Feeling for the Year

sunset

Many of us set goals for the new year.  I usually start in December, just so I can have my goals crystal clear by January 1 of the new year.  This year I’ve been slow setting my goals because I want to get something different so I have to do something different.  I am taking my time and working with an excellent business coach, Sheri Kaye Hoff  to help me market to the goals that I think are going to change the direction of my business.  I did come up with my word for the year (See my December 2017 blog article.) My word for this year is Limitless!  I plan on doing one thing that stretches my boundaries each day in 2020.

Recently, I was facilitating and Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) and Emotional Intelligence EQ-i class for leaders at a non-profit organization.  My MBTI preference is  Intuition – Thinking (NT); I love words, information and books! Of course, I love my word for the year. I think in words and thoughts, not feelings or emotions.  As always, I strive to learn more about my self and my preferences.  I work on my Feelings preference for MBTI to balance my decision making skills.  This made me think about how a Intuition -Feeling (NF) would want to have a feeling for the year instead of a word.  I have many NF friends who would prefer the people and emotional side when making decisions (goals).  Also, I realized about my self after taking the EQ-i 2.0 that I was not as aware of my feelings as other people may be.  This is my never ending learning and growing journey.  Some people know their feelings and how to express them much better than I do. So, my opposites may wish to have a feeling for the year instead of word.

Have you ever had a feeling that you can’t describe with words?  Words just could not express exactly the way you were feeling at that time. For example, the feeling of watching the most beautiful sunset or being greeted by your dog.  I’ve had a few examples of that phenomena in my life. The time I remember the most is the feeling that descended upon me while I was holding my newborn son.  I was sitting in a glider in the sunshine of a beautiful Texas morning, rocking my son.  All of a sudden I felt something that I can only describe as being enveloped in perfect peace and joy.  I felt wrapped up in a warm blanket in front of a wood burning fireplace on a cold night. I felt protected, joyous, loved, and so blessed at that moment.  I burst into tears and just cried as we were alone in that room.  It was a good cry; the cry of happiness and joy, and many other feelings that I could not put into words.  This is my example of a “feeling” that I wish I could repeat and keep throughout the year.

Have you had a feeling like this?  Have you had an emotion or sensation that you just can’t describe?  Think about all of the times this has happened to you.

My idea of having a Feeling for the Year, instead of Word of the Year, stems not from my preferences or strengths.  It comes from quite the opposite.  I was thinking about people who are different than I am.  People who have feelings, then thoughts.  People who sometimes cannot put their feelings into words.  Imagine if this were you and you wanted to have a word of the year.  It might be difficult.

Therefore, I unveil (daaaaah  ta ta taaaah), the Feeling for the Year.  I had never heard about this concept.  I just created it this month.  Please let me know what you think about this new idea “Feeling for the Year”.  Would it work for you or someone you know?

#lifelonglearning  #wordoftheyear  #goalsetting  #newyear

 

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I’m fixing to do that…

relaxing young professional

I used to hate that saying! I heard it for the first time when I moved to Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.  To me the saying meant that I am thinking about doing that – maybe.  It is even worse than procrastinating.  It is planning to plan.  My husband used to say he was fixing to mow the grass.  It took a few days.  Absolutely not great for goal setting…or is it?

Every December I get ready to set my goals for the new year.  I usually have them written in my journal by at least January 6th. This is my last day of celebration because it is Three Kings Day, my husband, Angel’s, Puerto Rican holiday.  I used to give myself the deadline of January 1st but I found that to be too stressful.  One thing that I have learned is that I try not to feel stressed during the holidays. I focus on my family, friends, and neighbors.  Once the focus is not on me or my tasks, it all seems better.  So, I suggest choosing a deadline for when your goals will be written down in a journal or somewhere they will be read daily.

Next, I try to relax when I write in my journal.  I take deep breaths and I do some tapping or stretches.  I let my mind wander.  I focus on what I have done this year and what I want in the future.  I also use a possibilities journal as seen in the movie, Last Holiday   where the main character had pictures of what she wanted.  My possibilities journal is a book where I write in past tense about the future. This is a very creative exercise and helps me narrow down what I really want to happen.  If nothing comes to me at the time, I just write a story about a great event that has been on my bucket list.  For example, last year as I sat just “fixing to…” I wrote about my book being published.  I was in the process of writing a book but I have started about 5 other books before, never finishing, for one reason or another.  I wrote how I was so relieved that the book was published and it was complete.  I added that I was going to help people around the world start or continue journaling with many different options that they could choose.   That ended up being a goal for 2019.  The book, The Journal Book; Your Journaling Journey was published in May, 2019!

