Archives-Take Action Tuesdays



September 5, 2017


 And So It Begins


Every year on the first Tuesday of September the winds of change blow in my direction.  It means the start of a new year.   Since my birthday is the beginning of September the first twenty plus years of my life included the  double impact of going back to school and becoming a year older.  Even now, decades removed from student life, I feel the need to refresh. 

This morning as I drove to a local golf course, as is the tradition on my birthday, I couldn't help but notice the bright and shiny faces of the children patiently waiting for the school bus.   It is that unique combination of excitement and nervousness that we all feel when a first day arrives.  


I've Had Hundreds of First Days


No matter where you are in your life, chances are you've had numerous first days.   Several months ago I sent a message to a former colleague who was starting a new role.   In wishing her well on her first day she made an interesting comment, "you only have one first day".   At that moment in time, in that role and with those people it was a new beginning.  There was a strong desire to do well, to make an impression and to set a new course.   Perhaps it's why we choose a special outfit to wear, rehearse our words and enthusiastically prepare.  It is however, only one of many first days. 

 

The Energy of Firsts


The power of first days is that there is so much energy and excitement that comes with them.  Today I am 58 for the very first time.  It's a number I've never experienced before and I'm excited to see where it takes me.  Whether today is your first day of school, the first day back from vacation, the first day in a new job, or any number of firsts enjoy what the day holds for you.   As I stood on the first tee box this morning, with the dew on the grass, and the sun rising in the sky I was pretty sure it was going to be an awesome day.   I gripped my driver and swung my club with a deliberateness and watched as my golf ball arced to the sky and fell softly in the fairway.  No matter what else happened after that first swing I will remember how great it felt for a long time.  

Happy First Day everyone.    


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August 22, 2017


 Lessons From Our Four-Legged Friends


Yesterday we had to say goodbye to a very special member of our family, my daughter and son-in-law's dog, Dani.  She was one of those rare beauties that made everyone she was with feel loved.  In grieving her passing we spoke about the lessons she could teach us all as we move forward.   So often we try to humanize our animal friends but perhaps we have it backwards in that we should become more like them. 


What If?


What if every time we arrived home we greeted our loved ones with the same enthusiasm that a dog greets their family members?  How great that would make a person feel to know that at that moment they are the most important person in the world. 


 What if after the worst argument in the world, the next day it was all forgotten because unconditional love always comes first? 


 What if happiness only required time together to take a long walk?

 

Embrace Your Canine Spirit


So this week let's all embrace the canine spirit that is so simple and joyful.   Why not greet the people in your lives with energy and happiness.  We should be that important to each other.  Arguments are but brief interactions that should never get in the way of unconditional love and finally take a walk with the people you love. 

These are the memories that I have learned from Dani and hope to demonstrate as part of her legacy. 

Love you forever, dear grandoggie,


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June 6, 2017


 The "Wonder" of Woman


This afternoon I went to the cinema to see the movie Wonder Woman.   I love a good action movie and had read some positive reviews and was curious about  how "Hollywood" would portray a female action hero.   First, kudos to everyone involved.  Wonder Woman was a role model for all women.  


A Story To Believe In


As a woman I was impressed with the peacefulness within the Amazon society that the women had created.  What  struck me was that peacefulness didn't mean weakness.  There was a readiness to defend themselves but no need to be the aggressor.  When Diana leaves she does so for a greater good to rid the world of Aires, the Warrior God.  There are the typical scenes of gunshots, explosions and casualties however there is also a sense of benevolent purpose.   

 

The Power of Love


I can't remember an action film where the power of love was more front and centre.   While there were the typical villains, there was also the ambiguity of good and evil in all of us.   It is only through the power of love that we have a chance of defeating the evil that resides in all of us.   I thought this particularly timely after hearing Justin Trudeau speak on the Kelly and Ryan show on Monday.  When asked about the security of the country he said that while keeping the country safe is paramount it also requires us to hang onto what makes us who we are.  When we look out for each other and support each other we come from a place of love.   So while some action heroes search out evil to destroy it, this movie showed us how to use love to make a difference.   To honour these principles, take a step back when something upsets you.   Instead of retaliating to regain a power position, ask yourself if there's another way.  How might searching for the love in the situation make a difference.  It's definitely worth the price of admission.


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May 23, 2017


 That's Just.....


 Part of my work involves using a personality assessment tool to help individuals enhance their personal effectiveness.  Often during my workshops I hear someone describe another individual using the words "that's just how they are."  This is usually done when describing someone's less than desirable behaviour.   By saying that we issue a "get out of jail free card" for unwanted and unwelcome behaviour. 


In The Public Eye


Lately there has been a lot of media coverage surrounding certain individuals who have sexually harassed women in the workplace.   When asked how this could have transpired over  such a large span of time the response was "That's just how he is".  How sad that we have become a society that accepts less than appropriate behaviour from people because they are "money makers" or "power brokers".   It's as if there is an unwritten rule that certain individuals are expendable for the protection of the corporation.   We forget that those expendable individuals have families to support and are  worthy of a workplace free of harassment. 

 

How Dare Anyone!


We should all be subject to the same laws regardless of our standing.   I'm pretty sure that the Magna Carta was signed by King John nearly a millennium ago, abolishing the divine right of kings.  How unfortunate that some people don't think they are subject to the same standards of behaviour.   I'm not talking about having a bad day.  I'm talking about actions that cause everyone around them to have a bad day.   There is no place for bullying or sexual harassment in the workplace or any corner of our lives.   So this week when you hear yourself say "That's just....., stop and ask yourself is the behaviour acceptable.   If it's not then it's time to step up and say so.  


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April 18, 2017


 In My Lifetime


 Yesterday, I was reminded that many of the things I take for granted in life just showed up a brief moment ago.   For Kathrine Switzer that moment was exactly 50 years ago when she became the first woman to officially complete the Boston Marathon in 1967.  The video footage from that historical moment showed a race official's zealous attempt to pull her from the race like a criminal committing a crime.   It took her boyfriend to body check him out of the picture so she could continue.   When I think that even took place during my lifetime I am filled with competing emotions of gratitude and anger, gratitude for those women who bravely opened doors and anger for the fact this didn't occur decades before 1967.  


I Remember Not.....

 It seems unimaginable to today's generation that women and girl's were excluded from so many activities and places in our recent history.   As a young girl I remember not...

  • being able to play on a baseball team as no organized sports existed for girls outside of school teams
  • being able to takeover my brother's paper route as it had to go to a boy, girls weren't eligible
  • being admitted into a school program because they only allowed so many girls, and a boy with lower grades got selected over me
  • making the same wage as a man doing the same work
  • having protection against sexual harassment in the workplace
  • having choices
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And Then Came Resolve

 Seeking basic rights is not something exclusive to women.  Our world is filled with systemic problems when considering basic human rights.   How often do people go unnoticed until they assemble as a group and tentatively raise their hand in the quest to be treated equally.  History doesn't paint a warm and comforting atmosphere when people want to be heard, however, we are blessed to live in a world where people do stand up.  Just as Kathrine Switzer had to disguise herself in order to reach the finish line she did it with resolve.  In basic language resolve means to decide firmly about something and take action.  There is strength in the word and in the actions that it incites.  So this week ask yourself what resolve you will take when your voice needs to be heard.  There is inequity all around us that could use our resolve.  After all, while some changes took place 50 years ago there is still ample time for all of us to continue to show our resolve and make a difference. 


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April 11, 2017


 Ladies and Gentlemen


 As I was researching this week's article I discovered that April 11th is the anniversary of the debut of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion.   For those of you that have a preference for musicals it was retold many years later as "My Fair Lady".  The story describes how Professor Higgins magically transforms a street urchin into a 'lady'.  As I thought about the story I started to wonder just exactly what makes up a lady. 


A Lady Should....


Being a lady obviously is no small task.  In fact, behaving like a lady requires one to:

  • make introductions
  • say please and thank you
  • educate yourself
  • have good posture
  • be respectful to others
  • be charming
  • Don't use profanity, overeat or drink excessively
  • be respectful when visiting others' homes
  • hold the door open for others
  • stay calm, cool and collected
  • maintain your personal hygiene
  • dress elegantly
  • keep clothing clean and pressed
  • don't wear excessive makeup or revealing clothing


Gentlemen, It's Your Turn


Men are not exempt from specific things that define them as gentlemen.  Consider the following list:

  • Define Your Personal Style
  • Keep Your Hygiene In Check
  • Be a Grown Up
  • Keep Language PG 13
  • Connect With People
  • Find Your Purpose
  • Be Clear About What You Want
  • Hold The Door Open
  • Keep  Your Promises
  • Return the Favour
  • Pick Up After Yourself
  • Be You


 Something's A Bit Off

 



Now you might think these items were taken from a 1950's Ladies Home Journal article, but unfortunately they are from a current website.   When I looked at both lists, as a woman I felt that I was being diminished when compared to a man.  Why does a gentleman not need to educate themselves.  Why would only a lady need good posture?  Gentlemen have carte blanche to eat and drink as they choose whereas a lady must not over indulge.  I'd like to suggest that the time has come to eliminate this last stereotyped label .  Let's just be empowered human beings.  Someone who demonstrates some of the basic elements that speak to our humanity and care for the world and all who live in it.  Maybe that list might include:

  • be respectful to people and the planet we inhabit
  • say please and thank you
  • Eat when you are hungry and drink when you are thirsty remembering to leave enough for others to share
  • take care of your mental and physical health
  • fill your brain with knowledge and your heart with love
  • Always leave a place better than you found it. 

Perhaps if we followed these simple guidelines we'd fill the world with gentle people capable of amazing things.  So this week embrace your gentle side and amaze the world. 

 

 

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March 21, 2017


 Time For A Remake?


 On the weekend, I went with my husband to see the movie 'Beauty and the Beast'.  When the original came out in 1991 my daught was only 2 years old and it was the first movie we saw together at a theatre.  Now considering she was so young I was tempting fate to think she would be able to sit through the entire picture without wanting to leave.  It was a testament to Disney's animation that she sat mesmerized the entire time.  It was the dawn of a new evolution in Disney animation.  Twenty-six years later how daring they are to develop a live action remake. 


Original 2.0


I am a bit ambivalent  when movies are remade.   Will the new version be as good, better or worse than the original.  We've all felt disappointed when an iconic movie is recreated for a new audience only to discover that it falls considerably short.  This version of Beauty and the Beast did no disappoint.   It had the same nucleus, but it gave the audience more.   It was like taking a favourite recipe and adding a new ingredient that makes you forget how the first one tasted.  That takes a recognition of the best parts of the original to build upon.   So many times we want to duplicate something in it's entirety or completely start fresh. 


What's Part of Your Original Recipe?


When we've had success in the past we might be tempted to duplicate our efforts to the smallest detail.   Unfortunately while something worked in the past there are no guarantees it will continue to work.   Instead, what are those elements that are iconic and should remain the same?   Land on a few of those and create your base.   Once you have that, it's time to look at how to enhance them.  Give them a refresh or a different approach.   When we use this formula we honour the past when bringing it into the present.   So this week, don't duplicate the same old formula,  add a little seasoning and see how tasty it becomes.  




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March 14, 2017


 It Still Hurts


 I heard a speaker the other day talk about the concept of 'the tyranny of still'.  He was referencing ageism as the last type of bigotry that is regularly used in conversation.  It got me thinking about how we view our eldest citizens and the phrases we use to describe them.   The 'tyranny of still' is our dependence on the word 'still' when describing someone.  We insert that word into our vocabulary as a measurement against a standard that previously existed.  It runs rampant in our description of older people.


It's Not A Compliment


 Every time we utter phrases like; "They can still live on their own", or "They still have all their thinking faculties", we're not giving someone a compliment we're simply measuring them against their younger selves.  It's as if their younger self is the pinnacle and maintaining that is our only objective.  I know seniors that walk 5 miles each day.   I'd like to think I would describe them as someone who walks 5 miles a day, not someone who still walks 5 miles a day.   While I go to the gym 6 days a week, I don't still go to the gym 6 days a week, because frankly, that wasn't part of my younger self.   


 Describe the Now


Aging is a part of life.  No matter whether you're someone who enters their elder years kicking and screaming, or someone who happily dives in, we all get older.  I'd like to be described as someone who "does", "lives", "knows", "belongs" without the 'tyranny of still' creeping in to diminish who I am.  So this week the challenge is to eliminate the word "still" when describing someone.  Tell it like it is.   No one deserves to be compared to their former self when their current self is pretty darn


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February 28, 2017


 Setting The Table


 Have you ever gotten the feeling that the universe is trying to tell you something but it hasn't quite come into focus yet?  It's like dumping a puzzle onto the table and flipping all the pieces right side up but having no idea what the finished picture should look like.  Until you put some of the pieces together you're running blind until you hit that 'aha' moment.  For me the 'aha' moment came in the shape of a lemon filled paczki donut to mark 'Fat Tuesday'.  By itself it might have appeared insignificant, however couple that with the fact that I made fried chicken last night for the first time in over 31 years of marriage and a bright picture started to appear. 


Bring On The Comfort Food


 What I realized was I had recently started to infuse my dinner menu with meals from my youth.  Growing up, every Sunday meant fried chicken, mashed potatoes and corn.  Over the past several week our dinner menu had been littered with meatloaf and shepherd's pie creating the trifecta of my childhood dinners.  Psychologists will tell you that comfort food harkens back to a time when we feel safe and secure.  Lately, that's a feeling that has been a bit elusive.  Every day the messages that bombard our senses paint a picture of doom and gloom. 


 Time For A Mash Potato Smear Campaign Against Propaganda


Many decades ago a young man penned his version of propaganda.  In it he depicted the masses as "slow" needing repeated reminders before grasping the message.   Maybe that's why we hear strange statements over and over again.  Is it possible some politicians continue to underestimate the masses?  I believe this is a misguided opinion.   We need to continue to engage in healthy dialogue about the subjects that are important to us.  Maybe this means recreating an environment of safety and security.   Why not bring back that feeling through the comfort foods that were part of your family history.    Family dinner is a great time to sit down and exchange ideas on the topics of the day.  If you add some special comfort food imagine the flavour you add to the discussion.  So this week, break out Grandma's favourite recipe and make a special meal and as that comfort food enters your body it's time to remember that goodness is all around you.   







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February 21, 2017


 How Was Your Weekend?


 Since today is a Tuesday after a long weekend it's quite possible that some of us did something a bit different from the usual Saturday-Sunday routines.  If we're curious when we see our weekday friends we'll ask the question 'How was your weekend? or What did you do on the weekend?' Hopefully when we ask this question it comes from a place of curiosity and not just as an entry point for the other person to say "not much, how about you?" 


I Think I've Outgrown Something


 There was a time when I craved attention.   I enjoyed being the person that others found interesting.  Maybe it was the way I told a story or how I looked.  It felt good.  Now, however, I have shifted away from wanting to be the centre of attention and feel very comfortable on the sidelines observing the world around me.


Be Interested, Not Interesting


 There are a multitude of stories to be heard if we take the time to ask people.   Being interested means caring about those people and giving them a moment to shine.   What's amazing is that their excitement is contagious.   I don't need to generate the story to feel it's impact.  In a way they are like radiators warming me up by listening and being close to them.   So this week take the time to be interested in the people around you and discover the warm feelings they radiate.




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February 14, 2017


 Just A Note


 It's Valentine's Day and if I were 8 years old I would undoubtedly be coming home from school with a satchel of valentine cards from my classmates.  The verse in those cards would be simple, 'Be My Valentine'.  Looking at all those cards would elicit a huge smile and warm feeling of happiness.  Of course, I'm not 8 years old and my satchel days are well behind me,  I do, however, still believe in the power of a note.   



What Notes Are You Leaving


Most days the notes I receive are gentle reminders to do something or a thank you for something I've done.  What makes my day are those special notes that come from the heart and tell me how someone feels about me.   When I receive one of those my heart soars.  In most cases they are just a few short words but their impact is long lasting.  I like to think I leave one of those every now and then but I'm pretty sure I'm a bit lacking in that category.


A Few Words of Encouragement


This Valentine's Day, instead of asking someone to be your valentine, why not send them a few words of encouragement.  What if you told them;

  • you inspire me everyday
  • your dedication is unparalleled
  • your guidance has helped me when I needed it most
  • you're never afraid to stick your neck out
  • you give your most valuable gift, your time.


Consider the difference receiving a note like that would make in someone's day.  It's a gift that keeps on giving long after the ink fades on the paper.    It's definitely better than Cupid's arrow because it doesn't pierce the heart, it makes it beat stronger.





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February 7, 2017


  Truth Or Consequences


 Back in the late 60's and early 70's, Bob Barker hosted a game show called Truth or Consequences.  It was a favourite of my grandparents who loved to watch contestants perform zany stunts.  The premise of the show was that two contestants had to correctly answer a trivia question, and if unsuccessful, had to perform a stunt (consequence).  Generally, contestants purposely answered incorrectly as the stunt was much more interesting and fun.  It was the first time I really thought about the impact of consequences on our actions.   



 Florida Road Signs


Most of last week I spent in Central Florida enjoying a bit of winter sunshine.  While we were driving around I was intrigued by the road signs that highlighted what the consequence was for various driving infractions.  Running a red light had a designated cost, parking illegally cost a different amount.   It seemed that consequences were being used as a deterrent to people's actions.  Did this mean that people could choose to take an action if they were willing to pay the cost?  Whatever happened to making choices based on truth or personal values?


 Beyond The Monetary Cost


I'd like to think that the actions we take are based on a range of criteria that goes beyond financial considerations.   By running a red light I endanger the people in my vehicle as well as all the other people at the same intersection.   We can always calculate a financial impact but that is only a minor portion of the greater impact of our decisions and actions.   Unfortunately we are facing times where economic criteria are leapfrogging ahead of our moral values.  In the United States the quest for financial supremacy is dictating a lot of lawmakers' actions.  Have we become a society that has lost their moral compass?


Actions That Transcend Consequences


I have always been fond of the expression "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction".   Sometimes we need to take action whose reaction makes us uncomfortable.   Maybe it impacts our income, our status, our affiliations or other criteria that can temporarily sting.   By choosing to take actions based on our morals and values we step beyond the restrictions of consequences.  When we do something of noble purpose for noble reasons we gain a strength of character that will serve us in all situations.  So this week it's time to do something because it's right.  Stop worrying about how it will look, or what the potential consequences might be, after all there is no greater truth.  





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January 17, 2017


 Time To Pay Attention


 Every day we interact with dozens or more people.  We physically go to numerous locations and we come into contact with all sorts of objects.  Imagine the amount of information our brain is taking in each hour, minute and second of the day.  Most of the time, this information is getting stored into our short term memory as we've dismissed it as unimportant.  It disappears from our retrieval system never to be seen again.  It is only when something really stands out that we give it enough attention to find a home in our long term memory.  That's when it has a chance of being recalled and put into use.  



 Forgetting History


For the large part of the population it's hard to remember the devastation of WWII.  Those who were old enough to have lived through it, are all in their 90's and their numbers are dwindling.   Their stories are relegated to history books and documentaries that rarely capture the public's attention.   The vast majority of us might find it hard to believe that such atrocities could not have been stopped early on.  What was wrong with people that they didn't notice? 


 How We Notice Things


We tend to notice things that directly impact us.   Those things in our peripheral vision seldom get noticed or acted on.   How many times have you seen someone being treated poorly  and quietly thought how thankful you were that it  wasn't you?   Do you even stop to notice the subtle changes in the people around you?  What about the talkative person who suddenly speaks less?  How about the person on a the subway with a bruise on her arm?   It is our responsibility to use all our senses to interact and notice the world around us.   When we close our eyes, turn away or stop listening it's the same as giving consent to what happens around us. 


 Time To Engage


This week it's time to engage our senses and notice what's different.  Each day make a list of who you noticed and one thing that was different.  Maybe it was something they wore, something they said or something they did.  How did this make you feel?  How did you react?  Identify the positive things that you'd like to  see more of and the negative things you'd like to discourage in the future.  Once you have the list, it's time to put it to work.  Be vocal about the positive things in the world around you so that they have a chance to thrive.  When something doesn't seem right to you be curious and discover what's going on.  When you take that action you are also taking responsibility.  Curiosity is one of our greatest tools.  It allows us to really notice.  So this week really start to notice and when years from now someone looks back on this moment in history hopefully your actions leave a positive footprint.  




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January 10, 2017


 No Vocabulary For Vegans    

 I was thinking about some of the everyday phrases that we effortlessly use in our daily conversations.  Taken at face value or read on their own they appear silly.  Imagine how confusing it might be to someone arriving in North America for the first time and being confronted with our unique use of the word 'beef' in common phrases.  



Where's The Beef?


On this day in 1984 the phrase, 'Where's the beef?'  was uttered by a diminutive actress named Clara Peller for Wendy's restaurant.   It immediately caught the public's attention and became a catch phrase that has lived on for over 30 years.  Today when people use the phrase it generally means to question the substance of an idea, event, or product.  


What's Your Beef?


A slight alteration to the use of beef in the phrase 'What's your beef?' has a completely different meaning.   When we use it this way we are asking what's upsetting someone or what's  wrong.   It completely changes how we use the word.   Then we have the phrase 'to beef something up' which means to make something bigger or stronger.   We might also have a 'beef' with someone in which we're mad or upset with a person and want something changed.  Of course, my favourite visual use of the word is 'beefcake' which means someone who's muscular. 


You Got Some 'Splaining' To Do


 Ricky Ricardo, in the classic "I Love Lucy" television series would often use the phrase 'you got some splaining to do' when Lucy got into a sticky situation.  Explanations are a valuable tool to help us gain clarity.   In using language, it is important to ensure that others have the same interpretation about a word or phrase as we have.  Our different experiences and backgrounds create different context for words.   To some individuals, 'beef' simply means a red meat found in the butcher section of the market.  Using it any other way doesn't make sense.  Like all good communication, taking the extra time to check in with people to ensure your message is fully understood is worthwhile effort.  So this week, instead of getting into a beef with someone over a misunderstood message, take a few extra minutes to explain.  After all there's nothing to be chicken about when you beef up your explanations.   


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January 3, 2017


 Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover


As a writer who is currently sending out a manuscript to publishers and agents I've given a lot of thought to this phrase.   In fact, while we might not judge a book by its cover,  many publishers and agents judge a book by its first three chapters.  While this provides a bit more information than a cover it still lacks the fullness of the entire story.    


Finding The Magic


What I've discovered is that the first page and the first few chapters need to engage the reader.  There has to be enough magic in the story and its characters to reel you in.   Perhaps it's the quirkiness of a character,  their relatability or our desire to live vicariously through someone else that makes us want more.   The power of words speak to us in many ways.   As we start 2017, there are an abundance of self help and advice books targeted at our desire to live our best lives.   Unlike fiction, where we lose ourselves in the story, these are the stories that help us find ourselves.    


 Just Open Up A Page And Read

 

There is a reading practice that some people use in their daily lives to help them find meaning.   They choose a book and randomly open up a page and start reading it.  As they read the words on that single page they look for how those words are meant to be used in their own life.   Reading those words at that exact moment in time is the universe's way of giving you what you need.   It might be a turn of a phrase that you'll reuse in a conversation, or a thought that redirects your thinking.  It might even be something silly to make you laugh.   If you think about it and feel the words it might make a difference in your day.  So this week take a book off a shelf and open it up and see what comes your way.  You might be surprised at what the universe is sending your way. 


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December 20, 2016


 Celebrating Hope


As this is my last article before taking a break for the holidays I thought long and hard about the message I wanted to leave with my readers.  2016 has been a year filled with incredible highs and horrific lows.   As individuals we've undoubtedly felt like we were on an emotional rollercoaster unsure whether we were going to survive at times.   Luckily, we all have one thing that is readily available,  hope.  


The Ultimate American


It is more than a little ironic that today marks the anniversary of Bob Hope becoming an American citizen.   He was born in 1903 but did not become an American citizen until 1920.   He was welcomed into a new country and later became one of it's strongest representatives throughout the world.   Anyone over 40 knows the important work he did to support the Armed Services, especially during the holidays, visiting the men and women who were stationed overseas far from their families.  He brought them all a little bit of home each time he visited.   How fortunate he came to the United States during a time when the world was welcome.  Had he arrived today, would he have been welcomed in quite the same way?   We can only hope


 What Will You Hope For?

 

Michelle Obama in a recent interview was asked what she wants for the American people moving forward and her response was hope.   If we have hope then we have possibility.   Each  of us has a responsibility to constantly hope for a better future.   For some that might mean health for their family.   For others it might mean hope for better jobs.  There is likely a large list of items that people hope for.   While not everything we hope for will be achieved right away, it is our undying belief that we will get there that makes the difference.   So whether you hope to lose the extra 5 pounds that cling to your waist line after Christmas, or have a loftier hope for world peace, keep believing in the infinite possibilities that come with hope.   When you do anything is possible. 


 Merry Christmas

 May your future always be filled with hope


 Patti


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December 13, 2016


 Making Better Decisions


When I was a young girl, every Friday night my parents would take me and my brother to Kmart to do some shopping.  I remember the smell of freshly popped popcorn that greeted you at the entrance and my Dad's kid like enthusiasm to share a bag with us on every visit. 

It was a much more innocent time where children weren't tethered to their parents and required to walk down the boring aisles.  My brother and I were given the freedom to visit the toy department, unsupervised because we had money to spend.  Each week we received $1 as an allowance.  Yes that's correct $1.  While that might not seem like much now, back then there were treasures to be had. 


Delaying Gratification.... Are You Kidding?


More than anything I wanted  a punching balloon.  There was always a huge bin of these giant balloons with an elastic strap that you wore around your wrist.  If you were really good you'd rhythmically punch the balloon like a boxer punches a bag.  My problem, however, was the punching balloon cost $1.29.   I begged my parents for the extra money but they never gave in.  Their response consisted of two choices, save your money till next week or choose something else.  At 8 years old, waiting a week felt like a lifetime so for several weeks I bought something else.  Looking back, it was obvious I didn't have much impulse control.  I wanted a quick fix versus the right fix. 


 What It Took To Learn Patience

 

 We often experience a lot of "good" moments in our lives.  It is a comfortable feeling that we look forward to experiencing in small and frequent intervals.  What changes our perspective is when "great" comes along.  That first "great" experience casts a big shadow on the good experiences that came before it.   You welcome "great" into your life when you believe you are worthy of greatness.  From that moment on there is a reason to delay gratification and patience finds a home.  We become patient because we know something better will come along if we wait.    So this week ask yourself if you've found something great worth waiting for?  If you have, be patient and make decisions that keep it in your sights.  When you finally get there it will be worth the wait. 


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November 29, 2016


 Our Dependency on Hallmark Reminders


This morning I was greeted with an announcement on Facebook that today is "Giving Tuesday".   It marks a global day of giving back by supporting our communities and the charitable causes we care about.   I thought about the timing of this day immediately after Black Friday and Cyber Monday when most North Americans have been in a shopping frenzy.  Was Giving Tuesday our way of clearing our conscience from overindulging in consumerism?   Have we become so dependent on Hallmark Reminders to call us to action? 


There's a Card For Everything

 Giving a card to someone or making a one time charitable donation provides us with a temporary sense of social responsibility as we briefly focus our attention away from ourselves.  It is, of course, the easy way out of social responsibility.  It's passive and creates a tick box on our "to do list" of giving back, but it's a far cry from building our emotional competence in today's world.  Giving Tuesday needn't be a one day event, instead, it should be a catalyst to discover a year long way of contributing and supporting our communities and charities.   Social responsibility is a way of being not a single act



Time To Look Around

 

Young entrepreneurs around the globe are building businesses that constantly give back to the community.  Their business model isn't about maximizing profits, it's about maximizing donations to charitable causes.  When we support these businesses we get more than just quality products and services we become a global supporter. 


 There are literally thousands of organizations that do phenomenal work to support important causes.  Before you make a purchase ask the cashier how they contribute to the world around them?  Are they a green organization?  Do they divert a portion of their earnings to charity?  How do they assist others in making a difference?   These are the questions that go beyond 'Giving Tuesday' and create a changing world.  So from now on when you're shopping and looking for the best deal it's time to ask one more question.  Whose life, besides mine, will benefit from this purchase?  If the answer is only yours, it's time to make a change. 


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November 22, 2016


 Staying Informed


In a world where change happens daily it's essential that we stay informed.   That means different things to different people.  For some of us it might mean turning on the nightly news , for others they might rifle through the daily newspaper.  There's even a larger number of people using Facebook, Twitter and the Internet to get their updates.   It's impossible to step aside from the information that seems to seep into our pores through the air these days.   We do however, have a responsibility to fact-check what we let sink in. 


Did You Hear About....?


Many years ago I heard a story about a co-worker that painted a poor picture of this individual's character and ethics.   At the time I had a choice to either believe it or cast it aside.   If I had believed it, chances are my opinion of that individual would always be biased whether it was true or not.   Instead, I cast it aside and developed an excellent working relationship with the individual for several years.  What I did was bypass public opinion and collect the data and facts myself.   What did I observe about the person?  What actions did they take?  


How Will You Fact Check?

 

With only so many hours in a day it might be unreasonable to double check the information we hear, however, not checking the information opens a huge Pandora's box of problems that might monopolize even more of our time.  When you hear something, ask a few objective questions.  

1.  Where does the information come from?  Can it be validated?

2.  What can I do to ensure I understand it fully? 

3.  What emotions am I feeling right now that might impact how I perceive this information?

4.  How much do I want to believe this information versus how much do I want to know the truth? 


If you take the time to answer these few questions when new information comes your way you'll be better informed to make the decisions that impact your life.   


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November 15, 2016


 Choose Your Words Wisely


As a writer it is essential that I  describe the image that I've formulated in my mind in a way that allows the reader to be visually transported to a particular setting.  That means using words that touch upon each of the five senses wherever possible.  In the English language there are millions of words to choose from but it is essential to choose the right ones.   There are subtle differences in words that shift how we feel when they are used.  Something as simple as describing the weather quickly changes our perception.   We might feel one way when someone says 'it's going to be partly sunny today' versus 'it's going to be partly cloudy today'.  There's an argument that each statement is similar but we might feel completely different


It's Easy To Write Doom and Gloom


Lately we have seen an increase in words that have heightened meaning for many people.  The media is using them to create a perception of an unknown future based on their perceptions.    A fiction writer  can take people into a character's mind and reveal their thoughts, hopes and dreams.   A reporter can't do that, but often we see them hypothesizing as if they can.   They look at someone and use words like angry, violent, disenfranchised and afraid.  These words are all we hear.  We're not having the type of conversations that allow people to get past the sting of the needle.  We're focusing on the pain and not the healing that comes after.  


What Healing Words Will You Use?

 

We all have certain words that help us heal from whatever difficulty we face.   Perhaps you have a magical phrase that gives you peace when you hear it.  Reader's Digest used to have a section on the word of the day.  It identified a word and gave you the meaning with a suggestion to use it several times so you could add it to your vocabulary.  What if you created a box with your favourite words in it.  Each day you could pull one out and use it as many times as possible.   How might saying it impact you and the people around you?   So this week create your own healing box of words that will restore you to your best self.  Keep filling it up until it overflows.  These are the words that will transport you anywhere.  




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November 8, 2016


 The Day After


I was in transit yesterday and did not have access to write my regular Tuesday article, therefore I am coming to you a day late but definitely an historic day late.   When I went to bed last night I was still optimistic that the US was finally going to break through the glass ceiling and elect a woman president.    Unfortunately, morning brought a different reality. 


It's Only The Same If We Let It


 Millions of people were shocked by the results in last night's US presidential election, including myself.   I thought that Hillary Clinton was finally the candidate that would put a woman in the White House.  When that didn't happen I thought about the lure of the status quo and the campaign wielded by Donald Trump.   It was a call to the "good old days", or as Trump's campaign slogan repeated "Make America Great Again".   It was a tactic that Aaron Sorkin penned in his film from 1995 'The American President' where the opposing candidate was short on substance and long on nostalgia.   Donald even looked more like history's presidential portraits with powdered wigs that appealed to several generations who voted last night.


Our Youth Are Outnumbered

 

There was a time when our youth outnumbered the rest of the population as a group.   Generally it was because people died at a younger age and change was precipitated by the sheer number of our youngest citizens.  Today, we are in a unique situation where the US has less people between the ages of 18-44 than they have over 45 years old.   In fact, it's approximately 10 million more people in that older group.  What we know about that age bracket is that they likely hold the vast majority of the wealth in the country and are reluctant to  let it go.   There is an ongoing desire to remain in control.   They voted last night to protect the patriarchal world that they grew up in.   A world where credit card companies still issue secondary cards to "Mrs ..... and not a woman's first name.   It's also a world where traditions aren't meant to be broken even if they're wrong and exclusive to the world of today.


