is lofty, craggy and covered with thorny vines that hold in the shifting soil; albeit the view is commanding and beautiful — all that orderly perfection laid out below you and the treetops just a haze of green. Owning the moral high ground ensures both loneliness and the tendency to clutch and pull to retain your grip. …


Michelle Newcome

Designated adult. Founder and CEO White Deer Group. Publisher of How2Conquer. Poet. World traveler.

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