The other day I was accused of being mushy, sentimental, and sappy. I know it was meant in endearing terms and I must admit it is spot on. But it is a good thing. My kids get so frustrated with my eternal optimism and would like to crush those rosy glasses right off my nose (they also try to keep my glass half empty) but being of this bent is deeply internal and a part of the essence of my being. And being of this nature I am always full of wonder and the why of everything. I have labeled this type as passionate feelers and we know each other when we meet. That is not to say we are lacking in intellect and do not engage our minds in decision making. But we feel things and trust our guts and follow our hearts and all those other overused cliches that focus on heart and feelings.
It has not always been popular to be a passionate feeler in the world of business. Early in my career my leadership style (OK it was not even called leadership but management…I hate that word..I do) was all wrong. I was the square peg stabbing at the round hole. The emphasis was certainly not person centered and we did not talk about culture or intrinsic motivation. We ordered and demanded and met metrics. Although I had success, I just never fit the mold and being a feeler looked inside for something wrong. It was when I returned to school for a grad degree that life took on a new color. Servant leadership!!! What was this new business model and why had I missed it? It was the new management style and it was taking organizations to the top in excellence. And it was exactly what I had been doing all along. Square peg meets square hole!!!! Of course not all organizations understood or even embraced it and I remember at an interview or two getting a blank stare when I shared my leadership philosophy. But it works and all those passionate feelers are now writing books and sharing insights and taking on the old guard management and stomping them into the ground.
Seems the older I get the more I am inclined towards being sentimental. On a recent visit to my mom she passed on to me her enormous collection of knitting books and patterns. While I was delighted at the time, as I began to look through them and see patterns of items she had knitted for her children and grandchildren a sense of loss kicked in. As I have spent the past weeks looking through issues I imagine what it was like for her as a young mother. I can see her receiving each new issue and wonder how she carved time out of her busy schedule raising eight children to enjoy it. I imagine the joy each issue brought as she found things to ignite her imagination and creative spirit. I view the issues from the month and year I was born and see her heavy with child dreaming of this new baby and what special things would be knitted. And I am bittersweet, as in passing these to me she is stating that her time for this has passed and she needs them no more. And my heart hurts at the cruelty of time. I cannot imagine thoughts of my mother without those including her spirit of creativity. She is never without needles in hand; the rhythm of her needles and the hum of the sewing machine are mirrored in the beating of my heart. And tucked away in the treasure chests of her loved ones are beautiful hand knits and exquisitely sewn dresses. These patterns span two generation; my grandmother and my mother and now they come to me. While they are treasured and will be passed down to the next generation, the greatest treasure is the spirit of creativity that has spanned those generations and continues to do so. I see my mother and my grandmother in my grandchildren as they sit, hunched over the sewing machine or a pair of needles, mouth scrunched up in concentration and so serious about their business. And although my eyes may be misty, I smile, knowing that the gift of creative spirit flows on.