 A Voice That Will Not Be Silenced


There was a line in Hillary Clinton's concession speech that was directed to the young people of America that I felt particularly powerful, "And to the young people in particular, I hope you will hear this.  I have, as Tim said, spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in.  I've had successes and I've had setbacks.  Sometimes, really painful ones.   Many of you are at the beginning of your professional public and political careers.  You will have successes and setbacks, too.  This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it."  This is the message that our youth need to embrace.  They have an incredible skill set to connect with each other and instantaneously mobilize people.  This is the gift that they need to remember when they find something worth fighting for.  Use your passion, skills and mostly your heart.  Don't give up and one day the glass ceiling will shatter into tiny pieces never to be reassembled again.    


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November 1, 2016


 A Little 'Hocus Pocus'


Since last night was Halloween, one of my favourite holidays, it also meant a screening of the movie "Hocus Pocus".   For my family it is the quintessential Halloween movie.   It has a little something for every viewer no matter what age.   It's as if the movie's director was quite adept at 'making something happen' throughout the movie fulfilling the purpose of the phrase 'Hocus Pocus'


Poof!


Imagine the power you would have if all you had to say was 'hocus pocus' to make something happen.  It would  be like having fame with no talent or being rich without having earned a dime.    In essence, it would be magic, a conjuring up of an ideal without a thought to the implications when something appears out of nowhere.   We've seen the impact of  this type of hocus pocus in the past when we give someone something  that they haven't earned.   In many cases its value is diminished as quickly as it appeared.  We see it in lottery winners who blow through their winnings.  We see it in the children of wealthy parents who are given everything except a sense of worth. 


 No Shortcuts


 There are definitely days when I'd like to wake up and have a short cut present itself to me, but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.  I've become accustomed to putting in the sweat equity to make things happen.  That doesn't mean I don't look for ways to work smarter or more efficiently, I constantly strive for that but I'm keenly aware of the time it takes to get from point A to point B in my life.   


Definition of Insanity

 

If anything, the hocus pocus I'd like to utilize is the one that stops me from repeating the same mistakes over and over again.   I am amused by the definition of insanity that says "doing something over and over and expecting to get a different result".   I'd gladly like to stop myself before I hit a repeat button and replay a stupid action or say something insensitive to someone.   That would be an outcome I would gladly welcome in my life. 


My 'Hocus Pocus' Moments


  • right before I reach for a second piece of chocolate
  • as I'm about to say something negative to someone
  • just before stepping off the elliptical at 20 minutes when I need 30
  • when the patience in my voice is gone

These are the times when I could use a little hocus pocus most.   This week, ask yourself where you'd like to add a little hocus pocus to your life.   Find one way that makes something happen differently for you and watch the magic happen.   . 

 

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October 25, 2016


 I'm Chewing On A Bone


Every now and then I am bothered by something that challenges my values.   The past week or so I have been wrestling with the concept of friendship and what it means to me versus someone I consider a friend.  When situations like this occur it feels like I've been hit in the heart leaving me unsettled.   Getting through this usually requires engaging my head to  search for understanding in a way to heal my heart.    While I'm doing this I'm like a dog with a bone chewing on tiny fragments of information looking for satisfaction.  Now let me be clear, I'm not looking for information to confirm my view of the world, I'm seeking information to free my heart to grow again.


When I'm Stuck


No matter where I am physically in the world the geography in my mind remains fairly constant.   That's because how I view the world informs the thoughts that fill my mind's landscape.   Research tells us there are three primary motivations that underpin our emotional survival needs.  They are independence, acceptance and security.   For me the one that resonates most strongly is acceptance.   I have a deep need to maintain a positive image in the eyes of others, to be accepted by them and gain their affection.   This is my landscape, however it is not the same for everyone.   What happens if someone else is motivated more by independence?  That would mean a need for boundaries and more of a desire to maintain independence as opposed to interdependence.  If I fail to consider someone else's emotional motivation I limit my ability to understand. 


Not My Style

 

 I also have a preferred style to satisfy my need for acceptance.  It is to earn acceptance.   Other people might be more aggressive and assert themselves to fulfill their primary motivators while others use avoidance to withdraw themselves from others to fill their need for independence, acceptance or security.   So where does this leave me when I feel that initial blow to my heart? 


Feel It Then Let Go


 It doesn't matter how tough you think you are it's only natural to feel your emotions when they first appear.   It's when we refuse to let them go that we get stuck in our own heads.   Our thought landscape can either paralyze us or set us free.   When we don't let go we open our mind to saboteur thoughts that judge our own actions and those of others.  At its worst we start to believe we are not worthy of love or respect for who we are.  We drive ourselves to become better and put conditions on our relationships, actions and decisions.   That initial blow to the heart opens a fissure that remains irreparable in our mind.


 Creating A Fertile Pasture In Our Mind

 

 One of the most powerful things you can do for yourself is remain positive.  Sometimes in the moment, a situation feels overwhelming.  If we take a few minutes to step away from the emotion we can reframe it as a potential gift.  This helps shift our thought landscape into a fertile pasture of positive ideas.  While this isn't easy, it can be taught.   So this week when you feel a potential blow to your heart, stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself the question, "What are three ways this problem or situation could be turned into a gift or opportunity at some point in the future?"   If you take the time to do this you'll be surprised at how quickly your heart recovers and grows even stronger. 


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October 18, 2016


 A Parking Lot With No Meters


Yesterday, I discovered a huge parking lot just outside of Toronto that didn't charge money to park.  When I say big, I wouldn't be exaggerating to say it held at least several hundred vehicles.  What made it even more amazing is that it appeared out of nowhere on the eastbound 401 between Exit 299 and 312.   While there was no meter to pay,  there was a cost to the drivers who had to make spontaneous use of this parking lot.


The Hidden Cost of Parking


It didn't take long to discover the cost of parking the two hours on this impressive piece of pavement.

1. You lost two hours of your time that you can't get back.  In terms of productivity for everyone involved that's likely 400+ work hours.

2.  You could easily drain your phone's power as there was "NO" Wifi available

3.  Nature was calling for people and there wasn't adequate cover to be discreet.   Luckily most of the people waited until people's smart phones were almost dead.   Those are photos you never want to see on Facebook

4.  Someone's life was tragically impacted down the road and many people might not have gotten home, ever again


 What It Takes To Be Safe


 Whether you drive the 401 daily or only occasionally, it requires focus and an adherence to the posted speed limits.  We sometimes try to push our speed to the edge of acceptability anticipating gaining a few extra minutes however this might not be in anyone's best interest.  While that might be fine on an empty road with no one else around we are fraught with construction, less than pristine roads and congestion.  This week, take a few minutes and ease off the gas pedal when you find your speedometer creeping up.  If everyone followed this practice we might never see another spontaneous parking lot on the 401 again. 


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October 11, 2016


 What Makes Something Worthy Of Its Name?


We live in a society that uses labels to describe individuals that we interact with in our world.  Sometimes we assign labels to individuals, not because they exemplify the behaviours associated with the label, but because it is convenient.  This has become even more evident in a world of cyber connections where everyone on Facebook is a "friend".  But what does it mean to be a true friend?


What Makes A Friend Worthy of The Name


I read an article by Alex Lickerman M.D. who cited the following characteristics of someone who is a true friend. 

1.  A commitment to your happiness. 

2.  Not asking you to place the friendship before your principles

3.  A good influence.

 I thought that this was a list that truly exemplified what a friend meant to me.  It is the type of friend that I strive to be for the people in my life.  While I strive to demonstrate those characteristics, I know I'm not perfect.   They are the target I keep front and centre.   So this week, think about the type of friend you want to be for the people in your life.  What are the characteristics of true friendship that stand out for you?  Once you identify them all that's left is to demonstrate them to the special people in your life.  After that, I guarantee you'll gain an important best friend, yourself.   


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October 4, 2016


 The Afterglow of Brilliance


 Over the past 6 weeks I have had the great pleasure of attending two concerts with spectacular singers.  The first concert was with an icon, Barbra Streisand and the second, with a rising star, Adele.  Each of these amazing women commended your attention with the power of their voices and the intimacy of their stories.  Several times at each concert thousands of people jumped to their feet in appreciation.  It was an incredible feeling to be in the midst of brilliance.   


Take The Energy and Watch It Flow


Those moments that exhilarate us are the ones that stand out from the norm.  At a concert it might be how a singer uses their voice to convey the emotion of the words.  To a writer, it might be the turn of a phrase that describes what you feel in your heart.  A Foodie, might see a chef's masterpiece and rejoice at the blend of tastes that fill their senses.  Whatever represents brilliance to you  creates a transfer of energy.  You feel the excitement and get recharged.  Every time we expose ourselves to these moments of brilliance we feel the afterglow that sparks our own brilliance.   So this week take some time and recharge yourself with  a moment of brilliance.  Pick up a favourite book and reread a passage.  Listen to your favourite music or savour the taste of something magical.  Each time you do, watch what happens as it inspires your brilliance.

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Sep 28, 2016


 It's Not Worth Debating


 Yesterday, the world got to see the very best and worst of man.  I'm not talking about Hillary versus Donald, but the life of Arnold Palmer as compared to Donald Trump.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said "We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing while others judge us by what we have already done."  As I listened to the stories related to Arnold Palmer there was a common thread that ran through them.  He was a much greater man than he was a golfer.  His greatness was based on a simple philosophy of respect for the people he met in his life.  It didn't matter what they did or where they came from, he genuinely cared about them and show it in his actions.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Donald Trump who has built a fortune on the backs of people that are likely faceless to a man who prides himself on standing apart from the masses.   


Who Would You Rather Be?


It becomes a simple question that we all need to think about as we establish our legacy.   How have you treated the people you encounter in your life?  Do you take the time to gain understanding about them or are you too busy and just step over them.  Is it more important to win or to be true to your values no matter what the outcome?  Do you think you know all the answers or have you discovered you have an encyclopedia of questions you'd love to know more about.    


Arnie's Army Is Within You

 

 Arnie's Army was a group of fans that identified with the "everyday man"  that became their golf hero.   Now that Mr. Palmer has left this world what better way to salute his values than to redefine his "army".  Join an army that isn't about fighting someone else but embracing someone else.  When you see a stranger who looks lost, help them out.   Look from a place of equality and imagine a future where potential is everywhere no just with a select few.  In closing, some people are destined for greatness while others find a way to help others find their own greatness, Mr. Palmer was both. 




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Sep 21, 2016


 Beyond 2-Dimensional Wishes


 As a life coach I spend a fair bit of my time asking clients what their future looks like.  Interestingly, this is a question that stops some people dead in their tracks.  When pressed, they might identify a label such as "successful", "happy", or "energetic" but they haven't gone beyond that.  To really be successful in manifesting a different future requires the time to create a multi-dimensional picture of your future self.  In essence, it requires engaging all of your senses. 


It Makes Sense


Start with whatever sense you feel most comfortable with using.  Let's say you want to be successful.  What does that look like to you?   What would someone see looking at you?  How would you stand? What would you be wearing?  Where would you be?   The more you can create a strong visual image with detail the more likely you are to move toward it.  Write these things down.  Next look at what you will hear?  What is the sound of the world that is around you?  What sounds do you wake up to?  Whose voices do you hear?  What does your voice sound like?  Continue through the sense of taste, touch and smell until you have a multi-dimensional description of your future self.   When you have this set a date for manifesting it.  


Working With The Details

 

When you have a detailed list it allows you to make changes along the way.   Maybe your future self talks slower than your current self.  That is an action you can take right now to help you work towards your future.  You'll be surprised how you'll cross things off the list when they are more concrete than a simple label.  Before you realize what's happening you will find yourself stepping into your future self and all it took was a little time up front to really see it completely.  










Sep 14, 2016


 No Whining About Wine


 I just returned from a lovely long weekend in Ontario's Twenty Valley.  For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it is an extremely fertile piece of land between Hamilton and Niagara Falls along Lake Ontario.  For three days I had the very good fortune to sip, savour and salivate over the incredible wines grown in this area.  The trip was a wonderful getaway and change of pace from my day to day world.  The perfect setting where it would be impossible to whine when wine was the centre of our attention. 


Some Sobering Facts


What always amazes me is that even when I 'm not paying attention I'm still learning.   I discovered how the vintners keep the birds away from the grapes using a blend of loud music, bangers, foil, and netting.  I realized that too much rain this close to harvest might be devastating to the grapes that are tightly bunched together.  I also learned how to use an osso to open a vintage bottle of wine whose cork might be too delicate for a corkscrew.    


It's a Matter of Direction

 

 One of the most interesting facts I learned over the weekend involved the direction that grapes are planted.  Each row of vines is planted north-south.  This ensures that every vine gets an equal exposure of sunshine throughout the day.  As I looked at the grapes growing all around the results were amazing.  With only 1-2 weeks left before harvest the vines were overflowing with massive bunches.  There wasn't a straggler in the group.   It got me thinking about things I might do to bring this equality of attention to my world.  After all, if it works with grapes why can't it work elsewhere? 


 Creating My North-South

 

 It would be very easy to shine a light on a few individuals rather than spreading it around, but it would do nothing to develop relationships.  My North-South begins with an invitation to talk with the people I meet.  When I ask someone how they are, it's because I  want to know.    When I sit down with people I try to mix it up whenever possible so that I'm not always sitting in the same spot next to the same person.  I like to make myself available at different times so that I potentially meet new people.  It's my way of spreading some sunshine around.   So this week think about the sunshine you spread around in your world.  Are you spreading it out so you get the most return or are you sharing it with a select few?  Try spreading it out and watch what happens.  I guarantee you won't have anything to whine about.  



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Sep 7, 2016


 Reboot Time

 

 The day after Labour Day each year has a unique energy.  Children line the bus stops nervously bouncing around as they anticipate their return to school.  Parents look forward to a regular routine instead of the chaos that sometimes surrounds summar and countless other people head back to work after a long weekend to wrap up their summer.  It's the second busiest time of year for making new commitments and setting goals. 





Avoid Being Let Down


Each of us has the opportunity to use today to reboot our lives in a way that might work better for us.  If we think of it like a software update, we can look for those small enhancements that add additional quality to what already exists.  Too many people leap into this time of year looking to make drastic changes that end up failing before they can take hold causing the perennial letdown after the initial exhilaration.  For me, I like to think I'm on reboot number 58.  I say that because yesterday was my birthday and I am commencing my 59th year on this planet. 


What Version Are You Working On?

 

 By the time most of us get to Version 58 we may begin to think there's not too many changes that need to be made, but I tend to think the opposite.  This is the time when I'm looking for new and more efficient ways to operate.  I don't want to rest on my laurels, instead, I want to discover new ways of interacting with the world around me.  So what about you?  I'd like to think that each week I can make a single change that will improve the quality of my life.  By next year this time I'll be at  Version 58.51.   Along the way the changes might be incremental but by next year I'm hoping to see a big difference.  So think about your reboot and what you might do to create a more efficient updated version of yourself and take action.  Something tells me you'll be glad you did. 


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August 9, 2016


 Be A Good Sport


I have always loved sports.  As a child growing up I lived to compete in whatever sport was available.  In our neighbourhood that meant anything from baseball to rugby or what we called "murder ball" back in the day.  If it required physical skill I was quick to sign up.   What I quickly learned was that you didn't need to be the best player to be invited to play, but you needed to be a good sport.  That meant not crying when you lost or got a few scratches.  Both were part of the game.  With the summer Olympics in full swing I thought about the international stage for athletes and what being a good sport means at that level of competition


Olympic Charter


The Olympic Charter defines the games as "competitions between individuals and team events with a goal to celebrate athletic excellence.  It is not a competition between countries.  Unfortunately, the media plays a significant role in creating an "us vs them" mentality with their one-sided coverage.  This occurs when national television almost exclusively covers their nation's athletes at the exclusion of the "best athletes".   The Olympics should be first and foremost an opportunity for the world to be respectful and appreciative of foreign competitors


When Patriotism Focuses on Losers Not Winners


I thought about some of history's gold medal winners who might be forgotten as a result of a national hero losing.  We can look back to 1984 and the 3000 meter race when Mary Decker fell.  The media made a spectacle of her falling and the eventual winner, Maricica Puica of Romania was all but forgotten.  Who can forget the tragic falls of Dan Jansen in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.   The media spent so much time on his falls that we lost focus of the winners.    I doubt very much this is something that the athletes do.  I believe that every athlete knows the hard work that goes into performing at that level and whoever wins deserves it.  They are the ones that applaud their fellow competitors.  We should too. 


 Time To Switch Channels

 

 This Olympics we have a unique opportunity to stream the championship moments for every event.  This means we are not handcuffed by national networks to watch only our nation's athletes.  Instead, we can watch the "best" the world has to offer.  Whether they are part of a 10 person team or hundreds of athletes representing a country the best deserve our attention.  So this week it's time to shake up your viewing habits and make sure you watch all the golden moments.  After all, it's your way of being a good sport.  


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August 2, 2016


 Being Transported


Alright,  it's time for a confession.   I am a diehard Star Trek fan.  Yes, from the original series all through the subsequent movies and television franchises I've watched them all.   Last week, my son and I took in the new movie and shall I say, I was transported by the experience.  I think what I have always loved about the Star Trek franchise was it dealt in possibilities that weren't all doom and gloom.   The premise of the original show was a 5 year mission to explore and boldly go where no man has gone before.   This was always done with imagination, creativity and energy.


Energize!


There is a technology depicted in all the programs where solid matter can be transported from one place to another.  It is usually preceded by the phrase "energize"   I don't think it's coincidental that the feeling of being transported is associated with the word energize.  Although we live decades before the time of the Star Trek era, I have experienced a feeling of being transported to a different place or time when energized by my surroundings.  I felt this way on Saturday night. 


Energy:  Not Always For Conservation


Saturday night my son celebrated the release of his first full length musical album with a spectacular show at the Windsor Beer Exchange.   During the performance the crowd became energized.  They were dancing and singing along with the band in a way where both audience and performers shared more energy together than they would have had separately.  They were transported beyond their everyday world  and into a different dimension.   They let themselves be immersed in the experience. 


 An All-Ages Experience


 Now some of you might be thinking there was some alcohol contributing to the energy in the room and you would be correct, however, I personally know an 88 year old who sipped on cranberry juice all night that felt the same surge of energy as the youngest person did.  We might think that some of these experiences are only for young people but we'd be wrong.  The experience is for everyone who needs to be energized.  Find a place where people come together and join in.     Let yourself feel the experience from the inside and not just on the news.  Each time you put yourself in the middle you potentially recharge yourself in a brand new way.  So this week, why not find a local concert in your community and put yourself in the middle of the crowd.  Take in all the energy and watch how great it makes you feel.  Definitely an experience for all ages to make you feel ageless.  




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July 26, 2016


 Statistics:  A Tale of Fiction


Would you believe that two people can be right in their assertions even when it appears they  are expressing  opposite opinions.  That is the power of statistics and how they can be used to manipulate public opinion.  In the US presidential race the Republicans are citing an increase in violent crime as they pulled stats from the 50 largest cities in the US where overall those populations have seen an increase.  However, the Democrats have looked at violent crime throughout the entire country and have seen a decline in the last 4 decades.  Who's right...... they both are.   The question becomes what are you willing to believe? 


We Believe What We Want to Believe


We all have a confirmation bias in how we perceive the world.   If we believe things are getting better, then we look for information to support that belief.  In the case of the Republicans they are looking for information that tells a story that supports the poor job being done by the Democrats.  It's important that we remember that statistics are just numbers.  What people do with those numbers is where storytelling impacts us.  Some politicians use statistics to tell an amazing Horror Tale.  It creates fear in the listener and makes them afraid to go outside.  Other politicians live in a world of make believe painting pictures of reality that don't exist.   What if we chose a different genre of storytelling?  What might happen if we entered the realm of possibility? 


 Finding the Positive Outliers


 What if we looked at the positive outliers  that generally reside in statistics instead of the average?  What if we spent our time trying to understand what went well?  Take the example of violent crime.    Instead of focusing on whether crime increased in big cities or decreased across the country what if we looked at stats to find a city that saw a significant decrease in violent crime.  Wouldn't that be the city you'd want to review to discover what happened?  Maybe that outlier can provide us with a wealth of information to turn the corner in our neck of the woods. 


 The Possibility in Stats


 I read a wonderful quote the other day that said that "possibility means looking for an answer on how to improve something not merely how to adjust."  That  statement demands an entirely different mindset.  It requires action not reaction.  Instead of adjusting to the status quo of the majority what if we tried to improve what a small group already do well?  Too often we dismiss things as statistically insignificant.  Sometimes that insignificance is the one person who has been successful in a way that defies odds.  That is the story that needs to be told.  So this week, start looking for the positive outliers in your world and start telling that story   


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July 19, 2016


 Being Unconventional


Considering we are in the midst of the Republican National Convention in the United States I thought I would have fun with the concept of being "unconventional".  We all know people that we consider unconventional.  They are the individuals who follow the beat of a different drummer and choose not to conform to what is generally done or expected.  Of course, I might need to differentiate between the unconventional freethinkers of the world who have made a difference in history and an individual who is just "stupid".  We'll leave the latter for election at the Republican Convention and focus our attention on the former. 


History Gives Us Perspective


Being unconventional is often heralded over time after the rest of the world catches up.  It takes great courage to be unconventional when everything about a situation is prompting us to conform and follow the party line.  Kudos to those individuals who stood their ground to do things differently.  How brilliant Einstein has become as decades past.  How daring and risk taking was Elizabeth Cady Stanton to push for women's right to vote.  What about the NWA who brought Rap music to a general population.  They definitely weren't popular during their eras.  They were, however, unconventionally brilliant. 


 Taking a Stand


 There will be times when you believe that the majority is wrong.  They are missing something important and it is glaringly evident to you.  This is the moment you have a choice.  You may choose to remain silent and go along with the majority or you can choose to disagree.  At that moment you might be considered unconventional.   It has the potential for making a difference in how we shape our world.  So this week, if you disagree, be empowered to stand up for your opinion.  When we do that in a non violent way our unconventional thinking of today might make us the heroes of tomorrow.     

 




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July 12, 2016


 Customizing Feedback


Have you ever been faced with the statement, "tell me what you think" or "I want your feedback" and felt unsure what end of the pool you were jumping into?  Sometimes you might want to go full out and provide an ocean of thoughts, while other times you barely want to put your toe in the water in case you say something upsetting.   It is natural for people to seek someone else's opinion on their work, their looks, their choices or any number of items, however, blanket requests for feedback leave some of us completely unsure of what the other person wants to hear.   


Shallow Waters No Diving Allowed


 In some cases people just want you to provide a surface opinion, without going into any detail.  Questions like, How do I look? or What do you think?  are classic examples.  These open a door to huge possibilities.  We might find ourselves overthinking how deep our feedback should go and end up missing the mark.  

 




Stop Fishing For Compliments

 

I can't help but think that we can do a better job of being more specific about the feedback we're seeking.  Whatever the situation, there is likely a part  you feel confident about.  If you're confident then be confident and bypass the need for feedback on that element.  It's the things you aren't confident about that benefit most from feedback.  When we seek feedback on what we're confident about we're basically fishing for a compliment.


Breaking It Down




 Make a practice to focus your request for feedback on a few specific elements.  Solicit feedback from individuals who you feel have a greater expertise in those areas than you.  Instead of asking a general question about their thoughts take your request to a deeper level.  Instead of asking you what you think of the article I might ask what you think about the analogy that was used at the beginning of the article, or what worked or didn't work?  Being more specific provides me more useful information to support any changes I need to make.  So this week start refining your feedback and be more specific.  When you get what you ask for watch how it kick starts some amazing changes.   




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July 5, 2016


 In Need of a Hug?


I am an incredibly positive person, however, there are times when even I need a pick me up.  Sometimes the universe, which is infinitely smarter than I am, finds a way to give me exactly what I need.  I just need to be observant enough to see it when it shows up.   That happened for me this week. 


It Came From Within


What I discovered this week was the power of my own hug.   I am a huge fan of the hug and try to give one to the people in my lives on a regular basis.  It is my way of sharing my positive energy and love with someone else.  Who knew I could recycle a hug's energy and positivity back to me.   I was working with my coach who gave me a great exercise to create focus and calm the mind.  It is something that a lot of performers use before going on stage.  It's effect was amazing.

 




Step By Step

 

It starts by standing with you feet shoulder feet apart and a slight bend in your knees.  You take both your arms and wrap them around your body as if you are giving yourself a bear hug.  Once you have done this you bend slowly from the waist until your head is hanging down and you are still hugging yourself.  You slowly breath in with a count of 4, pause and then exhale with a count of 4.   You repeat this slow deep breathing while bent over for 10 deep, slow breaths.  After you complete this you release your arms to dangle towards the floor.  Very slowly you roll your spine back up until you are in an upright position. 


 Will You Feel It Too?




 I did this two times the other day and the effect was immediate.  It quieted my mind and got rid of some unwanted thoughts that were bouncing around.  I also felt extra oxygen enter my lungs and find its way to what I needed it most.  I wanted to share this exercise with you because sometimes we don't always have someone else available to give us a hug, however, we can give one to ourselves.  So this week, when you need a pick me up, take a few minutes and give yourself the gift of a hug.  


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June 28, 2016


 The Majesty of Seeing Things In Person


Last night as I found myself in downtown Windsor on firework's night I was reminded of the majesty of seeing certain events in person.   In a world where we often view life on our smartphones it is nice to experience certain things up close and personal.  Even a big screen TV with surround sound can't duplicate the feeling of fireworks.  It is an experience that fills the senses as it fills the sky.   The audience is reduced to antlike size in comparison to the entire night sky as the canvas.  If I'd have watched it at home I would have been my 5'4" self watching my 42 inch television processing a spectacular event in a way that "fits" the dimensions of my multimedia system.


We Lose The Enormity


 When we watch events on television or on our smartphones we lose perspective of how enormous they are.  These devices are programmed to make things fit.  We can see the skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline on television, however, unless we stand on the same city block craning our necks to see to the top we lack an ability to scale.  The same thing can be said for watching a parade in person versus on television.  We feel and hear a marching band long before the first member becomes visible.  The anticipation is part of the experience.  This holds true for many of the wonders in our world that are either natural or man made.  They deserve to be seen in person.

 




When We Become Bigger Than Everything Else

 

 When we default to our televisions and smartphones we forfeit an important part of the experience.  We don't give ourselves an opportunity to feel like a pebble of sand.  Instead, we become the most important element in everything around us.  We are the sun in our virtual galaxy.  That's not a lesson that we should be reinforcing in today's world.  We need to feel small at times because it teaches us important lessons.  When we are small our power comes from more than might.  It comes from understanding and observing the world around us and the important role we each play in it.   


 Be Dwarfed By The World



 This week, as plans turn towards summer vacation take some time to discover something big in the world around you.   Attend a parade, ride up an elevator to the top of a building, sail on a lake until you lose sight of the shoreline.  Put yourself in the middle of a big event.  It is only when you feel the enormity of what surrounds you that you will really be amazed. 


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June 21, 2016






 A Writer's Perspective For Communicating


 As someone who spends a fair amount of their time writing, I am familiar with the need to edit my work.  In particular, it's important that a writer checks for clarity of their message.  It is easy to forget that what is in my head, doesn't always get put on paper in a way that makes things easy for a reader to understand.  I have created a story in my head that is full and alive.  I am only successful as a writer if the reader feels the same way.   It's like that with all of our communication.  What is the message that is in my head and have I conveyed that to someone else? 


Some Editing Questions


There are a few questions that you can ask of yourself and others to gain clarity in your communication. 

1.  Review your message, both from what is said and how it's said.    Using your five senses what are you able to observe.  This is often different from the story in your head.

2.  What do others believe is being communicated?  Ask some questions to determine what they are perceiving from your communication.

3.  What are the gaps, or contradictions that stand out between your intended message, what you're saying and what they're perceiving? 

4.  Given what someone believes is being communicated, how does that impact their actions? 

 5.  What else do I need to communicate to bring the person greater understanding of my intended message? 



 How Long Will This Take

 

Writers know that the editing process is extremely important.  If your internal story is not clearly conveyed within the words on the page the reader will lose interest and disengage.  Your verbal communication is just as important and worth the time to evaluate your message from the receiver's perspective.  If the receiver doesn't get the message the first time, don't just repeat it a little more loudly, look at the words you've used.  Do those words have the same meaning to the receiver as they do to you?   Only when you are satisfied that the receiver has gotten the intent of your message is your editing done.   


 Start Editing Today

 

 This week when you have an important message to share, step back and use some editing questions to ensure people are getting the complete story.  Anything less becomes a work of fiction that becomes forgettable and regrettable.  




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June 14, 2016



Life Engagement


If you've ever worked in the  corporate world you have undoubtedly heard stories about employee engagement.   Achieving a high level of employee engagement is like the holy grail of success for any organization.  It is the golden ticket to high levels of productivity, top talent attraction and a place we want to wake up and go to 5 days a week.  Recently, research is pointing to factors within an individual as being more important in developing engagement than what an organization does to stimulate it.  If that's the case then we really are talking about being engaged in our own life to create our own happiness.  What a novel idea.


What We Ask Ourselves


I recently saw a video by Marshall Goldsmith that described "active questions".  These are questions that focus on what you can do to make a positive difference for yourself and the world.  He suggested creating a list of questions that you ask yourself everyday that becomes your personal scorecard.   Consider asking yourself,

  •  What did I do today that made me happy?
  •  What did I do today that was in service of someone else?
  • What did I do to build positive relationships?
  •  What did I do to create meaning? 


 Keeping Count

 

Each one of us might have a different group of questions.  By asking these questions of ourselves on a daily basis we are forcing ourselves to pay attention to them because they are important.  Create a spreadsheet for the week with each question.  There should be a "Yes", "No" and "number of times" column.  When you respond yes it means that you did do something that made you happy.  Next ask yourself how many times you did something and record that number.  If you didn't do something mark it no.  Each week look at your results.   If your scorecard is full of "no" responses how has that impacted your mood.  Are you waiting for something to happen that will change things? 


 It's Within Your Power

 

 This week I challenge each of us to create our own scorecard.  Start with 4-5 questions.  Set aside a few minutes every day to compile your responses.  Take action to turn "No" into "Yes" and grow the number of times you take those positive actions.  After a month, you might feel differently, in fact you might feel great. 




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June 7, 2016


 You're Not Helping

 

Have you ever attempted to help someone and discovered that you ended up making matters worse?  It's an all too common occurrence when we insert our personal judgment into a situation.  As a coach, we are taught to suspend judgment.  When this happens, we allow our clients to be heard.  It is an ultimate demonstration of empathy which is understanding and identifying with another's feelings, or difficulties and then conveying that understanding to them. 


Don't Invalidate


 Whenever we say phrases like:

  •  "it could be worse"
  •  "don't let it get to you"
  •  "just forget about it"
  •  "they're not worth getting upset for"

 we are essentially invalidating someone's feelings.  We definitely aren't meeting the person's emotional needs because we've left empathy behind.  We don't just do this when people are upset we also do it when people are excited about an achievement.  Think about times when someone came to you and shared their achievement.  Have you ever heard yourself say:

  •  "that's not such a big deal"
  •  "you've done better before"
  •  "it'll be forgotten tomorrow"

 

 What We're Looking For

 

 We all have fundamental emotional needs.  When we demonstrate empathy we create an emotional connection with someone.  We are fulfilling a specific emotional need.  We all need to feel:

  • acknowledged
  • accepted
  • listened to
  • understood
  • loved
  • appreciated
  • respected
  • valued
  • trusted
  • safe

 These are just some of the emotional needs we all crave, and like all cravings we are looking to satisfy it.  So this week when someone expresses a feeling to you pause before speaking.  Make sure how you respond doesn't invalidate their feelings.  Instead, mirror back what they're feeling and show them you understand.   



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May 31, 2016


 Making "Census" Of This

 

This morning I finally took a few minutes to complete the 2016 Census online.  It didn't take too long to complete and I was very grateful that only 3 individuals occupy our home.  I was pleasantly surprised by some of the information that was collected and will be interested in how it impacts future services. 


My History of Census


As a child the first time I heard the word census came from the following reading "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And everyone went to their own town to register."   This was the reading I heard every Christmas mass for years.  Of course, in the mind of a child, I equated a census with travel on a donkey and childbirth.   Today's census was much easier.


The Importance of Gathering Information


 I am a firm believer in the value of information.  Our elected representatives have a responsibility to ensure the needs of the population are met.  A census gives them the raw data to support programs and services.  It is a great starting point.  It is the minimum input you can take to represent yourself  as a member of society.  While it might not be perfect it does serve a great purpose.  Kudos to Canada for collecting mental health information.  Kudos to Canada for broadening the definition of marriage.  Kudos to everyone for completing the census.   So this week, if you haven't completed your census form, take a few minutes and complete it.  Your information needs to be captured.  . 


