Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 9

It’s been an incredibly busy six months. My days and weeks have been filled with reading, writing and more reading, more writing. But, I’ve also finished all my coursework, written the first three chapters of my dissertation, defended my study proposal, passed both quality review and IRB, secured and confirmed several interviews for my research, and will conduct my first interviews next week. I have to tell you, it’s exhilarating!

I’m not a doctor yet, but I am well on my way.

Most days I march forward and approach each aspect of this doctoral journey with eager anticipation, but I freely admit there are other days I am scared to death. During the days full of fear, I ask myself “what am I afraid of; who am I afraid of.” The truth is I’m afraid of a lot of things. I am afraid I won’t be able to gather the data, people won’t want to be interviewed, I won’t interview well, I won’t get the data I need, I’ll write a bad dissertation, won’t finish on time, and I won’t graduate. My greatest fear…that I will spend my time and money on earning a degree that I wouldn’t be able to use – it will all be wasted.

Brene’ Brown (one of my favorite authors) writes “daring greatly is being brave and afraid every minute of the day at the exact same time.” To be great, we must dare greatly. Greatness doesn’t happen without facing the mountain and climbing it. On this doctoral journey, I see my doubts and fears, but I don’t let them stop me. I don’t let the voices of others – or the ones inside my head – stop me. Each day, I commit to doing one thing that moves me toward my goal – one more thing each day. Step by step, the dream WILL become reality. In the words of another one of my favorite authors, Jo Saxton,

“I’m just a girl who decided to go for it!”


Books I Recommend:
Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown
The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

This One’s For You Grammy!

Recently, I’ve been thinking about my grandmother quite a bit. Esther Tune was an amazing lady. She was a single parent who outlived two husbands. She worked in the medical field, although I can’t really tell you what she did. I do know she spent a year serving on the hospital ship USS Hope in Jamaica. She traveled as often as she could – either by herself or with others. For most of my life, Esther – or Grammy as she was known to literally everyone – drove a bright orange Karmen Ghia with a big stuffed tiger sitting in the backseat. That’s who she was – a tiger, but a soft one. Grammy passed away several years ago, a month before her 102nd birthday.

When Grammy spoke, we all listened. Grammy was wise. Whatever she said was worth hearing. She wasn’t one to tell you what you wanted to hear, but she would certainly tell you what you needed to hear. Grammy believed in the people around her and, because of her, they believed in themselves. She knew how to motivate people toward success. I can’t wasn’t in her vocabulary.

But what does all this have to do with leadership? Grammy wasn’t college educated. She wasn’t a CEO or Manager of a multi-million dollar corporation. Yet, she was definitely the leader of our family. Grammy never led a corporation or a division or even a team. She led our family. And, we followed – willingly. We trusted this woman – her strength, her character, and her wisdom. Wherever she was going, we knew wanted to be there. The road might be rocky. But it would definitely be an adventure worth taking. And there would be growth at the end.

Good leaders know how to develop their followers into people beyond their own dreams. Grammy was authentic, inspirational, confident, and certainly visionary. These traits were passed along to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. None that knew her were ever the same.

Grammy was born into a different era. She never had a chance to go to college or get her doctorate. Nor will she ever see me receive mine. Her presence is here though – every day. She inspires the leader I will become. This one’s for you Grammy!


Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 6

My first class to begin year two is a course in Creativity and Innovation. It’s my most difficult course so far. Make me read a book … or write a 25-page paper … or make a presentation … or all three. But, don’t give me an obscure idea and tell me to be creative. It’s killing me!

Truth is, we all need to be creative. The world in which we live and work is changing on a daily basis. Students sitting in classrooms today are being prepared for jobs that don’t even exist. In a recent Ted Talk, Sir Ken Robinson links imagination and creativity saying, “imagination is the source of creativity, but they are not the same thing.” Robinson defines imagination and creativity as follows:

IMAGINATION: The ability to step outside your current space, to bring to mind things that aren’t present to our senses.

