Robert’s Rules as spiritual discipline

Readers of this blog know that I am conflicted about Robert’s Rules of Order. On the one hand, they offer key insights for fair and democratic meetings. On the other, the official book is too long, too complex, and too hard to read for most of us.

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Be a crouching tiger at meetings

As I watch meetings roll along, the good, the bad and the ugly, I often wish that chairs would observe the habits of the crouching tiger. This Sumatran beauty is lying on the rock, perfectly calm, alert and at ease – but ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. If you are chairing a meeting,…

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“Ann, nobody wants your job”

card showing king of golf

Arnold Palmer passed away in October. I was interested to read in one obituary that he hated his nickname, “King of Golf.” He was quoted as saying, “There is no king of golf. Never has been, never will be. Golf is the most democratic game on earth. It punishes and exalts us all with splendid…

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Emotional intelligence for wise meetings

emotional intelligence on whiteboard

Using emotional intelligence will allow any leader to run better meetings. A successful leader has to be aware of his own emotions and those of others, and has to be able to deal with emotion constructively. Unfortunately many of us are prone to react impulsively in tough situations, unless we have done the hard work…

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The flickering lights men live by in the dark

photo of two oil lamps

My mother was sustained through the troubled years of World War II in part by the poems of David Morton. After the violence in Paris, I found myself returning to his poem, “Pieties.”      The flickering lights men live by in the dark:      Pity, and love, and learning, hardly won…      These…

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“The Intern” and my love story

photo of two people

My oldest son took me to see the movie “The Intern” and I loved every bit of it. Afterwards, I realized that the arc of the story line followed my own love story. In my twenties, I was a “bright young thing” enjoying a great career with the State Department. Everything looked great on the…

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Avoiding amygdala hijack

drawing of amygdala

My nephew was visiting us last weekend when he was hijacked. One moment, he was an affable, engaged and charming member of the family — the next, a seething mass of rage and anguish. I reacted with compassion. I knew that he doesn’t yet have the skills to prevent his amygdala from taking over. But…

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How to be the right kind of dictator

painting of Napoleon

It sometimes comes as a shock to newly elected leaders that running good meetings requires being a dictator. It is essential for the chair of a meeting to enforce the rules that the group has decided upon for fair discussion. If your board has adopted an agenda that allows 20 minutes for a given topic,…

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