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May 24, 2016


 Wanting To Be First

 

Growing up my last name started with the letter W.  This meant that for most activities I was never first in line.  In fact, I was usually around number 30.  Of course, being the competitive type I always looked for ways of being first.   It's remarkable how early the competitive spirit comes alive.  In grade 2 there was a group of 4 kids that would run all the way home at lunch so we could be first to our respective streets.  Now this just wasn't first among the grade 2 students this was the entire school of about 200 kids that went home in the same direction.  It was a huge achievement in my little world.


 The World's Gotten Much Bigger


While my grade 2 world was sheltered and small, my current world is much larger.  It's not just a world with geographic boundaries, it's a world that technology allows us to interact with instantaneously.   That's a world of approximately 7.4 billion people.   Now there's limited opportunity to be first among a pool of people so large, but what if I was 684th.  That means I'm still ahead of the curve and mathematically somewhat of a change agent.  But I'm not first.... or second.... or third, how will my ego handle that? 


 Those Who Came Before You Aren't You

 There will be times when you work diligently on something only to find someone else has gotten there before you.   Maybe they've launched a product, developed a concept or built something new.   if it's similar to yours, it's easy to think about packing up and quitting.  When that happens it's important to remember that what you do has your unique stamp on it.  It's hard to make an exact duplicate of someone else's work unless you're in the pharmaceutical business.  For the rest of us, there is a uniqueness that differentiates us.  Instead of packing it in when someone else comes first, show your tenacity by continuing to build it better.  Henry Ford wasn't the first person to build an automobile, he just figured out how to do it better. 



What Will 684th Look Like?

 

 As a communications major in university, I studied the great movies of the 1930's.  This was considered the golden era of Hollywood and hundreds of movies were released.  The first movies released every year don't always mean they are the best movies.  The same can be said within a decade.   In fact, 1939 saw perhaps, one of the most spectacular group of movies such as:  Dark Victory, Gone with The Wind, Goodbye, Mr Chips, Love Affair, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz and Wuthering Heights.  It's hard to imagine the history of cinema without those titles.   They were definitely worth waiting for and one of them might possibly have been the 684th released in the 30's.  So this week don't worry if you're not first, or even second, keep persevering and continuing until you reach your finish line.  Someone is waiting for you to come in 684th.  




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May 17, 2016


 House Cleaning My Head


This past week I've been dealing with a virus that has limited the amount of talking I do.  Since a good portion of my time is spent coaching I've tried to limit my other verbal interactions.   When that happens I sometimes enter the world of my thoughts.  If you've ever spent any time with your thoughts it can get pretty crowded.  The thoughts in my head remind me of a 500 square foot apartment that's furnished with tons of furniture that's been given to you by the people you've met throughout your life.  It's impossible to move around without bumping into  some of them, causing you to feel battered and bruised, especially those pieces with the sharp edges.


 Too Much Clutter


Everyone has those big clunky pieces of furniture in their heads given to us by people's best intentions.  You know the relative who described your family as poor, or the teacher who told you that you wouldn't amount to anything, or what about the friend who would only hang out with you if you agreed with everything they wanted to do.   Their intention was to make us better, however a lot  of times they just created enormously large pieces of immovable furniture in our heads that we bump into more than we'd like.   We bump into them because those thoughts demand our attention.    Wouldn't it be nice if we could move these pieces of furniture to off-site storage?



 It's Just A Piece of Useless Furniture

 

What if we changed our perspective from an individual who is thinking the thoughts to an individual who is aware of their thoughts.  It would be like creating a safe way for us to navigate around those big pieces of furniture.  Kind of like waking up in the night and making our way to the bathroom without stubbing our toe.  We know where they are we just walk around them.   Those thoughts that are destructive have the tendency to create negative emotions, paralysis and self doubt.  Those are the pieces of furniture we want to move out first.  Even if we move to a slightly bigger apartment we'll still bang into those pieces if we continue to take them with us. 


 Become a Video Game Character

 

 In video games, characters often have a designated number of lives.  When those lives have expired you have to start over.  You can't take anything with you.  What if we treated our thoughts the same way?  Instead of taking those destructive thoughts with us we "start over" or more importantly start living in the moment.  We allow those negative thoughts into our heads when we focus on the past or the future.  We silence them when we allow ourselves to experience life like it's happening. 


 Time To Take Away Their Power

 

The more attention we give to negative thoughts the more powerful they become.  It's time to strip away their power.  This week when a negative thought enters your mind ask yourself how it makes you feel.  If you're feeling resentment, hatred, anger, jealousy, fear, worry, shame, guilt or blame ask how those emotions are serving you?  Likely they are causing you stress.  Instead, stop giving them attention.  After all, what are you afraid will happen, if you stop giving your attention to your negative thoughts? 











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May 10, 2016


 Tumbling Pedestals


I often work with clients who have limiting beliefs that they've placed on a pedestal.   If you've ever placed someone on a pedestal it's because you believe they are perfect just the way they are.  Sometimes we look rather small in comparison to these "super human" people.  When we place a belief on a pedestal it wields a huge power over our emotions, not always in a positive way.   For many people their beliefs are so entrenched that they are their "facts of life".   They may have stemmed from a childhood memory or years of convincing ourselves of their validity. 

   


 Recognizing Something's Off


As a solutions focused coach when a client tells me they don't want to feel a certain negative emotion I ask them what they'd rather feel instead.  This encourages people to think about an alternative they want to move toward rather than just move away from something.  If we don't have a destination, the forces that can pull us back are far stronger than we might think.   We can start by identifying our limiting beliefs.  In many cases they show up when we feel stressed, depleted, or unsure of ourselves.  We might feel their effects physically with a pain in the neck, shoulders or a strange feeling in the pit of our stomach.  




 Ask Yourself Why


 When you're experiencing stress or a sense you're not at your best ask yourself "WHY".  Keep asking that same question until you get to a level that reveals the story you tell yourself.   Now say the statement out loud and then write it down.  Here comes the important part, ask yourself, "Is this 100% true?"  If you've put that belief on a pedestal it's going to be hard to knock it down.  This question helps shake the foundation a bit and starts it rocking.   Next, focus on how the belief makes you feel.   What if you shifted away from the belief?   How might you feel then?  Keep trying to shake that pedestal for a while and see how it feels.  When you get to a place that feels better you might just decide that the belief you put up on a pedestal was holding you back.  Time to kick it over and find your true power. 


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May 3, 2016




 Have You Heard This? 


Every once in a while I run across a phrase or quote that particularly tickles my fancy.  When that happens I am compelled to share it with as many people as possible.  That means sharing it on facebook, email or whatever means I have available.  I do this because I'm hoping they'll get as much out of it as I do.  This morning as I was preparing to write this article I was distracted by a quote I just read from Warren Buffet on leadership

 "If you're looking for a manager find somebody that's intelligent, energetic and has integrity.....if they don't have the last be sure they don't have the first two.  If you have someone who lacks integrity, you want them to be dumb and lazy".

 Right away my mind started cataloguing former leaders I knew and putting them in a category.  Truly, I could have spent an hour on this interesting stroll down memory lane, however that was not the intent of this article. 


 What Tickles Your Fancy?


When we find something that tickles our fancy it energizes us in a special way.  Our mood lightens, we smile and in some cases we carry around a chuckle in our throat waiting to be released repeatedly throughout the day.  It's our special secret that becomes the lens we see things with throughout the rest of the day.  Every now and then we all could use a boost.  Today, is your lucky day as I share with you some quotes that always tickle my fancy.




 Try These On For Size


  • "Hey I won't be in today.  I have Anal Glaucoma.  I can't see my ass coming into work"
  • "People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do" Isaac Asimov
  • "I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade..... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party"  Ron White
  • "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please"  Mark Twain
  • "How do you get a sweet little 85 year old lady to say the F word?  Get another sweet 85 year old lady to yell BINGO"
  • "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit;  wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad" Miles Kington
  • "Do not argue with an idiot.  He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience"  Greg King


 This week find a quote that tickles your fancy and carry it with you throughout the day.  Watch what happens when you think about it.  It might just be the needed jolt of energy to get you past an obstacle or carry someone with you.  In conclusion, I will leave you with one of my original quotes.  "Remember even though today might be shitty and the days ahead look the same, with all that shit you'll never live a constipated life". 


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April 26, 2016


 Whitewater Rafting and Change


Many years ago when I was younger and more daring I had a momentary lapse in judgment when I agreed to go Whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River.  My husband's company had planned the event for his employees and I was invited along.  This was an activity that was really outside of my comfort zone.  While I was an okay swimmer, the thought of being hurled into the rapids amongst jagged rocks left me more than a little nervous.  There were several times before our launch when I wanted to get in the car and drive far away, but I didn't.  




 What It Takes


There were twelve people in our raft, each responsible for paddling as hard as they could when the guide yelled "paddle".  Not paddling wasn't an option as it might result in the raft getting stuck, capsizing or any number of "not so good" scenarios.  As we approached the first rapid the guide described it as a class V rapid that would pull us down then shoot us up with enormous force.  How we paddled helped us maintain forward momentum when the forces of nature were working against us.   From the moment the guide yelled paddle my adrenalin kicked in and I paddled like a maniac.  Getting through this particular rapid took about a minute before we made it to the other side and celebrated our victory.  All of us high 5'd each other to celebrate this success, however, it was short lived when we realized we still had to navigate 7 more rapids that day. 


 Our Team Was Born


 That first rapid forged a sense of teamwork in dramatic fashion.  While each of us had our own paddle, it was only the combined effort of everyone's contribution that propelled us forward.  It didn't matter where you sat in the raft, no one spot was more valuable than the other.   When we're navigating change in our life we're often working with a team.  We create dependencies on different people to contribute and help us move forward.  We all have a job to do.     There were moments in the raft when my section became airborne and my paddle wouldn't reach the water.   This didn't diminish my need to paddle, it just meant that while my section of the raft was airborne, someone else was picking up the slack.    Getting through the first hurdle of change is important.  It allows us to feel empowered and have a sense of accomplishment.  Change, however, is like a series of rapids.  We need to be prepared for the next set because it will be just as challenging.  Getting past that first obstacle gives us a huge advantage.  It gives us confidence, a sense of support and most importantly what success feels like.  


 Getting To The Other Side


 This week think of the changes facing you like that first rapid.  Who is with you on the raft?  What is the paddle each of you is holding?  How do you use your paddles in unison to be most effective?  How will you celebrate when you reach the other side?  When you focus on those elements you position yourself to face any number of obstacles with more confidence. 


 Plunge Into A Celebration


 Our team decided to celebrate getting through that first rapid by jumping in and body surfing down the river for half a kilometre.  Yes, that's right.  The same woman who was terrified the night before summoned up the courage to take the plunge with her team.   Hitting that water and immediately feeling my head surface above the waves was an amazing rush.  It was an unforgettable experience that is as vivid today as it was 29 years ago, a triumph of the will.  So whatever change is staring you in the face, paddle hard and feel the rush of triumph.  Getting through that first obstacle is worth celebrating.  

 

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April 19, 2016


 No Regrets


Every now and again I am reminded how fragile life is when I hear the news of someone's untimely death.  It is the kick in the shin to remind me to focus on the important things in life.   Like a lot of other people, I put aside certain things that I shouldn't because I believe there will be another "better" time to do them.  Funny how that works.




 It's Playoff Season


Right now we're fresh into the playoffs for hockey and basketball.  That means a lot of "best of seven" series.  The regular season has become a footnote and all energy is focused on the playoffs.   Everything leading up to this moment was just a means of getting us ready for the playoffs.  The Golden State Warriors set a single season record for the most wins but it will always shy in comparison to the Chicago Bulls if they fail to win the championship.   In the playoffs there is no anticipating the next series because if you don't do your best right now there is no next series.  No one is holding back a secret weapon to use in the future.  We hear players talking about "leaving it all out on the ice or on the floor".  What they are referring to is giving 100% effort every moment they are playing.  They are fully engaged in the now.   What if that's what we did in our day to day lives? 

 


Finding Your Fundamentals


In hockey, the players need to know the basic fundamentals of the game such as skating, passing, shooting, stick handling and checking.  The players that excel are the ones who have put their energy into mastering those fundamentals.  In life, we have a different list of fundamentals that we need to excel.   There are dozens that impact our happiness and quality of life.   While we can't focus on them all, we  have a core number that are most important to us.   Here are some to consider:

  • staying curious
  • accepting change
  • defining your values and principles
  • demonstrating self discipline
  • finding the humour
  • living with purpose
  • cherishing your personal relationships
  • showing gratitude
  • persevering
  • living life within your means
  • taking care of your body and mind
  • demonstrating loving kindness



 Don't Let Them Out Of Site


This week picture yourself in the final playoff game and it is a sudden death situation.  All of your core fundamentals are at your side ready to leap into action.  Welcome the sweat that shows up on your brow as you put your entire self out there.  The action will be intense at times and require your entire arsenal.  At the end of the day, look back and feel good about your victories.  After all, when you wake to see another day it deserves nothing but your best.   


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April 12, 2016


 Finding Your Marathon


On April 12, 1980 Terry Fox started his Marathon of Hope.  Since that historic event, Canadians have pledged millions of hours and dollars to continue the fight Terry Fox courageously began.   When I did a bit of research around this event, I discovered that the kilometres he ran in preparation were almost as many as he ran during the marathon.  Like most things the time we put into preparing makes all the difference in achieving our goal.




 What Preparation Looks Like


Preparation is the sweat equity you put into something before it happens.  It is the invisible support system that makes things appear effortless.  It is the pain from repeating the same motions until the blisters form .  It is what we learn when we make umpteen mistakes along the way.  It is a dogged determination that allows you to stay the course because at the heart of any marathon there is a combination of great length and concentrated effort. 


Perseverance Is Within You


In a world where instant fame is the current brass ring, it's sometimes difficult to persevere when times get tough.  Perseverance is what helps you find the small wins that make up a glorious season.  It is the strong will that resides within us waiting for the right cause to set it free.  It is an overlooked strength that we often underestimate.   It doesn't require fame or fortune to let it loose only our attention and focus.   It's not measured by an ending but by the number of minutes we've given it life. 


  Time For A Status Update


 This week it's time to look at the events and activities in your life that have become your marathon.  What are you doing that is that combination of great length and concentrated effort.  Are you in the preparation stage, middle or soon to wrap something up?  How has your perseverance walked with you during this marathon?  Celebrate your strong will , your intestinal fortitude and your mental and/or physical strength.  We all have different marathons within our lives.  While they may not be as celebrated as The Marathon of Hope, they are incredibly important to us. 


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April 5, 2016


 Genuine Authenticity


I often coach individuals who are looking for assistance at being more successful in job interviews.  They are insistent on finding a magic bullet that will help them become exactly what the interviewer is looking for.  When I hear this, I might ask my client whether they are the buyer or the seller in the interview transaction?  Putting too much attention on trying to impress someone else might cause us to lose sight of our most valuable asset, ourselves.  The only thing we have optimal control of is developing confidence in our authentic self.  We can't know for certain what  the interviewer is looking for and spending time trying to figure that out is a waste of our energy.  Being our best selves, allows us to become  more engaged in the interaction, as both a buyer and a seller, leading to the right outcome . 




 Finding Your Truth


Long before you walk into the interview it's important that you feel solid about who you are and what you bring to the table.  This means getting to know your core values.  What are those values that define the person you are, the values that are non negotiable when push comes to shove?  When you are in alignment with those values , how do you feel?  What experiences from your past can you draw from that demonstrated your values.  Finding those examples  will fuel your passion.  Something palpable happens to you when you share your passion.  You bring an energy into the space that others feel.  You words become congruent with your body language and your tone because you are speaking your truth. 


There Once Was A Company That Boasted......


Sometimes we need to be able to shift from seller to buyer in the interview process.  Be wary of the interviewer who spends too much time extolling the virtues of their organization.  Any organization that has to sell that hard is generally not the greatest at hiring the most effective employees in terms of performance, good citizenship and core values.  Instead, they perpetuate a malaise within the organization because they missed finding the gold in new talent.  Kind of like missing the most beautiful landscape during a road trip because you strained your neck looking at the mileage markers every kilometre. 


 The Most Important Questions

 After every interview ask yourself the following questions.  How did I show my authentic self?  Did I hear passion in my voice? When did I feel most confident?  How did I make myself feel comfortable?  Those are the important questions.  In the end when you feel those things there's a better chance the interviewer felt them as well.   So this week stop trying to impress someone else, uncover your authentic self and take it out for a test drive.  







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March 29, 2016


 "Frankly My Dear, I Don't Give A Damn"


 These are the last words spoken by Rhett Butler, in the movie Gone With The Wind as he was leaving Scarlet.  The scene shows him putting on his hat and stepping out the door into the fog.   The audience has no idea where he's headed only that he is gone., the fog creating a perfect cinematic effect as he fades away.      While a diehard romantic might find his words cruel, they might have proven to be the best advice someone could ever receive.  Think about it, if we free ourselves from the opinions of others how might that change our life?  What if it opened up new and exciting possibilities because whether we failed or succeeded didn't matter?  What mattered was simply the act of doing. 




 It's Not Just Their Opinion, But Ours


 Inside each of us is a voice that tries to protect us.  Some people believe it's our conscience, the proverbial angel on our shoulder, encouraging us to do the right thing.  After all, if we do the right thing we're protected, safe and insulated from all the potential bad things that are around us.  But what if that voice stops us from living, from engaging in a life of possibilities,  a life where we measure everything by the risk or reward it might impact.? 


Just Show Up


Sometimes we need to break free of the shackles that have controlled our decisions.  These shackles come in many shapes and sizes, often disguised in phrases such as:

  •  "I'm not good enough",
  •  " If I don't have all the qualifications why should I apply?"
  •  "If I can't give 100% why even try!" 
  •  "There are 100s of other people more qualified than me".
  •  "I'd rather put my energy in something I'm good at"

Over time these phrases erode our desire to try new and interesting things.  We've convinced ourselves that we're not entitled to participate.  The bar that's been set is out of our reach.  The sad part is that we're the ones who've set the bar at an unrealistic height.  Even as we approach it, we convince ourselves to move it higher  in order to spare ourselves the disappointment.  It's an unfortunate mindset that keeps too many competent people stuck in a quagmire of perceived inadequacy.  Breaking free takes courage to show up and try something new.  It requires us to reach beyond measurement and get our hands dirty.  Stop worrying if you're good enough, it's time to fake it till you make it.  Every great first in history happened because someone took a chance.  They may not have been the best person but they were the first person to give it a try.   This week decide to do something that is out of your comfort zone.  Don't worry if you feel unqualified or out of your league, chances are you're not alone.  Years from now when you look back at the interesting things you've tried hopefully your list is full.  


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March 22, 2016


 Do What You Want

 

 My son is a musician and is currently recording his first studio album for release this summer.  One of the songs he wrote is called "Do What You Want".  He played the pre-mastered copy for me this morning and I fell in love with the song.  It has everything I look for in a song, a catchy chorus, energy and great vocals.   The music seemed a perfect match for the energy someone feels when they "Do What They Want"




 You'll Know It When You See It, Hear It, Touch It, Smell It and Taste It

 

So how do we determine what it is that we want to do?   Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, wrote an article encouraging people to ask three questions.  One of the questions was to base your desires on the reality within the world and ask "Is what I want to do in demand?"  While I am paraphrasing the question I beg to challenge the need to ask it in the first place.   Shouldn't we be looking at doing what we want, something that we love and then creating a demand for it?  In the footsteps of the "Field of Dreams" philosophy, "if you build it they will come".     I would rather spend 10 years of my life working towards a dream and feeling amazing for all that time than regret not taking up the challenge because someone told me there wasn't a demand for it. 


When You Do What You Want We All Succeed


This week look for the times where you get to do what you want.  When do you feel that surge of energy and in that state of flow?  If you can't find a moment when that occurs it's time to ask yourself what it is you want to do?  This isn't about jumping ship and leaving your current world behind you, instead, it's about grabbing moments that allow you to do what you want to do.   We can all find a few minutes everyday to do what we want.   When it happens you'll engage all your senses in a happy dance.   


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March 15, 2016


 What's In An Hour?

 

This morning as I sit at my computer every fiber of my body is in conflict.  What type of conflict you might ask?  It's the conflict I experience every year when Daylight Savings Time begins, and I lose an hour.   Like a thief in the night, Daylight Savings Time arrived at 2am Sunday  stealing an hour with a promise to return it in November.   Two days after the fact my body is still unsure when to sleep, to wake and to eat.   I'm not sure there will be enough chocolate to get me through this adjustment period.




 With The Best Of Intentions

 

Apparently we can thank the good people of Thunder Bay, Ontario for first using Daylight Savings Time back in 1908.  It was a way to make better use of daylight and conserve energy.   Those are admirable reasons to lose an hour, but I wonder how well we do on both counts. 

Living in Ontario, I have a "smart" meter that monitors my energy consumption.   My rates are determined by Ontario hydro and follow two cycles, summer and winter.   Both of these cycles have consumers paying either "on peak" or "mid peak" rates between the hours of 7am and 7pm.   Outside of that period it's considered "off peak".   Based on this model there isn't much incentive for me to spend extra time outdoors considering I am encouraged to do my laundry, run my dishwasher and other energy intensive tasks in the evening.   In fact, there's not much change in my total energy consumption on a month to month basis.  I'm likely not alone in this pattern of energy use.  Where we may differ is how we use our evening hours.  


 Finding Your Best Use of Daylight 


 While I might be a bit whiney this morning, I do relish the extra daylight in the evenings as a result of daylight savings time.   It allows me to get in a round of golf in the evenings when the temperature warms up.  It allows me to go for a long evening stroll with my husband.  It makes working in the garden, as the sun starts to set the most enchanting time of the day.  It allows soccer parents to catch their kids play a favourite sport and it allows backyards to be an extension of the home where everyone feels relaxed.  This week it's time to plan your best use of daylight.   Every day take an hour to spend outdoors.   Breathe in the air and let the sunlight replenish the vitamin D that's gone dormant after a long winter's rest.   You'll be glad you did. 


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March 8, 2016


 No Buffoons Here!  Celebrating International Women's Day

 

Tuesday March 8, 2016 is International Women's Day.  The theme for this year is "pledge for parity".  When I thought about how we might create gender balancing, the first thing that popped into my head were the words we use to describe both men and women.  In a  world filled with thousands of adjectives we fall back to certain words to exclusively describe  either men or women.  Think about the word buffoon or blowhard.  When you hear them do you automatically assume they are describing a man?  Even  adjectives that have a positive tone have become gender biased.  Would you ever describe a woman as dashing?   Adjectives like hormonal, feisty or perky have become common descriptors for women.   It is only when we try to use them to describe a man that their derogatory nature becomes evident.   Have we become so unaware of the words we use?




 No More Exclusivity

 

If we want to create a world where there is gender balancing we need to start by using the same words to describe both men and women.  Our "once upon a time" vocabulary that was built from fairy tales  needs to be reshaped with words that are positively descriptive for both genders.  What if we  created an internal "find and replace" function in our minds and started using gender neutral adjectives like: 

A:  Admirable

B:  Bold

C:  Courageous

D:  Driven

E:  Energetic

F:  Fair

G:  Gracious

H:  Happy

I:  Inspirational

J:  Just

K:  Knowledgeable

L:  Learned

M:  Motivated

N: Natural

O:  Optimistic

P:  Passionate

Q:  Quiet

R:  Resilient

S:  Solid

T:  Tenacious

U:  Understanding

V:  Voracious

Think about the people in your world.  Are you comfortable using these adjectives for both men and women?    What happens when you say them?  How committed are you to the truth they describe?    If you're feeling a bit uncomfortable ask yourself why?   What is it about that adjective that is bothering you?   Is it the first time you used it to describe a woman?  Is it the first time you used it to describe a man?  So this week perhaps we will eliminate the buffoons, blowhards and hormonally, feisty people from our world.  Instead we'll replace them with passionate, knowledgeable and energetic people.   When you describe people that way you'll likely find twice as many as before. 

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March 1, 2016


 Oops I Said Too Much!

 

I'm pretty sure most of us have crossed the line between saying what needs to be said and saying too much.   It is a level of self awareness that comes with maturity and reflection.   In our earnestness to get our message across we might cross the line into preaching or worse yet, badgering.   When it happens in the moment  we might get carried away and lose the opportunity to take certain words back.  They have become the arrows that have landed on a target from point blank range, deeply embedded and difficult to remove. 




 Healing The Wound

 

What we do after saying too much is what develops our character most.   While our words, like arrows can't be taken back once they've pierced the surface we can help remove them and ensure the wound closes properly.   We do that by understanding how our words hurt the other person.   It is one thing to know someone's Achilles heel and deliberately target that and another to fling arrows in the air  accidentally hitting  their weakness.  When we deliberately aim for someone's weakness we may have launched a mortal blow to the relationship.  In the case of accidentally hitting a sensitive point we can gain understanding so we never hit that mark again.  It is the sincerity of your apology that starts the healing process. 


Time To Monitor Our Words

 

When we are speaking we need to monitor the reaction of the people around us.  What are we seeing in their expressions and, body language?  What words are they using in response or have they completely shut down?  We need to be more than a messenger who sends words one way.   We need to communicate with people. 


Don't Be A Donald!




So this week use all your senses when communicating and pay attention to when you may have said too much.   There is an interesting photo circulating social media that might be a great reminder of what happens to us when we say too much.  We lose sight of the other person.  In the case of this photo shopped picture of Donald Trump  they've replaced his eyes with a picture of his mouth.  It's not even noticeable.  Perhaps he stopped using his eyes a long time ago  and solely relies on his mouth.  







 

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February 23, 2016


 The Big Chew

 

When I was young one of life's simple pleasures was a candy called "Tootsie Roll".  If you've never experienced a tootsie roll you've missed savouring this delectable goodie that is a cross between a caramel and taffy.  It is also a candy that is impossible to devour quickly.  It takes time to chew it and with each successive chew more of the chocolate goodness hits your taste buds sending you into candy heaven.  


 Chew On That For A While







 

In a world where we compress so many activities it's important that we slow down and chew on things for a while.  The expression "chew on that" means to take some time with an idea or thought.  Like a succulent piece of steak cooked to perfection, it deserves to reside in your mouth long enough to trigger all your taste buds.  When we fail to chew on something we are like the proverbial snake that opens its jaws to devour huge animals.  However, unlike the snake we don't have the same capacity to continue breathing after such an action.  Our digestive system would be ruined and we would suffer.  The same thing happens to ideas and thoughts that appear tasty at first but upon closer inspection lack the nutrients for success.    


How Do I Slow Down and Chew?

 

Research suggests that one of the best ways to slow down your eating is to use utensils and put them down between bites.  Think about it, fast food restaurants serve food that can be eaten without utensils.  When you don't have to use utensils it becomes a lot quicker to stuff food into your mouth.  Ask yourself what utensils you use in your decision making process?  Do you have a set of tools you use to dissect problems into manageable pieces?  If you do have tools, how long do you take between each step before moving forward?   


Where Are You Eating?




The last element to consider in your ability to chew slowly is where you are eating.  If you're life is a series of drive thru interactions chances are you are surviving on fast food ideas and thoughts.   We all deserve a time to sit down and eat real food together.  Real ideas just like real food start from the ground up.  We have to ensure the seeds are planted correctly, given the right nutrients for growth, harvested at the peak of perfection and prepared to bring out their flavours.  Anything less seems a shame.  So this week think about what you will chew on and slow down to taste it all.   




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February 16, 2016


Be Nice To a Grouch Day

 

I love mornings when inspiration hits you smack in the face without breaking a sweat.  Today was one of those mornings as I drove to the gym and heard that today was "Be Nice To a Grouch Day".   Now, in my mind, a grouch has always been gender specific meaning the exclusive descriptor for men.  I don't think I've ever described a woman as a grouch.   I tend to use a different word that starts with a letter much earlier in the alphabet.   Those are rare occasions but that's a different article. 




 What Makes You A Grouch?





 

A grouch is someone you would describe as habitually grumpy or irritable that tends to complain a lot.  Think about the old man from your youth that always chased the kids off his lawn, or the uncle that always yelled at the kids during family reunions.  You might not have to look far to think of someone who fits the description.   If you can't think of someone, maybe you're the person who is the grouch.  Wouldn't that be a surprise.    Grouchiness has a hairline trigger that can appear without notice.  Maybe the barista  put too much cream in your coffee.   Worse yet, your favourite seat on the bus was taken by an elderly woman.... how dare she.  Your co-worker got tickets to the game and is going with their spouse, not you.   Your underwear keeps riding up your butt, how horrible.


 Tormenting Them With Kindness

 

I have a theory about the people who are a grouch.  Sometimes I think they enjoy the moniker.  It is their claim to fame and likely not something they have an interest in changing.    While I'm generally nice to everyone my regular level of nice would likely bounce off a grouch and go unnoticed.  Instead, I need to ratchet it up and torment them with kindness.  While this might not get noticed by the grouch it does provide me with a bit of comic relief. 


Some Ideas To Consider


 1. When they complain about something, immediately respond with 5 opposite virtues.



  2.  Describe everything as the "best".  "This is the best morning."  "You're the best".  "  That was the best tuna sandwich I ever ate".

 3.  Hug the grouch in your life and squeeze tight.  When they ask you "what was that for?"  say, "just because"

 4.  When they start to complain about something tell them you love when they do that and ask them if you can make a top 10 list together.  Watch what happens when you want to make it fun. 

 While I am making light of this day, perhaps a little kindness to someone who needs it would make this an extra special day.  So this week try that hug on someone before they turn into a grouch.  It might make the grouch magically disappear. 


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February 9, 2016


 The Importance of Reading



Today I am spending some quality time with a group of people that are decidedly different than my usual clients.  I have been invited to be a guest storyteller at my daughter's grade 1/2 class.   As a writer and someone who derives great pleasure in reading I am anxiously awaiting the response from these young children.   It's been a long time since I read to a young child, however it is something that I did earnestly with both my children. 



 What Children Get From Reading



 

Studies have shown the incredible benefits derived from reading to children, especially young children.   While my childhood didn't have any hard science to confirm the benefits from reading to young children we now know that brain cells are literally "turned on" when exposed to reading.    This simple activity can improve literacy skills that will help a child's development.   This results in greater cognitive ability, enhanced vocabulary,  better communication skills and a stronger relationship with you. 


 What I Got In Return

 

While I spent part of my morning reading to the group I also had an opportunity to listen to the children read to me.  That's when something incredible happened.   There was a moment when the word "giant" came alive for one of the children right before my eyes.  Prior to sitting down and reading with this child, the word giant was a mystery.  It was a word repeatedly used within the story.  The first time the child saw the word we sounded it out to gain familiarity.  The second time, there was a pause and then a slight recognition.  The magic materialized when the word appeared for third time.  This curious young girl  recognized the word without prompting.  Her previously timid voice was full of confidence as she pronounced the word proudly within the sentence.  It was a high five moment that brought joy to both of us.  



Take A Trip To The Library




In Ontario we are lucky to have access to thousands of books through our public library system.  While some of what we read is in digital form there is nothing as powerful as holding a book in your hands, reading the words, seeing the illustrations and excitedly turning the page to find out what happens next.   If you haven't read with a child lately take a few minutes and spend some quality time finding the power in words.  It's an amazing experience for everyone.   



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February 2, 2016


 Dark Shadows

 

Today is a day that has become synonymous with shadows as it is "Ground hog Day"   For those of you unfamiliar with the day, it is when Puxatawny Phil or Wiarton Willie, two individual ground hogs, emerge from hiding to see if they see their shadow.   The presence of their shadow  means 6 more weeks of winter.   It is, by far, not very scientific but a delight to the locals in Pennsylvania and Southwestern Ontario. 




 Living In The Shadows





 

 Beyond Ground Hog Day, shadows are symbolic for other things in our life.    For many people there is a comfort with staying in the shadows.   This generally means living in a way where you don't bring attention to yourself.   It may be due to fear, shyness or a lack of confidence in your own brightness.   This can become a way of life for a lot of people, particularly when someone close to them delights in being the centre of attention.   You may have had a childhood friend that basked in the light and you were their shy sidekick.   You may work for someone whose constant need for attention requires them to  be the centre of the universe.   When these people are in our lives it's sometimes difficult to step out from the shadows they cast.  



Step Into Your Light




 Each of us has a uniqueness that deserves it's time in the light.   When we step into the light we are allowing ourselves to shine.  It means taking a risk, facing our fears and engaging in life.  The light you create may not be as bright as someone else's but it has a power all the same.  Each time you step out of the shadows your light will get stronger and stronger.  Like the old lighthouses that beckoned sailors  to safety, your light is a force within you that can bring you safely to new adventures in your life.  So this week, instead of staying in the shadows it's time to step into your light.  You may not get the media attention of Wiarton Willie on Ground Hog Day but when someone sees your shadow that's worth celebrating.