CREATIVITY:  Creativity is putting your imagination to work. It’s creating an idea from your imagination that has value.                                                                                                                                   (Robinson, 2011)

As a child, I had an imaginary friend named Jack Jones.  Jack Jones was a girl who lived in a purple house. My mom even set an extra plate at the table for Jack Jones. Somewhere along the way, Jack Jones faded into the back of my mind, and I determined that following the rules was the road to success. In 2017, the rules have changed. Pushing the envelope is expected. Thinking outside of the box is admired.

So, I embrace this course of study. I dedicate myself to becoming more creative – to exploring new ideas and thoughts. It’s time to get out of the box and see the world around me. I will find my Jack Jones again.

My office now has an idea board. I review Pinterest daily. I am trying to read about and surround myself with creative people. Most importantly, I am doing my best to move away from the screen and use my fingers for a more creative purpose.

My imagination is working already. I think I see a purple house.

Go Ahead – Wear White!

I did it. I wore white after Labor Day! To most of you, this may seem like no big deal. In fact, you may be asking, “why should I care?” Actually, you’re probably right. You shouldn’t care.  But, I grew up in an era where the “rules” said you didn’t wear white after Labor Day – not white shoes, white pants, white dresses. White was for summer. Once that first weekend in September was history, white wouldn’t make an appearance until sometime in mid-June. I’ve known for quite some time, that the rules had changed. There were no special rules for when to wear white. White is just a color.   But, I still couldn’t change.

My decision to finally let go of something so simple was easy. I just gave it a try. I broke the rules. I wore white after Labor Day. The world did not end. No one pointed and laughed. I wasn’t shunned by others. In fact, absolutely nothing happened at all.

Creativity is a little like that. To be creative, you have to look outside the rules. You must explore outside the boundaries. Moving outside the boundaries allows you to see new perspectives.

Edward deBono said “creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”

Our patterns, routines, and habits serve a purpose. They help us organize our lives to get things done in a timely fashion. But routine stifles our mind. It closes our eyes to the extraordinary.

Next time you are faced with a problem or simply desire to explore alternatives, just do it. Break the rules. Do something you’ve never done before.  Breaking a few rules unclogs the pathways and allows the creative juices to flow freely. Just do it. Go ahead. Wear White!

Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 5

Year One is in the books. All coursework is finished, signature assignments completed, and articles read. I am officially a second-year doctoral student. I have to admit – I’ve loved every minute of it. In fact, I wonder why I waited so long to get started. Of course, there are several practical reasons why it took me over six years to send in that admission application – time and money to just name two. But, that’s in the past now, just like year one.

As I reflect back on year one, I see growth and it makes me smile.

First, I am finding my professional voice.  I’m learning to speak as the expert.  As students, we are all being challenged to find our voice as the expert in the field.  There might have been an attitude of “fake it until you make it” when I began this program.  However, it is becoming clear, I don’t have to fake it.

I AM the expert!

My examination of literature and experiences allowed me to grow as a leader in my field.  My understanding of leadership, mentoring, higher education, and talent management has surpassed my expectations.

I can’t examine my growth as a professional without evaluating my personal growth as well. This is a doctoral program in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Transformational Change. I am finding that the transformational change isn’t only professional. I am personally changing as well. I am becoming more self-aware. I am aware of the way my actions affect those around me, including those I lead. I am also learning to listen – and listen well. Listening well is critical to good decision-making (look for a blog on that soon).

Year one is done. It’s been an amazing year of growth and learning. Bring on Year Two!

Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 4

I’ve been a little slow to post this latest reflection. Honestly, I’ve been a little slow to write this latest reflection. I have only one explanation for this … no time! The last few weeks have been filled with a mini research project involving interviews, observations, data collecting, data coding, themes, codes, modes, nodes and more. AND I HAVE LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!

For the first time since I began this journey nearly a year ago, I feel the tug and pull of the research itself. Finding oneself lost in the data and trying to determine its meaning is a beautiful place to be. Getting lost in the process of discovery feels amazing. The funny thing is – this isn’t even my dissertation topic.

This is the space where my heart meets my head.