I also dream.  When I am in the place between sleep and awake, I think about what I want my life to be in the future.  Then I tell myself that time is NOW.  I am in my future and have a little video of my perfect future play in my mind.  And I day dream as well.  I was told as a young girl that I shouldn’t day dream when I am in school.  Now, I day dream whenever I can.  This is another example of “fixing to”.  The more I relax and dream, the easier it is to realize what I want in my future.

These are some of the things to do before I sit quietly to write my goals down.  I think the relaxing and dreaming is so important to goal creation.  I usually take the entire month of December to dream and not be stressed when it comes to goal setting.  So, “fixing to” may not be so bad after all.  Procrastination with a purpose is very helpful before writing goals.

What do you do before you set your goals?  Please leave a comment and let me know.

 

#goalsetting #fixingto” #Journaling #Thejournalbook  #goals2020

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Staying Current: Professional Development

African American Businesswoman Juggling

There is no doubt that we need to stay current on the latest in our industry.  Are you too busy working in your job and not on your own job? Do you have many responsibilities in your personal life to even think about taking the time to improve at work? There are many ways to stay up-to-date in this ever changing world.  Explore what you want, how to get it, and ways to learn and grow.  How do you get the knowledge and skills you need?

Stephen Covey’s 7thhabit is “Sharpen the Saw.”  This habit’s name is based on a story about 2 lumberjacks.  The Paul Bunyan type of lumberjack.  The first lumberjack was sawing a huge tree when the second lumberjack walked by and asked him if he sharpened his saw before he started to cut down the tree.  The first guy said, “I don’t have any time to do that.  I need to chop this tree down quickly.  Time is money.”  Ok, I’m paraphrasing.  The second guy sharpened his saw.  It took some time but he thought that time would be worth the effort.  Then the second guy found a huge tree to cut down and started sawing.  The story ends when the second guy yells “timber” before the first guy.  The first guy is still sawing and the second guy is finished.  Taking the time to sharpen the saw paid off in the end.  The moral of the story is make sure that you take care of yourself, get good resources, knowledge and skills before you take on your job.  When is the last time you sharpened your saw? And do you even know all the different methods to sharpen your saw?

Are you the first lumberjack?  Do you work and not come up for air?  Are the tools in your “toolbox” from that hardware store that went out of business?   Was the last time you took a class (even online) in the early 2000s? Are you a member of your professional association in name only?  Do you mentor others in your occupation or are you too busy to share your expertise? Is your linked in profile up-to-date so others can share the latest information with you?  Are you not sure exactly how you should update your skills? Below is a list of ways that we can get the professional development that we need.  Check which ones you do and which that you think you can benefit from the most.  Use the second column box (details) to write the exact conference, podcast, magazine, etc. that you would be interested in using to stay current.

What do you do for Professional Development?

 

Item

Details

  Obtain a professional certification  
  Attend Conferences  
  Participate in Webinars  
  Individual Development Plan (IDP)  
  Network with Peers  
  Participate in Professional Groups  
  Read Trade Publications  
  Using/utilizing a Coach  
  Learn and apply from applicable Courses  
  Consult a mentor  
  Coach a peer or subordinate  
  Learn from Venders (leverage the vendors thought leadership for the latest trends)  
  Research a topic and write about it’s application  
  Actively volunteer with a professional organization  
  Job shadowing  
  Informational interviews  
  Read books on professional topics  
  Develop content for a blog or newsletter  
  Develop content to share with others on a topic you want to know more about (presentation or job aid)  
  Listen to a podcast  
  Discuss topics in a community of Practice  
  Update your linked in profile  

Now that you have checked which types of professional development you have done in the past make sure that you determine what you would like to do in the future.  Try something different, meet new people, volunteer, or create new content.

If you are new to your profession, I would suggest volunteering in your professional association and/or finding a mentor. Share what you do with others and learn from your peers and the experienced sages.  If you are one of those sages become a mentor, speak or teach others what you know.  We can all benefit from learning, sharing, and growing in our profession.

I’ve heard many excuses from people who do not participate in any professional development at all.  The explanations I hear start with time and money.  What people don’t realize is that many of these options are free.   I remembered when I volunteered at my profession’s international conference and expo. I got a day at the conference for free, learned so much, and met so many people. My time was well spent and volunteering didn’t cost money for the conference.  Always remember, that first lumberjack spent more time in the long run.  When you learn a new method it may save you more time!

Please let me know if you have other ideas to add to this list of professional development opportunities. I look forward to hearing from you.

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#professionaldevelopment  #lifelonglearning  #Employeedevelopment

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Feedback for Gen Y and Z

Aged mentor showing on computer screen helping intern understand program

It has been said that the latest generations require more feedback then previous generations.  I am not a GenY or GenZ employee but I have worked with many.  I also get quite a bit of feedback from all generations during classes I teach.  I ask questions and hear comments from all of the generations in the workforce.