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January 26, 2016


 Partners In Crime

 

Ideas come to me at the strangest times and in the most unexpected places.  This morning the classic Aretha Franklin song "Until You Come Back To Me" started me thinking about the awesome Motown music of the 60's and 70's and the song writing partnership of Ashford and Simpson.   Although they didn't write the song Aretha was belting out in my car this morning, they had a host of other memorable songs.  They had an incredible partnership 


 Incredible Partnerships






We don't have to look too far to find amazing partnerships that have shaped our world.   Something incredible happens when two separate entities come together and reshape our thoughts.   It becomes a unique combination that is forever joined in how we think  about them.  Consider these:

  • Bert and Ernie
  • Hamburger and Fries
  • Mac'n Cheese
  • Thelma and Louise
  • Kirk and Spock
  • Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire


Two Heads Are Better Than One





Partnerships create an opportunity for two distinct individuals to come together with unique values, competencies and resources for a common goal.  When that happens amazing things occur.  We become more effective, efficient and innovative.  What's interesting is that the common goal does not need to be life altering.   Sometimes a common goal is as simple as finding a great deal while shopping.  Other times a common goal is to make our day more fun and entertaining.  Whatever goal is important to you consider how finding the right partner to achieve it might make a huge difference.   The best partnerships will bring you joy, fun and an incredible feeling of  lasting friendship.   So this week, if you've been on your own trying to tackle a project maybe it's time to find a partner and watch what happens.  


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January 19, 2016


 Break It Up!


A few years back there was a young Canadian band who released a single called "Break It Up"   The chorus of the song had a catchy phrase that went,  "Break, Break, Break, Break  it up, shake , shake, shake , shake  it up"   As I replayed this song on You Tube this morning I thought how appropriate these words are the day after  "Blue Monday".   For those of you unfamiliar with the day, a few years back someone determined that the third Monday in January was the most depressing day on the calendar. 


 Why So Depressing?


 Apparently the combination of weather, debt, monthly salary and motivation levels are at a yearly low as we recover from the heightened festivities of the holiday season and basically we bottom out.  You should be warned, however, that most of the people promoting Blue Monday are intent on selling you a vacation, but that's another story.   While I'm pretty sure most of us didn't bottom out yesterday I'm also aware of the wear and tear of everyday life on my mental health.   There are days when the thought of the tasks that lie ahead reminds me of Indiana Jones trying to escape a runaway boulder in the opening scene of the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Everything just seems so big and gaining momentum on me. 







 Insert Lyrics Here





What if you looked at the tasks that are in front of you with a slightly different lens.  Instead of seeing them as this big boulder, how might your perspective change if you were able to break it up into smaller pieces.   I like to start with the number 3.   How can I take something and break it down into 3 pieces.   Once I've done that I determine if the smaller pieces are more manageable and doable.   If they still feel too big it's time to break them up into 3's again.    When I hit the magic size I'm able to take action on them.    The key is action.   Everything I break down is preceded by a verb.   This is a nice catalyst for me to put energy into making something happen.   So this week try the power of 3 to BREAK,. BREAK, BREAK IT UP...... it just might be the shake, shake, shake it up you need. 


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January 12,2016


 Being a Poster Child


In the early 70's decorating was a simple process of taking posters out of teen magazines and taping our idols up on our walls.  While my idols consisted of singers such as David Cassidy and Mark Lindsay my brother had the holy trinity of rock 'n roll adorning his walls.  Strategically placed on the sloped ceiling below a black light were the life size images of David Bowie, Alice Cooper and Jimi Hendrix.  Needless to say this group caused heart palpitations in my mother every time she entered the room but for many young teenage fans they represented possibility.  They were 3 completely unique individuals who captured the attention of their fans with a different way of presenting themselves to the world. 


 A Unique Combination of Word and Image









The posters in my brother's room celebrated the uniqueness of those musical artists.  The use of colour and a few distinct words created a message that reinforced their brand.   Posters have been doing that for a long time.   In fact, it is one of the earliest forms of advertising.  It has been used to sell all sorts of merchandise, as well as bolster citizens to support a cause.  To this day we are still able to see the impact of posters in our world.   Go to any theatre and the movie poster captures the mood of the film enticing viewers to attend.


 Find a Poster For You 





If your walls are blank or there's a bit of space available, maybe there's a place for a  poster.   If we think about how they made us feel in the past, perhaps they can re-ignite our spirit in the same way again.   Being in the presence of vibrant images and strong messages are sometimes all we need to rally the troops during difficult times.   A great poster can start or stop a conversation the first time someone sees it.  It can cause an outburst of laughter or bring a tear to an eye.  It can make us think or simply remind us of what's important.  Whatever message you want to convey there's likely a poster that matches your mood.  So this week, it might be time to take a visit to google images and find the perfect poster to convey the message you need to say


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January 5, 2016


 The Most Valuable Investment


As this is my first article for the new year I thought it important to focus on those things in life that bring contentment and happiness.  Having seen the movie "The Big Short" over the holidays I thought about how misdirected people can become when they search for happiness via their stock portfolios and their job title.   We live in a world where it is easy to become obsessed with acquiring things.  It's as if the road to happiness is only available to individuals who have a big bank account and are famous.   That's what a recent study of millennials found.  When asked what would make them happy, they replied money and fame.  This, however, flies in the face of Harvard's Grant Study.  This 75 year study has revealed what truly makes an individual happy and content.  Their findings confirm that the only thing that matters in life is our relationships. 


 What's In Your Relationship Portfolio?




The relationships that bring the most happiness and contentment are  characterized by a depth of caring and commitment where you know the other person will be there for you and you for them.  We are incredibly lucky when we have these relationships in our lives.  I like to think that my immediate family feels this unconditionally.  They are the foundation of my relationship investments and definitely would be the ones that you "buy and hold" .   I also have relationships that have become an essential part of my  portfolio with friends that have been part of my life for decades.   When I think about my world and the fascinating people I meet there is always an opportunity to add to my relationship portfolio.   Like any investment, we all have specific criteria we look for when adding to our portfolio.   What appears attractive to one person might not always work for someone else.  We are also lured by those individuals that are readily available.  While they may not be the perfect fit, they work for right now.  Personally, when I make an investment in my relationship portfolio I look for people that have similar values to mine.   When I find those people I tend to hang on for the long run.  




 Don't Neglect Your Investments




It's easy to neglect these important investments from time to time.  We get caught up in the busyness of our lives and forget to check in.  There is always tomorrow, the next day, the next week, the next month or next year.    The true value of these investments comes from the time we put into them.    When we default to a "next chance I get" mindset we potentially risk losing the value of our relationship investments.  From our families to our extended friends how we decide to devote our time and love creates the greatest value..   There is always capacity if we believe the investment has value.  This week find the time to reconnect with one of your "investments" that you've been meaning to rekindle.  Maybe it's an email, a telephone call or a face to face hello over coffee.   Whatever you choose to do, watch how the value of that investment makes you smile.  .   


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December 15, 2015


 The Role of Language


Language plays an important role in our lives.  From the time we are born we are developing language skills based on socially shared rules that help us understand what words mean, how to make new words, put words together and identify word combinations that are best in specific situations.  It is a never ending process of human development.   It is also what defines our identity within a community.  Think about the words you use within your family, within your peer relationships and within the larger communities such as school or work.  


 Organizational Language




Within an organization language is nothing more than a set of conversations between people.   The organizational language creates an environment that defines the words we use, who we have access to communicate with and the overall purpose and structure of our communication.   Consider the use of organizational lexicons.  These are often created to ensure that everyone has a consistent understanding of the language within the organization to support efficiency.   We also have tools we use that define the questions we ask and when we ask them.   While this is helpful in creating efficiencies it does limit an organization's ability to grow




 What...... A New Language?




In order to foster growth organizations need to inject new language into their environment.   Of course, new language might be technically and intellectually demanding.   Ask any adult how difficult it is to learn a new language and you will hear a list of challenges.  Within an organization the introduction of a new language introduces the classic struggle between efficiency and growth.    While we want to foster growth it needs to be easy otherwise it will fall by the wayside.   In our desire to be meet our current objectives we narrow our use of language.   We lose language through either external pressure that replaces the old with something different or from internal decay.  When I think of decay the image of neglect comes to mind.  When something is new it is novel and interesting but embedding it in the environment takes habit and commitment.    Left to its own devices decay sets in quickly.


 Don't Lose A Language

It is sometimes the path of least resistance to use a language that is familiar and comfortable.  We can continue to ask the same questions, in the same way, at the same time we have always done.  In all likelihood, our answers will remain the same and our growth will slow, or worse, stop.  Each quarter, we add over 500 new words to the English language.  These words are fresh, different and provide an opportunity to enhance our vocabulary.   They surround us in social media and are adopted throughout the world.  Instead of losing a language, why not evolve and grow it every day.  You can do this by challenging the status quo.  Replace the same set of questions you use with the questions you aren't supposed to ask.  What are the questions that hit a nerve, or make someone squirm in their chair.   That brief moment of discomfort could unleash a whole new language.  So this week, what's the taboo question you're going to ask? 





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December  8, 2015


 The Subtleties of Emotion


Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror when you're in a heightened emotional state and wondered what emotion you are showing to the world?   Sometimes it's not easy to differentiate the emotions that we experience.   They reside in subtle shades of gray and in small nuances.   We might feel sadness but a decidedly different emotion could be showing on our face.  We enhance our emotional intelligence when we become aware of the different emotions we feel as well as the way we express them. 




A Case of "S's"


There are certain words that we use interchangeably to describe our feelings and emotions, however if we look deeper we will discover some subtle differences.   Consider the grouping:

Surprised, Startled, Shocked and Scared

Upon closer inspection we might discover some subtle differences between these feelings and how we express them. 

Surprised:   This is generally when something unexpected causes someone to feel mild astonishment or shock.  The interesting aspect about this is that surprise has the potential to be both positive or negative.   Think about the your reaction to a surprise birthday party, or an unexpected visit from a friend. 

Startled:   This is generally described as something causing a person or animal to feel sudden shock or alarm.   There is a sense that there is a heightened physical reaction.  When we think of shock or alarm we also trigger our fight or flight response.  

Shocked:   This is the emotional or physical reaction to a sudden, unexpected and unusually unpleasant event or experience.  The wording is filled with negativity as if this is a feeling we want to shed as quickly as possible. 

 Scared:   This is to fill, especially suddenly, with fear or terror.   Definitely not an experience that we look for yet we often hear people described themselves as scared.


 Choose Your Words Carefully




  When we interact with people face to face, the vast majority of our message is transmitted through non-verbal communication.   Imagine the confusion when we say one thing and show a different emotion.   This week it's time to think about our emotional vocabulary and the words we use to describe our feelings.   Are they really the right words or a synonym that we've become accustomed to using?   Take the time to uncover your emotions and find the words and expressions that align.  When you enhance this part of your emotional intelligence, watch what happens. 






 

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December 1, 2015


 Silencing Your Inner Critic



Sometimes our harshest critic is the one who is with us constantly, ourselves.   We will often forgive others their shortcomings but berate ourselves for not measuring up in some capacity.   If left unchecked this critic can play a nasty game on our self esteem.  We will never be the best of ourselves if that voice is filling the silence in our thoughts.   It's time to treat our inner critic like the adversary it is.   




Time To Fight Back


If the thoughts of our inner critic came from the mouth of someone else we might react differently.   In sports there is a phenomena known as "Smack Talk"  that might be of use with our inner critic.   Smack Talk is a form of verbal intimidation that's been around for quite some time in physical competition.   When someone uses it and triumphs it becomes an unforgettable part of their persona.  In a way our Inner Critic is like our competitor and those thoughts that find refuge in our head need a definite counter punch to be knocked loose.  


 Some Classic Lines To Consider





There are some great lines that sports figures have used throughout history that might find a place in your verbal repertoire against your inner critic.  So when your inner critic utters "You're Not Good Enough" try one of these in response.

  • I'm not arrogant, I'm good (Barry Bonds)
  • "Get your popcorn ready, I'm gonna put on a show"  (Terrell Owens)
  • "It ain't bragging, if you can back it up"  (Dizzy Dean)

 And finally what may be the most eloquent comment uttered by Bobby Knight to silence the critics in his world,

  • When my time on Earth is gone, and my activities here are past, I want them to bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass"

 So this week have a little fun with some "Self Smack Talk".  When you inner critic raises its ugly head feel free to chop it off with a little courtside chatter.  Give it a try.  Shout it out loud and strong.   It definitely is worth a listen. 



 

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November 24, 2015


 Decorate Your Life


This past week I started decorating my home for Christmas.  What this means is methodically laying out different decorations for each room of the house.  If you're like me, it becomes the perfect time of the year to bring bright colours to my usual neutral palette.  Consider it like adding a pinch of Elton John's stage costumes to the black and white attire of a symphony orchestra. 




The "What If" Factor


While I have a variety of decorations that are either new or 30 years old their placement becomes an adventure each season.  While some items are a fixture in certain rooms there is always the "what if" process.   When this happens it becomes an adventure of finding new combinations and placements that make a different statement.   It's as if we are opening up our minds to a different way of seeing the same old things.  




How Will You Decorate?


The décor that we surround ourselves with has enormous power to motivate us and bring additional energy to our world.  Studies have found that creating a personalized environment enhances the productivity of people.  Sometimes it's as simple as bringing in pictures or a plant to your work world.   This holiday season why don't you find a special decoration and have some fun with it.  Move it around to different locations and watch how people react to it.  Does it change the energy in the room?  Does it create conversation?  Use it to inject some life into your world.   After the holidays are over, bring in something new and start to redecorate all over again. 


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November 17,  2015


 ......Try, Try, Try Again


This morning marked the start of a new nutritional program for me as I continue on my quest to optimal health.   Like many people I work very hard at staying healthy but it is a formidable challenge for me.   There are times when I'm winning and there are times when my metabolism shuts me down.   Of course, like any challenge I like to think I'm up for it no matter what.  




New Tastes


 Before heading to the gym this morning I was instructed to eat a grapefruit and 10 almonds.   Grapefruits have never been one of those fruits I've kept in the house.   Perhaps you've had some that subconsciously you always steer away from in the fruit and produce section.  For me that was grapefruits.   As I cut up the grapefruit this morning I discovered why I naturally veered away from this fruit.  For some reason when this fruit enters my mouth I am instantly reminded of the taste of bile.   Not necessarily the feeling I was hoping for.   I dutifully ate half the grapefruit but knew that I needed to stop there.   I definitely drank more water while working out this morning which might have been the intent of the grapefruit before working out.  




New Textures


After arriving home my post workout sustenance was in the form of a "New Zealand" whey shake.   It was a combination of whey powder, mixed berries and banana.   As I put it in my blender and whipped all the ingredients into a frenzy I thought it might be  refreshing.   It had a nice frothy foam and poured smoothly into my glass.   As it approached my lips, my senses were overtaken by my nose that registered a new scent.   It definitely was not something I was familiar with.   Once again I dutifully drank this concoction before starting to prepare my breakfast of steel cut oats.   I am definitely unfamiliar with cooking this product so  I naively thought it would be   palatable  mixing it with hot water.   Unfortunately hot water with steel cut oats is like mixing cork with water and thinking it will soften it up.   It doesn't work.   After some cooking modifications it turned out well and actually didn't taste half bad


 New Beginnings


This is a long way of saying that no matter where you are in the journey of your life there are always new beginnings.   Times to introduce new foods, flavours and textures to your world.   If they have the added benefit of improving your health then that's a bonus.   So this week challenge yourself to a new beginning with the food you eat.   Wander through the fruit and produce department and find an elusive item that hasn't met your taste buds just yet.   Bring it home and experience a new sensation.   You'll be glad you did. 



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November 10, 2015


 Southern Hospitality


Last week my husband and I had the good fortune to spend a week in Tennessee.   We discovered first hand the meaning of the term southern hospitality as we stayed in someone's home via AirBnb.    Southern hospitality is traditionally defined as showing graciousness, kindness and warmth to others.   When we arrived at our host's home we were greeted by a personal message wishing us a happy anniversary and she provided us a lovely tray of home baked scones and fresh fruit.  What a welcome.  




Practicing for The Holidays


Since we are only weeks away from the start of the holiday season I thought about what I could do to bring southern hospitality to life in our northern location.   I started with  graciousness and what that might  look like?  Graciousness goes beyond manners or being polite.  It starts with being comfortable with yourself in a way that attracts others.  It includes a curiosity about others  and how we fit together.  When we make someone feel included and special we are superbly gracious.  Kindness goes beyond treating people the way you want to be treated it should mean treating them the way they want to be treated.   





Celebrating Our Differences


Thank goodness my family and friends are a diverse group of individuals.  Each person has a quality or characteristic that sets them apart from everyone else.  As a good host I try to provide at least one thing for each person that makes them feel special.   That might mean a special food item, a decoration or a preferred seat at the table.  With every interaction I have an opportunity to gather the information that I need to create the perfect environment for each guest.  .   


 Let The Party Begin


This week start observing the people around you.   What are the things that make them happy and feel included.  When you discover these things, take the next step and figure out a way to showcase them when you are together.  When you do that you will warm the hearts of everyone you meet.  





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October 27, 2015


 Keeping Me On My Toes


 When someone says they are going to "Keep you on your toes"  they are committing to keeping you alert, aware and prepared so that you won't be caught off-guard should a situation arise that you didn't expect.   We see indications of readiness all around our world these days.  Most of us have become familiar with the emergency preparedness levels.  terrorist alert levels, severe weather warnings and even more that would fill an entire page.  While these programs have built into them a level of keeping us on our toes, not everything in life requires the same diligence




The Fine Line Between Strength and Fatigue 


Body builders will sometimes build up their calf muscles by walking on their toes and carrying dumbbells.  They do this specifically to create definition and build up those muscles prior to a show.  It is not something they do all the time or exclusively in the absence of other strength building to create balance.   Physically, if we always walked on our toes we would shorten muscles that require elongation.  Before too long those overused muscles would become fatigued and cramp up.   Mentally, if we are always poised to respond we may forget how to flip the shut off switch.     The question becomes knowing when you require a little nudge to get on your toes.



 George Carlin Said It Best



The late comedian George Carlin performed a funny skit around the concept of keeping people on their toes particularly, individuals working in the retail industry.   He used some interesting phrases to define individuals who have checked out and definitely need to be kept on their toes.   Some he referred to as "walking around not all there"  or having a "neutral zone around their heads" and finally "a couple sandwiches short of a picnic".   When we see these individuals in the working environment it is frustrating to everyone around them.   I'm sure George Carlin would consider the show the Walking Dead as a perfect metaphor. 


 A Shot of Adrenalin


 Consider interacting with the "walking dead" in a way that's unexpected.  If you're in a location that is generally quiet, be loud.  Instead of asking a common question, pose a completely unrelated question.  In essence, shake up the situation and the person at the same time.   Anything that might trigger emotions such as fear or anger will cause the person to release epinephrine.   This might just be the temporary jolt to bring someone back to life.  So this week it's time to assess where you are in relation to your toes.  Are you always on your toes or completely flat footed.  If you find yourself residing in either extreme too long it's time for a therapeutic foot rub.  You'll feel better for it.  




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October  20, 2015


 The Concession Speech


I am writing this post on Canada's Federal Election Day as our nation waits to hear the results of a long campaign.  For months now the political ads have painted a picture of fear.   If you re-elect the current government you have to fear what they will continue to do and if you elect a new government then you have to fear their  incompetence.   What I hope for most this evening are concession speeches that bring us hope and remove fear.  This is the wish I have more than anything for our citizens




 What Is FEAR? 


I read a lovely acronym for FEAR, it was False Expectations Appearing Real.    I thought this most appropriate noting the false expectations that each party was making about the other party leading up to today's election.   Instead it's time to focus on the reality  in our country.   We are definitely not perfect.  Not a single party or individual candidate  has the perfect solution.  What we have is a way of life that is substantially better than a large percentage of people in the world.    Every day I meet brilliant people who want to make a difference and many already do.    What our politicians need to do is mobilize the power of its citizens.  With social media we are more connected than any generation before.   What if our politicians posed the problems we are faced with directly to our citizens through  crowdsourcing in an effort  to find solutions.   How interesting that would be to find a solution, not through arguing in the House of Commons, but by challenging our citizens to find the answers through collaboration and open information.  





Not Business As Usual




When you wake up tomorrow and hear the election results remember business as usual is a myth.   We haven't lived in a world where "business as usual" has been the norm in a long time.  Instead I challenge every person to change one thing to remove the stigma of fear in their lives.  It might mean shutting off the news if the lead story is a tragedy.  It might mean sharing only good news stories on facebook.  It might mean writing a letter to your  MP and asking what good they will do.   Whatever it might be you have the power to remove fear.  Let's all take a first step. 


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October 13, 2015


 Just In Time


As a learning and performance consultant there is a magical moment when I interact with a client at the exact moment when they need my service most.   Some might believe  serendipity has taken over and the stars have aligned perfectly to bring people together, I like to think it's knowing what's going on in your potential client's world. 




A Message From The Past


 This weekend, I received an interesting message from the past that appeared front and centre.   After weeks of seeing an advertisement on television about updating your décor, I  finally started stripping the wallpaper in my kitchen.   About halfway through the project I uncovered a message from the decorator that had originally applied the wallpaper.  Written on the wall was her company name, phone number and the date she did the work, July 1997.   How clever I thought to myself, considering how long it had been since I remodelled the kitchen.  While she likely didn't know when I would be doing other work in my house when I was stripping this wallpaper it was a perfect opportunity to reconnect.   She was making serendipity happen. 





It Might Take A While


 We never know when our timing is perfect.   We might be lucky during our first contact, while in other cases it might be years before we're successful.   The important thing is to leave a lasting impression and maintain contact.   Whenever you interact with someone leaving a positive impression is crucial.   Too many times we get caught up looking for an instant connect and when that doesn't materialize we wear the expression of disappointment.   Instead, try enjoying the interaction and the energy you share with another person.  If you are upbeat and positive that might just be the impression that the other person remembers.   Keep the lines of communication open and check in at least once every quarter.    Remember, at some point the timing might be just right.


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October 6, 2015


     

The Unforgivable Curse


I am a huge Harry Potter fan and have read every book and watched each movie several times.   This week I was reminded about the "unforgivable curses"  depicted in the movie, when I thought about the impact of employment termination.  In Harry Potter there are three unforgivable curses.  the Cruciatus Curse, the Imperius Curse and Avada Kedavra which kills instantly.   Using them is punishable by a life imprisonment in Azkahban.   In our working world there are certain actions we take that can result in termination.  Whether we purposely or accidentally take  those actions we are breaking rules that employers consider unforgivable.  




What Next?

 

 In the cases of termination the action of the employer is often less impactful than the punishment we might impose upon ourselves.  In our minds we dwell on the what ifs and negative consequences of our actions, delaying any forgiveness we give to ourselves.  It is as if we are repeatedly inflicting the Cruciatus curse on ourselves increasing the pain and intensity over time.  When this happens we can slide down a slippery slope that becomes harmful to ourselves and those around us.  We need to begin by forgiving ourselves.




The Harmful Effects of Unforgiveness


There is a strong correlation between forgiveness and our health.  Science has found that the impact on our body has both physiological and psychological effects.  Our body's chemistry and electricity becomes altered, our muscles tense, there is reduced blood flow and as a result we might experience headaches, lack of nutrients and other profound changes.   Some people develop depression and low self esteem.   When we forgive ourselves,  it reduces our stress and in turn starts to return our body to balance.   So this week think about those things you have not forgiven yourself for doing.  Perhaps you yelled at someone, forgot to do something for your family or ate too much.  Whatever occurred stop carrying it around with you and forgive yourself.  After all, most everyone else has already forgotten. 



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September 29, 2015


 Half Way There


 There are a few words in the English language that are full of ambiguity when people use them.  One of these words is "half".   If we use it in a phrase like "we're half way there" it is full of enthusiasm and anticipation.  Used in a slightly different way it is full of negativity such as "She gave a half-hearted effort".    It is a word that we perceive as either half empty or half full .  




A Unique Moment for Reflection


 If you've ever been working on a project there is a moment when you reach the half-way point.  From that point forward there is either less to do or less time required before you reach the end.  If we allow ourselves the luxury of reflecting on this moment before it passes we might appreciate all that came before it.  The Super Bowl might be able to teach us a thing or two about half time celebrations.   It has become a huge spectacle and worthy of as much attention, if not more, than the game itself. 







The Positive Side of Half


So this week pay attention to the half way points in your world.   When you find one, take a few minutes and appreciate its significance.  Who knows, you might find yourself using "half" in a whole new way, one that is filled with optimism and abundance. 

Who knows you might find it's not half bad


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September 8, 2015



 Go Boldly!



Today is the first day of school for millions of children in North America.   Among that group are children who will be going to school for the very first time.  As I reflect back to my first day of school I remember being full of fear and yet wanting to be with all the other kids.  For children that first day of school might be the boldest thing they've done in their lives so far.   Stepping onto the school bus or into the school yard takes courage and daring because we're never sure what lies ahead.   




 Follow Captain Kirk


On September 8, 1966 the television show, Star Trek made it's first appearance on the airwaves.  It's signature opening had Captain James T. Kirk say the following:  " Space, the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.   Its five year mission:  to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilisations; to boldly go where no man has gone before. "  While this is apropos for the 23rd century there are messages even for us regular folk in the 21st century. 




What Goes In Bold Comes Out Bright


Back in the 70's there was a laundry detergent called "Bold" and their slogan was "What goes in Bold comes out bright".  Every time we face the unknown in our lives we have an opportunity to be bold, to demonstrate courage and daring.  When we challenge ourselves in this way we are becoming bright stars.   History is full of explorers who were bold.  We remember their names, adventures and how they lived.   While we might remember quiet moments of relaxation and contemplation in our lives we relish and relive the times when we were bold.   So this week look for opportunities to be daring and courageous.  Channel your inner explorer and discover the brightness all around you 



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September 1, 2015


 Do You Understand?



On the weekend I found myself asking this question to a man who had obviously had too much to drink.   As I listened to his response to my question it was very evident that he had no idea what I was asking and didn't want to take the time to understand.   Now in his situation, he chose to cloud his ability to comprehend through the use of recreational substances whereas a lot of us  miss important information because we fail to take the action to ensure we understand.  




 What If I'm The Only One?


There are times when I've found myself in a situation where a lot of information has been given to me at once and I'm not quite sure when the question "Does everyone understand?" is posed.   At that moment in time my gut tells me I need to ask more questions but when others start saying they understand, the voice in my head tells me to nod in concurrence and hope for the best.  

 This is so counterproductive because I end up asking one of my learned colleagues after the fact who confirms we were all in the dark.  It seems ridiculous that we're all so afraid of that question.




 I Don't Understand


This week instead of going along with the crowd, speak up when you don't understand.   When you think about what you are supposed to understand check in and make sure you've got it.   What is a question you might pose that would make things crystal clear?   Take the opportunity to ask a lot of questions.   Dissect things so that they make sense to you.   What you don't understand can hurt you so use whatever tools you have to ensure you build the correct understanding. 


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August 18, 2015



 Leave Your Guilt At  The Door



 If you're a woman in today's world you have undoubtedly faced situations where guilt has impacted the decisions you have made.  This is especially true when your world is a combination of roles from wife, mother, daughter, employee, boss, coworker, and friend.   How do you give up one in favour for another?   What is the magic combination of time that allows you to balance it all?  






 Because You Care


Guilt gets it's strength from the fact that you care.   You care about being the best you can be in each of your roles.   In particular, women still have a moderate stereotypical association with family over career that sometimes over  feeds the guilt in our lives.   Imagine if we were gender neutral in how we perceived each of our roles.   It might free up more possibilities about how we interact with one another.


Take A Step Forward

 

 This week I'm suggesting something very specific for the women in Windsor-Essex County.   Come participate in a wonderful networking event being put on by L-A-W-S, Leadership Advancement for Women and Sport.  It's August 27, 2015 at Rochester Place Golf course. 

It is a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of meeting other women in the community and build your personal network.   It starts with giving yourself permission.   Permission to step forward without guilt.   The world will not stop, your business will not crumble and your family will survive.   What you'll get in return is priceless. 


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 August 11, 2015


 Looking Beyond The Initial Purpose

 



 We all have things in our life that have outlived their primary purpose, yet for some reason, we hang onto them.   It's easy for me to look around and see a lot of items that are neatly piled but have remained untouched for a prolonged period of time.   There's a tremendous movement under foot that challenges us to look at these items in a new way through repurposing. 









 Using Your Imagination


Imagine using an old wooden extension ladder horizontally as a book case.   Or better yet,  taking old books and using them as a book shelf.   Not only are these cool ideas but they help reduce man's footprint on our environment by recycling items we already have.  Years ago, it was in bad taste to buy slightly used items as that was only for individuals that couldn't afford new.   Now there has been a huge shift to buy slightly used items and recirculate them to new users and extend their active life.  


Join The Movement


 There is a great sense of personal satisfaction that comes with repurposing something and breathing new life into it.   It's like the ultimate second chance.  This week look around your home at those items that have been neglected and are collecting dust.   Start by searching the internet for ideas on how you might use it in an alternate way.   Instead of driving to a retail store, why not try a resale shop, salvage store or garage sale to find something slightly used.   Not only will you find an interesting assortment of goods, you'll save a pile of money. 


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August 4, 2015


 A Special Month


I saw an email the other day that suggested that this August was an extra special month,  so special, as a matter of fact, that the circumstances of this August's calendar would not repeat for 823 years.     As soon as I read that I was hooked and ready to buy a lottery ticket or learn to play piano as the cosmos was lining up to amaze us all this month.


 Just An Urban Legend


 Of course, while I got initially excited about this August, I decided to perform my due diligence and research this claim.  It turns out it was an urban legend and mathematically impossible.  While I was disappointed I thought about the month that was just starting and what would happen if I really believed it was special?   What if it were special not because of the number of Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the month, but because of what I did with every single day within the month. 










 Find Something To Celebrate


This month, I have several events to celebrate from my husband and son's birthday to my daughter's wedding.   While the birthdays show up every year, a wedding is a once in a lifetime event, or so we hope.   The planning that goes into a wedding is a true labour of love that makes it memorable and special.   We can choose to do this with any day we want to, not just a wedding.   Think about a day that you want to make special, perhaps it's the day a special package arrives.  All you have to do is plan a celebration and make it happen.  .  


Add These Ingredients and Mix Thoroughly


 There are several key ingredients that must be  added together to make any celebration special

  • family and friends
  • music
  • food
  • fun
  • youthful excitement





Once you add all these ingredients together and mix them thoroughly you have the perfect recipe for a celebration.   So this week find a special reason to celebrate.  Maybe you found the missing sock for it's mate that's been sitting all alone on the dryer for months.  Whatever the reason just make it happen.  You'll be glad you did. 

 



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July 28, 2015


 Have You Seen The Newest Bike?


 Yesterday afternoon I saw a strangely odd contraption that immediately grabbed my attention.   Two men were riding something that was a cross between an elliptical machine and a bicycle.  It was labelled "Ellip2go".   Right after seeing this device I did what I'm sure hundreds of others did, I googled it.   I discovered this nifty little device had a price range between $1800 and $3500.   That price point immediately quenched any potential purchase I might consider but it got me thinking about the evolution of bicycles. 


 A Long History


 Bicycles have been around to some degree since the 13th century.   Most of us are familiar with the "high wheelers' that became popular around the 1870s as the first recognizable bike.  While we often see them in museums, riding them required acrobatic skills and they never caught on with the masses.   It wasn't until the 1890s that bicycles started to be mass produced.  Children's bikes which are so much a part of our current lives didn't become popular until the 1920's.   Since then we have seen the development of tricycles, racing bikes, recumbent bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes and now Ellip2gos.  You can even choose between a single speed bike or up to 30 gears if you prefer. 






 Man and Motion


We have always been fascinated with any means of propelling ourselves forward.  If we could go faster by mechanical means we wanted to have access to it.  Bicycles while a main form of transportation also helped eliminate the bustle and the corset from women's wardrobes as bicycling became a popular pastime.   In our effort to go green we have seen cities embrace bike power in their communities. Copenhagen is currently the most bike friendly city in the world.   Canada, has only one city in the top 20, Montreal.   While other forms of transportation have become dominant in North America the benefits of the bicycle are endless. 


Time For a Bicycle Smile


 There is a magical smile that brightens the face of a child when they get their first bike.   You see it again when they ride by themselves for the first time without training wheels.   This week it's time to reconnect with that smile.  Take the bike out of the garage or shed and pump up those tires.   Take a ride and feel the wind in your face.   In fact, there is a legend that says women might be particularly fond of riding their bikes on rough terrain.   All that bouncing on a small seat just might give you an even better reason to smile.   Why not give it a try.  






