Saturday, July 28, 2012

Betty White, Queen Elizabeth, and Aunt Pat

My British friends might pop a gasket reading this, but after last night's "olympic performance" by the Queen herself in the James Bond flick, I see an interesting similarity between the emergence of Betty White as America's "cool grandmother" and the emergence of the Queen as the world's.  So, what is it about the cool grandma that captures us?

I think we all want someone in our lives who is constant.  Betty White has been with us through every stage of American life for the last 50 years.  We've watched her change and mature and play a million different characters but she is ALWAYS Betty White.  She gives us a sense that no matter what we've done, or how bad we've messed it up, that she will be there with cookies and milk for us.  She is unflappable.  Have you ever seen Betty White "lose it"?  I can't remember it.  And then, a couple of years ago she's on Saturday Night Live doing a skit on "muffins" and is a riot, and shows she is not just the constant, but the cool constant.  Betty White is cool to every generation.  She defies and crosses all age barriers.

And, now the Queen is playing a bond girl.  Holy Cow!  That was the coolest sketch I have ever seen.  I fully expected to see Meryl Streep turn around and say "Good Evening, Mr. Bond".  But NOOOO!  It was the Queen herself.  HOW COOL!  I said to a friend today that the Queen must have gotten a new PR agent because she has completely re-branded the monarchy.  Between the kids getting married, her jubilee, appearances at unexpected places with unexpected people... the Queen has emerged as cool.  And, she is a constant.  She has been with the world through every up and down for sixty years and more.  She is a cool constant.

Bringing it closer to home, I am thankful for my own cool constant Aunt Pat.  She's turning 81 today and is with a bunch of her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids in Oregon.  Back in the day, she called herself my "Aunt Chatty Patty" and would admonish us to "brush our pearly whites" every morning.  I've got a million good memories of hanging out with Aunt Pat.

I believe we all need and desire those in our lives who are both cool and constant.  Cool in that they connect with us, as opposed to looking for us to connect with them.  And constant in that they are unflappable.  No matter how bad it is, they are still there for us.

An opportunity to reflect perhaps... "who is cool and constant in your life?"  And then, "Who looks to you as their 'cool and constant' one?"



Friday, July 27, 2012

What might the other side be thinking?

"Wow.  It sounds like you've got a lot going on with this issue."
"You're right about that.  What should I do?"
"Good question.  But first, what do you think the folks on the other side of this issue are thinking."
Blank stare.
"Um.  Good question.  Never thought of that.  I'm not really sure."
"Have you asked?"
"Well, no.  Not really."
"Huh.  What would be the risk of asking?"
"No risk. I guess I've just never thought I could!"

It forces us outside of ourselves when we think about what all those on the "other side" of any issue are thinking... our partners, spouses, kids, workers, stakeholders.  And, to look at any issue from another perspective is good!  It opens our mind up to new possibilities.  New strategies seem to appear from nothing.  Anxiety seems to melt away.

So, with whatever difficult or sticky situation you are chewing on right now... "What might the person on the other side of this issue be thinking?"



Am I Listening?

A while back, someone said to me, “Wow, Vince, you’re such a good listener!”  It made me wonder what it’s like to be a bad listener!  So, I ...