I identify myself “on the cusp” of X and Boomer because I was born in 1963.  Technically, my year is at the end of the Baby Boomer Generation but I find myself possessing more of the X characteristics according to the Generation research and articles.  I do know that I do not ask for as much feedback in the workplace as these more recent generations.  After thinking quite a bit about this topic, I have decided that this need for constant feedback can be a great bonus in the workplace but it has some limitations.

Many X and Boomer managers complain about the need to give constant feedback to the most recent generations.  Susan, a participant in my class, stated that she does not want to “babysit” and constantly give real-time feedbackthat Gen Y loves.   Other managers in the class jumped into the conversation with comments such as: “I just don’t have time to give feedback all of the time” – “I had to learn by trial and error” – “I would never ask my VP for more directions, I would just do it”. These comments made me visualize what these two different approaches look like.  Here is the model I created.

 

Feedback graphic

Let’s say that each project begins at the “start” and then it finishes at the “end”.  The way to do this project properly is to follow the light blue lines.  For example, if I was planning an event such as the annual holiday party there would be many small tasks to do and it would take a while.  The “road to success” is filled with curves and there is not a straight route.   OK –  granted, this is not a project management visual or chart, but go with me on this one. The green curvy line is how older generations learned a task without asking for a lot of feedback.  We may or may not get a lot of directions in the beginning but were expected to figure it out.  Sometimes our bosses loved our creativity and other times they would give us feedback and we may have had to start over.  This green line is full of trial and error, finally coming back to the “road to success”.  All of the swaying off course meant that the process took a lot of time.

Now when the more recent generations begin a task they start then quickly ask for feedback.  The X symbolizes the employee asking for feedback and the correcting the course to stay on the path.  The outlines of the “road” depict the path that person takes to get from the beginning to the end while ping-ponging back and forth from X to X. Asking for feedback often keeps the person closer to the “road to success” and there is less swaying off course. This curve is not as large as the green curve showing that not as much time is taken.  So, asking for feedback often could actually save time instead of wasting time.

My theory is that the newer generations realize that they need to get tasks and projects done more quickly that what was expected in the past.  They don’t have the time to make as many mistakes and most are used to their parents helping them navigate the waters of life as compared to the older generations. Also, technologynow gives us constant feedback, directions and how-to YouTube videos.  These employees want to make a difference and want to do the job correctly the first time. They realize that time is important and they can get instant feedback from not only their supervisor but Google, social media, or other online technologies.

The older generations had more time to get projects completed so had the luxury to use trial and error.  These generations had to research through books and other means of information and it was realized that this took time. We also did not have computers or the Internet. The bonus to this method is that as they older gens made mistakes they got creative.  They had time to try out new ways of doing things and that led to other ideas and inventions.

So, using this quick model to compare how employees used to complete a task without feedback and how Gen Y and Z are doing it now can give us some insight.  Here are some of the ideas on how to give feedback to your younger employees.

  • Understand that the annual review-only feedback/performance model does not work for the new generations.
  • Give detailed expectations at the beginning and be open to many questions.
  • Coach instead of delegate.
  • Suggest that they use social media to connect with others who have done the task before.
  • Instead of having the open-door policy and being disturbed every hour by questions, have the YZ create a list of questions when they come to a fork-in-the-road. Answer all of the questions at one designated time. This will be frustrating for the YZ at first but they will get used to trying to find the answer themselves thus taking some of the items off of the list.
  • Let your younger gens know that they can and should use other forms of technology.
  • Explain your timeframe. When do you need the task completed?  Make sure that you communicate this to your employee.
  • Know the reason why you are giving this task. Is it a learning task that involves creative or critical thinking or is it a simple quick report?  If the task involves critical thinking or creativity explain that you expect them to take their time and that it will be OK to make some mistakes.  – really mean this!  No consequences.  Make it a learning opportunity.

What are some of your methods of giving feedback to younger employees?

#generations  #feedbacktogenY  #genZ #makingmistakes   #leadershiplearning-and-logo

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Forget the Golden Rule: it is all about Platinum

Bible's Golden Rule Under Old Magnifying Glass

We all know the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.

According to Wikipedia, the Golden Rule can be “found in some form in almost every ethical tradition”.  Most people in the US have heard of it from the Bible.

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”

— Leviticus 19:18

or

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

— Galatians 5:14

I kept researching and realized that I understood the Got Questions website answer the best.

“The “Golden Rule” is the name given to a principle Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount. What we call the Golden Rule refers to Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus’ Golden Rule gives us a standard by which naturally selfish people can gauge their actions: actively treat others the way they themselves like to be treated.”