 

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July 21, 2015


 Beyond The Pinnacle

 

There are events in our lives that become defining moments.   On this day in 1969 Neil Armstrong had one of the most incredible events that any human has experienced, he was the first man to walk on the moon.   While none of us can duplicate Armstrong's feat we all have events that define who we are.  The question is what happens beyond those events? 


 Life's Not Over After Prom


 When I was in high school I remember seeing a group of girls who were absolutely beautiful.  You might remember them, their hair and makeup was perfect and they stood out from the rest of us who were still trying to apply lipstick without making a mess.  What I didn't realize at the time was that for some individuals, high school represents their pinnacle.  They will never have anything that catapults them beyond the status they achieved during those four years.  Research has confirmed that in economically depressed areas of the United States, the money that is spent on prom is greater than at any other event in their lives.   It is their pinnacle.





 How to Move Forward


Neil Armstrong walked on the moon when he was 39 years old and lived for another 42 years.   Over half of his life was in the shadow of a great moment.   If you've followed his career, you will realize that he never went into space again.   In fact, he became a professor at a University in Cincinnati.   When we think of our legacy those pinnacle events are just a small part of who we are.   Zach Johnson, who won the Open Championship in golf said that while winning the Claret jug was important, his family and specifically his children are his most important legacy.  It is the relationships that we foster and impact that create our legacy.   Not all of us have children, however, our actions speak to those around us.   Neil Armstrong took on the role of teacher for generations of students.   He gave that gift to others for many years.  


 Leap To New Heights


 This week create a timeline of your life and identify those pinnacle events in your life.  When did they occur?   Who did they impact?  Next,  identify the next pinnacle that you're striving to achieve.   The world is full of mountain tops, some higher than others but all different and spectacular.   If you've gone to one pinnacle it's time to move to another.   Looking through the rearview mirror is an occasional practice, not something you focus all your attention on.   The good stuff is still to come.    







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 July 14, 2015


 All Stars


Last night major league baseball held it's annual all star game.   It's been a tradition since 1933 when it was first held in Chicago's Comiskey Park.   Imagine the excitement those first fans felt when they saw all the best players together for the first time.  What a spectacle it must have been. 


 When The Personalities Are Brighter Than The Play


 There is something spectacular about being in the presence of greatness.  It inspires average people to do more and dream big.  What happens, though, when the standard of greatness is all around you?   In the case of the all star game, we seldom see great team play, just individuals showing patches of their greatness.  It's hard to cheer for a contrived team that has been brought together for a show.  This year, if you were voted/selected as a first team all star you received $1 million, a second team all star $500,000.  While that appears to be a lot of money for you and me, it pales in comparison to the $3.6 million average salary in major league baseball.  Couple that with a player's hesitancy to put himself out there for fear of injury and we seldom see performance of a high caliber. 





 The Best All Stars


 Sports fans love to cheer for a team on the rise, especially when it's a team that's been developed together over the years.  A special magic happens when the greatness of the team is nurtured from the ground up.   There is a sense of pride as you watch them meet and exceed their potential.   This is not exclusive to sports teams.  High performing teams often follow the same trajectory where they are built from the ground up.   Recruiters will often look for a "star" only to find their performance never gels in a new team environment.   Their efforts would be better spent on identifying the "rising stars" and bringing them together.    

  


What You Need to Continue Ascending

 

 This week, take an inventory of your skills and what you want to develop to help your team.  Where are you in terms of achieving great team success?  How will you leverage everyone's strengths as you move forward?  As a huge sports fan, I remember those lineups that were part of great teams.  Not everyone was an all star on the team, but together they were unstoppable with someone new stepping up when needed.  In fact, one of the most incredible at bats I ever witnessed came from a utility player with the 1984 Detroit Tigers, Dave Bergman.   He wasn't one of the marquee players on the team but his contribution was incredible.   On June 4, 1984 the Tigers were playing the Blue Jays and the game had gone into extra innings.   In the bottom of the 10th inning he was in a battle with Blue Jays pitcher, Roy Lee Jackson.   He fouled pitch after pitch off Jackson until he connected on the 13th pitch hitting a 3 run homer winning the game.  Dave Bergman never made it to Cooperstown as an individual, but the 1984 Tigers will be remembered for their greatness as a team for a long,  long time. 


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 July 7, 2015


 Comic Book Super Heroes

 

 Many historians believe the first comic book, The Wasp, was published on this day in 1802.   From those humble beginnings comic books have grown into a multi billion dollar business.   When I was young reading comics seemed a  bit unacceptable as a favoured reading material, however, there was something exciting and daring when you turned the brightly coloured pages while reading clandestinely by the light of a  flashlight in bed with the covers tented over your head.     


 In the Beginning


 In the beginning, comics were a simple collection of sequential panels with vivid pictures and prose representing individual scenes.  Within the panels, the characters used dialogue in the form of word bubbles.  The first comics often depicted politicians in a veiled disguise that sometimes lead to lawsuits.  It wasn't until 1938 that things took a big turn.  That's when Superman was created, our first Super Hero.   Up until that point, Super Heroes were absent from our world.  We had to fill our lives with regular people, and if they did something heroic, they were briefly celebrated and we moved on.  






Every Super Hero Needs a Super Villain


Of course, we had to create a Super Hero because the evil in our comic book  world was escalating so exponentially that the villains had to be eradicated.  Historically,  I'm sure that 1938 had a few real life villains that fed this desire and so began the classic Archetype  clash between Super Hero and Super Villain  


Beyond the Comic Book Pages


What has become interesting is that we have become de-sensitized to every day acts of good and evil.  Unless something has Super Hero or Super Villain characteristics we've lost interest.   We don't create TV shows about every day crime, we create TV shows about serial killers.  The news doesn't report acts of bravery unless it is truly exceptional.   It's as if we are constantly "one upping" the best and worst that we witness in the world.  


 Search Out A Hero


 This week it's time to search out an everyday hero in our lives.  What heroic activity did someone do that you noticed?  It doesn't need to be incredible it just needs to be noticed.  You might also stop looking for that super villain in your world.  Chances are there's not too many super villains lurking around the corner.  They might be like you and me,  a good person having a not so good day.   In closing, I'll leave you with a quote to ponder.  "Behind every great hero is someone who noticed what they did". 


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June 30, 2015



 The Last Laugh

 

I love a funny story especially the kind that continues to make you laugh even though you've heard it a dozen times.  Those are the best.  Just this morning I read a story about a young boy and a barber.   The barber was trimming a customer's hair and occasionally checking his watch.  He explained to the customer that everyday at 9:30 a young boy comes in and they play a game.  The barber went on to explain that he thought this young boy was the stupidest boy he ever met.  At precisely 9:30 the young boy came in and the game began.  The barber held out two hands, in one was two quarters and the other held a dollar bill.  The boy was told to pick one and he could keep it.  As he had done every other time the boy picked the quarters and left.  The barber looked at his customer and said "I told you he was stupid".    A while later the customer who had witnessed the exchange spotted the young boy leaving the corner store with an ice cream.  He went up to him and asked why he didn't pick the dollar?  The young boy replied the minute I do,  the game is over. 


 Who's Laughing Now? 


 It's easy to pretend to be humorous at the expense of someone else.  How many times have you been like the Barber and repeated a story that causes someone to laugh at another person?  When we laugh at someone we are no better than bullies in a school yard.  In fact, emerging research suggests there is a strong correlation between the type of humour we use and our bullying or being bullied. 


  




Using the Power of Observation


There is an alternate form of humour that doesn't require putting someone down to be funny.   It is called observational comedy.  It is based on the commonplace aspects of everyday life.  Usually it involves noticing something commonplace that has gone relatively unobserved and finding the humour in it.  It is about observing the unobservable things in life.   Take hotdogs and hotdog buns as an example.   Have you ever noticed that hotdogs come in a package of 10 while the buns come in a package of 8.  Why is that?  They're not like hamburgers that I can stack up and make a double pattie burger, hot dogs don't stack up the same way.   Have you ever had to tell a child it wasn't their turn today for a bun?  Maybe parents used the bun as a reward for good behaviour?  "Hey Johnny, you made your bed 5 days in a row..... I think there's a hot dog bun in your future".   That's a very simple example of observational comedy


What Will You Notice?

 

 When we look at the world through a different lens we enable ourselves to find the humour in what we see.  How can we make the everyday funny?  This week start observing those unobservable things that are part of your daily routine.   What do you see?  What makes sense?  What doesn't make sense?  Ask someone if they've ever noticed....?   Imagine the fun you might have if you just start looking for it.











 




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June 23, 2015


 Celebrate Summer


Yesterday I was reminded of an important fact that I haven't had to pay much attention to for quite some time ; there are 2 days of school left till summer vacation.  This statement was dramatically written in red marker on a white board behind the counter of our local school bus company.   When I asked them if they were counting down, their response was "since March break".  


 Alice Cooper's Anthem


 In 1972 Alice Cooper released the song "School's Out".  It became an anthem for our generation that was repeatedly played on the last day of school.  Of course, as thrilled as we all were as students, I've grown to understand that a student's elation is easily surpassed by the teacher's excitement

.    




What Are You Going To Do? 


 After 10 months of the same routine, day in and day out we sometimes find ourselves at a loss of what to do with this abundance of free time.   If you read the  advice columns there are Top 10 lists for every activity imaginable from riding a roller coaster, to visiting a zoo to watching a movie with friends.   These are great lists and might take up 10 days worth of your 60+ day vacation.   I have a different idea


Find Your Natural Rhythm


So much of what we do is dictated by the time on the clock.   We wake up based on a preconceived notion of what's an appropriate time to sleep in.  We eat at "meal times" ,  we follow schedules to play sports, catch buses, go to the movies and the list goes on and on.   What if we threw that all away and let ourselves experience a day "au naturel".   Now this doesn't mean we join a nudist colony what I'm suggesting is to rid your house of all reminders of the clock.   Wake up when your body feels like getting up.   Eat when you are hungry.   Play some sports when you want to get some exercise.   In essence,  listen for your personal rhythm.  So this week before we develop our "summer routine" give yourself an opportunity to just be.  You'll be surprised at the wonderful experiences you will feel.


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 June 16, 2015


 Keeping Score


If you are a sports fan this week is a veritable feast for the senses.  Imagine the Stanley Cup championship, NBA championship, FIFA Woman's World Cup and the US Open in golf all filling the airwaves.  With everything that's going on it's sometimes difficult to keep score, but keeping score has become a way of life beyond the sports arena.  


 Scoring 1.0

 The very first time I went to a Detroit Tiger's baseball game in 1968 my Dad bought me a scorebook.   He showed me the intricacies of diagramming every player's at bat accounting for every run.  At the time I thought it was incredibly sophisticated the way he tracked the game.    Afterwards the scorebook told the story of the game.   You could recreate the play by play just by looking at the details. 




Scoring 2.0

 

 Somewhere along the way we started to dissect the games we played into a minutiae of detail.   In baseball we now track a hitter's preferred pitch, when he is most likely to swing as well as the amount of pine tar on his bat.  In soccer, we are able to track the number of kilometres a player runs during the course of the game as well as the number of touches.  If it's observable we are compelled to track it.   It becomes a complicated story.  What has happened as a result is that we have created a landfill of data to sift through hoping to find meaningful patterns, but like most landfills the majority is garbage not a missed treasure.  The story we used to be able to recreate from the data has been lost. 





 Keep The Story In Mind

 As a writer, there are times when you have to research background information to create accuracy in the story.  How deep you delve into the research is dependent on the story and how important the information is to the character's development.   If people have too much detail they forget the message of the story.   A good sport's announcer provides "colour commentary" to enhance the story not distract from it.  This week take some time to step back from your work and ask if your scorekeeping is going too deep.   Are you spending too much time in the weeds amassing a landfill of information?  What do you need to write a good story?  Sometimes there are things that aren't meant to be known so stop looking for the missing link.   The colourful details look much brighter when they aren't in the shadow of garbage. 


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 June 9, 2015


 Being 2nd Best


 Imagine living your entire life in the shadow of greatness.  I thought about this earlier today as June 9, 1934 marks Donald Duck's birthday.  In the wonderful world created by Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse cast a rather large shadow with those big ears.  Throughout our lives we are often compared to someone else.  While it might not be Mickey Mouse it might be a sibling, school mate or co-worker.  Whoever it is, comparison is an inescapable part of our world. 





 Don't Let Competition Make You "Quack"




Growing up with an older brother it was inevitable that people would draw comparison between my brother and me.  Instead of mimicking his accomplishments I carved out a different path.   I tried to differentiate myself in ways that were important to me.  I focused on athletics and dance.   These were areas that hadn't been explored by my brother.   Walt Disney used this same philosophy in creating Donald Duck.   His character was very different from Mickey Mouse.   While Mickey got there first, Donald was more than just 2nd to Mickey.   He was a valuable asset all on his own. 




Embracing  Second


There is a comfort in being second if we look for it.   Being and remaining first, or the best, has a lot of responsibility.   It's unchartered territory in a lot of cases, and becomes the subject of public scrutiny as people wait for the fall.   Being second allows you to travel under the radar and accomplish a lot.  Think about it. 

  • the second course of a meal is often better than the first course
  • the second act in a 3 act play is often the best
  • playing second base gets more attention than first base
  • being second in a horse race often has a larger payout
  • learning a second language has definite benefits
  • the second person to discover America was Christopher Columbus, much more famous than Leif Erickson
  • Elvis Presley was the second top selling recording artist in history


 This week embrace second place.  Don't rush to be the best or first, instead settle for a comfortable second.  On the way you might find you had a few extra minutes to attend to something you've put aside.  The extra energy it takes to stay on top might be better used allowing someone else to get to the summit before you.  The spoils of second are waiting for you. 






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June 2, 2015


 Celebrating "50"





 This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my Aunt and Uncle.  It was a wonderful event that celebrated the special life they have shared together for all those years.   It also got me thinking about the magic of the number 50 in our lives.  It has always been a mark of achievement,  In fact, only 5% of married couples today will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.   As a student, you sometimes hope and pray for 50 on a test.   Even one percentage lower means failure, while 50 means moving forward.   Today, my perception of a good sale generally starts with 50% off,  anything less feels inadequate. 


Who We Become At 50


Years ago if you met someone 50 years old they might have been perceived as old, today that has changed dramatically with the Baby Boomer generation.   At 50, many of us start to hit our stride.   There is a comfort in knowing ourselves and how we fit in the world around us.   It is also an age for reinventing ourselves.  At 50, we are creating our own history.   We are stepping out of the shadows of the generations that have come before us and making an indelible mark.  . 




Are You Ready To Leave Your Mark?


History is filled with people whose lives accelerated after 50.  These people took chances, and in many ways, changed their destiny.  Laura Ingalls Wilder did not publish her first book until age 65 yet she is embedded in our collective memories as a young girl.  Ray Kroc met the McDonald's brothers at age 52 and we all know what happened with those golden arches.  The list is full of individuals who believed the best was yet to come.   This week whether you're 50 or somewhere above or below that age, take a few minutes to reclaim your own history.  Who are you?  Who are you becoming?  How will you be remembered?  Step out of the shadows and into your own person. 



 In closing, a special shout out to my Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob.   All of us who attended their anniversary were bathed in the warmth and love of family and friends.   The history they have written together is full of laughter and wonderful moments that together build a lifetime.   Congratulations. 


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May 26, 2015



 Disappearing Acts


 Every Tuesday morning I follow a fairly consistent workflow to post a new article.   I start by archiving the previous week's article and then post a new article.   This morning as I started this process I was mysteriously greeted by a missing article from last Tuesday.   As I sit here right now I'm trying to remember what I wrote about last Tuesday but it is as if I'm in a science fiction movie and my memory regarding that event has been wiped clean. 




 A Feeling of Loss


 While I will likely find some of my notes from last week I can't help but have this feeling of loss.  Something's missing that should be there.   As the author, I am protective of the words I put together and where I place them.   Losing them is not something I'm accustomed to, nor is it something I want to adjust to in my life.   Lost words join a long list of very important people, moments or things that I don't want to disappear like: 


  • shared laughter
  • a  daughter's smile
  • my son's music
  • my husband's expressions
  • my mother's coffee
  • a friend's hug


 Don't Let Them Disappear






 I believe that so much of what we experience in life can be stored and treasured if we pay attention to it.   Paying attention to it means giving it the time it deserves.   So this week, make a list of those things that you don't want to disappear in your life.   Once you have this list find 2 ways you are going to pay attention to them.   Give them their dues and watch how they flourish in the present and grow in your ability to recall them in the future.   When this happens they'll never fade.  







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May 19, 2015


 Getting To The Other Side


 This morning on my way to the gym my reflexes were put to a test as I was confronted by deer darting out in front of my car.  Before you start imagining a country setting for this adventure, think again.  This was in the middle of a residential area, not your typical deer habitat.  As I hit my brakes hard for the first deer I remembered they always travelled in a group and hesitated proceeding forward.  Sure enough, seconds later a second deer zig zagged her way across the road to join her companion.


What's On The Other Side? 


I couldn't help but question what was so compelling on the other side of the road for these deer to risk life and limb to get there.  As I looked over at the front yard they were now occupying nothing caught my eye.  What is it that makes us desperate for the other side?  How much of our time is spent searching for the "other side" of life as if it's the opposite of what we currently have ?  It's as if there are polar opposites that have a magnetic field that attracts us to the other side.   If our world is currently white we search for the black.    




Different But Not Opposite

 

Anyone who has flipped a coin knows that while both sides are different they are not opposite.   It's not as if the Queen's head faces the opposite direction on each side of a coin.   It is a different scene completely.   In our lives, sometimes these differences are subtle and go unnoticed, we don't perceive them as "the other side".   When this occurs we might feel as if our life is stuck and not moving forward.  






 Plotting Your Trajectory 


A thoughtful and enlightening exercise is to create a graph of your past 5-10 years.   How far you go back is up to you.   Each year of your life create a 4 category system to rate the changes in your life.  

Category 1:  Health (How has this changed?  From what you eat to your fitness level or your overall well being this is an area to track)

Category 2:  Family (How has this changed?  Who are you living with?   Has your family grown or changed?  )

Category 3:  Career (How has this changed?  What are you doing?  Has your job changed?  Are you working differently?

Category 4:  Finances ( How has this changed?  Is your income different?   Do you spend your money differently? 


Step 1:  Find your baseline from 5-10 years ago in each category.   This becomes the starting point in your XY graph.   Every year think back to the changes that took place in each category.   If there were changes in all 4 categories the graph will rise at a steep pitch. 


Step 2:  Continue this for every year up to the present.   Now look back and see the trajectory of your life.   Chances are you are on the "other side"  you just didn't see it.   Try this when you're feeling stuck you'll be glad you did  



 

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 May 12, 2015


 Ready For A Big Reveal


 Right now as I look around chaos is everywhere.  This is creating quite an uncomfortable feeling for me as I generally like to live in a relatively organized environment.   Some of my friends reading this might think I'm being quite generous in describing my preferred environment.  Those would be the people whose home is always ready for a photo shoot in Better Homes and Garden.


Compressing Time


What has precipitated this chaos in my world is getting ready for my daughter's bridal shower in our backyard in less than 2 weeks.   This means that those items I generally do in the spring and early summer are now being compressed into a much more abbreviated schedule.   There are also a dozen other items added to that list, and did I mention, I run a couple businesses?  All this has made me feel like I'm on one of those decorating shows on TV where they do an entire makeover in 48 hours.  




Unanticipated Beauty

 

What I like most about those decorating shows is the reveal.   They generally ask the homeowner to disappear for the last half day so that there is an "aaah" moment when they see the finished product.   When we move from chaos and see something special it is an unanticipated beauty.   You may have experienced this when you set a particularly beautiful table with flowers and the good china during the week.   What is usually a regular meal has been elevated to a memorable occasion.  


What's Your Reveal?



 

While my big reveal is coming up quickly we all have the ability to create a surprise reveal in other ways.   Imagine the reaction of the people in your lives when you make the every day special.   The list of possibilities is endless.   Why not try one of these:

  • set a beautiful table for your family's dinner
  • put two chairs out on the patio and surround them with candles
  • detail your car inside and out and put a ribbon on the door
  • wear a knockout outfit to work uncharacteristically of you
  • meet a friend for lunch and bring flowers
  • find the perfect book for a special person and inscribe it with a message

As you plan your reveal this week keep the vision of the person's reaction in your mind.   For me that means my daughter's face lighting up as she walks through a beautiful corridor of flowers leading to a breathtaking outdoor pavilion where the food delights, the wine sparkles and family and friends feel welcome.   Now that's a reveal.  



 


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 May 5, 2015

 


Fulfilling Promises


 Throughout our lives we have heard or said two very special words, "I promise".  These words hold incredible power.   They convey a feeling of value, importance and commitment.   They are embedded in important moments we experience in our lives.   From the promise we make to look both ways when crossing the street, to the promise we make to the person we marry, they hold us accountable unlike any other words. 




Beyond Making a Promise


Whether spoken, or written making a promise creates an obligation.   It should never be entered into lightly.  When  you make a promise to someone there is an  expectation that the promise will be fulfilled.   When too much time transpires and a promise remains unfulfilled it can impact the relationship.   First, the person making the promise feels guilty for not following through and the person receiving the promise feels a lack of value, importance and commitment. 




Careful The Promises You Make

 

There is a wonderful lyric in the song "Children Will Listen" that goes like this "Careful the things you say, children will listen.  Careful the things you do, children will see and learn. "   If we used those sentiments with promises the lyric might be rewritten as follows:  Careful the promises you make, someone is waiting" Careful as time races by,  someone's not forgotten" .  Perhaps we need to treat promises as a rare and special event, not entered into lightly or capriciously. 


Make a Promise to Yourself



 

May 4 was proclaimed as "Make a Promise Day" in upstate New York.  This week, instead of making a promise to someone else, why not start with a promise you make to yourself.  Hold yourself accountable to your own promise.  Live to fulfill the promise each and every day.  You will feel amazing when you keep this most important promise.   

 

 Fulfill an Old Promise

 

Finally, it is never too late to fulfill an old promise.   I guarantee you that if the promise was originally made with sincerity it has not been forgotten.  It has become a hope or a wish that you have the power to make come true.   Whatever has gotten in your way find a way to put it aside.    After all, you just need to promise to remember.    




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    April 28, 2015


 Be Prepared


If you were a girl guide or boy scout in your youth you are familiar with the motto "be prepared".   As an adult, this motto is sometimes even more important as I watched the  disaster in Nepal unfold this week.   Thousands who survived the earthquake are unable to go back home and are living outdoors.   They have only a few simple things with them.   While  I strive not to live in fear, I  started to wonder about my preparedness should a natural disaster happen here 


Emergency Management Ontario


 With most things I don't know, I started with the internet to find some resources.   As luck would have it May 3-9, 2015 is Emergency Preparedness week in Canada.   This is an initiative to increase awareness of individual and family preparedness.   What stood out in their message was to ensure we reach out to our neighbours, family and friends who may be vulnerable or unable to help themselves.   We all have people in our lives that meet that criteria,  from young children to elderly parents or neighbours.   If someone is unable to follow three key steps, then we need to chip in. 




Step 1:  Make a Plan

 

In Ontario we are exposed to a wide variety of weather that can contribute to emergencies.   Everything from tornadoes, flooding, violent storms with lightning and severe winter storms.   Your plan  should include the steps you should take to be prepared.   Provide tips on hazards that might occur in your community and identify special needs for people and pets.   


Step 2:  Build a Kit




A kit is a readily available resource should you have to leave your home.    It should consist of the following items plus any specific requirements for family members with special needs.

  • food (non-perishable  enough for 3 days)
  • bottled water (4 litres per person per day... for a family of 4 that's 96 500ml bottles)
  • medications
  • flashlight
  • radio (battery or crank type,  extra batteries)
  • first aid kit
  • candles or matches
  • identification
  • zip lock bags
  • garbage bags
  • whistle to attract attention

While most lists don't include toilet paper, I think I'd include a 4 pack for peace of mind.   Consider it special needs.  Store these items in an easy to transport item, such as luggage with wheels and make sure it's easily retrieved and that everyone knows where it is. 

Just like we change the batteries in our smoke alarms you may want to use the changing of time to refresh your items.   That way you are ensured you are prepared.




 Step 3:  Be Informed


 Wherever you live, there is likely an agency that provides immediate information to residents in the event of an emergency.  In Ontario, residents can sign up at www.ontario.ca/emo to receive Red Alert messages.  These are up to the minute detailed messages with actions residents should take.  Sign up in your community.


 Make Being Prepared Fun


 Finally, being prepared shouldn't lead to being afraid.   Let everyone in the family contribute a favourite food item to your kit.  Practice opening cans with a hand opener, if you've never done this before.  Plan an emergency "gourmet" meal with the food in your emergency kit.   Find a crank up radio and work those arm muscles in a fun contest to see who can crank it the fastest.  Make everyone part of getting prepared.  Remember to reach out to those vulnerable people in your life.  Making sure they are as prepared as everyone else makes us all feel better.   






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 April 21, 2015


 Regaining Your Enthusiasm


I had a wonderful conversation with a young girl the other day that was filled with joy and energy.   You may have had similar conversations with young people where their entire body is  moving as they speak.  There is excitement in their tone and you can't help but smile and get caught up in their excitement. 


It Started With A Simple Question


 Our conversation started with the question, what are you going to do today?   We're all familiar with questions like this.  Sometimes we rephrase them to ask:  What's on tap today?   What are you up to today?   What have you got going today?  What's on your schedule?    In most cases our responses are fairly common,  what made a difference this time was how this young girl answered the question.




I Get To.......

 

The first words out of her mouth were "I get to....... followed by at least a dozen things that she was going to do that day.   It was as if every item was special.   In fact, as she went through her list she seemed to get more charged up.   It was like she couldn't believe how lucky she was to have the opportunity to do all these wonderful things.  


Get Rid of "I Have To"



 

Not once in this wonderful conversation did this young girl say the words "I have to".   As adults, we often make the choice to use those words when we answer the questions posed above.   Have we become so removed from that young girl's enthusiasm that everything has become a chore or an obligation?   Perhaps it's a matter of reframing. 


 Start With "I Get To"


 This week as you plan your days start with the phrase "I get to".    Instead of  saying "I have to go for groceries"  replace it with "I get to go for groceries".    Instead of "I have to go to a meeting" replace it with "I get to go to a meeting with my team"   This one little change might increase your enthusiasm and be contagious to those around you.   It's worth giving it a try.  








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April 14, 2015


 I Have Some Questions

 

Have you ever been asked a question that made your heart leap?  Have you ever asked a question that changed your life?   How silent would your world be if there were no questions?  What difference does a question make?   What questions have you not asked?  What inspires you to be curious?  Why are there so many questions?


The Sound of Questions


Have you heard the lightness in the voice of a child when they ask  questions from a place of curiosity?   Have you felt the excitement as one question begets another?   Have you filled your voice with empathy when you truly care to find out how someone is doing?  How can you refuse to help someone when their words are full of anguish?  Why do we laugh when we discover the questions we have in common?   


Who Are You?

 

What if you chose to ask instead of tell?   What difference would it make in your relationships?  What if your power was not derived from your position but from your questions?   What if you started and ended every day by asking the people you care most about a question?   Who would you see in the mirror?   How would you feel?   How might you make someone else feel?  


 This Week



 

How will you challenge yourself to ask more questions this week?   How will you welcome questions from other people?   What is the first question you will ask today?   Who will you ask?   Finally,  what is the question that has been left unsaid in your world?  Why aren't you asking it?   Why not ask it now?  




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April 7, 2015


 The Naked Truth

 

This morning as I ate my cereal I read an article about our dependence on fitness trackers to monitor our fitness.  The author, a personal trainer, suggested that as a result we have lost touch with our own bodies.   Instead of an electronic device telling us when to get up off the couch,  we needed to pay more attention to our bodies and that should start with looking at ourselves naked in the mirror. 


More Than What We See


As a diehard "vivofit" wearer I accepted his advice as a personal challenge and courageously stood in front of the mirror in all my naked splendour.   Now this isn't something new, however, I usually do this after I step out of the shower and the steam fogs the mirror resulting in a different view.   You see, I only clean off a portion of the mirror and I can adjust my own contours based on the area I clean.   Today as I stood there a lot of thoughts went through my mind.  What was it I was seeing and where did I focus?   I'm happy to report that my eyes went to my cheeks first, not those cheeks, the ones on my face.    I was happy with their colour considering I had just completed a 90 minute workout.   I also liked my shoulders and collar bone area.   After that, there were definitely areas requiring attention but I did something else, I felt my muscles.  


Finding Your Strength

 

What I noticed was the tightness of the muscles in my thighs particularly near my knees, I also felt that same strength in my arms and shoulders.   As I stretched up on my toes I felt it in my ankles and my calves.   Standing there at that moment I felt stronger than I have in a long time.   Sure there were imperfections in how I looked  and areas requiring improvement but there was plenty to celebrate.  I have two strong legs that can carry me anywhere.   I have hands that are strong and adept at holding someone's hand or lifting a heavy weight.   I have a torso that is solid and strong capable of expanding my lungs with every breath I take and a head that directs me forward every day.    


 Your Turn



 

This week take the "naked challenge" and assess the person you see in front of the mirror.   Look at the person before you and find your strength.   Forget about everyone else and focus on you.   We don't need to compare ourselves to someone else, we need only listen to what our bodies are saying.   Perhaps you'll hear them whisper "take a walk" or "drink some water" or "have a belly laugh".  Whatever they tell us it's worth a listen






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March 31, 2015


 Go Out Like a Lion

 

Weather forecasters have historically used the following phrase when describing March weather,  " March may come in like a lamb and go out like a lion"   This morning as I brushed the snow off my car and saw the accumulation on the grass I was pretty convinced this March 31st felt like a lion. 


Characteristics of Lions


Whenever I think of lions the first thought that comes to mind is their ferocity, after all they are the King of the Jungle.  While that is an obvious characteristic there are more that shape these majestic animals.   They are the only large cats to live in groups called prides.  Within the pride they work together to hunt, raise their young and laze around.   Yes, lions spend 16-20 hours a day lazing around.   You see they need to conserve their energy for the times when they need it most.


Finding Your Inner Lion

 

Imagine conserving your energy for when you need it most.  That might seem like a luxury to many people who spend their days in an endless hum of vibrating energy but maybe the lions are on to something.  I doubt anyone would call a lion "lazy" particularly when called upon to show their strength.   Their key is identifying those moments when their strength is put to the best use.   We all have moments when we'd like to call upon that reserve of power to have the most impact.   What are the moments when you want to use your strength?   









Performing Like Athletes


John Wooden, legendary basketball coach at UCLA, won his 10th national title on March 31, 1975.   In fact, it was his 10th title in 12 years.   He discovered the importance of coaching his team to hit their peak during the NCAA tournament.   We see it in other sports where the caliber of play increases in the last minutes of a game or when that long distance runner saves part of his energy for the final "kick".   In each case they find their inner lion and use their reserved strength when it impacts the outcome the most.   So this week as you look at your schedule find the moments where you want to perform like a lion.   Ensure you pace yourself outside of those moments so you can excel at just the right time.   In fact, we might hear you roar.  


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March 24, 2015


 I'm Freezing!

 

On March 24th this is not necessarily a phrase you want to hear, particularly, if it references the weather.  Luckily, it doesn't.   What I'm referring to is our ability to freeze moments and store them in our memory.   We live in a world where millions of bits of information scurry in front of us many outside our conscious awareness.   As a result, we are sometimes oblivious to important moments that we should hold on to for future use.  


Being Our Own Cameras


Have you ever looked at someone's photos from an event you attended and heard yourself say "I don't remember that", or, " I didn't see that".   It happens to all of us.   In our day to day lives we will miss many things unless we start to pay attention to them.   When we pay attention to things we become our own cameras and are able to store those moments in our memory.   When we really pay attention, then not only can we store them, we become able to retrieve them when we want. 


A Special Memory

 

I started thinking about those memories that I pull up from time to time that make me feel good.   The first one that came to mind was from a summer vacation I took with my husband and daughter over 20 years ago.   What I most vividly remember is the image of my husband holding my small daughter's hand as they walked in front of me towards a secret waterfall.   I can still feel the emotion I felt at that moment.   As my daughter  looked up at my husband with curious eyes and my husband  held this tiny hand in his it was as if a warm hug had engulfed them in love.   I've never seen a photograph of that moment, it exists exclusively in my memory.   I am readily able to replay that memory because I paid attention to it.  









 What Will You Pay Attention To?


 As you go through the day pause every now and then and take a deep breath and breathe in the moment.   What do you observe as you look around you?   What do you hear when you listen intently?  What do you feel?  What smells permeate the moment?  What tastes fill your mouth?    When you stop and take the time to focus on all of those things you begin to pay attention.   If it's something you want to remember give it a name.  Place  it into a special memory folder such as, my family, friends, accomplishments etc.   Once we attach it to something we value it is easier for us to retrieve.  