Beginning research has energized me, and I desperately needed to be energized.  When you reach the space in a project where you have to tell yourself to stop working and go to bed, you know you’ve found your flow. For some of you, this is crafting or woodwork. For others, it’s working out or an athletic endeavor. For me, I think it might be research. So far anyway, it fits well. I think I’ll keep it.

Passionate Curiosity

Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.  (Bernard Baruch)

As I watch my two-year old grandson use the laundry basket for a car or try to climb his parents’ stone fireplace, I smile at his curiosity. Curiosity is innate in children. They naturally investigate.  As we get older, we somehow lose that natural curiosity. We settle for what we see rather than search for what we don’t see.

The best leaders are curious leaders.

Embracing curiosity and allowing it to flourish will open your eyes and your life to new experiences. As leaders, curiosity builds into our organizations by giving permission to dream of what could be. When leaders create a culture of exploration, they allow natural curiosity to drive discovery.

Curiosity can be cultivated. There are steps we can take to intentionally recognize and develop a character of curiosity within our daily lives. The following steps will help develop the curiosity already within you.

Ask Questions: I have been always a natural questioner. It’s the way I process what the world brings to me. Asking the right questions – the powerful questions –builds curiosity. Never settle for what you see before asking is that all there is. One word of warning – be careful not to become cynical. Curiosity isn’t questioning the motive, it’s looking for added value. Curiosity seeks to understand if there is more to be discovered. If so, let’s go wherever it takes us.

Dare to Dream: Too often, curiosity takes us to a place we might be afraid to go. The unknown seems too big or too great, so we dial it back to a safer place. We stifle the curiosity of what could be. If Steve Jobs had stifled his curiosity, I wouldn’t be writing this blog while sitting in my backyard enjoying the morning. Curiosity fuels the dream. We need to allow that dream to create the vision within us, without limiting its boundaries.

Expand Your Mindset: In her book Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck explains that the difference between high achievers and low achievers lies in mindset. Those with a growth mindset believe that answers can be found and growth achieved through continued development.  Embracing growth and as a natural part of our intellectual development creates room for curiosity. Growth minded people are curious people. They keep searching until they find the answer the question being asked.

Curiosity feeds creativity. Creativity fuels innovation. We can only discover if we become curious about the “what if”.   Don’t be afraid to climb to the top of the hill – even if it’s just to see what’s at the top.

Find Strength in Vulnerability

I sat in the audience listening to the keynote speaker. He was a former leader of a multi-billion dollar company – an author, speaker, and leadership consultant. I should have been engaged in learning from this expert. Instead, I was focused on his somewhat tedious delivery. He had a lot of great things to say, but he hadn’t grabbed my interest long enough to make me listen. Then he said something that changed everything.

In the middle of some point on leadership, he just stopped, stared at the audience, and said, “I have a confession to make. I’ve only been doing this four months. I just left my extremely high-paying job to do this – deliver keynote talks. I’m scared to death.”

It was honest. It was vulnerable. And, it grabbed my interest. I listened closely to all he said for the next 45 minutes.

Authentic vulnerability is extremely desirable and extremely difficult. It’s risky and frightening.  Personally, it has been the most difficult thing I’ve had to learn along my leadership journey.  But, leaders who understand vulnerability, lead teams who are willing to risk anything for them.

Leadership vulnerability creates a safe place for people to risk, create, and dream.

When leaders are vulnerable, their followers are secure in the knowledge that perfection is not the expectation; willingness to try is the expectation.  Vulnerability makes you human, but it must be exercised carefully.

It isn’t… ”I have no idea what I’m doing on this project.”   It is… ”Although I have expertise in curriculum development, I need to lean on your input for assessment.”

It isn’t…  ”Your job and mine are on the line unless we make our numbers.” It is…  ”We had a tough first quarter, and we need to pull together to achieve better results. Fortunately, we have a great team and I know we can do this. Where should we start?”

Vulnerable leaders inspire dedicated followers. Draw in a big breath and be honest with your team. Their strength will develop within your weakness.