This rule seems like a great way to be civil to people in the workplace, however, it is lacking.  Someone told me that the Platinum rule is now the newGolden rule.  According to Inc. the Platinum rule was suggested by Dave Kerpin in his bookThe Art of People.  The platinum rule is to

Treat others as they wish to be treated.

This makes so much sense in our now global workplace. I know that my co-workers would like to receive rewards and recognition different ways.  Robyn may like an announcement so that all of her co-workers will know what a great job she is doing!  If I made a public announcement about Rob, he might feel mortified that he was “called out”.  This goes beyond rewards and recognition to how people feel the most comfortable.  We wish to help our colleagues feel comfortable in the workplace.

So, how do we find out just HOW others wish to be treated?  We ask them.  This is the best customer service strategy that I can suggest. I’ve been coaching a customer service representative and she said she naturally uses this Platinum Rule.  She wants what is best for each of her customers.  “What can I do for you, sir?” is one of her favorite greetings.

It is also a great way to treat people on your team and in your organization. When I was teaching a leadership course, Bill, a manager, voiced, “I thought I need to treat each person equally! How can I apply the Platinum Rule?” Other leaders in this class started brainstorming about how to be equal but still be able to be unique for each of their team members.  One suggestion was to make sure that each team member had access to you the manager but do this in ways that work best for each individual.  For example, meet face-to-face with Samantha for an hour. Have 6 ten minute calls on the phone with Joseph.  Have 2 thirty-minute zoom meetings with Sally.   The group went on to “prove” to Bill that there is a way to be equal as well as treating people how they wish to be treated.

Another example was mentioned to me because the company had a policy that did not include the Platinum rule.  This company had one way to treat their customers.  They were considerate, compassionate, and had a wonderful reputation. Then, a VP got a terrible email pointing out that the company did not have option for Muslim customers.  The email detailed that their family needed to be treated differently because of their religion.  He was mortified that no one in the company had ever thought about this option.  They wanted to use the company’s services but while also keeping within the guidelines of their religion.  The family wanted options that did not exist YET.  The VP, after realizing, thanked the letter writer and went to work customizing and changing some of the procedures.  That is a great example of feedback that started out to be tough to hear but brought about a great change for future customers.  Fortunately, that company was open to the feedback and thanked the unhappy customer.

Even though the Platinum Rule seems like it could be a challenge, it can be a wonderful way to customize options for your customers, organization, and team. What questions can you ask to get the Platinum Rule into action at your organization?

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#platinumrule #goldenrule #customerservice  #civility

 

 

 

 

Common Sense is NOT Common Anymore

common sense magnify search“That is just plain common sense” said one of the participants in my Business Professionalism class. “Everyone knows not to do that.” I heard another person snicker.  Is this true? Does every employee in your organization know what to do and what not to do because of simple old fashioned common sense?

Webster’s dictionary defines common sense as “good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.”

Sense is defined as

  • a sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems
  • a feeling that something is the case

Thomas Payne wrote the book on common sense, literally.  His book, Common Sense was published in 1776.  He noted, “Common sense is sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge that is shared by nearly all people. The first type of common sense, good sense, can be described as ‘the knack for seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.’ The second type is sometimes described as folk wisdom, ‘signifying unreflective knowledge not reliant on specialized training or deliberative thought.’ The two types are intertwined, as the person who has common sense is in touch with common-sense ideas, which emerge from the lived experiences of those commonsensical enough to perceive them.”

So, common sense is basically a feeling or an attitude?  It is a judgement call indeed.  How do we get these feelings or attitudes?  How can we all have the same sense as others in all situations?  Obviously, we don’t share the same feelings or attitudes of everyone in our organization.   Read on to discover some theories about why common sense is not so common.

As the T-shirt saying goes, “I wish common sense was more common.” In the Business Professionalism class, we play a game called “Appropriate or Inappropriate”.  Each participant gives me a thumbs UP for appropriate or a thumbs DOWN for inappropriate. The game is easy enough.  At times they respond “it depends” so that would a thumb SIDEWAYS.  Some of the participants mentioned that a lot of the examples were basic common sense. For example, keeping your voice low and not yell down the hallways at others or make sure you are on time for work everyday.  However, when I facilitate this class for different organizations I get a different response to these common sense statements.   I realized that common sense depends on the culture of the organization.  Also, if the organization is very diverse common sense is NOT common at all.

At Organization A, employees would never yell down the hall to others. People worked in cubicles and if someone yelled down the hallway they would be disturbing at least sixty people in 5 different departments.  Many people were on phone calls and wearing headsets but could still be disturbed. The hallway was empty, however, all at Organization A knew never to yell down the hallway but to walk quietly even if they saw the person at the other end.  At Organization B, employees would yell down the hall to others.  That was common sense because the hallway was long and if they saw the person they were looking for they would yell for them to stop and turn around.  This hallway was in a manufacturing firm, there were windows that separated the hallway from the noisy machines inside.  Sure, they might disturb some of the folks who had offices behind the glass, but it was worth the disturbance because they didn’t have to walk all the way down the hallway and it was noisy anyway.