 Creating This Week's Memories


 Every day this week pause and focus on creating one new memory in 7 different places.   Notice what is happening at home, as you drive, at the grocery store, at work, at the gym any place you frequent.   Incredible things are happening every day if we take the time and pay attention to them.   Imagine the memories you will create.

 

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March 17, 2015


 Go Green!

 

Today is a day of fun and festivity for many people as they celebrate St Paddy's Day.  For some people that might mean wearing green, or perhaps imbibing in a bit of a green beverage.  Whatever you do on St Paddy's Day chances are  green is front and centre.  As the warm weather has finally returned and the snow becomes a distant memory we also long for the greening of the world around us.   There is something special when the scenery changes from a dirty grey colour to vibrant green.   We all come alive with an expectation of newness.


Another Kind of Green


What we also discover with the receding snow is the residue of waste that litters our environment.   Living on a corner lot, I have become all too familiar with people's discarded papers, plastic and other garbage.    Maybe it's become too easy for people to leave things behind and not think about the environmental impact, after all, it's only one cup or bottle.   I have a walking trail that I am particularly fond of using during the nice weather.  The other day as I set out on it for the first time I was astounded at the amount of garbage that lined its perimeter.   This wasn't the picturesque scenery I left behind in the fall. 


 A Grassroots Call to Pick Up

 

We all can start fresh this spring and take greater care on how we dispose of the products we use.   This might mean choosing paper over plastic or eliminating the amount of garbage we produce.    We can also help  to purge the current landscape of the unsightly debris that we see around us.   This week if each person picks up one piece of garbage each day and puts it in its proper place we can restore the beauty around us.   Instead of garbage poking up through the dirt we create space for plants and flowers to grow.  We live in a beautiful world that gives us so much...... this week let's give something back in return.   









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March 10, 2015


Being a Person of Action


I have a great luxury in my life these days that I readily take advantage of whenever possible, it's wearing my running shoes.   I consider it a luxury because when I wear them I know I can instantly step into action.   As a child I remember my running shoes were my preferred mode of transportation.   They took me everywhere with confidence and energy.   These days I think they've become a symbol of my desire to move.   Consider what would happen if you wore your running shoes with your best suit or dress?  You might have people asking you where you're going or what you're doing?   



Stop Living A Second Hand Life




I saw the phrase "second hand life" the other day and it got me thinking about those collected moments of inactivity that remove us from participating in our own life.   How easy has it become for us to spend time watching reality TV  and forgetting our own lives.    Do we know more about what's going on in the reality TV world than our own?  Has living vicariously through their lives become a substitute for our own engagement?  


Write Your Own Eulogy

 

What would you say about the life you have led if it ended right now?   If it's filled with facts such as "Kardashian aficionado" or Seinfeld expert perhaps you're missing some of the "living" in your life.   Think about all the things you want to do, or be, such as a good wife or mother, a writer, speaker or  advocate for a cause.  Each of those requires you to take action, passivity is not an option.  It is sometimes scary to challenge ourselves and change.   What if we fail?  What if we're not good enough?  What if ?  We all have those feelings it's what we choose to do even when we feel those things.  

 

Time to Lace'Em Up


This week it's time to step up and move.  The weather is warming up  and the cold that has fuelled our inactivity is disappearing.  There is no better time than today to take action.   Start by creating a perceptual shift and lacing up your running shoes.   Don't just wear them on your daily commute, wear them throughout the day and watch what happens.   Feel the confidence in your step as you move through your day,  let your shoes be a catalyst for your action.   Challenge yourself to do one thing differently when you're wearing your shoes.  What did you accomplish?  When someone asks you why you're wearing running shoes, simply respond with, "I'm a person on the move, feel free to join me"






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March 3, 2015


Ready to Be Committed


On March 3, 1985 one of my favourite tv shows debuted, MoonlightingOne of the things I liked most about the show was the irreverent dialogue.   Towards the end of it's run Bruce Willis' character uttered a line that I've always loved, "Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't?"

He was posing this question to Cybill Shepherd's character in regards to her committing to him.  



What We Commit To




In our lives we commit to a lot of things.   There are people that we commit to that form lasting relationships in our personal and work lives.  Through work we might commit to a level of professionalism that manifests itself in the quality of our work and the leadership we demonstrate.  We might also commit to join causes that resonate strongly with us to build a better world.   At the top of this list should be the commitments we make to ourselves.

 

 How Will You Honour Yourself and Your Value?

 

Before you look outwards to the world around you consider  how you will honour yourself and your value?  Of all the commitments you make, putting  yourself front and centre enables you to do more.   When we choose ourselves first, we are creating a solid foundation to build upon.   So this week, it's time to focus on making commitments to ourselves. 


Consider These


  • Commit to your ongoing evolution, knowing that who you are today won't be the same tomorrow.  Love who you are becoming as much as who you are today
  • Commit to your health and well being.   Fuel your energy with exercise and good food.  
  • Commit to shedding the people and things that drag you down.   Remove the clutter and noise in your life
  • Commit to building and enriching your personal support group.  Find the people that recharge your spirit and create opportunities to interact with them on a regular basis
  • Commit to fun, laughter and leisure.   Don't let a single day go by without hearing your own laughter, taking a deep breath and pausing
  • Commit to observing the difference you make to the world around you each and every day




Whatever commitment you make to yourself shout it out.  There is a wonderful line in the movie "The Help" that Viola Davis' character shares with the young children she cares for, "You is Smart, You Is Kind, You is Important".   Be all those things to yourself, it's an honour.  







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February 24, 2015


Are You Full of Sh*t?


I have had this question posed to me in regards to something that has come out of my mouth.  Today I'd like to pose this question to you in relation to what we put in our mouths.   It's about creating a mindful awareness of what we eat and when we eat.  We have all heard the expression "you are what you eat" however, you might not have paid much attention to it.  We now have scientific evidence to support the important role our gastro intestinal(GI) tract plays in our life. 

   

A Second Brain.....That's Unthinkable!




Until recently scientists believed that the brain controlled all functioning within the body.   We now know that the GI tract is home to about 40 neurotransmitters equivalent to what's in the brain.  In addition, our digestion works independently from our brain, not requiring orders from our brain to function.   What's exciting is what gets produced in the GI tract, serotonin.   Serotonin is the chemical that is responsible for happiness, sex, sleeping and feeding.   Over 90% of the body's serotonin is produced in the GI tract. 


 

 How Do You Put A Helmet On Your Gut?

 

Now that we know this information how might we protect this valuable part of our body, this second brain.   We have laws that protect us from hurting our brain.   You have to wear a helmet if you're riding a bike or playing a sport.  It's against the law to use chemicals that can hurt our brain.   We have limits to the amount of alcohol that we can consume and complete restrictions on certain drugs.  We don't have laws to protect our gut.   How often do we eat fast food?  How often do we eat when we're stressed?   When was the last time you ate fruits, grains and vegetables?  Perhaps it's time to treat our guts with reverence and respect.  


Keep Your Eyes On the Prize


This week it's time to watch everything we put into our mouth.  Before it meets your lips, use them to ask yourself if this is good for my gut?   Take one day and capture in photos everything you eat.   Log how it makes you feel.  Are you energized?  Did you have a quick sugar high followed by a sudden drop?  Is your stomach bloated, gassy, or are you running to the bathroom?   When our GI tract feels good we know it.  It provides fuel to the body and the release of serotonin helps us feel happy.   Anything else is hampering with the system.   Take the time and pay attention to our second brain.  It's a gut check that we all should take, definitely some food for thought. 





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February 17, 2015


 Say It With Pictures


For those of you who make a habit of reading my articles you undoubtedly know how fond I am of the written word.   Through words I am able to express myself and paint pictures in the minds of my readers.   What is interesting is that each person's picture is unique. .  Through a combination of our thoughts, emotions, personality, culture and experience we craft a unique way of picturing the world from the words we read.   Sometimes an attempt at humour misses the mark and touches a different emotion.  We don't always know how someone will react.   When we start with a picture,  we might achieve a different result. 

   

What Do You See?




I love it when I see an image that is powerful and evokes a positive emotion.   Sometimes it's a photo I've taken and other times it's something I've discovered on the internet.   Each time I look at it I am able to recreate the emotion I felt the first time I saw it.   It becomes my own personal pick me up.     Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed, tired or stressed I turn to that image and it's as if a breath of fresh air has filled my body.   Take a look


 


  My children


 Hope and Love




  A very Special place


Find Your Picture


 This week find a special picture and put it in a place that is easy to see.   Whenever you need a pick me up take a minute and stare at it.   As you breathe remember the positive emotions you feel and let them rejuvenate your spirit.   You'll be glad you gave it a second look.



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February 10, 2015


Burst or Outburst You Decide

  

Later today I will be delivering a workshop on Stress Tolerance in Emotional Intelligence.   As I was reviewing the material I thought about all those times in my past where my behaviour was directly impacted by stress.   You may have experienced them as well.   Times when you said things you regretted later.   Emotional outbursts that had you yelling at others.  Even throwing things out of frustration.   Sometimes these are less than desirable ways to handle stress.


Stress Tolerance


Stress tolerance involves coping with stressful or difficult situations and believing that one can manage or influence situations in a positive manner.   There is no question that we are all exposed to more stress than prior generations.  Researchers recently released a report confirming that this is a growing problem in society.   How might you handle stress and its impact on you? 


Remember the Caveman?

 

Our ancient ancestors had very specific events that caused them stress.   Usually it was kill the food or be killed by the food.   At it's core it was about survival.   That's why when we are faced with a stressful situation our body goes into fight or flight mode.   There are specific chemicals within our body that are released at the time of stress and we have to put our body back in balance.   Our ancestors did that by fighting the beast or running from it.  These were not long drawn out actions.   Either they survived by killing the beast or they were killed.  

In today's world the cause of stress isn't so cut and dry, however we can utilize bursts of energy to mimic the fight or flight of our ancestors to restore our body to balance. 


 30-60 Second Energy Bursts


 The next time you feel stress building find a way of exercising aggressively for 30-60 seconds.   This might be as simple as quickly climbing a couple flights of stairs, descending then repeating.   The idea is to escalate your heart rate quickly and then watch it calm.  It's as if we killed the beast.   Our body returns to balance and we have greater control of our thoughts and feelings.   Try these short bursts whenever you feel stress escalating.   It will feel so much better. 



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February 3, 2015



A Snow Day!

  

There is a 1970"s song with the lyric "What a Difference a Day Makes....24 Hours".   This morning I woke up to a significantly different picture outside my window.   Yesterday, the Windsor, Essex County area was blasted with a huge snowstorm for the record books.   Reports for the area had the accumulation ranging from 37 to 40 cm or 14-16 ".  Either way you describe it that's a heck of a lot of snow.   It didn't take too long for the powers that be to declare it a "Snow Day".   Now if you're a kid snow days seem to be somewhat common.   If the buses aren't running you simply roll over and get some additional sleep.   It's not quite the same for adults, or is it? 


First Things First


In most cases a good part of the morning was spent shovelling,  creating a path down the driveway or sidewalk so you could navigate to the road.   Once that was finished, the rest of the day was up for grabs.  How would we spend our time?   The possibilities would be endless.  After all, a snow day is a gift.  There's no guilt with being off it's a matter of public safety.  


Within These 4 Walls

 

Since snow days limit your ability to safely go places, it's essential to find activities within your home.   Of course, after shovelling for 2 hours I've seen people head back to bed for a cat nap.   Nothing wrong with that, but there might be more. 


Those of you who are task oriented might choose from the following:

  • organize a cupboard, closet or room
  • plan your month's menu and grocery list
  • catch up on e mails
  • de-clutter something


Another option for those individuals who crave social contact might be:

  • reconnect with an old friend
  • write a letter
  • have a long conversation
  • plan a get together


Next are those individuals who need to challenge themselves

  • start and finish a project in one day
  • have a friendly "competitive" game with anyone who you're pretty sure you can beat
  • make a list of your accomplishments


For those individuals who want to have fun.  This is your lucky day.  Channel your inner child and try the following:

  • build a blanket fort with the kids
  • build a snowman..... a really big snowman
  • play some cards or a board game
  • drink hot chocolate all day
  • bake a special treat
  • dance to your favourite music


Lastly we need to talk about those people who need to  recharge their energy with rest.  

  • crawl under a warm blanket and read a good book
  • soak in a tub with Epsom salts to ease your tired muscles
  • put on your favourite music and have a glass of your favourite beverage
  • give yourself 1 hour on your own.


 The Balance Sheet of Snow Days


It's a shame we have to solicit Mother Nature's help to do things that we enjoy.  The news reports are quick to put a price tag on the economic costs of a Snow Day, however, no one talks about the gains we make.   I'd like to think that these might outweigh the lost productivity in terms of dollars.   This week more snow is predicted however, it's unlikely to result in another snow day.  What you have the power to do is to take some of those snow day activities and insert them into your week.   Those small breaks might be just what you need to keep the batteries recharged until spring.  


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January 27, 2015


Retired At Work

 

Yesterday I had the pleasure to attend a friend's retirement celebration in Toronto.   As I listened to the speakers share lovely anecdotes about the retiree I couldn't help but think a new door is opening for this person.   Sometimes we are fortunate to leave a long term employer and start fresh with a new challenge, something that sparks our curiosity and gets our juices flowing.   Early retirement creates  such an opportunity.   In fact, we may have to stop calling  it retirement as it is seldom about stopping work completely.


When Is It Time To Go? 


Making a decision to retire is not always easy.   There are numerous factors to consider from our health, finances, family responsibilities and our skills that impact our readiness to retire.   What happens if we're ready to retire but have to continue working?   You've likely seen these people.  They show up, put in their time, do the bare minimum, go home and repeat.   These are the "retired at work"  In the true definition of the word they've stopped working.   Either they've turned off their engagement or someone has done it for them.   In a culture that's fascinated with the walking dead we don't always recognize them around us


Finding The Courage To Change

 

If work is sucking the life blood out of you it's time to ask yourself why?   What is it about the work that is contributing to the malaise that has infiltrated your world?   What might you be able to do about it?   You always have an option.   One of the easiest options is to sit back and wait.   If this is the choice you are making then you need to give yourself a timeline.   Waiting a week or a month is achievable but when a month becomes  two  it's as if a parasite has entered your blood stream and is slowly causing a decay of your vital organs.


Perhaps another option is to find something different in your organization.   Create a list of the work activities that you enjoy.  Next, rate the top 4 and start looking at alternatives jobs that might be available.   If nothing internal exists,  then you might have to look elsewhere.   It takes a lot of courage to challenge the status quo, even when the status quo makes you miserable.      This week it's time to take stock of your readiness to retire.   If you feel challenged and inspired by your work that's great but if that's missing  it's time to do something about it.  



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January 20, 2015


Making a Leap of Faith

  

 Each day I start my day at the gym.   As I workout on the treadmill there is a constant stream of sports highlights that play on the monitors  in front of me.  An interesting event occurred just as the basketball highlights were playing.  The song "Incredible" started playing on my ipod.  As I watched these athletes in slow motion the power of their leaps was unmistakable.   Their leaps seemed to defy gravity and the result was incredible.   While my world does not revolve around a basketball court  I have occasionally taken a leap of faith. 


 Preparing for Your Leap


A leap of faith is a belief in something uncertain.   We often straddle a fence where fear is on one side and desire is on the other.   Fear is what pulls us backwards.  Desire and purpose become a springboard for our leap.   We also support our preparedness through trust.  This might be trusting our own wisdom, knowledge and experience or putting that trust in someone else.    Life is full of risks that we encounter during a lifetime.   When we take a leap of faith we are putting ourselves in a position we have never encountered.  We can choose to live a safe life where we don't take chances, a life where we don't experience failure, or the highs of great success.  In fact, if you have not failed at some point in your life your success is limited.   You've likely not tried anything uncertain or outside of the box.  Perhaps your life has become a should've, would've, could've cliché. 


Take A Leap

 

 This week plan a leap that takes you to a new high.  Something you've never experienced.   Think about something you always wanted to try but fear has held you back.   As you look in the mirror remember the fabulous person that you see.  How might you describe yourself after taking that leap?   What will it mean to you?   No matter what happens never regret what you do only what you didn't do.   I'm putting my faith in you to leap forward with confidence and purpose.   I can't wait to see you on the other side. 


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January 13, 2015


Baby Boomer Bullying

 

This past week a friend sent me an article about the impact the Baby Boomer generation has had on today's Millennials.   On the surface there is an assumption that the Millennials are the most spoiled generation, however, the research presented in the article suggests that the Baby Boomer generation are in fact the most spoiled.   Their rise to dominance was a combination of their sheer size, limited technology and their longevity.  As a result this cohort has become the big kid on the playgrounds of life influencing business, pop culture, the environment and everything you could imagine.  The power of this generation is not one that they are willing to relinquish and in creating  and perpetuating their affluence they may have inadvertently become generational bullies.  


What Bullying Might Look Like


Bullying shouldn't be perceived as a physical act, it infiltrates our lives in so many other ways when someone wants to control others.   Some Baby Boomers may have demonstrated this bullying in numerous ways such as:

  • perpetuating practices that favour their generation
  • minimizing opportunities for younger generations by limiting access to information
  • using tenure as the "only"  credential that matters
  • stereotyping other groups as "less than"
  • limiting channels of communication between people
  • eliminating meaningful jobs to enhance shareholder returns

 Times Are Changing

 

The perfect storm that enabled the Baby Boomer generation is dissipating fast.   Influence is shifting from a focus on authority and affluence to other factors such as reciprocity, commitment and consistency.  In fact,  the average age of the CEOs in Canada's fastest growing companies is 46.  That's not a baby boomer.  Of this group only 15% have MBAs and 61% are considered serial entrepreneurs.   They are living and thriving in a new world of hyperconnectivity.   They are driving social change through this connectivity that does not require money to be successful.  


 Change One Thing


  Everyone has a unique contribution to make if given the opportunity.   This week look at some of your practices at home or at work to determine if they are biased to the status quo created by Baby Boomers.   How might you change them to be more inclusive and collaborative for other generations.   Starting to look at your practices now will put you in a better position tomorrow.   All it takes is one change at a time.   







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January 6, 2015


Usefulness and Usability

 

Usefulness and usability are often used as characteristics that determine how readily the general public  will adopt new technology.   New technology benefits from the perception that it is providing a needed service (usefulness) as well as being easy to use (usability).  While these are desirable characteristics for new technology what about looking at these characteristics in ourselves as we embark on a new year. 


What Else Is New?


The start of a new year is an opportunity to refresh and begin again.   If you are a student this might mean the start of a new semester with new classmates.  Newly elected politicians assume their new roles.  Other people may find themselves with new relationships at work and in their personal lives.   While the new year implies starting with a clean slate it may also require us to re establish our usefulness and usability with new people.  







Describing Your Usefulness and Usability

 

Before you venture too far out into the sea of "newness" make sure you have taken a few minutes to identify your usefulness.  Whether you focus on new relationships within your family, friends, or coworkers this is an important first step.   Think about the contributions you have made to similar relationships in the past.   It's time to list them and shine a light on them before you minimize them or forget about them altogether.   At minimum identify 7 ways you are useful. 


Next, focus on your usability.  How easy are you to be around both personally or at work.   If people have to walk on egg shells around you then your usefulness might be under utilized.  Remember, if you don't like how you behave at times imagine how others feel.  Create a second list highlighting the actions you take to make yourself easy to be around.  Once again target a minimum of 7 ways.  If you fall short of 7 why is that occurring?   Is it because you seldom look at your own positive characteristics?  Is it because you have been disengaged in your life and have felt useless? Whatever the answer, you have the ability to start new. 


Find someone you trust and share your results.   They may be able to supplement your perception with actual examples that add more clarity.  Building your own personal list of usefulness and usability is one of the most positive activities you can do for yourself.  With each new interaction people will feel confident in you  because you paused for a few minutes and discovered just how useful and usable you truly are.  


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December 16, 2014


"I Give"

  

When I was young we sometimes felt compelled to show our supremacy over others by forcing a friend or family member into saying the words "I give".   This was usually accompanied by physical force or a threatened action that the person found intolerable.   As they uttered those words it meant that they gave up and could not endure any more abuse.    As we all matured the instances of someone dangling spit over our face as our arms and legs were pinned down became a distant memory.  In fact, the words, I give, took on a totally different meaning.  


The Power of Giving

 This time of year always shines a light on the power of giving.   When we now say "I give"  what we are saying is that we're giving something to someone else out of a sense of benevolence and love.   This gift of giving takes on many forms.   Sometimes it's a gift of money, time or attention.   Each of these gifts make a difference in people's lives.   







 Reciprocity:  The Enemy of Giving

 

I challenge each and every person to find the power of giving this holiday season.   Do it without an expectation of reciprocity.   Give what a person needs not just what you can easily provide.   It is the gift that means the most to someone else that touches  their heart in a special way.  It might create opportunity for their world to change and take a new direction.    So this holiday season measure your power by the giving that contributes to the world around you.   You will help make amazing memories for some special people, including yourself.  


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December 9, 2014

Managing Expectations

  

Many years ago Carly Simon recorded a song called  'Anticipation''.  The first verse of the song included the following lyrics,  'We can never know about the days to come, but we think about them anyways'.  How true those words are and how often they infiltrate our thoughts as we anticipate future events, especially 'special' occasions.


 The Power of Special 




Something happens when we use the adjective, special.  It's as if average or everyday vanishes from our expectations and leaves us focusing on the best or worst.   If we used a baseball analogy a special game would have an abundance of  strikeouts and homeruns.  Singles and doubles would go unnoticed and quickly become forgotten.  When this occurs in our lives, what might be impacted?  Think about the times you have heard yourself describe an event as nothing special.   As you speak these words it's as if you have decided  there is no need to store the data.   While this might be acceptable if we lived in isolation there is an impact to the people around us.   Others experiencing the same event may see it differently.  It may have brought them great happiness, taught them a life lesson or changed their perception of someone or something.   When we've stored a shared event in the deep recesses of our mind we lose the opportunity to continue to relive and share the experience with others. 


 Redefining Special


 What if we changed how we define special in our lives.  Perhaps there would be a greater opportunity to notice and share more of those 'middle of the road' moments.  Special might be an acronym for Something People Experience Creating Interest, Action and Life Experience.  What a shift that would create.   So this week redefine special in your lives.  Let your week be filled with experiences that create interest, action and life experience.   


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December 2, 2014

Get Lost!

 

Every morning each of us wakes to a new reality as we start another day.  That reality has a unique combination of interactions, responsibilities, tasks and locations.  While we can plan and schedule a good portion of our day we are sometimes faced with the unexpected that diverts our attention to a "new reality".

This is the essence of the human experience.   Our reality isn't always as we plan but what we make of it.

 

Living In Our Reality

 

Living in our reality takes energy, particularly when much of our days seem to be a repeat of the day before.  Reaching deep to find extra energy to face the routine part of our lives depletes a system that is often running on overload.   Finding a way to recharge our system is critical.  


Time To Get Lost

  

Getting lost means temporarily stepping away from our reality and filling our time with something different and unique.  For some people you can get lost in music, for others it's a good book or a sporting event.  We get lost when we are immersed to a point where we forget about everything else.  Allowing ourselves this luxury is like a swimmer who has to come up for air during a race.  It is necessary to keep us moving forward. 

 

Where Might You Go?


 During the week get lost for a few minutes every day.   Transport yourself to the past or leap frog into the future.  Every time I hear the song "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright I instantaneously feel as if I were a teenager again.   I remember the people I was with and the warmth of the summer breeze as the song became our anthem.  I've found myself living in the future as an author's words describe a universe that compels me to visit.    While my feet are firmly planted in the present  it's these brief moments of respite that help me grow.   Try it.

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November 25, 2014

Let The Countdown Begin

 

If you looked at the calendar this morning and realized it was November 25, 2014 you may have unconsciously started a countdown in your head.   For many people we are exactly one month away from a very special day.   In fact, the anticipation of that day might blindside us regarding everything else that takes place between now and then.  


How unfortunate that would be if we lived our lives in anticipation of the next big event and missed all the small and wonderful events that happen along the way.  

I've sometimes fallen into this trap as I plan a vacation or a big event and miss out on some of the gems along the way.   So how do we handle a world where countdowns are part of our everyday vocabulary?

 

Create Compact Countdowns

 

Instead of having countdowns that last for weeks or months, what if we compressed our countdowns so we had an opportunity to celebrate more often.  Imagine how much more we would have to look forward to if the milestones we had on the horizon were just an  hour or day away.   What a potential shift in our perception when we have to focus on what's imminent.  It somewhat reinforces the saying "Don't put off to tomorrow what can be done today".


  

Ready To Start?


 Instead of my usual recommendation that starts with "this week" I'll modify it to say, right after you finish reading this article start a countdown that ends today.   Perhaps there's an event occurring tonight or the start or end of a project, the idea is to create a short countdown.   When it arrives celebrate it and make sure you pause to consider how important it is in your life.   Every moment counts and they are all worthy of a countdown.   Find your moments and start a new countdown 


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November 18, 2014

Making A Difference In The Community

 

Sunday night I had the opportunity to attend a Windsor Soup micro grant event at the Walkerville Brewery.  The event was the fourth in a series of micro grant fundraisers that have been held in the area.   Pathway to Potential has a very simple mission:   To help creative projects in the Windsor-Essex community gain micro-granting through a public dinner that offers people an opportunity to celebrate projects in Windsor.   Their target group is creative initiatives or projects that aim to better the Windsor-Essex community in the areas of art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education and technology.  

 

 

What Impact Is Being Made

 

On Sunday night $2200.00 was raised for a project called Students Helping Students in an area of East Windsor where children don't have access to parks and sports equipment.   The funds allocated to this project will help buy sports equipment for these children and create a safe place for them to play.   This is but only one of the benefits of this program.   The other, is the community of young people that were gathered to support their peers, and the city they live in.   There was a definite call to duty and purpose for this young generation. 


  

How Will You Contribute?

 

Wherever you live I'm sure there are organizations similar to this one that is looking for your expertise, creativity and contribution to the community.   It may be a simple monetary contribution of perhaps something more.  Whatever your age it's not too late to make a difference.   The next Windsor Soup is January 11, 2015 at the Walkerville Brewery.  Mark it on your calendar and come out and feel the energy in the room.   It may entice you to take the next step.  



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November 11, 2014

Remembering

 

Since today is Remembrance Day in Canada I thought it appropriate to discuss the role that memory plays in our lives.   Our ability to remember things serves us in so many ways.   It protects us when we encounter a potentially dangerous situation that is similar to something from our past.  It allows us to connect with people and it is a fundamental building block for knowledge and how we think. 

 

Are We Forgetting More Than We're Remembering

 

We all age.  That is an absolute of the human experience.  With age comes changes in our cognitive abilities.  At some point we start questioning our ability to retain information the way we used to, when it was easy and somewhat effortless.   I remember Kathleen Madigan, a comedienne, who suggested that as she got older she just didn't have the room to store more information.   If she wanted to learn something new she would have to delete a file and she wasn't ready to give up a file like the theme to the Brady Bunch.   While hilarious this isn't quite what's happening.  What's more likely occurring is we're not focusing on things the way we may have in the past. 


   

Flexing Our Brain

 

There are ways we can help ourselves improve our memory as we continue to mature. 

1.  Take yourself off "auto pilot".  When we do things in the same way every day we stop thinking about them.  Start shaking things up.  This might mean taking a different route to work, shopping in a different grocery store, or learning something new. 


2.  Laugh with friends.   Nothing reduces stress and fights depression like being around good friends.  


3.  De-clutter.   If you're always losing things it might be because you have too many things.   Over a lifetime you can accumulate a lot of "stuff".  Simplifying your life will help you get organized and have fewer things to think about


4.  Get your sleep.  Think of sleeping as a time when the night shift comes in to do the filing of all the important events that took place during the day.   This is important work and you need to get enough sleep every night for this to take place. 


5.  Feed Your Engine the Good Stuff.   We are what we eat and that impacts memory.  Eat a balanced diet and drink lots of water and watch your alcohol intake


6.  Pump It Up.   That's right, when you exercise you're pumping blood to the brain.  


7.  Get Checked Out.   It's also important to check in with your doctor.  This can help identify medical issues early and treat them before they become chronic conditions



Start Today

 

There is no better time than the present to improve your memory.   This week start with one item from the list above and put it into practice.   Of course, don't be afraid to write them down in case your forget.   That kind of memory aid is something we all need. 

 

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November 4, 2014

Starting Fresh or Just a Refresh

 

This week represents the first full year of publishing articles on this website.   As I was pulling ideas together for this week's article I began to think about the next year.   Was it time to revamp or just revise the website?  There is a lot of power when we start fresh.   It is an opportunity to take chances or as they say on Star Trek "to boldly go where no man has gone before".  

 

What About The Past?

 

A funny thing happens when we think of the past.... it never goes away.   It is always with us.   It informs how we move forward and the choices we make.   Some of you may have had the unpleasant experience of working on a large document on your computer to only have it disappear before you've saved it.   While you have to start over, chances are you are able to pull the key elements from your memory and enhance the prior version.    


 

Always Anticipating the Best Is Yet To Come

 

Starting fresh also gives us the opportunity to raise the bar on our performance.   Auto pilot isn't an option when we are at the beginning of a journey.   We are compelled to make conscious choices where there might not be a precedent.   So over the next several months you are going to see some changes on this website, a refresh.   It is a level of change that will hopefully excite, inform and challenge individuals to "Experience Your Best".  Each time you visit you will see something new and fresh.

 

Your Refresh

 

Today as you look at the week ahead of you  find an opportunity for a refresh.  What might you insert to look at things  differently?   Imagine the options available to you when there are no patterns to follow or status quo to maintain.  Newness breeds unpredictability and sometimes the best times happen when we do something new.  In closing, thanks for spending some time with me this past year.   It has been my honour.   


 

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October 21, 2014

Your Great Debate

 

Have you ever believed in someone or something so completely that you lost your objectivity?  With numerous elections staring us in the face over the next several weeks I thought this might be a timely article.   In fact,  today is the anniversary of the last Nixon Kennedy televised debate that changed the face of political debates.   In politics and in life, our thinking is directed by our beliefs.  To quote De Mellow "People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head;  it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it".   Viewers believed Kennedy more presidential and as a result  looked to defend their position. 

 

What's Your Position? 

 

Over the years I have participated in many informal debates.   Each time I entered these debates I was confident that I was defending the "right" position.   This happened because the "right" position was something I completely believed in.  When the other side made a point I was ready with a stronger counterpoint to their argument.   Afterwards as I took inventory of the points I made I was always confident that I was mathematically ahead.  Imagine my surprise when a third party ruled in someone else's favour. 

 

We're Not Scoring a Boxing Match

 

Unlike a boxing match that scores one point for every "landed" blow we have a tendency to weigh the points that confirm our beliefs higher than the points that challenge our beliefs.   We're landing our blows but our opponents are merely grazing us.  Simply stated we have a confirmation bias.  We all have a tendency to confirm our beliefs not disprove them. 

 

Looking At Both Sides to An Argument

 

When you listen to your argument you can become more like a boxing judge if you use the following technique:

 

1.  What is your conclusion?

 

2.  What reasons are you using to support the conclusion?  

 

3.  Rate each reason as weak, moderate, strong or very strong.

 

4.  What are counterarguments that weaken the conclusion? 

 

5.  Rate how much each counterargument weakens the conclusion.  Is it a little, moderate, much or very much?

 

6  List any qualifiers (any limits on the arguments)

 

7.  List any assumptions

 

8.. Are your reasons and counterarguments directly related to your conclusion? 

 

9. What is the overall strength of your argument:  weak, moderate, strong, or very strong? 

 

By taking time to do a 360' review of your argument you have greater objectivity.   What this means is you might be more receptive to different ideas and ways of approaching an issue.  

 

The Power of The People

 

This week as you listen to different candidates' positions take a few minutes to go through the above checklist.   Listen to their arguments and rate them.   If you follow these steps and couple them with additional research imagine how much more informed you will be when going to the polls.   I'd like to believe that we can all make a difference.  How's that for a conclusion? 

 

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October 14, 2014
 

The Cost of Running On Empty

 

If you're like a lot of people you sometimes push yourself to go above and beyond your usual capacity.   Maybe it's completing the outdoor projects before the cold weather sets in,  taking on an extra project at work or supporting your family as they adjust to a new school year.   Whatever the circumstance it's important to watch how we're doing as we push ourselves.  

 

 

Just Like Cars

 

Every car is designed to run most efficiently at certain speeds.   In fact,  the speed limit of 55mph or 90kh allows our vehicles to be most fuel efficient.   They can go considerably further and keep their engine running tip top.   When a car hits empty it potentially damages the fuel pump, fuel filter and you might become stranded.   When we run on empty the results can be much more costly.

 

What Are The Warning Signs?

