Fractured Fairy Tale from 1961. Some things never change!
Well hello, and Happy Story Tuesday to all of my Dear Friends.
Today, I hope to introduce to you the Other Heidi Lee who you have not yet met. This Heidi Lee is the ass-kicking dynamo who takes Business and Industry by the horns. She is as comfortable running the show in the Board Room as she is fighting the lady in the shoe store who just grabbed the LAST pair of Sz 7 Red Kitten Heels during the Midnight Madness sale at the local DSW. She can do it all, and what she can’t – she learns. That is how Heidi Lee is seen in her professional life – TODAY.
It took me years of Toad Kissing to earn that badge, so I wear it with pride.
Until now, you’ve seen my romantic yet realistic outlook on happiness within personal relationships. I hope you’ve enjoyed my somewhat purist views on love, dating and romance. I, however, have been described as quite the Dichotomy – sort of a “Touched by an Angel meets Red Shoe Diaries” personality. Today, I write to you as my alter-ego, a Business Sophisticate who happens to be proud to have been called, “One Smart Broad” by more than a couple; A professionally savvy women who has jumped in bed with many amphibious critters to get ahead of the rest of the pack.
Ok, ok…. I know where your sordid minds went right away. You may be thinking, “Oh cool, Office Smut and Sleeping your way to the Top”. Come on, raise your hands if slinked into that gutter….its ok, we all do.
On the contrary, Professional Toad Kissing actually has a very different meaning – one with which we can all relate. We have all worked or reported to people who wanted to hold us back. We’ve been in situations where people with more power than we had actually had control of our destinies. We’ve buried our tears into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio because someone less qualified got the promotion that we felt we deserved. And we’ve had to bend over and smile right through it…without the Toad even having the courtesy of giving us a reach-around.
Sound familiar? I’ve lived each of these scenarios – many times over – so I’ve learned to plant wet, juicy smooches dead center on the Lips of the Toads who I described above. Remember, kissing toads is a necessary learning process that we all go through to find our Happily Ever After. Mastering the Art means that you have become Confident with who you are – that you may be happy on your own or with another person. You don’t rely on another man or woman to complete you. So of course, kissing toads also applies professionally. And professionally, you have to be able to live with the decisions you make.
I’d like to start our journey into the pond of professional toads with an important lesson that I used to guide my communications, my actions and my interactions throughout my career. My professional journey began working in Retail, and I take you back to a time where I worked my way up to the management levels of a retail giant.
Professional Lesson #1: Yes, you CAN learn from every kind of leader – even poor leaders teach lessons.
What? How can I learn anything from a bad leader Heidi Lee? What could he or she possibly teach me? I know the business better, and I know my project like the back of my hand. This person simply doesn’t have a clue. His/Her leadership is taking us down a bad path….. What do you mean by suck it up and learn?
Thank you, I’m glad you asked. Let me share a story…..
Long ago, and far-away, there was a small village where incompetence had overshadowed productivity. There was no longer color or creativity. The villagers had fallen slave to Princess Melissa the Inept, and they were sad.
Princess Melissa was a new Princess who took over our village as a gift from her betrothed. Princess Melissa sat on her throne day after day, and she issued orders on how to sow her land. She never took the time to learn our climate, our growing seasons or our rocky patches. The Princess did not value ideas from her people, and we villagers were often punished for trying to speak up when the tools she gave us did not allow us to produce enough grain to feed her Court.
All of the Kings and Queens watched the young princess, and they thought how pretty she looked sitting in the monarchy. They loved how she was able to control the masses, and they saw that her people did exactly as they were told. They also saw that Melissa had plenty of grain to make cakes and breads and other foods, so they assumed Princess Melissa’s bounty was plentiful.
Meanwhile, in the fields….Heidi Lee of the House of Hood was the most tenured indentured servant in the village. She had seen locals tried, imprisoned and even beheaded for speaking against the Monarchy. Yet somehow, she survived. And while she didn’t prosper, she had enough grain to feed her own family while sometimes giving a hungry neighbor a morsel or two of bread.
Heidi Lee of the Hood was a wise young surf. Cunning and bright, and believed that helping her village meant also helping herself. While not all of her thoughts we pure and right – some maybe even slightly selfish – she seemed to always have the right answers on how to survive.
Heidi Lee of the Hood would often protect the younger, more vulnerable peasants and help them to become more productive. She would teach them ways to grow more grain with less land, and her creative ideas for getting wheat to grow often worked even in barren lands. Our young Hood would figure out how to make the tools work that she was given – teaching herself and others new ways to turn a butter knife into a shovel during the Harvest.
And over time, Heidi Lee of the Hood gained the respect of the feeble-minded Princess Inept. The Princess saw that when Heidi Lee was around, work got done. She even began to allow Heidi Lee into the castle for private meetings about how tilling the land really worked.
Princess Melissa noticed that publicly, Heidi Lee never spoke against the Princess or the Kings and Queens. She noticed that Heidi Lee would speak to her quietly behind the castle walls. With the draw bridge lifted so no one could cross the moat to overhear, Heidi Lee of the Hood would teach Princess Melissa about the land, the seasons, and why the tools that the peasants were forced to use did not deliver the abundance the Kingdom could really have. Heidi Lee helped Princess Melissa learn that her village could be wealthier than All of the other lands if only Princess Melissa would lead her people by listening to their needs and ideas.
And Heidi Lee of the Hood learned from Princess Melissa as well. Heidi Lee learned that Princesses may be put into positions that they aren’t ready to take on – whether from Bedding a Dozen princes or by inheriting Dear Daddy’s kingdom. She understood that just because one is a Monarch does not mean that they understand how to lead a kingdom. Sometimes even, a spoiled princess may be given a village just to stop her whiny and naughty behavior.
And Heidi Lee learned that publicly supporting the Monarchy while showing the peasants how to be successful helped our heroine to earn the respect from above as well as below. She learned that she could build teams around her by earning the respect of the peasants. And she understood that her ability to lead was powerful – strong enough if she needed to lead a revolution.
Most importantly, Heidi Lee learned that she never wanted to be a Leader like Princess Melissa the Inept. Our fine Ms. Hood studied closely what NOT to do so she could learn what should be done. After all, Heidi Lee of the Hood met her friend Cinderella at a local tavern one day and found out that some princes really do fall in love and give kingdoms to slave girls.
Ok, so in this situation, Melissa is the Toad. We had to kiss her. She has the power whether we like it or not. So how did we start to win her over while helping the poor peasants who needed their own Robin Hood? We taught the people who looked up to us how to be good followers while we respectfully and privately helped the inept leader to understand the true possibilities – when finally she was willing to listen.
The most important thing for me was that I kept my dignity and maintained personal integrity. I never sought to hurt people to get ahead, and I tried to speak up for what was right. Sure, that mentality didn’t fast track me by any means, but I like who I have become because of it. And I rose up – slowly but surely – while curiously managing to avoid the raging case of warts I secretly suspect kept Princess Inept so unhappy for so many years.
The rest of the story….
Over time, all of the Kings and Queens envied Princess Melissa and they exhalted her to Queen of all the Land, and Heidi Lee of the Hood was still a peasant………
Ok, so not the Happily Ever After you expected, right? Nope, not yet – still plenty of toads hopping around that need a little tongue…But don’t you worry – I get to visit Cinderella in her castle often over my years. And if you’ve ever seen #EverAfter with Drew Barrymore as Cinderella, you know what kind of kick ass broad our Fairy Tale Princess really was.
Hope you enjoyed story time. I’d love to hear from any of my other peasant friends out here if you’ve ever worked for Princess Inept. What did you learn from her? Post your comments, please.