In the next example, the statement was, “coming to work 5 minutes late, everyday”.  Organization A would never tolerate being late to work.  They worked in manufacturing and they had to punch a clock. If they were late, the prior shift would be upset because they could not go home on time.  Organization B had a flextime policy.  If an employee got to work 5 minutes late, they would simply work 5 minutes later or take a shorter lunch.  So you can see in these examples, sometimes common sense (as the participants of my class stated) is based on the culture or policies of the organization.

I realized that it takes people a while to understand the culture of an organization.  Usually, we do it by trial and error.  I remember when I changed jobs from a start up company to a University, I went through some culture shock.  Common sense told me that if I need resources, I should just ask for them and my boss would provide for me.  Also, not to waste time on small talk.  Well, that “common sense” came from my last organization.  At the University resources were in short supply.  I had a limited budget.  This was very different from my last organization where I could go into the break room and get free food and drinks.  I also chose a wonderful LMS system for the organization.  No money for an LMS at the new job.  Another example of the differences would be small talk. At the start up company, we didn’t learn too much about each other.  We just jumped into meetings, people were virtual and we got things done quickly and efficiently.  Not to say that we didn’t get things done quickly and efficiently at the University but let’s just say there was usually no urgency unless it was “hurry up then wait”.  At the University they valued the Monday morning 15.  That’s what I called the 15 minutes after I got to work and before I started being productive.  Everyone asked about my weekend and expected me to ask about their weekend.  Things were much more social at the University. It was common sense to ask about someone’s hobbies, pets, and weekend plans.  At the start up company it was common sense to get to work and get the work done quickly.  Sure you would get to know people, but usually at company parties, free lunches, and picnics.

I also realized that common sense is not just about organizational culture.  It has to do with our family of origin.  For example, when I was young my dad ruled the house. He yelled to get our attention and never asked, but demanded.  As the oldest of 3 girls I did the same with my sisters.  It worked for him and it worked for me in our family.  At many of my jobs in different organizations the boss yelled.  She yelled at everyone to get her point across.  When I got my first team, I did the same, until I realized that the bosses who did not yell had the best teams.  Some of my bosses never yelled.  They listened, they asked questions, they helped me understand concepts myself instead of demanding that I just “get it” or “do it”.   It took me a while to learn how to do this skill but, now I am so appreciative that I’ve learned.  I now listen what others have to say, I don’t yell or raise my voice, and I don’t demand – I ask.

I grew up in the United States.  Many of our co-workers did not. Many times we forget about cultural differences when we discuss common sense. Each culture has different examples of common sense, for example, personal space, eye contact, and direct communication.  In Germany we stand farther away from our co-workers than we would in Puerto Rico.  In the US we look people in the eye, not so in Japan.  The UK values getting to the point and speaking directly, however, in Italy they love to talk and indirectly get to the point.  Is it common sense to stand 5 feet away from your co-worker, look them in the eyes and communicate directly?

When leaders of the organization set a tone of either aggressiveness or curiosity the culture follows.  If a new president or VP comes into an organization, they can change a culture for the better or for the worse.  I believe that it is important to onboard all of our employees and introduce them to the culture and values of the organization. Sure, some places have an inspiring mission, vision, and values on their website, however, none of the employees know the mission (but, that is another blog).  So, common sense can depend on the organization’s culture, an individual’s culture, or our family of origin.

Next time you believe something is just common sense, think again.  Let me know examples that you have seen where people thought what they do is common sense.

#commonsense  #organizationculture  #culture  #familyoforigin  #emotionalintelligence

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 Sharing a unique Relationship

Wide book shelves with blurry effect on book cover“She’s a real piece of work”, Debbie said as she was describing her cousin.  “But she lives in Sarasota and knows the area.  You should meet her.”  That was was my first introduction to Karen, a daunting first impression.  Little did I know what this relationship would teach me.

I didn’t know anyone in the area when I first moved to Sarasota so I didcall Karen.  She met me at a quaint restaurant for lunch. It was filled with Seniors taking their time, visiting and eating.  Karen was not like the other seniors.  She was filled with energy and seemed to have a huge sense of purpose.  She told me tales of her times with the DC three-letter agencies and her escapades in business.  She was one of the only women in a man’s world in the 1960s.  Karen is very opinionated and when she started talking about politics; there was not a doubt that she is a democrat.  Karen asked me about my business and gave advice. She seemed energized by my business challenges and had more than enough to say to help me.  She also told very interesting stories.  It seemed that I was not with the same person that Debbie had described.  I looked forward to our next meeting.