 

Unlike cars, we don't have a low fuel light indicator to remind us to fill up.   What we have is a checklist of signs we can watch for such as:

  • exhaustion
  • lack of motivation
  • frustration, cynicism and other negative emotions
  • cognitive problems
  • slipping job performance
  • interpersonal problems at home and work
  • neglecting yourself
  • being pre-occupied with work when you're not at work
  • generally decreased satisfaction
  • health problems

Think of each of these indicators as being on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being barely evident and 10 being always present.   Where would you like to see yourself rated for each item?   Hopefully your answer is 1.   If you rate yourself above 1 what number is the trigger for you to take action?   If it's 10 it may be too late.  

 

Take The First Step  

You need to take a close look at whether it's "You or Them" that's creating an environment of chronic stress that's leading to your potential burnout.   Some of us are always pushing our limits.  No one is telling us to work harder, we're telling ourselves.   When this happens we need to stop and re-evaluate our values.   What is really important to us and are our actions aligned to our values?   If the external environment is causing our stress how might you address that?   What are potential options available to you?   

 

Improve Your Odds

 

The Auto club reports that approximately 2% of the 30 million calls they receive are because people ran out of gas.   That equates to 600,000 calls.  This week it's time to do a spot check on how you're doing.  Don't neglect your personal well being.   Rate the above factors and if any of them are above 1 develop an action plan to fine tune your well being.  If you run out of gas it might take a lot to get you on the right track again. 

 

In closing,  my husband and I own a 1932 Plymouth sedan.   It is a vehicle that turns heads because it is well preserved and still road worthy.   It got that way because every owner has always taken the time to keep it in good running order.   Taking care of yourself will cause people to turn heads when they see you.   Don't doubt it for a minute.     

 
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October 7, 2014
 

How Do You Rate?

 Have you ever felt that your opinion didn't really matter as much as everyone else?   It wouldn't be unusual to feel that way considering everywhere we look our opinions have to stack up against the ratings that we interact with in our lives.  Whether you're buying a toilet or choosing a movie to go to someone else's rating impacts your decision. 

 

 

From Stars to Thumbs Up

 How did we ever survive before having instant access to everyone's opinion? I might not have been able to decide what books to read, what movies to see, what products to buy and what information to post to my friends.  We have become a bottomless pit of public opinion.    Perhaps we're feeding the largest "group think"  without consciously realizing what's happening.

 

Good, Better, Best

 

 Of all the rating phenomena that infiltrates our decisions the one that I'd like to focus on is the good, better, best system.  There was a time when something good was a positive thing.   Now, I find myself second guessing anything with a "good" rating.   Has "good" become the new "mediocre" in our perception?  If that's the case are we becoming "rating snobs" who only purchase or participate in something that is "best"?   If this is happening in your world what impact is it having?   Are you delaying purchases or how you live your life?  

 

It's Good Enough

 

This week start making "good" choices.   Don't delay life based on a perception that something better is lurking around the corner.  Develop your own set of criteria to define what is good.   Some of the best times I've had in my life were initially described as good and by participating in them they evolved into a "best time".   Start a project when you're good and ready not when everything's perfect.   Go against the current of popular opinion if it fits for you.   After all..... it's all good 

 

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September 30, 2014
 

Making Time

 

Would you believe that this wasn't the topic I was going to write about  when I started formulating ideas on Sunday, however,  a text from a friend made me do an "about face".  The words that I received were as follows "  Time to talk feels like a bit of a luxury right now".  When I read those words I thought about how many times I felt that way in the past.   I remember when  I would catch myself looking at my watch during a conversation to ensure I kept on schedule.   Sometimes, I would miss talking to someone entirely because it took time.    I  felt as if there was never "enough" time. 

 

What's Most Important?

 

During the past year I have created many shifts in my life.   One of them has allowed me to focus on time as something I give versus something that is taken from me.   

I give my time to the people in my life.   This means sharing in the conversations that connect us.   I recently shared my philosophy that a measure of a good friendship is the conversation you can't wait to finish and the new ones you can't wait to have.   Those interactions with family and friends are most important. 

 

Drive Your Future.....Don't Be Driven

 

 We all have busy lives and no one has more than 24 hours in a day.  When I hear someone say "my time isn't my own" I beg to differ. "Your time is your own".   A couple years ago there was a movie titled "In Time"  where the most valuable currency was time.   Everyone was embedded with a self destruct chip that would kill you at age 25 unless you were able to buy more time.  We can't buy more time but we can make choices of how we use time.  I read a great quote this morning that said "sometimes success means surrender.  Sometimes you have to stop paddling so fast, slow down, reprioritize and focus on what's now rather than what's next."  

 

Give Your Time to Someone Who Needs It Most 

 

 This week look around you and find someone who needs your time.   Perhaps it's a loved one who's ill, a friend who needs bolstering or a colleague who needs your guidance.   Make time for that person right now.   Have a conversation with them and focus on "right now".   When you do that your impact will be timeless.

 
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September 23, 2014
 

Then What?

 

We all have a bit of Nostradamus in us from time to time, especially when we encounter events that are life altering.   For those of you unfamiliar with Nostradamus he was a 16th century seer who made a multitude of predictions about the future up to and including the earth's demise.  Even the most optimistic of us can find ourselves catastrophizing our future from time to time.   When this happens we fixate on a specific time or event as an "end" and stop looking beyond.

 

We Need to Look Beyond Endings

 

As humans, we need to look beyond our self-perceived "ends" to discover what's next.   A simple exercise to help with this is through the question "then what" that we ask ourselves repeatedly to move forward. 

 

Eg.   Your thought:  "I can't lose my job"

Ask:  If you lost your job then what? 

Say:  I'd have to get another job

Ask:  If you got another job then what? 

Say:  I'd be learning new skills and working with new people

Ask:  If you learned new skills and met new people then what? 

Say:  I'd probably know more than I know today

Ask:  and If you knew more than you do today then what?  .............

 

You see the pattern that is emerging.   Instead of getting fixated on losing your job as an end state you move beyond to new possibilities, a new future.

 

Time to Practice

 

This week use this technique whenever you find yourself stuck, boxed in and unable to see your way forward.   In most cases the end is just the beginning. 

 
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September 16, 2014
 

Truth Or Illusion

 

On this day in 1932 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi began a hunger strike as a passive form of resistance.  History confirms that throughout his lifetime he sought to bring the truth to the people in a manner that was simple yet enabled people to hear and understand his message. 

In contrast to Gandhi, David Copperfield, the great illusionist was born on this day.   He has dazzled audiences for decades with his amazing talent and skill.  His television specials constantly raise the bar on how he mesmerizes the audience.

 

How Do You Speak the Truth?

 

The words we choose to use and how we package our message is unique to each of us.   There are times when a simple statement will suffice while other times we may need to dazzle people with a bit of magic to get their attention.   When we choose the latter we potentially change the message and the truth.  Truth should be something that is easily stripped down to a simple message.   Left on it's own it has enormous power.   The first time someone says "I love you" is as powerful in a whisper as it is on a loudspeaker. 

 

Strip Down the Truth

 

This week pay attention to how you speak the truth.   Create power for your truth with simple language and a peaceful pace.  Don't rush your words or surround them with additional adjectives in an attempt to dazzle.  Look people in the eye and  let your sincerity  shine through.   Stripped down is the "naked truth"

 
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September 9, 2014
 

Take A Ride

 

Growing up in Windsor I was constantly reminded of the importance of automobiles in our lives.   My father worked at Ford Motor Company which meant that the car in our driveway was a Ford.  It was our responsibility to support the company that put bread and butter on our table.   There was also enormous pressure to "drive" as the preferred method of transportation in our city.  Back in the day getting to use the family vehicle was the ultimate right of passage so at 17 when I got my licence I was always looking for a reason to drive.   Prior to that, my method of transportation was the city bus or my bike.     

 

A Flash Back Experience After 30 Years

 

Yesterday while my car was getting repaired I had an appointment that required me to travel across the city.   While the dealership was great in providing me a ride there I decided to enjoy the day and take a bus back.  This was something I hadn't done in Windsor for 30 years.   On Giles I got on an "Ottawa #4" and asked the driver how far east he went?   His response was "just for you all the way to Tecumseh Mall".   What I wasn't prepared for was the familiarity with the first part of the ride.   As a student I took the Ottawa 4 to University every day before transferring onto a Crosstown. As we travelled down Ottawa St, then Walker and Seminole the experience brought back a flood of memories.   Here was the neighbourhood I had grown up in.   While some things had changed there was a lot that remained the same.   The second part of the ride took us through additional neighbourhoods weaving our way to the final destination

 

A Pleasant Ride

 

About half way through the ride I discovered something..... I was relaxed.   I felt extremely comfortable looking around and enjoying the ride.   Gord, our driver, greeted every passenger and received numerous salutations from the riders as they got on and off the bus.  
I got the feeling that there is a community amongst riders, particularly those who regularly use public transit.   For about 30 minutes yesterday I felt part of that community.  

 

Slow Down and Enjoy the Ride

 

So this week take a bus ride.  You might discover a new way to get to your favourite destination or perhaps find a brand new destination that you didn't know existed.   The magic of the bus is that it takes you through the neighbourhoods where people live. and travels along the streets where businesses thrive.   This combination opens up all sorts of different opportunities for future visits. In a world where we are often rushed yesterday was a welcome departure.   Thanks Gord

 
 
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September 2, 2014
 

Who's Got Your Back?

 

 There are certain events in our lives that remind us of the importance of those people who have your back.  They bolster you when you need a smile or laugh.  They hold your hand when you are sick.  They encourage you to take chances that challenge you to move beyond your comfort zone and they always manage to be there when you need them most.  This past weekend I was surrounded by several people who always have my back. 

 

What It Takes

 

Keith Ferrazzi in his book "Who's Got Your Back" describes 4 unique mindsets that individuals demonstrate when they step into the role of looking out for someone else.   They are generosity, vulnerability, candor and accountability.   Generosity that comes from looking out not inward.  Vulnerability to show that we're not perfect.  Candor that is based on the desire to help not hinder and finally being accountable for doing what we say we are going to do.  

Who's Back Do You Have?

 

We are never so powerful in our lives than when we use our gifts in the service of others.   Research into happiness confirms that intrinsic happiness is the happiness that lasts.  When we seek happiness from extrinsic sources it is fleeting at best.   So this week look at the people in your life and ask yourself:  Do I have their back?  If you do, does it come wrapped in generosity, vulnerability, candor and accountability?   How are you demonstrating those characteristics with the people around you?   Take the time to evaluate your motives and make a difference. 

 
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August 26, 2014

Finding Your Free Time

 

 Yesterday I heard a young mother use the statement "I have a scheduled baby".   What she was referring to was a feeding and sleeping schedule for her daughter that made her life easier.   It got me wondering whether the need for a schedule has been imprinted into our adaptive unconscious during our infancy?   Is it possible that these simple actions of our parents set the stage for an ever growing need to live our lives according to scheduled activities?

 

Defining Free Time

Free time is defined as time spent away from business, work, domestic chores, and education.   It also excludes time spent on necessary activities such as sleeping.  Some theories suggest that free time is a fallacy and has been replaced by  leisure activities that are "scheduled"  or are influenced by social pressure.   However we define free time it becomes essential to recognize how we incorporate it into our lives.  

Time for Adults to Play

 

 When we are children play is an essential part of our lives.   It's where we find joy, gain friends and learn a bounty of skills.  In it's purest form it is unstructured and organic.   In essence, it is what we make it and doesn't follow a script or schedule.  We still have the capability to play but we don't always give ourselves enough time to play as adults.   When we fill our schedules with activities and work we are denying ourselves a great joy.   This week as we get ready for the activities of fall take a look at your schedule.  How much open space do you have?   If you see a schedule that is back to back with commitments it might be time to ask yourself what you might eliminate to create open space.  If you give yourself a block of free time you may open yourself up to a world of unexpected pleasure.   Why not give it a try?

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August 12, 2014

Bringing Someone Back to Life

 

 Last week Andy Grammer's new CD "Magazines or Novels" was released.  One of the songs on the album, " Remind You" captured a place in my heart.  

The lyrics reinforce something I have believed an enormous responsibility for each of us, to witness each others' lives.   People come in and out of our lives all the time.  Some of them leave an indelible mark on us for a variety of reasons.    Sometimes a shared experience or common belief germinates into  a relationship that grows through time and helps define our lives.   Our shared lives become a collective consciousness, our history.  If we were asked to testify on behalf of these important people what would we say?

 

We Are Brilliant.  We Are Unique

 

The first verse of Remind You says it eloquently

"It doesn't mean you're weak

Or that you've got low self esteem

We all got hearts that forget why they beat

We are brilliant

We are unique

But we forget so effortlessly

and when you're questioning your worth in the way we all do

and your version of amnesia starts to seep on through

and you know you were great but you can't remember why

I will be there by your side

I will remind you

I will remind you

I will be your memory

All you need is someone else to see.

 

We're Continuing to Grow

 

Self doubt and uncertainty come into our lives when we're not looking.   For some reason it's easy to convince ourselves that we're less than we used to be.   Perhaps we don't move as quickly as we used to, or we have a few more character lines on a previously flawless face.   We might even believe that our mental capacity is diminishing.   These moments are when our witnesses are needed most.   They will be there to remind us not only about our former greatness but our current greatness.  

 

 A Little Bit of Love

 

Our capacity to give and receive love in our lives is infinite.   When someone we love and trust takes the time to remind us of who we are and what we mean it brings us both back to life.   It's as if we are lighting an enormous fire from a little spark of kindness that warms us all.   So this week think about those important people in your lives.  Are they thriving or do we need to remind them of their greatness?   I say remind them even if they are thriving, after all what better way to show someone the love you feel for them.    


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August 5, 2014

Building Common Sense By Using Our Five Senses

 

Wikipedia defines common sense as a basic ability to perceive, understand and judge things, which is shared or common to nearly all. The ability to perceive is a crucial element in building common sense.   It requires us to use all of our senses and hopefully be consciously aware of our perceptions.   This is somewhat contradictory in how our brain works.   You see, at any given moment our five senses are taking in more than 11, 000,000 pieces of information.   Of those 11,000,000 pieces of information we are only capable of consciously processing 40 pieces of information per second.   Based on those odds much of our decision making is on auto pilot, part of our non-conscious brain functioning.   What happens though when we don't pay attention to some things we should be focusing on?  


What's There and What's Not


If we really focus on using all 5 senses it means perceiving what is and what isn't.   When we look at someone we need to see what's there and what's not there.   Do we see someone moving differently than they did before, or are we just glancing?  Do we hear the tone of someone's voice, their pauses and the emotion that comes from their voice or are we only listening to the words?  When we touch someone do we feel the strength in their muscles or do we only assert our force over theirs?   When we taste a favourite dish made by a loved one do we notice the subtle flavours they add for flare or do we consume it too quickly to appreciate the delicate blend of flavours?    Do we breathe in the scent of those we love or have our breaths become so shallow that we no longer  take the time to inhale the fragrance of the world?  


 Shifting Your Perception

 

This week focus on one of your senses and take it out for some exercise.   Instead of acting on autopilot with that sense go deeper.  How might someone else see this, feel this, smell this, taste this or hear this?  When we build an enhanced ability to use our five senses how we understand and judge things shifts.   We might find something incredible in those 40 pieces of information we consciously process per second.   If we all do that imagine the common sense we'll develop together.  


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July 29, 2014

Help Isn't a Four Letter Word

 

On July 29, 1965 the Beatles movie Help was released in Great Britain.   In the title song of the movie are the following lyrics:

 

"Help, I need somebody,

Help, not just anybody

Help, you know, I need someone

Help

 

When I was younger, so much younger than today

I never needed anybody's help in any way

But now these days are gone and I'm not so self assured

Now I find, I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors"

 

When I think about these lyrics I wonder at what age people "change their mind and open up the doors" to ask for help?

 

 

What's Stopping You?

 

There is a fine line between independence and interdependence in our lives.   When we're younger our parents foster a sense of independence in our world by encouraging us to do things on our own.   That becomes the badge of success.   Somewhere within that journey we also need to become interdependent, to rely on other people's help.    For some people asking for help is seen as a weakness.   Our inner voice convinces us that  I should be able to do this.   Asking for help shows our vulnerability.  Think about those situations where you would rather suffer in silence before asking for assistance.   Technology often creates an environment of frustration for some people.  Since the pace of change is constantly escalating it's hard for everyone to keep up.   How many of you remember the flashing 12:00 on your VCRs because you didn't ask for help in programming the clock?   Nowadays we might underutilize our computers or smart phones because we don't know how to use them.  

 

 

 Gain Time and An Ally

 

 Time is an incredibly valuable commodity in our lives.   We need to be nimble and respond quickly in a variety of situations.  When we stall because we're afraid to ask for help we are compromising our success.  This week find an opportunity to ask for help.  Researchers have found that when you ask for help people generally receive it.  We also create a stronger relationship with someone because we want to help them.  Reciprocity is a strong drive in our lives and we want to return the favour.  Imagine the additional relationships you can establish by simply asking for help.   Many years ago I asked a young man for help getting home, today he is my husband and we've been helping each other ever since.  So stop thinking of "help" as a four letter word.  You'll be glad you did.  

 

 

 

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July 22, 2014

The Power Of Hands In A "Hands Free" World

 

The other day I was reminded how technology has changed our world in the last 35 years.   It was the anniversary of the Walkman.    At the time we didn't realize that this single device would change how we listened to music.    We would see the disappearance of the "boom box" and the emergence of other devices that grew smaller and smaller until they no longer required our hands.   We have entered the "hands free" world.  

 

Idle Hands?

 

There was a time when being referred to as a "hands on" individual was an ultimate compliment.   It meant that someone was in the mix of activity and had a pulse on what was going on.   In today's "hands free" world how are we using our hands that have been relieved of so much responsibility?   What I've seen and experienced is moving our hands to some other activity that requires attention.   If I'm using a blue tooth device chances are I'm gripping a steering wheel.   If I'm on a cordless headphone I'm likely typing on a keyboard.   Has "hands free"  become synonymous with "one my own"?   Are they devices that feed our isolation?

 

 

 Use Your Hands

 

 I'd like to think that "hands free" devices are essentially to save our hands for more important work.   The work that is really meaningful.

 When you greet someone and reach out to shake their hand, that's meaningful.  

When you clap your hands to show your appreciation, that's meaningful.

When you pat someone on the back for a job well done, that's meaningful.

When you hold someone's hand to show them the way, that's meaningful.

When you put your hands together in prayer, that's meaningful.

When you extend your arms around someone in a hug, that's meaningful.

When you hold your hand out to someone who is shaky on their feet to help steady them, that's meaningful.

When you wipe a tear from someone's eye, that's meaningful.  

When you raise your hand to ask a question, that's meaningful

When you use your hands to feed someone who cannot feed themselves, that's meaningful

When you place your hand on an expectant mother's belly and feel the baby move, that's meaningful

 

 

Our hands are most powerful when they connect with someone else.   So this week as you use your "hands free" devices instead of turning away from others take some time and turn towards someone and give them a hand.   You'll be glad you did

 

 

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July 15, 2014

Begin Again

 

There is a wonderful movie that came out in theatres recently called "Begin Again"  It is the story of how three individuals' relationship with music creates a distinct starting point for each of their lives.     Adam Levine plays a character whose life changes when he emerges from obscurity into fame.   Mark Ruffalo's character has to begin again out of desperation as his previously successful life has suffered  numerous fractures leaving him on life support.  Keira Knightley's character orchestrates a new beginning where her music is not for sale to the highest bidder but on her terms.    In each case they find a new beginning that brings meaning to their lives.


"Are We All Lost Stars?"

 

There is a line in the movie's title song, Lost Stars, that asks:  "Are we all lost stars trying to light up the dawn?" What a wonderful thought and a deeper meaning to each of our lives if we believe that we have the power of a star.   We become lost when we allocate only one beginning and path to our life.  What the movie celebrates is the fact that beginnings happen all the time.   When we are open to a new beginning our light shines through.  

 

What's Your New Beginning?

 

Each day as you wake up you have a new beginning.   You can radiate lightness and warmth like the most powerful star.   Think about the power of your smile, your laughter and your friendship.  They are all readily at your disposal.   So this week every morning you wake up begin again.  No matter what  darkness might have infiltrated your world yesterday you don't have to put your life on replay.  You can turn the page in your story and begin again.  


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July 8, 2014

Time to Say Thank You

 

On Sunday night I went to see a concert with my son in Michigan.   The headliner was Andy Grammer who we saw last year and has been a wonderful inspiration for my son and his song writing.  During his set he played a combination of his hits, new songs and several cover songs from other artists.   Here was an artist who has an amazing catalog of his own songs yet he chose to play two songs from other artists.  


"Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery"


When an artist at the top of their game covers someone else's song  there is likely something in the words, melody or the message of the song that inspired them.   It made me think about the people in my life that I have been inspired by and who I have imitated. I haven't sang their music but I have channeled their words through my voice, mirrored their behaviours and lived by their values.  

 

There's Always Someone to Imitate

 

No matter who you are or what role you have in life there is always someone who grabs your attention  and walks a walk that inspires you.   If you lose that curiosity and desire to imitate your ego might be getting the best of you.   When we imitate those individuals that we admire we aren't duplicating what they have done we are saluting their work and enveloping it with our own individuality.   Just as Andy Grammer covered two songs of other artists there was no mistaking the "flare" he added to them.  

 

Saying Thank You

 

My son had a unique opportunity to say thank you to one of his musical idols Sunday night after the concert.  What he shared was straight from the heart and important to say.  Sometimes we don't have an opportunity to meet those individuals who have inspired us but for many of us they aren't famous.   Perhaps they're our parents, friends, a boss, coworker, or our children.  This week find a few minutes to thank them for the inspiration they have provided in your life.  You will find the words that will spark you both to even better moments that will fill your hearts.    

 

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July 1, 2014

"From Far and Wide Oh Canada"

 

It seems only fitting that today's article is a tribute to our wonderful country.   Living in Essex County my connection to the rest of Canada always started with a drive on the 401.  Yesterday I spent 8 hours driving on the 401 and reflected back on the many wonders I have experienced in our great country.

 

I Remember

I have been fortunate to have travelled by road through 8 of our 10 provinces.   It has provided many memorable moments in my life.

I remember the first time I saw Niagara Falls as an 8 year old with my parents.   It was an amazing experience that filled my senses.     In fact, I heard the roar before I saw the falls and as I got closer felt the mist on my skin.   Many years ago I spent a summer working in Vancouver.  Although I flew there, when it was time to return home I decided to take a greyhound bus  to see the country.   I left on a Sunday night at midnight and arrived in Windsor Wednesday morning at 6am.   During the journey I passed through the Great Divide,  saw mountain goats precariously perched on tiny shelves on mountain sides,  vast fields of wheat over the prairies and a glorious sunset over the Lake of the Woods area.

 

 

Through My Family's Eyes

 

My travels through Canada have  been enhanced when I've shared them with my family.   We've seen spectacular views on the Cabot Trail, participated in re enactments at Fort Henry and Fortress Louisburg,  and  taken a buggy ride through Quebec City.   In Halifax, we were moved to tears as  we felt the splendour of the International Tattoo on a Canada Day 10 years ago.    The list of unique experiences is huge.   With every ooh and aah  that each experience inspires I am amazed that the list continues to grow.  There have been 100s more I would love to describe but would not do them justice.


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June 24, 2014

Redefining a Grand Gesture

 

I am a huge fan of the grand gesture.   Not the grand gesture that we see in movies that has the main character putting himself out there to show how he feels for the love of his life.  I am referring to the grand gesture that is merely an action that shows people how you feel and is remarkable or massively thoughtful.   What totally drives me in the use of grand gestures is that it requires me to notice people.

 

Taking Time to Notice

 

The people in our lives are all unique and special yet it is easy for us all to get caught up in the routine of our lives.   We start and end our days in the same manner and fill the middle with a list of activities that we must accomplish.  When the routine of our lives takes hold we might forget just how special we are.   When someone bestows a grand gesture on us it causes us to  pause and for a brief moment embrace that element of ourselves that is special.   Someone noticed.  This doesn't require a huge investment of money or time.  It is not based on reciprocity.   It stems from a desire to acknowledge and shine a light on someone else.  

 

How Big is Grand?

 

I have heard people say that they can't believe someone did what they did when referring to a grand gesture.  Does this mean it was too big?   I like to think that the gesture wasn't too big it's just that we've become unaccustomed to random acts of kindness.   I'd like to suggest we can push the bar on grand gestures and start finding more opportunities to make them a part of our lives.   If successful they won't be too big they'll be just right.

 

Notice Someone and Make a Grand Gesture

 

This week really notice someone.  What is it that is important in their life?   What makes them smile?  What makes them laugh?  When you really notice what comes from the inside of another person you'll find a grand gesture that feeds their soul.   It might be a note, a shared activity, a picture  or an impromptu visit.   Whatever it is when you bestow a grand gesture your smile will be magnificent because it's a reflection of theirs.  

 

 

 

 

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June 17, 2014

Say My Name

 

There is incredible power in a person's name.   When we hear our own name we automatically turn our head even if the person was speaking to someone else.   As children we were fond of saying "My name's Patti, what's your name?"   A simple question that we used to make a friend.   Throughout our lives we find ourselves asking for someone's name.   When you're in a crowded room and look across at someone intriguing you might ask "Who's that?".   In asking someone's name we are looking to make a connection.  

 

Looking Beyond Anonymity

 

I have a friend who always introduces himself to whoever he is interacting with.   In fact,  when in a restaurant he always asks the wait staff their name and repeatedly uses their name throughout the evening.   What results is above average service.   The simple act of using the person's name creates a stronger connection.   What happens  when we encounter someone who wears a name tag as part of their uniform and we don't acknowledge their name?   Sadly, some people crave anonymity in their interactions.   They are in a place at a particular time for a transaction, nothing more.   These are likely the same people that demand great customer service yet don't contribute to the service interaction.   What a difference a name might make?

 

Using a Name Tag

 

The next time you are in a store and the clerk has a name tag try using their name.   If they ask you if you found everything you were looking for say "Yes...(insert name) I did, thank you".   If they wish you a good day respond by saying " you too (insert name)".  Watch what happens, it might surprise you.    Next time you see that person I guarantee they'll remember you and you'll remember them.   What happens next...... is up to you.



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June 10, 2014

Sometimes It's a Matter of "Feet"  Not "Inches"

 

Some of my friends seeing the title of this article might suspect I'm pushing the envelope on appropriate content once again.  They would however, be incorrect.......this time.   Over the weekend I saw a news report about a teenage boy who participated in a 2 day walk while giving his younger brother a piggyback.  You see his younger brother has cerebral palsy and has watched his brother from the sidelines cheering him on in his athletic career as he did not have the physical capacity himself.   Being carried by his brother these past two days allowed him to experience the event from "inside the ropes".   This  was significantly different for him and instead of being the cheerleader he was receiving the cheers.  


 Using Our Capacity


Many of us have the capacity to participate in all types of experiences in our life if we get up and move our feet.   What's truly amazing is that we may have forgotten the magic in our feet.  As children  our first steps were a marvel to behold.  They became our preferred method for seeing the world.  We also belly laughed when someone tickled our toes.  They were and still are our connection to the world.  Although it might seem easier and safer to watch from the sidelines this can leave us  unchallenged.  Why not experience life instead of living vicariously through someone else.


 Celebrating Your Feet


 This week it's time to celebrate our feet again.  Perhaps you might start by pampering them with a pedicure and then showing them off to the world.   Take them for a walk around the block,  walk barefoot in the cool grass or dance to your favourite music.  Whatever you want to do let your feet take you there.   Like the young brother who experienced an amazing event from the inside it's time to stop watching others and take a first step


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June 3, 2014

 Imagining Your Future

 

As a coach the use of visual imagery exercises is a valuable tool for my clients.   As children we readily switched on our ability to visualize our future as we slipped into daydreams .   Perhaps as children, having a limited past helped us readily focus on the future.   As we age and have a world of experience under our belts how does that ratio of past to potential future impact us?   What we do know from science is that our brain does not readily distinguish  what is real from what we imagine.    We also know that we are all living longer lives, why not live our best lives.  


 Reacting vs Creating


 Both these words are comprised of the same letters that when re-positioned substantially change the meanings of the words.  If you take the "C" out of Reacting and place it up front the "C"  might be perceived as 'taking charge" or "controlling" your future.   It is also a choice we can make in any situation.   We can react to things as they happen or create how we want our life to be.  


 A Beautiful Day Exercise


 Honing your visual imagery skills can start with an exercise called "A Beautiful Day".   Think about your most beautiful day.   What makes it beautiful for you?   Remember each of us defines beautiful differently as it' highly personal.   You might want to use a 24 hour clock and divide your day into different segments.   What does each segment look and feel like?   Once you've done this now try living your perfect day.    What was successful for you?  What were the qualities of the day that stood out as "beautiful"?  What might you now change about your perception of a beautiful day?    What actions might you take to live that beautiful day more often?  As you go through this exercise visualize the changes you will make.   See yourself doing things differently.  Feel how you breathe in those beautiful moments.  Those are the moments that will take your breath away.  Imagine them.


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May 27, 2014

Just Breathe


 For the past several weeks I have had the pleasure to take an early morning walk.   It's usually before the sun has emerged above the horizon and the ground is wet with the morning dew.  During these walks I have discovered an abundance of earthworms in the middle of the paved walking trail.  What I've also noticed is the plight of some earthworms who have succumbed to a painful death as they were unable to make it to the other side.before the heat of the sun fried them.  


 Why Did the Earthworm Cross the Road?


 Of course, my curiosity got the best of me as I was compelled to understand what would cause an earthworm to venture to the surface.  The answer I discovered was so they could breathe.  Sometimes earthworms flee their underground environment when they become too wet and might drown.   They seek the wet pavement where they feel safe.   You see worms need to keep their bodies moist to breathe.  They have a choice, stay underground, potentially underwater where they can survive up to 2 days or venture to the surface where they can survive for 1-2 hours once the sun surfaces.   It takes that long before they dry up.  


 Becoming a Better Earthworm


 Sometimes our lives are full of choices that cause us to go into survival mode.   When that happens we might make rash decisions that have a negative impact.  Before venturing out onto that wet pavement try a deep breathing exercise.  Sit back in a comfortable chair.   Close your eyes and place your hands on your stomach.  Breathe in slowly through your nose while you count to 5.  Feel your stomach rise while you pull in the air.  Now slowly exhale through your mouth to a count of 5 expelling all your air as your stomach goes down.   Repeat this for 10 complete breaths.  Now consider the actions you are going to take.   By just breathing you might make different choices than our friend the earthworm.    


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May 20, 2014

 Getting Stuck in Your Story


Life is a series of moments that shape who we are and who we are becoming.  There are moments that are fairly benign in how they impact us while others touch us to our core.   When something negative happens to us we might find ourselves reliving the situation over and over.   We tell our family, our friends and sometimes anyone who will listen.   When we do this we become entrenched in the past.  We are getting stuck in our story.  


 Evolution Built Us to Move Forward


  The human body is most efficient and effective when it is facing forward.   We have been designed to optimize forward motion .  That's why our feet point forward, our knee joints are hinged and our largest muscles are placed to ensure maximum speed for forward momentum.    When we repeat "our story" over and over it's as if we are scrambling our body's design and spinning our head causing us to run in circles.  In essence, we freeze our development because we're stuck in the past and can't see our future.  


 The Magic Number is One


 So this week start monitoring "your story".   The first time you tell your story it's venting.  When you tell it the second time you're looking for validation.  The third time becomes a paralyzing habit.   Make an effort to tell these stories only once.   Venting gets things off your chest so you can take a deep breath and move forward.   Remember although a wise old owl can turn his head 180 degrees he is only able to fly forward.  


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May 13, 2014

Neutralizing Your Emotional Thoughts


 As someone who works with emotional intelligence in both my coaching and facilitation I often encounter people who profess to remove emotion from their interactions, particularly, in the workplace.


What is fascinating about this statement is the very nature of our humanity infuses emotion into us.  We feel, think and respond as emotional beings.  We are, however, capable of gaining greater awareness of our emotions particularly how we use emotional words in our thinking and communication.   Certain words we use create emotions in us.  This happens when we speak them, hear them or read them.  Politicians have used "emotional words" for years to influence the electorate.   Neutralizing emotional words in your thinking takes consistent practice.  


 Working a Scenario


 Visualize yourself in the following situation.  You are in a meeting when the chairperson makes their opening remarks.  Within these comments is information about the purpose, the people, the big picture and the plan.  All the bases are covered.  Several thoughts are instantaneously going through your mind and your use of particular words that are "emotional words" come into play.  


If you like the person or the message you may be thinking with words such as:  


He or she ......................

"infused"

"generated"

He or she is a ..............

