Working harder and faster comes easy to me. Growing up in a house where there was a lot of love but very little money, I didn’t know there was another way.
Work smells like diesel fuel and Marlboros and truck stops just off the interstate. Work was exhausting and physically demanding, and I saw the toll it took on my dad. He was a long-distance truck driver and would be gone for days or weeks at a time. This was long before cell phones. On the evenings when he was scheduled to call from a payphone, my siblings and I would race to the phone on the kitchen wall to see who could get to the ringing phone first to hear his voice.
I cherished the times I got to go in the truck with him. As I sat on the doghouse and watched one state roll into the next, I remember feeling happy and safe. I also remember feeling sad and afraid. It broke my heart to see my dad work so hard – he barely slept and had huge dark circles under his eyes. When he got asked to add another run to his already full load he always said yes. Another run meant more work and less sleep but it also meant more money.
It was confusing to feel happy and sad at the same time. It was even more confusing to feel safe and afraid at the same time.
One night the sadness overtook me and I went back into the bunkhouse and sobbed. I tried to muffle the sound by crying into my pillow but my dad still heard. When he asked what was wrong, I told him I was homesick. And I was. But that isn’t why I was crying. I was crying because on that trip for the first time I really saw what this job was doing to him. My dad never complained (he still doesn’t!) so it wasn’t until that specific trip when I saw it with my own eyes. Once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. I still can’t.
He was exhausted and his body hurt.
He was homesick and his heart hurt.
When we got back from the trip, I told my brother and sister that I was afraid our dad was going to die. I was convinced he was going to work so hard that it would kill him. My brother and sister, both of whom were in middle school at the time, quickly knew what to do. My brother said he would call Tom Slarman (a farmer who lived about a mile away) and ask about a job bailing hay. My sister said she would call our Aunt Nancy and ask about babysitting more (my aunt played in a band and my sister babysat on those nights).
But me? What could I do? I was in the third grade. I wasn’t old enough to bail hay or to babysit. My siblings were going to work more so my dad could work less. It haunted me. I laid awake that night staring up at the ceiling thinking and praying and trying to figure out how to work.
Fast forward four decades. Just last night I laid awake staring up at the ceiling thinking and praying and trying to figure out how to work.
And then it happened. The answer came to me. It came to me as a gentle whisper just as the sun was about to rise. I felt the answer move through my body and through my heart and all the way back to the third grader I used to be.
Working harder and faster isn’t the way. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. Working smarter and differently is the way. Loving harder, playing harder, resting harder is the way. It is the road that will lead me all the way home.
Due to COVID-19, several Dare to Lead trainings will now be online. Currently those dates are
More information available at www.AmyLeneker.com/Events
In coordination with state and local health departments, Compass Consulting is closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. We are committed to keeping training participants and our team in the safest conditions possible.
The March 23rd Manage Conflict Training will be online, not in person. We will be in touch with details about how to access the online training.
If you have questions:
Call (360) 455-7600
Take care of yourselves and each other!
My love affair with the ocean began the moment I first saw it. It was an affair that would last a lifetime. As decades came and went, I continued to seek the solace of the saltwater air. When I am near the ocean, I feel alive, and hopeful and free.
My love affair with leadership was not quite as romantic. As I climbed the career ladder, my leadership responsibilities continued to increase. So did my anxiety. I was overwhelmed, exhausted and confused. If I finally had the job I'd worked so hard to get why was I so miserable?
What followed was a soul-searching, gut wrenching journey to get clear about what I really wanted to do. And more importantly, who did I want to be? Those were the questions I had been afraid to ask, because deep down I knew the answers. I had always known.
One of my favorite parts of my work as a leadership consultant is helping others discover what they already know. What they've always known.
My hope for you is that you follow your heart and that it leads you to what makes you feel alive, hopeful and free.
It’s amazing what you can hear when you’re quiet. Last week Team Leneker was on Maui. One late afternoon I found myself sitting alone. I must have sat there for hours, long after the sun went down, just watching and breathing and listening.