She invited me to her house for our next visit.  The first thing that I noticed was her book collection.  OK, that is an understatement.  I love books and have a modest library full of business/education and spiritual books. Karen has at least 6 bookcases full of murder mystery novels in every room in her house (except the kitchen).  When I told her that I love to read murder mysteries for fun she gave me the grand tour.  We went into each room and she showed me how her collection was organized.  I knew some of the authors and had read all of their books, however, there were authors that I had never read.  She gave me the first books of five authors that she thought I might enjoy.  We spent about an hour chatting about our children and our lives over iced tea. Before I left she “checked me out”.  I had no idea that she has each book catalogued on her computer.

I visited a few more times that year, mostly in the late afternoon.  We drank wine from her crystal glasses that I had admired.  I told her that I collect crystal and she told me the story of how she bought the glasses on a trip to Ireland years and years ago.  She said she didn’t use them much but why not now?  We talked about politics.  Actually, she talked about politics and I listened. I used to joke that I practiced my listening skills because once she started talking politics she got passionate. I checked my books into her library then checked more out. We talked about different authors and plots.  I did not like the French author, I loved the books about LA murders.  She gave me books in a plastic bag and sent me on my way.

The last time I visited Karen at her house, we drank wine, told stories, and discussed mystery books. She had a cough, but everyone in Florida has some type of allergies.  I thought nothing of it.  Her pool cage had been damaged in the hurricane and the workmen were fixing it.  It was a busy day for her.  She said that she was getting older and did not like to drive at night but she drove her friend to a doctor appointment.  She told me about her son’s father in-law who wrote a book and gave it to me to read along with six other mysteries.  I check out my books and went to my 6:30pm toastmasters meeting.  I hugged her and rushed out because I was running late, and one cannot be late for Toastmasters.

Thanksgiving for me means going to Debbie’s house in Virginia.  I had brought some of Karen’s books to read while I was there and the conversation turned to my visits with Karen.  Debbie didn’t think we knew the same person.  Debbie told me the Karen story.  Karen never wanted to be a mom but had two sons to appease her family in the 1960s. She left her family to pursue a career in business with the government in Washington, D.C.  The Karen that Debbie knew was stubborn, selfish, and opinionated beyond belief.  She was a loner and didn’t visit her family.  The Karen I knew was generous, giving, and funny.  Debbie and I shared stories then went about our Thanksgiving festivities in Virginia.

When I got back to Florida it was holiday season.  I was so busy planning for the holidays and surprising everyone by getting married. January was full of work.  I poured myself back into my business and didn’t take a breath.  I did think about Karen, I had not read all of the books and it had been almost three months.  I was surprised that she had not called me so I called her and left a message.  I got busy and forgot returning my books to Karen’s library.  I still had not read all of them.  I always thought about her each time I read another one of the books.

It was almost Valentine’s day when, Debbie called me and said that Karen was in the hospital.  I was surprised but busy. I had huge deadlines that week and said to myself that I would go see her on the weekend.  I had a training Saturday morning and had forgotten about Karen being in the hospital.  In the middle of the training I saw my phone flash a picture of Debbie, so I stepped out and took the call.  “Karen is not doing very well; she is in some hospital in Sarasota”.  I decided to go see Karen right after the training and not wait until I got home.  I called the closest hospital to her house and got her room number.  She was in Re-hab.  That sounded good – Debbie seemed to think she was not doing well at all. Her son’s were with her.  One traveled from Baltimore, the other from New York.  I decided to visit and cheer her up.

When I got to the hospital room about 2pm her sons were sitting in a chair and Karen was asleep in the bed in a sitting position. Her sons were about my age and I knew they did not have a great relationship with their mother.  I remember Karen had told me about what each of them did for a living when we talked about our families.  The men told me that they were going to make some calls and would be back in about an hour.  Nurses were coming in two hours to take Karen to hospice.  HOSPICE!

When the sons left it suddenly was too quiet.  Karen’s breathing seemed loud and rough.  Her eyes were closed and every once in a while she would twitch and turn her head and swing her arms.  She did not look comfortable leaning back against the pillow in her elevated hospital bed.  It seemed to me that she absolutely did not want to be there and was confused at why she just could not go home, read her books, and watch the news.  I was not sure what to do or say, so I held her hand. Not one for being quiet, I talked to her as I always did – about my reactions to the books and the authors. It seemed strange that she didn’t talk back to me – so I could practice listening.   Suddenly, she got very agitated and started thrashing.  The nurse came in to check on her.  She gave Karen more drip.  I kept holding her hand and talking about what was going on with my life. I told her about my business and asked her unanswered questions.  She never woke up.