"catalyst"

"change agent"

"progressive"

" passionate"

"vigorous"

"reflective"

"thought provoking"


If you dislike the person or the message you may insert the following words into your thoughts


infused becomes "complicated"

generated becomes 'rehashed"

catalyst becomes "aggressive"

change agent becomes  "premature"

Progressive becomes "driven"

vigorous becomes "indulging"

reflective becomes "cautious"

thought providing becomes "questionable"


See how even the choice of words in our thoughts have an emotional component.  These examples are at opposite ends of a spectrum.  If we can neutralize our emotional words we change our reaction to people and or their message.  


 Using an Internal Thesaurus


 Next time you are in a similar situation think about the words that come to mind.  Write them down in a list.  Now use a thesaurus to replace your words with something more neutral.  Consider how this impacts your perception?  Do this a few times and you will build a repository of neutralizing words.  


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May 6, 2014

Doing Your Own System's Check

 

As I looked around this weekend I saw a flurry of activity as people were busy getting their homes ready for the nice weather.     Yards were being raked, patio furniture cleaned  and a general assessment was conducted of their outdoor space.   It was part of an annual ritual that many of us do to prepare for the coming months.  


As I watched, as well as participated in some of these activities, I thought about our personal readiness to prepare for the coming months.   How are we taking care of ourselves?   What actions might we take to help us polish and shine the person we are?  


 

Checking Under the Hood

 

As  Canadians we have a wonderful health care system available to us, however, we all don't  take advantage of it.   If we think about our bodies like our motor vehicles an annual checkup is like an oil change.   This small action helps us move towards healthiness.    

Our performance is also enhanced when we get out and rev our engines.  The exercise we participate in helps get our heart rate up and increases our longevity.    


 Follow the Maintenance Plan in Your Owner's Manual


 Imagine if we all had an individual owner's manual to help us navigate through life.   When we think of our health perhaps we can design our own.  This week start writing down the things you need to do yearly, monthly, weekly and daily.   Commit to taking the actions that will allow you to be around a long time.  After all, we're all classics.  


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April 29, 2014

Become a "Ship" Builder

 

Throughout history great nations have risen to power as a result of their ship building prowess.  These ships led to great discovery.  They transported goods, people and the ideas that came with them.  In today's world while we don't rely on an armada of frigates to emerge as powerful we gain power and success through a different "ship" building.   This new ship building elevates the quality of our life.

 

What Ships Will You Build?

 

If we are lucky we live a life surrounded by the following "ships"

Partnerships

Friendships

Mentorships

Apprenticeships

Memberships

Relationships

 

There is an ebb and flow within each of these ships that contribute to the quality of our life.   They help us navigate through whatever waters we encounter.   What started out as a work relationship may evolve into a lifelong friendship.  A mentorship may lead to a unique partnership.  A membership will provide you a sense of belonging and community.  An apprenticeship may secure your legacy.

 

All of these ships are worth building well.  We have an infinite capacity to be awesome ship builders.   So this week decide what ship you will focus on and build it to last your life's journey.

 

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April 22, 2014

A Different Salutation for Earth Day

 

I started today by wishing my daughter and a friend "Happy Earth Day" and immediately wondered why I would send that salutation to a person?  

 

In 1970 Earth Day began to bring awareness to people about our planet and the impact humans have on the planet.  I read a quote that said "Humans can't live without the planet but the planet can live without humans"  Why then should such an important part of our existence be limited to one day per year?   Is Earth Day similar to "Mother's Day in that we celebrate it once per year but  take it for granted the other 364 days per year? 

 

If the planet were a person what might the salutation be?   Instead of words what if we purposely interacted with the planet at a cellular level?   Starting this week put your hands in the earth that gives us so much.    Feel it between your fingers.   Work it so that it glistens in the sun and discover the life it supports.  

 

Watch as the robin pokes its beak into the ground to find an elusive worm.  Watch as new growth from a plant surges upwards to find the sunlight secure in how it's anchored in the rich soil.    There is a magic in the beauty of earth when we respect it and let it breathe.   Take the time to plant something and watch it grow.  Now that's a perfect salutation. 

 

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   April 15, 2014

Find Your Sisterhood 

There are events that occur in our life that have a profound impact on the path we are travelling.   While we like to think we have control over our lives there are those moments when we face uncertainty and have to  redirect.   Having sisters around during these times is indispensable.    I have no biological sisters, however, I have been privileged in my life to have dear friends who have shared their lives with me in ways that go beyond biology.   They have comforted me in times of sorrow and been at my side during moments of great joy.   In fact, being in their presence, is always cause for celebration.   They have inspired my work, my words and have helped shape my world.   Yesterday I had two distinct conversations that reinforced the importance of "sisterhood" in our lives.   In the first conversation I was speaking with someone who was feeling the absence of  "sisterhood" as a result of moving and was looking to re-establish that in a new city.    In the second conversation I felt the tremble in the voice of a sister who witnessed her older sister fall.   She felt helpless as she was unable to help her get up.   Even though both women were 90 and 86 respectively and incredibly independent at that moment their 86 years together was a strong bond.   You see they don't generally catch the bus at the same spot but yesterday something compelled the 86 year old to walk to her sister's bus stop.   Although helpless to help her sister when she fell she was there providing moral support and love.  That moment had a profound impact on both women.   For the 90 year old it resulted in a fractured hip and wrist while her 86 year old sister's anguish was from a desire to remove her sister's pain..

What We Gain From Sisterhood

 When we connect with someone it is special.   There is no magic formula, however, I like to think that every connection fulfills a greater purpose in our lives.   It helps us gain so many things.  We gain:
  • resilience
  • perspective
  • appreciation
  • support
  • candor
  • laughter
  • purpose
  • love

 

Spend 1% of Your Waking Hours With Your Sisters

 

We have approximately 5000 waking minutes available to us every week.    How we use that time is at our discretion.   One of the best ways is to remember to spend time with our sisters.    By taking 50 minutes every week and interacting with our sisters we become better people.   So this week shift your 1% to something that really matters a sister.  


  **********************************************************************************************************************************************************   April 8, 2014

Time to Look Up 

This week's Take Action Tuesday is a call to action to bring back certain common courtesies that are dwindling away in our world.   I remember , as a child, my mother insisting that I watch where I was going as I skipped down the busy downtown street holding her hand.  I very seldom looked in front of me as I was too busy looking at everything around me.   Years later I channeled this same conversation with my young son who, through no fault of his own, inherited my curiosity of the world.    Those walks downtown weren't just to get to a destination they were a training ground for common courtesies.   Things such as:
  • moving aside for an older person who was walking towards you
  • holding a door for people who were older or who had their arms full of groceries or young children
  • giving your seat on the bus to an older person
  • ensuring you acknowledged someone when spoken to
  • always saying please and thank you

 

 Don't Miss Improving Someone's Day

 

 A funny thing happened between that conversation with my son and a walk down the street today.     We stopped being curious about what was on the street and more curious about the world at our finger tips.   On any given day watch commuters as they leave work and walk to their bus, car or train.   Their eyes aren't affixed forward they are looking down at their smart phones ensuring they send one last e mail or update their facebook status.    In this flurry of personal communication they miss the elderly woman struggling with her bags.   They miss holding the door open as they don't have a free hand.  Words are limited to what's written not what's said.   Any opportunity they had to improve someone's day has been lost in cyberspace.  This week I encourage you to put your smart phones away during your commute and look around you.  Hold the door for someone, help someone who might be having difficulty and receive a warm smile in return.   It definitely is worth looking up.  



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 April 1, 2014

  Who Are You Keeping in Your Peripheral Vision?

 How many times do you find your gaze affixed to someone or something that has your total attention?  Sometimes we're not even aware that it's happening.  We might be in a meeting and direction our attention exclusively to the speaker.  We may also be so focused on our destination that our gaze is straight ahead.   When this occurs we have limited our "centre of gaze" to one thing and everything else is only seen in our peripheral vision.   Unfortunately, peripheral vision does not have the focus and attention to detail as that of our centre of gaze.  While it is good at detecting movement it misses the detail.   If you think about your regular interactions with your family, coworkers and friends how do you position yourself and who has your centre of gaze?  If you find that you tend to focus more on certain people you might be missing out on great insight.  Often, these individuals outside of the spotlight have developed enhanced observation and listening skills.  Soliciting their input is valuable.

 Start Shifting Your Centre of Gaze

 Think back to your early years when you were learning how to drive.  If you're like most of us your instructor told you the importance of shifting the centre of your gaze.   Look to the left, the right, in your rear view mirror and your blind spot.  When you do this often you see the detail of everything around you.  We don't need to be wrapped in steel to do this in our lives.  This week take the time and shift your centre of gaze to someone new.  This might mean changing where you sit at a meeting or even changing your regularly travelled route.  Start looking at what's around you and seeing the details.  There are gems when you look

   *******************************************************************************************************************************************************          March 25, 2014

What is Your Sentence?

As you think about your day do you find you are moving from one thing to another at a pace that doesn't afford you time to focus?  If this describes your world you are no different than many of us.   We are living in a world where there is constant pressure to perform and to check things off of our "to do" list.   I recently read a powerful statement attributed to Clare Booth Luce who told President Kennedy that a great man is a sentence.... meaning a leader with a clear and strong purpose could be summed up in a single line. This got me thinking about what my sentence would be.  After some thoughtfulness I landed on "I inspire people to be their best"  It is a goal that I work towards with every interaction, whether those interactions are with family, friends or business relationships.  So this week pause,  take some time to ask those important and fundamental questions about your life and how you would summarize it in one sentence.   If your sentence is a goal that you have not achieved as yet ask yourself "How might I live up to my own sentence?"   Finally a great barometer to help guide you is to answer this question.   What am I doing when I feel most beautiful?  The beauty is what fills your soul and radiates from the inside out.  When you find this you'll find your sentence. 

 

 

******************************************************************************* March 18, 2014

 We Need to Talk

  If you're like most of us when you hear those words "we need to talk"  we instantly think something is wrong.  What have we missed?   This week I encourage you to think of those words as a call to action.   Use them as an opportunity to connect with someone.  

 Some of you may be thinking about alternate ways you connect with people such as through emails, texting, bbms, vines and other tech means.  While these are useful there is nothing that replaces the energy and connection of face to face contact.   Technologies such as skype, facetime have tried to replicate the feeling of seeing the other person.   It allows us to interpret messages with the addition of body language.    
 Think of what would happen in your families if you weren't able to have that face to face interaction.   Every time I see a homecoming story whether it's a college student returning home or a soldier seeing their family after being separated by time and distance it is the moment of contact that is most powerful.  
 So this week put down your electronic devices and go see someone in person.   Reconnect with them if it's been a while or connect with them for the first time.   After you've done this you can supplement your interactions with e mails and other means but remember don't let too much time go by without a personal contact.   You'll be glad you did.

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March 11, 2014

With These Rings......................


Psychologists have determined that the number one question people ask themselves when focusing on their personality is "who will I be in the future?"  The second question is who am I?   John D. Mayer in his new book "Personal Intelligence" describes personal intelligence as a mental capacity we use to guide our lives- to reason about ourselves and other people

 

We all take different paths to get to our future self with a common starting point where we are right now.   Imagine a set of 7 rings that are stepping stones or links to your future self.   Start with identifying those characteristics that you demonstrate currently., then identify the characteristics you want to demonstrate as your future self.   If you see overlap your path may be shorter to get to your future self whereas others may have bigger gaps.  

Plot a new characteristic in each ring that you will focus on developing to build the future self that you want to become.   When you start to see the characteristic in your interactions it's time to move forward......before you know it you will be at your future self.



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March 4, 2014

Is My "But" Too Big?

 

There are certain words we use that stop people in their tracks, but, is one of those words.  We oftentimes speak of wonderful things in a sentence then negate it all by adding the word but.

 

 When we need to provide feedback to someone to redirect their behaviour there are powerful ways to do that without using the word but.   This doesn't mean to use any of but's cousins like however ,it involves consciously changing some of our communication habits.

 

Cracking Your But Habit

 

Becoming consciously aware of the words you use takes our attention and perhaps a little help from a friend.   This week focus on eliminating the word "but" from your vocabulary.   Try replacing it with "and".   Put a sign up near your desk to remind you to eliminate this word.   Use the "find and replace" function in Word to search for the hidden buts.  

Once you bring this word to a conscious awareness you will more readily be able to replace it with a word that doesn't stop a person in their tracks


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February 25, 2014

Are You Ready For Your Encore?

 Over the past several weeks I have attended several concerts and watched in awe at the performances. of some very talented musicians.    Each musician puts a great amount of effort and emotion into every song throughout their performance.   Each song on it's own is a separate concert that is woven together into a larger event.  The amount of energy that is expended is enormous and yet at the end of the show they reach deep inside and do an "encore".    As a member of the audience the additional couple of songs are the icing on the cake and have become something that is expected and cherished as a gift.    


 

In our own lives our performance is reviewed by everyone we encounter in our daily lives.  Like a musician on tour there are days when we're in good voice and days when we are in great voice.   Our audience, however, hasn't reached the point of expecting an encore or has it?  

 

Fitting In An Encore


 

What if you started to add an encore to your interactions with others.   What might it look like?  

 

  • Why not try enhancing a 1:1 with the addition of a 360 component?
  • Add a fun feature at the end of a team meeting
  • send a thank you note to a customer who didn't buy from you
  • bring in treats when people don't expect it

 Spend some time this week and create an encore moment.   Watch what happens and then take your bow

 ********************************************************************************************************************************************************* February 18, 2014

Create Your Inflection Point

 All around us change is happening at an exponential rate.  Technology, in particular, has hit a huge inflection point and is advancing in areas of robotics, digital hardware, software and networks at a speed that was incomprehensible even 5 years ago.  


Your competition has a new identity.  It is not the MBA that is interviewing for a coveted position, it is the technology that ingests information with a limitless appetite.  


It is essential that we continue to develop ourselves and our capabilities to run parallel to the inflection points that have emerged in the technology arena.  

 

Bring Back "Double Dog Dare You"


When we were young our friends would urge us to go beyond our limits.   They weren't always recommending safe activities but we generally plunged ahead and oftentimes were successful.    Imagine if we started to "Double Dog Dare" ourselves in our goal setting related to our own development.  Instead of setting a goal for a set time frame create a goal that doubles as the next phase, eg I will write 1 article a week for 6 months and write 2 articles a week the next 6 months.  


Find an aspect of your life where you want to create an inflection point.    Keep doubling your goal and watch what happens.  Focus on those elements that inspire you and push the envelope.   Not only will you run parallel with technology you might just leapfrog ahead.

So, this week I double dog dare you to create your inflection point.


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February 11, 2014
 Celebrating as Part of a Team
 
The winter Olympics are an opportunity to watch amazing athletes perform at levels that some of us will only dream about.  They have focused years of their lives in the pursuit of being the best.  On Saturday two sisters, Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe stood side by side on the medal podium as they were awarded the gold and silver medals in women's moguls.  
Justine, just prior to receiving the gold medal radiated excitement and raised her arm in triumph.  What happened next, I like to think, was a result of being part of a team.  As the Canadian National anthem played, a single tear streamed down her left cheek.  It summed up the feeling that was also radiating within me, one of pride at being Canadian.  There was no mistaking the emotion that stirs in a person when they feel part of something larger than themselves.
 What Team Are You Proud to Be Part Of?
 
This week take a few minutes to celebrate your team.  Whether your team is at work, a sports team or your family, it is worth celebrating.  Perhaps create an anthem or flag that symbolizes the uniqueness of your team.  When someone on your team excels remember that the recognition that they receive touches the heart of the entire team.  
 Not Everyone Wins a Medal
 
Finally, I am reminded that not every team wins a medal at the Olympics.  This, however, doesn't stop teams from celebrating their successes.  Several Olympics ago, Jamaica sent a bobsled team.  There was no expectation of winning a medal, however they overcame numerous obstacles to even make it to the Olympics.  What a reason to celebrate.  So this week, embrace your team and find a reason to celebrate.  When you feel it in your heart you've become a team.
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February 4, 2014
 Filling the Cracks....Plugging the Leaks
 
On the weekend I had the unexpected pleasure to deal with a water leak that decided to flood the area immediately below my upstairs bathroom.  While the water will dry and the leak has been plugged I was disappointed that I hadn't discovered it earlier.  In hindsight, there were numerous signs that I chose to ignore.  As many homeowners know it's much more fiscally responsible to do preventative maintenance than to wait for a crisis to happen.  
This is also important in your personal and work lives.  What happens when we don't do the preventative maintenance in our lives?  In some cases a small cold can turn into a sustained illness.  A misunderstanding can lead to lost opportunities and we start standing still or move backwards.
 Recognizing Your Cracks and Making the Repair

 Make a list of the various parts of your life that are important to you such as:
1 Family2. Health3. work4. Finances5. Friendships
Next, think about how you feel when these are working optimally.  You may have a few adjectives to describe each area.  Are you relaxed, energized?  What behaviours are you demonstrating that contribute to those feelings?
Now what happens when those feelings start to slip away?  How are you feeling?  What are you doing?  It's important to recognize it when it's moving slightly away vs when it's completely gone.  In essence, when it's a crack and not an insurmountable gap.
In some cases people wait until things are so damaged that they can't always be fixed and must be replaced.  This might happen when people believe they are at fault or when they believe that they can solve things on their own.  The thoughts that go through their head may include "It shouldn't be happening to me"  or "Everyone else is able to handle this why can't I?"  Unfortunately, these thoughts only postpone the repairs that can take place earlier.  
The more in tune you are with your feelings the more able you are to get back on track.  So take the time and recognize your cracks.  Fill them with spackle that you obtain from friends, family, coworkers and other resources that have your best interests at heart.  
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January 28, 2014
 The Survey Says.......
 
More and more leadership experts are identifying the importance of being able to connect with self and others as a key capability that excellent leaders have developed.  When we are young we have a natural curiosity about ourselves and those around us.  What we find out about ourselves and others helps shape our development.  The findings help us mold the people we are becoming.  In fact, we might consider ourselves as extremely malleable and open to re-shaping with new information as it is received.
As we get older we sometimes see ourselves and others as preformed shapes that are rigid without much malleability.  This can result in our feeling "set in our ways".
 Start With a Fun Survey
 
Challenge yourself to take a fun survey to discover more about yourself.  Look at popular magazines and you will find something interesting.  Sit down with a friend and share your results.  When you do this you gain additional insight about how others see you in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.  
 Become a Capability "Shape Shifter"
 
Once you do a few of these surveys ask yourself what areas you'd like to develop?  Create an action plan and share this with someone.  Check in from time to time and discover how you have become a "shape shifter".  
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 January 21, 2014
 Removing the Clutter
 I grew up in a household surrounded by the mementos of every milestone event that happened in our family.  As a result I sometimes attach emotions to objects and they can surround my physical space.  While surrounding my space is not a bad thing when they encroach on my ability to find things it becomes time to reassess their presence.
 Start the Purge
 Find one area of your life that you would like to streamline or simplify.  If it's your office what's on your desk?  Have you used it in the past month?  If 50% of the work surface is covered target freeing up another 25%.  Maybe you want to clean up your email.  How many unread messages are in your "inbox"?  Are they distracting you from moving through outstanding communication?  Why not create folders or delete old messages.  
 At home if your closet is overflowing and you haven't put away those new holiday purchases it might be time to get rid of the old items that you haven't worn in over 6 months.  Of course, finding more closet space is usually easier when sharing with someone else.  I'm always able to purge my husband's wardrobe before mine.  
 Pay the Purge Forward
 When you discard the clutter in your life you might feel a temporary sense of loss.  If you donate an item or give it to a colleague you might replace that loss with something stronger.  Giving a special memento to a friend might be a catalyst for them.  A previously read book might be a stepping stone to new ideas for a colleague.  Your gently worn clothes might bring confidence to a stranger at a job interview.  So this week re-purpose your clutter to make a difference.  
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January 14, 2014
 Finding Motivation in Music

 Music has an incredible ability to move us emotionally.  Throughout or lives we associate an event with the music that was playing in the background.  Think about it..... do you remember the song that was playing at your graduation, wedding or other special event?  Chances are you do.  

Music can inspire us as individuals or as a team.  My son is fond of playing the theme songs for specific wrestlers of the WWE.  As they walk into the arena the music identifies them long before they are visible to the crowd.  In 2010 we heard a song to rally our country at the winter Olympics and I'm sure we'll hear a new one in a few weeks.  
I have favourite songs that I play when I need to be contemplative, songs when I need extra energy and songs when I feel playful.  They have become the soundtrack of my life and are readily available with a click on my computer or my Ipod.
 Create Your Personal Playlist

 Find the music that inspires your creativity, music for a special project, music to identify your team or to celebrate a success.en the music has meaning it is never a distraction.   When you need some additional inspiration press play and watch what happens to you.   When the music has meaning it is never a distraction.  Instead, it's the words that are missing in the document you are writing.  It's the camaraderie of your team when they are on their game.  It's a thank you to a special person.  It's the meaning shared between friends that require no words.   That is the power of your personal playlist.  Play it and soar to new heights.  
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January 7, 2014
 Adjusting Your Reality
 
Each one of us has a reality of the world based on the facts we have collected.  Right now as I look out the window in my office I have collected the following facts:
  • it is bitter cold
  • there is more than a foot of snow
  • no one is outside
  • the roads are treacherous
My reality is this is a day to be inside and stay warm.  Any appointments I was planning today will need to be rescheduled.  In essence,  the weather has become an inconvenience to my work schedule.
But what might my reality be if I looked at the world from a different vantage point, say that of a young child?  
  • it is bitter cold
  • there is more than a foot of snow
  • no one is outside
  • the roads are treacherous
A revised reality is there is no school and it's a fun day to relax and take it easy.  Everyone's in the same position so there's no need to worry about things.  
In our every day interactions if we seek counsel from the same individuals in the same way chances are our reality remains fairly status quo.  Imagine what might occur if you expanded your vantage point?  
 Start Interacting with Different People

 Start interacting with different people.  Solicit their perspectives and see how it might impact your reality.  Go directly to the source.   Don't assign this to someone and ask them to report back, that continues to perpetuate the status quo.  Over the next week make a point to interact with one new person each day.   Get their opinion on the work you are doing.  How does it impact them?  What ideas do they have?  Remember,  the higher up you are in the organization the harder it is for people to be forthright in their opinions.  Guide them by asking them for the facts as they see them... in essence, their reality.  It's important to remember  "Might isn't always Right" it's just sometimes much more stubborn in seeing different realities.

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December 17, 2013 

Believe and Choose
 
Imagine it is January 1, 2015 and an entire year has gone by.   As you wake up that morning you take a deep breath and hold it in your lungs before exhaling slowly.  Your eyes open to let in the beauty that surrounds you and the music of your life fills your heart.  A smile easily forms on your lips as you say "thank you for the happiness that fills my life".  
You are living your "best" life because you believe in your ability to have endless happiness
 Choose
 
You choose to fill your mind with positive thoughts
You choose truth
You choose to be thankful
You choose to demonstrate goodness
You choose to share your gifts
You choose to act wisely.
You choose acts of human kindness
You choose with energy
You choose to discover
You choose to learn
You choose to explore
You choose to be curious
You choose to accept
You choose passion
You choose to love

 When you Make these Choices........You Choose Happiness
 
Your glass is more than half full, it is overflowing.   Your choices have great power on your happiness.  Believe and Choose.   Start today to set a new path that leads you to the happy life you so richly deserve.
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December 10, 2013
 Find Your "Because of People"
 
Living a successful life is seldom achieved in isolation.  If we are lucky we have built a network of people who motivate us to achieve our goals.  These are the "Because of People".  When we interact with them it's like getting a shot of adrenalin.  We feel more positive about the future and are able to execute activities that bring our goals to life.  Surrounding ourselves with "Because of People" brings us joy.  
Unfortunately, they aren't the only people we have in our lives.  Sometimes we encounter the "In Spite of People".  These are those individuals who literally suck the life blood out of you.  They live in such a negative world that merely being in their presence might cause you to doubt your capabilities, the direction you are headed and the choices you are making.  Although we'd like to eliminate these people from our lives it's not always that easy.  Sometimes they're a family member or a boss.  What then?  
 Minimizing the Impact of "In Spite of People"
 
1. Meter your interactions.  What duration of interaction with this individual is tolerable?  Some people might be okay for 2 hours but not 2 days,  some for 20 minutes but not 2 hours.  Determine your tolerance and set your interactions within that time frame.  
 2. Select the best channel for communication.  What channel of communication lessens the severity of negativity?  Is it in person, by telephone, e mail, twitter, linkedin or another social media platform?  Whenever possible use that chanel.

3. Assess who you have become.  Are you enabling "In Spite of People" by giving them a platform for their views and opinions?  Have you become afraid to speak up and redirect a conversation to the positive?  Consider the actions you are taking when with an "In Spite of Person".
 The Gifts from "Because of People"
 
The "Because of People" in our lives bring a variety of gifts to your interactions.  Their ability to motivate comes from many gifts.  Look for the following "Because of People".
1.  Intelligent/Knowledge resources.  Find people who bring unique knowledge to your interactions.  Through these interactions you may gain unique insight to new discoveries that challenge your current thinking.
2. Positive Dreamers.  Find people who challenge you to think beyond limits.  Their imagination might propel you beyond your wildest dreams
3.  Action Agents.  These individuals will propel you to take action on your dreams.  When you are stuck or moving slowly they will give you that push.  
4.  Connectors.  These individuals will connect you with the value in other people and will inspire you to bring value to others via your goals.  
As you take inventory of your relationships and your success in 2013 plan to enhance your interactions with a diverse group of "Because of People".  Create a list of people who'll help you make a difference in 2014.  Touch base with them before the end of the year.  Your success is depending on it.  *******************************************************************************************************************************************************************


December 3, 2013
 "Words to the Wise"

A recent newspaper report warned Canadians that unless we increase the literacy and numeracy of our knowledge workers we are seriously impacting our ability to compete in a global market.  This is an ominous prediction likely precipitating a "task force" or, at minimum, a white paper to bolster our global ranking.
As this was percolating in my thoughts I started to speculate on how we could have descended into the abyss of global literacy ratings so quickly.  It seemed only a few years back we were applauding the strides we had made in high school literacy levels.  Being a curious individual I thought about what happens to a person's literacy once they enter the workforce.  Was this the critical time period we were neglecting?  As I read an article in the Globe and Mail last week about the use of "jargon" in the workplace I began to see a pattern.  
 Is the Use of Jargon and Acronyms Damaging our Literacy?

 Imagine yourself walking into your very first team meeting.  Your palms may be sweating and your heart rate is slightly elevated.   As the meeting begins there are friendly introductions and welcomes and then a fog engulfs the discussion as the other participants start speaking a foreign language.  The pace of the discussion is quick and there are so many unfamiliar terms used you are having a hard time keeping up.   At the end of the meeting you feel deflated and unsure of your abilities.  

In business, jargon and acronyms have become the new "exclusive club".  The more you use them the more perceived power or knowledge you have.  What you don't have, however, is effective communication.   Communication that deepens understanding and challenges the status quo through lively debate is a surefire way to build literacy.  We use jargon the way some people use profanity.... when they can't articulate their message using a diverse vocabulary.  If we were a sports team our playbook has become severely restricted by jargon and acronyms.  
 Time to Set Up a "Jargon Jar"

 You may have seen the occasional "swear jar" in your office in the past.   Generally, it's used to help curb the tide of profanity by having people place a coin in the jar when they swear.  What if we did the same thing with jargon and acronyms?  Every time someone uses jargon or an undefined acronym they put a quarter in the "jargon jar"   Give the quarter to the first person who is able to replace the jargon with words and phrases that people understand to create a more robust dialogue.   By doing this we become more inclusive in our discussions and hopefully build the literacy of our knowledge workers.  It's worth a try.  

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November 26, 2013
 Being the Best Captain of Your Life
   
Each of our lives is a personal journey.  How we steer through the waters of life is determined by or core values.  When we readily navigate using our core values we have a clearer path to our personal happiness.  For some people their journey becomes turbulent when they focus on someone else's values such as a company, friend, or spouse in lieu of their own values.  These individuals may experience stress, conflict, excessively busy lives, feeling drained and regret.  
 Taking the Steps to Identify Your Core Values
 
Now is the perfect time to identify your core values or reacquaint yourself with core values that you've previously identified.  The following steps will assist you.
  • Ask yourself the following question:  What, in life, is most important to me? Write down your answers without filtering or judging them.
  • Next, what does the "value" mean to you?  For example, if you identified "family" ask yourself what family means to me?  Frame your response in the positive such as "Family means love and acceptance".  You have now identified love and acceptance as core values
  • Do this for all the values you originally listed.  Once you have this list there should be approximately 7 values as some will be duplicates
  • Write them down from most important to least important.  Now ask yourself the following question:  "If I had to live without one what would it be?"  Continue filtering your list using this process until you are left with your top 3 values.
  • By merging the three statements into one you create your own personal value statement.   Post this some place where you will see it every day.  You may want to consider this as your personal creed.  

 How Aligned is Your Life to Your Core Values?

 Over the course of the next week ask yourself how your current life, work and relationships reflect your core values?  How much time are you spending in activities and interactions that are aligned to your core values?  How might you insert more of your core values into your work or relationships?  
Keep a journal of your activities.  Write down key activities/interactions and how they are aligned to your core values.  If they aren't aligned is there an opportunity for you to modify the activity/interaction to build alignment?  
Sample Table
Activity/InteractionAlignedNot AlignedOpportunity to Align to Core Values Time Commitment

 At the end of the week tally up your totals.  You may do this in whatever way works for you (total items aligned, not aligned and opportunity to align....or time totals for each category)

Depending on what you discover you may want to seek assistance from a friend, mentor or coach to help you take the steps to align your life to your core values.
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November 19, 2013
 Taking a Coach Approach
 
Being a successful leader sometimes involves dealing with difficult issues where employees need to modify their behaviour.  When interactions go sideways it negatively impacts relationships with peers, supervisors and customers.  While we might approach this from a parental perspective, "don't do that again"  it may not result in an employee gaining personal insight into the impact of their actions and how to positively change them in the future.
 Becoming a "Fly on the Wall"
 
Ask your employee to describe what happened as if they were a "fly on the wall".  How did each person greet each other?  How did they stand?  What did they say?  What was the tone and volume like?  Encourage your employee to be as descriptive as possible.  As you go through this process ask questions to gain a deeper understanding and to build objectivity in describing what occurred.  Be attentive in listening and paraphrase back what you have heard to show understanding.  It's important not to be judgmental when using a coach approach.  Once you have gotten the perspective from the fly on the wall ask the employee what one action they could have taken that might have changed the outcome?  Encourage the employee to consider different approaches without leading them.  If they had made that change what would the "fly" have seen?  This helps the employee see an alternative outcome.  Finally, solicit an action step from your employee on how they might use this in future interactions.  

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November 12, 2013
 The Power of Changing your Questions
 
Today as you start your day listen to the questions you use when you interact with the people around you.  In particular, do you ask the same people the same questions in the same way every day?  If you do, what impact does it have on the answers you receive?  
It's not unreasonable that the same questions will result in the same type of answers but that's not the extent of what occurs.  We potentially limit our ability to effectively collaborate when we limit our range of questions.  
 Use Question Thinking
 
Author Marilee Adams in "Change your Questions, Change your Life" defines Question Thinking as "a system of tools for transforming thinking, action and results through skillful question asking-questions we ask ourselves as well as those we ask others."  
In today's business world we are dealing with complex problems that require us to successfully collaborate.   It's time to rebuilt your arsenal of questions.  
 Come from a Place of Curiosity
 
Questions become more powerful when they help us learn.  They become limiting when they are used to judge.   This week before an interaction with a coworker consider the following:Write down the first question you might ask in the situation.   Is it to learn more or is it to judge?  eg. " Why didn't you complete the submission on time?" is a "judger" question.  Try to replace it with a "learner" question such as "what were some of the challenges you faced with the submission?"  This question comes from a place of curiosity.  It will likely provide yo more information than the "judger" question.    Next, think of two additional questions to gain further understanding.  " How might....What if.... are wonderful starters.  Try using this technique over the next week and see what a difference it makes.  *************************************************************************************************************************************************



 November 5, 2013


 Focusing on "One Thing"

 We are all faced with dozens of items that inundate our "to do" list.  In an attempt to stay ahead we chip away bit by bit at different pieces but often fail to complete the most important things


 STOP TRYING TO MULTI TASK!


 Instead identify the one thing that is most important.  Ask yourself:  "what is the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"  Think about using this question in the various elements of your life such as:

  •  spiritual life
  • physical health
  • personal life
  • key relationships
  • your job
  • your business
  • your finances

 Now Focus your Energy
 Once you have identfied the "one thing" ensure that it is what you do first.  Devote your energy and time to completing this important item.  It will dramatically drive you to excellent results that have true meaning.  

For more information on making this work for you check out "The One Thing" by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan