Martha Lask’s blog posts appear from time to time on this site. Below are samples of her blog posts to date, with links to jump to the full post. On the blog you can read the full posts, subscribe to the blog, and leave comments.

January 31, 2018: Honor the Season

Happy Belated New Year! If you haven’t seen my New Year’s card, you might want to now……It is an animated drawing of the phrase “Honor the Season”.

A few months ago, I realized that I really do believe that “To everything, there is a season.” And that we would do well to honor that notion. Sometimes the season mirrors the seasons of the natural world and sometimes it does not. For instance, winter is often a time of rest and reflection, mirroring the hibernation and underground growth of the natural world. But sometimes, as in the past couple of winters for me, winter is a very busy time, even though my body seems to prefer the rest and reflection suggested by the natural world.

Continue reading “Honor the season.”

January 4, 2017: A Brave and Startling Truth

Happy New Year to all! This post focuses on an excerpt from the stunning poem by Maya Angelou called “A Brave and Startling Truth.” If you haven’t seen my card, you might want to now……

I am always moved to tears when I read this poem or hear it read. I chose it this year because of its magnitude and profundity.

Over time, it has seemed to me that acts of hate arise from fear. We are fearful of people and practices and beliefs that are unfamiliar. Differences pose a threat to our accustomed way of life; differences challenge us to examine our beliefs and values and/or cause us to question ourselves or our upbringing.

Our world is so huge and so complex. And as we get more and more connected through technology we realize how we humans, across geography, economies, cultures, religions and beliefs, have concerns that are similar across the human condition as well as ones that are vastly different.

This poem (read the whole poem if you can; it is beautiful) speaks to this complexity. We are capable of heinous acts; and we are capable of truly amazing innovations and creations and deep love, care and community … Continue reading “A Brave and Startling Truth.”

January 6, 2016: Listening Well Can Repair the World

Happy New Year to all! This post focuses on the quotations that are the basis of this year’s New Year’s e-card and animation: a series of quotes about “listening”. If you haven’t seen my card, {you might want to now…}

Why quotes about “listening”? I wrote a blog post last year about listening, called “Listen as if Your Life Depended on it”. Why another? Because I have continued to ponder the subtleties and challenges of listening well. And because I really think that if we listen well, with love, we can repair the world… Continue reading Listening Well Can Repair the World.

January 6, 2015: Amazing Peace

Happy New Year to all! This post focuses on the poem excerpt that is the basis of my New Year’s e-card and animation: a poem by Maya Angelou called “Amazing Peace“ written in 2007. If you haven’t seen my card, you might want to now. If you would like to read the full poem, click here.

I chose this poem excerpt this year for two reasons: One: to honor Maya Angelou, who died this year; Two: because the hope of PEACE feels poignantly urgent to me this year. … Continue reading Amazing Peace.

July 3, 2014: Listen as if Your Life Depended on It

One of the most important services I provide as a consultant is to really, really listen to people and to support them in learning how to listen deeply to themselves and to others. Is listening enough? Does it in fact create and expand us?

I have noticed that when people have an opportunity to speak about something important to them, it takes them a while to be sure that it is OK to do that … they are embarrassed to be talking about themselves. How else can we forge connections, get to know each other, have meaningful dialogue and create empowered organizations, if not by speaking what it is in our minds, hearts and souls?

For the last year, I have been studying “listening.” Theory U, developed by Otto Scharmer, is a theory of change that describes Four Levels of Listening. The theory promotes listening so deeply, with all of our senses, and opening our minds, hearts and even suspending our will, to the point where we transform ourselves to become part of the whole community, the “social body.” … Continue reading this blog post from July, 2014.

February 10, 2014: Authenticity

I just read an HBR article (October, 2013) called “Be Yourself, but Carefully”, by Lisa Rosh and Lynn Offermann. The authors refer to “authenticity” as the new buzz word among leaders and speak to how much a leader should share of personal stories or information in order to model authenticity.

The article goes on to describe five different types of leaders who make mistakes regarding sharing information, from those who talk too much to those who are inscrutable and do not ever disclose information. It then offers a five-step plan for understanding how much to share and when to share it.

When and how to share personal information seemed like a narrow view of “authentic” leadership. I began to think about my definition of authenticity and authentic leadership … Continue reading Authenticity

January 6, 2014: I love the dark hours of my being

Happy New Year! How quickly the New Year has come around! My blog posting has been on “pause” this past year … I seem to have been harvesting silently during 2013.

This post focuses again on the poem that is the basis of my New Year’s e-card and animation: “I Love the Dark Hours of My Being” by Rainer Maria Rilke. If you haven’t read it, you might want to now…… Click here.

I was drawn to this poem for a few different reasons…

Continue reading this post from January, 2014.

December 17, 2013: TED Talk by Dan Gullotta

Back in July, I heard a very provocative TED talk: “The Way We Think about Charity is Dead Wrong.” (Click to watch the video.)

It’s well worth watching. Dan Pallotta gives an impassioned pitch for totally shifting the way we think about non-profits in this country. He describes in a clear and interesting way how, if non-profits tried to invest the kind of time in marketing, revenue raising and innovation that the private sector does, they’d be shut down in a minute for misuse of funds, or percentage of funds being spent on “overhead.”

This piece resonated with me, reminding me of my job as Executive Director of a non-profit and my current job of consulting and coaching dozens of Executive Directors.

Continue reading this post from December, 2013.