I stayed with her until her sons came back.  They thanked me for visiting and gave me their phone numbers.  I left after the hospice transport team came in to take her to the building a mile away. I walked out the door and down the quiet, stark halls of the hospital. I felt sad.  Karen had so much life in her.  She had hobbies, friends, and interests.  She had her own little library.  I hoped that she would miraculously get better.

One month later I was sitting in Karen’s favorite restaurant in Sarasota with Debbie, Karen’s sons, and two older ladies.  We were sharing stories about Karen and our times with her.  We raised our glasses and toasted to her life.  Karen had died hours after I had seen her.  She passed quietly in her sleep that night.

Karen’s sons gave me some of her books and each time I pass the mystery section of my library I think about her. I contemplate about the disconnect between her relationship with me and the one with Debbie. Family dynamics are usually so different than other relationship dynamics.  If Karen had not been in Debbie’s family, I doubt they would have been friends. Karen and I had our passion of murder mysteries and the love of books in common. I don’t know why I went to see her at the hospital that day and I am so glad that I did.  I learned to follow my intuition and value my unique relationships.

Do you have friends or relatives that are different with you than they are with others in their lives? Do you follow your intuition? Feel free to share your insights and similar stories with me.

Lori blog

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#relationships  #friendship  #family  #books  #intuition

 

 

Focus: 9 tips to help you stay on track

Focus AcronymWhy can’t I focus? Have you asked yourself that question?  I have been hearing the word FOCUS over and over in the classes that I facilitate and from my coaching clients.  Many people have been telling me lately that they don’t even try to do one thing at a time.  They just can’t concentrate at all or get things finished.

What is focus?  Merriam-Webster describes it as “to concentrate attention or effort”.  Follow One Course Until Successful is a great acronym for FOCUS. But, how can we concentrate on one thing until we complete our task?  According to my clients, focusing is getting more difficult.  Also, younger people don’t even try to focus at all.  They seem to enjoy the chaos of ever constant media interruptions.

We have so many things that compete for our attention that it can be difficult to focus.  Here are some tips to help you concentrate for a longer period of time so that you may start or finish a project.

  1. Be intentional.  Decide that you will focus at a specific time.  Prepare to focus on a specific task.  Take a few deep breaths and start.
  2. Play the 10 minute game.  Tell yourself that you will focus for only 10 minutes then take a break.  If you can focus for that long, try for 15 minutes the next time.  If you can’t even focus for 10 minutes start with 3 or 5 minutes at a time.
  3. Know your time of day.  I have always been a night owl.  I know that I focus, study, and retain best after 7pm.  I would rather stay awake until 2am to finish something than wake up early. If I try to wake up early to finish something it is an utter disaster.  My body and mind don’t work as well in the early morning.  Know what time that you are at your best.
  4. Don’t turn it on.  When I worked in an office when Instant Message (IM) was new and everyone loved to IM all day long.  I never turned mine on because I knew that it would take away my focus.  If there is some type of media that you know will take away your focus don’t even use it.  It is OK not to use the latest fad app out there.
  5. Clear away distractions. Think about your 5 senses.  If there is anything around the place where you hope to focus – try to eliminate it.  Make sure that your desk is clear, noise is minimal (or use white noise), and there is nothing to get your attention.  Yes, even smells can make you lose your focus.  Have you ever smelled chocolate chip cookies cooking in the oven?  That would absolutely make me lose my focus.
  6. Give yourself a goal.  Huge goals are very imposing so break them down into bite-sized pieces.  OK not bite sized (I’m still thinking about the cookies), but smaller goals.  Use your 10 minutes (or how much time you can focus) to complete the small goal.
  7. Reward yourself.  After you have focused for your amount of time that you desired, take a break.  Go onto Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram.  Watch that video or listen to some music and dance!  One of my coaching clients decided that she would watch a lifetime movie after she completed one of her smaller goals.  Do what works for you.
  8. Use an affirmation.  Tell yourself a positive statement and believe that you will stay focused.  Say to yourself, “I will complete this task.  I will stay focused” when you find your mind drifting.
  9. *Try the rubber band method.  When I seriously have to focus this method always works for me.  I put a rubber band around my wrist and when I find attention wandering I literally “snap” out of it.  I pull the rubber band and let it snap against my wrist.  It does sting a bit but it wakes me up and helps me get back to business.

I hope that these tips can help you start learning how to focus.  Try different methods and soon you will be able to stick to one thing for a while.  Build up to concentrating on only one thing at a time.  This is difficult for those of us who love to do many things at once.  Multitasking is a myth.  Research has shown that our brain can only do one thing at a time.  So, work on your focus.  Get things done and you meet your goals faster and be happier in life.

Let me know how these tips work for you.

*Please use this method responsibly.