While I happily stayed put in my chaise lounger, the chairs next to me were a revolving door of people. Here’s just some of what I heard:
That afternoon changed me - I’m talking less and listening more. It’s amazing what you can hear when you’re quiet.
Holy cow…Thank you!
Thank you to everyone who participated in Monday's workshop on Stress Less: How to Minimize Stress and Maximize our Potential! The workshop sold out and it was such an honor to spend the morning with so many wonderful folks from throughout our state.
When I left state government last year (after 22 years!), I was looking forward to having more time to spend with my kiddos. It's been a wonderful surprise that I've gotten to spend more time with the rest of my family too. My husband, parents, sister and daughter were all on hand at the workshop and they were a dream team!
I'm already counting down the days to the next workshop on September 23 where we will cover Dare to Lead™. Hope to see you there!
Amy Leneker, MPA
Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator
Compass Consulting, LLC
How to Minimize Stress and Maximize Potential
Lead a more fulfilling life at work and beyond.
June 24, 2019 Workshop
In this workshop, we will explore stress in the workplace – what causes it, how to recognize it, and how to deal with it. We will also explore happiness – we will shed light on what makes us happy and how we can lead more fulfilling, satisfying lives at work and beyond.
You will leave with a personalized toolkit to minimize stress that you can begin implementing immediately.
Through an in-class assessment and a facilitated workshop, participants will learn to reduce stress and maximize their potential
Participants will learn to:
This workshop is intended for anyone who is interested in learning how to reduce workplace stress for themselves and others. This class is also great for supervisors, managers and HR professionals who help others deal with stress in the workplace.
$150 Early bird pricing on or May 24
$250 General admission
Lacey Community Center
6729 Pacific Avenue Southeast
Olympia, WA 98503
Misery loves company. Chances are you've heard that saying. Chances are you've experienced that saying. As a leadership consultant, I see it all the time. It can start as one team member and before long, the entire team is miserable. We can't underestimate the influence of the people around us.
Bravery loves company. But here's the thing. Bravery loves company, too! Last week I had the honor of being the keynote speaker at the Governor's Inter-Agency Committee of State Employed Women (ICSEW) conference and we spent the entire morning exploring about our strengths. How to discover them and how to live them.
As part of the workshop everyone identified their top three goals. Then folks partnered up to coach each other on how to use their strengths to reach their goals. A woman in the audience stood up and shared her goals. She was brave and real and vulnerable. As she shared her goals with over 100 people you could have heard a pin drop. She shared her real goals. She could have taken the easy way out and shared the goals that we've all heard before. But instead she shared her real self with all of us.
What happened next was breathtaking. The support and encouragement and love that came from the audience took my breath away. I didn't realize I was tearing up until I felt the tear on my cheek. It was such a beautiful moment to be a part of.
Yes, misery loves company. But so does bravery. And love. And kindness. And compassion. And honesty. And the kind of courage that allowed a woman to stand in front of a conference and share her heart. Because of her, I walked out feeling braver and I know I wasn't the only one.
Joy isn't something we have to find. We don't have to search for it, or earn it, or wait for it. We just have to feel it when we can, and be kind to ourselves when we can't.
Joy has been on mind and my heart a lot lately. I was asked to present a workshop at the Governor's Distinguished Management Award event and the topic was Joy. I thought about joy. I read about joy. I even wrote a not so good Haiku about joy. By the time the day came (today!), I was ready.
During the workshop I shared three paths I've taken to joy:
1. Pay attention to what has your attention: we talked about the tendency to be so focused on what's wrong that we forget to celebrate what's right.
2. Embrace the pause: we talked about the "oh #$%!" moments when you say something and wish you could pull the words from the air and stuff them back in your mouth. The best way to prevent those moments is to pause - to give yourself a few seconds (minutes! hours! days!) so you don't say or do something you regret.
Then sh*t got real.
3. Sometimes surviving is enough: We talked about what to do when joy feels impossible. If we are blessed to be on this planet long enough, there will be suffering. There will be gut-wrenching, falling to the ground on your knees kind of suffering. There will be moments where even survival seems difficult, let alone feeling joyful.