January 4, 2013: The Ponds, by Mary Oliver

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that I have been writing blog posts on a monthly to quarterly basis for two years. I have a few more started that I simply have not had the time to finish. Stay tuned…

This post focuses again on the poem that is the basis of my New Year’s e-card and animation: “The Ponds” by Mary Oliver. If you haven’t read it, you might want to now……click to open the e-card in a new window.

There are a few precious and poignant messages that I draw from “The Ponds.”

Continue reading ‘The Ponds, by Mary Oliver’

September 11, 2012: Staying on Top of It = Power

Three different experiences and conversations – seemingly unrelated – have led me to muse about the concept captured by the title of this post:

  1. Staying ahead of the pain.
    After a surgery or an injury, they tell you to stay ahead of the pain. I never really understood that until a minor surgery gave me that experience. I am a fairly stoic person when it comes to physical discomfort and I try not to take strong pharmaceuticals. However, I learned how much sense it made to “stay ahead of the pain.” To take a few painkillers when the pain would likely be worst meant that the rest of my body could relax. Instead of fighting the pain, my body could concentrate on healing. Otherwise there would be a moment when I’d cross a line and then, not only would I feel really bad, but healing would have become harder because my body would have been weakened by struggling against pain and discomfort.
Read more »

March 14, 2012: Happiness

I am interested in the notion of “happiness” as a goal or as an ideal state. “The History of Happiness”, by Peter N. Stearns (Harvard Business Review, January-February 2012), traces prevailing attitudes towards happiness, in the west, as well as cultural differences. A quote I found interesting, and the one that begins the article is this: “A modern Russian adage holds that ‘a person who smiles a lot is either a fool or an American’.” (page 104).

In my disconsolate teenage years, a close relative, not an American, said to me: “Well, who said you were going to be happy all the time? Where did you get that idea?” Well, I guess that I got the idea somehow; I certainly did not make it up.
Read more »

January 4, 2012: “Dreams” by Langston Hughes

Happy New Year! This is the one year anniversary of my Blog – my musings on an almost monthly basis, about books, articles, poems that have influenced me in some way. I hope that you have enjoyed them.

This Blog post focuses on the poem you have hopefully just read in my New Years e-card and animation: “Dreams” by Langston Hughes. If you didn’t read it, you might want to do so now……
Go to e-card » | Read whole blog post »

November 7, 2011: Reflection time

What happens when we don’t have any time to think? It seems that I periodically rush from one thing to another without a pause – not a moment to reflect on how I am or why I’m rushing. And I know that I am not alone. I hear this from my clients as well. What’s the virtue of knowing “how we are” in any given moment? Some people might call this “contemplating one’s navel,” meaning that it’s self-indulgent.
Read more »

September 15, 2011: Question for the end of summer

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—

Read more »

July 28, 2011: Strengths-based leadership

I was just reviewing a book about the Strengthsfinder Inventory, a tool I like very much and have been using for quite a while with my clients. (My blog post called Asking for Help also mentions Strengthsfinder.) This particular book is called “Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow”, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (2008).
Read more »

June 13, 2011: How do I know who my colleagues are?

After my post on Asking for help, someone who read it commented by asking, “Well, how do I know who my colleagues are?”

Hmmm… interesting question. And in thinking about it, I added other questions: Who can I talk to? Who can I trust? Who can I share ideas with? Who is my community? How do we know and how do we choose? Read more »

May 5, 2011: Exploring “failure”

A friend suggested that I write a blog post about “making mistakes” and “failure.” Lo and behold, what should be the subject of the April issue of the Harvard Business Review, but “Failure”, or the “F Word” as Adi Ignatius, Editor in Chief of HBR, calls it in his issue introduction.

The articles in this issue have helped me realize just how ill equipped we are, as a culture, to cope with being wrong, making an error, or failing in a bigger way. And they point out how that inability to cope makes it impossible for us to learn from our mistakes. Read more »

April 5, 2011: Asking for help

Asking for help is a confusing and difficult proposition for many of us. I notice it in my professional work with clients and in my personal life. What is that about? After all, we have different skills and strengths and different interests. We can easily provide help to one another because of these different strengths and skills. Read more »

March 4, 2011: Incapable of being indifferent

“Incapable of being indifferent.” This is such an evocative phrase. I borrowed it from Kay Redfield Jamison, (Exuberance, the Passion for Life, 2004). It is the title of a chapter in which she describes the temperaments of Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir, to whom we owe the legacy of our national park system in this country: “…exuberant men. Infectiously enthusiastic, stupendously energetic, they left the country a wilder and more beautiful place because of their vision and action…Neither was capable of doing nothing when there was much to be done. Their joy in the wild was contagious to those around them” (p 20). Read more »

February 3, 2011: Putting in the time matters

Ever since reading Malcom Gladwell’s book, Outliers, I have been thinking about the notion of “putting in the time.” He says that 10,000 hours are required to reach a master level of expertise. He gives some very compelling examples:

  • The Beatles apparently performed in Germany more than 1,200 times over a period of 4 years (1960-1964). That’s a lot of time on stage – over 10,000 hours of playing time. Gladwell says that all of that performing time created their “brand” and accelerated their success.
  • Bill Gates spent 10,000 hours programming on a mainframe computer in 1968, at age 13. Gladwell interviewed Gates, who said that early access to a computer contributed to his success.

So how do these examples translate to us in the everyday? Read more »

January 4, 2011: Don’t go back to sleep!

Greetings and Happy New Year! Welcome to my new Blog.

It seemed to make sense for my first Blog post to focus on my thoughts about the poem you may have just read in my New Years card. If you didn’t read it, you might want to now… Read more »