How can we build workplaces full of trust so that in those moments when joy feels impossible, we are surrounded by people who care about us? How can we build systems and processes that aren't reliant on a single person so that if someone is out, the work carries on seamlessly?
I am fortunate to have had several of those workplaces in my career. And today I got to talk about one of them.
I shared my story of when joy felt impossible, after the loss of our darling baby. I shared how I wasn't sure that I could ever be "me" again and how kind and patient and gracious my boss was to me. I would go on to work for him for another eight years.
That's the power of leadership. While the number one reason people leave their jobs is because of their boss, I can tell you that the number one reason I stayed was because of mine.
Episode 37: How To Build Team Trust
The simple, often overlooked fact is this: work gets done with and through people. There’s nothing more impactful on people, their work, and their performance, than trust. But a lot of us are getting it wrong.
On this episode, Leadership Consultant and author Amy Leneker joins us for a fascinating look at how trust works in the workplace, how it’s changing, and what we can do to build it.
Amy Leneker is an optimistic, joy-seeking, recovering perfectionist. She is a sought-after leadership consultant and coach who is known for her trusted advice and her track record of delivering results.
After spending two decades in the public sector climbing the career ladder to executive positions, Amy began a soul-searching, gut wrenching journey to get clear about what she really wanted to do and more importantly, who did she want to be? In stillness, she found the answers.
Because of her ability to engage and energize audiences, Amy has had the opportunity to appear before hundreds of audiences as a keynote speaker and presenter. She has also designed and delivered training to thousands of leaders and practitioners.
As the first person in her family to go to college, Amy believes in the power of education. She holds a Masters of Public Administration and teaches graduate level courses in leadership development.
My First Podcast is Available?!
As a girl who couldn't stand the sound of her own voice of an answering machine (am the only one who still remembers answering machines?!) the thought of doing a podcast was terrifying. But it was so much fun! So. Much. Fun!
I met Christian Anibarro of Impact Consultancy at Starbucks. After a few awkward moments of trying to drink coffee quietly (clearly I had read too many online articles about what to do and not do during a podcast interview, most notably was to drink coffee quietly) I was able to just enjoy the conversation. Who doesn't want to meet at Starbucks to talk about the connection between trust and leadership?
There were two minutes left in the lunch break. I grabbed my cell phone to turn it off just as it rang in my hand. "School nurse" flashed on my screen and my heart started pounding. I had programmed "school nurse" in my phone for the nurse's direct line so whenever I got a general message from the school I wouldn't have this reaction. The heart pounding, trouble breathing, I-think-I'm-going-to-be-sick feeling.
The nurse explained that my daughter had fallen off the monkey bars at school and was in a lot of pain. I could hear her sobbing in the background which is when I knew she was really hurt. I asked the nurse if I could talk to my daughter. When she was on the phone, I asked her to take a few deep breaths with me. As she started to calm down, I told her to sit tight and that Dad was already on his way to the school (dear apple, thank you for making the iphone so I can be on the phone and texting at the same time!).
I was facilitating a full day training and still had the afternoon to go. Panicking, I called my dear friend, Joe Vansyckle, to ask if he could come cover for me. He couldn't. But he did something better - by asking a few simple questions, he helped me get clear on the next right thing to do. The only thing to do.
When I explained to the leader what had happened, she said, "Go! We will figure out what to do about the training later. Family comes first." And with that, several of the team members ushered me out the door. One helped me pack up my things and another announced to the class that I had to leave for my daughter.
Several x-rays told the story that she fractured her arm and in four weeks, she will be good as new. There's another story here, though. It's a story about a workplace that didn't make me choose between work and family. It's a story about a workplace who even though they had spent months preparing for the training I was there to offer, didn't give it a second thought when I had to leave.
Thank you to Ann Bruner, of the Washington State Department of Licensing's Information Services Division. That moment that may have seemed small to you meant the world to me.