 

Lori blog

#multitasking  #focus  #tips  #goals

 

 

I died again

woman at computer

I died again

I put down the joystick and look out the window

The blue sky is mocking me

You should be happy, go outside

 

I go outside

The sunshine burns my skin

The birds are in chorus

You should be singing, free as a bird

 

I look in the pond

My reflection shows a young beautiful girl

I shake my head and walk back into my parent’s house

You should be going out with your friends

 

I unpause the video game

Ready to die again.

 

This poem wrote itself. I am not addicted but, many people are addicted to computer games, phone games, and screen time. Young people think they can get make a living playing games or they just want to live off of mom and dad. One might think that this is a Gen Y issue but that is not true.

My niece, Alyssa, told me that her brother records himself playing computer games and others will pay to watch.  She said this is a way that some people can make a living.  Zachary, my nephew has made a grand total of $12.00 (friends?).  This type of job is similar to the one in a million chance that we have of making the NFL, being a top recording artist, or an oscar winning actor.

About ten years ago, I had an intern named Robin who I thought was interested in training and development.  As we were walking to a training session that I was facilitating I asked her if she would like to facilitate one day.  She said, “No. I want to do what my brother is doing.”  I was happy that she had goals, but when I asked what her brother does she told me, “He plays video games all day long at my parent’s house.”  He was 23 years old.

My former husband played computer games constantly during our marriage.  This is one of the reasons we divorced.  He said that it was his way of relaxing.  He once reasoned with me that I escape in a novel when we go to the beach.  Granted, that is true and I see his point, however, I am pretty sure he was addicted to the screen.  In 1995 I was in the process of writing a book called, SMASH the monitor or how to live with your computer addict.  I did not finish or publish because I did not want to hurt my husband.

Being addicted to video and computer games is an issue in US society that is not discussed because it is so new.  Addiction is a strong word.  It means that your life does not “work” because gaming is getting in the way.  I believe that this addiction is growing.  People are too tired to work, get a job, or take care of themselves.  They do not realize that they should have limited themselves when binging on Netflix or playing first person shooter games.

Even though I am not addicted, I try to limit my screen time.  I don’t play games at all but I still connect on Facebook, text my friends, and watch Youtube videos.  I also get lost on the Internet while researching.  One click can take me to far away places or educate me on how to make a bird house.  I’ve lost hours in my years of researching.  Have you lost hours?  Do you have issues online?  I have decided to limit my screen time (except Game of Thrones on Sundays) each day.  I vow to work on my relationships by visiting and talking to people.

I challenge you to limit your screen time.  How will you do this?

#screentime  #addiction  #computergames  #gaming

lori-blog

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http://www.larg.com

 

 

Thinking about Change and Purpose

surf

I just can’t understand how a person would never consider why they are on this earth.  Since I was a young girl I have always wondered, “Why am I here? What is my purpose in life. I’ve read so many self-help books… How to find your purpose in life.  What is your mission in this universe?  Why are you here?  I was amazed when I spoke to a friend and she told me that she never wondered about any of these questions.

One beautiful spring day in the Washington, DC area, I was sitting on my deck writing in my journal. In was in my mid thirties and still contemplating my mission in life.  Then, I heard it clear as day – in my head.  You’re only here to help. For some reason, I was truly disappointed that I was not here to solve the world’s problems, cure cancer, or do something to help all of humanity.  ONLY here to help.

Even so, I continued to set goals, to get better at my profession.  To be a better person ala Ben Franklin.  I journaled, I read, I learned about how to win friends, get rich, make a difference in the world. I changed, evolved, and transformed.  I volunteered, I donated, I listened. I thought that allpeople in the world wanted to know more about themselves so that they can be better at what they do best in order to help the world become a better place.

Why would I think this crazy idea?  I hear the news.  People do things that are immoral, illegal, and unethical all of the time.  Some people are just out for fortune or fame. Lyrics to popular songs send horrible messages.  There is a drug epidemic because people are depressed, anxious, and can’t cope with life. There is so much self-medication with alcohol, food, retail therapy, etc.

Some people think they can’t change.  Some people don’t even try to change.  Some people do not even consider that they would ever want to change for the better. I can’t even imagine not reflecting about my life.  I hope it is not because I am self-absorbed.  I aspire to think that it is because I want to find out what I do best and do my best to help the world.  I just want to find my place to make the world better.  And when I say the world, I mean maybe just my little piece of the pie.  People I meet.  People that I get to know.  People that I love.   NOTE: After reading this paragraph again I counted the number of times the word “I” was written (13?)

Finally, I embraced my purpose of being “only here to help”.  Have your embraced yor purpose? Do you want to learn more about yourself?  Do you hope to find out what you do best and why you do things?  Do you wish to learn more in order to make yourself a better person?  To live a more purposeful and intentional life in order to help those who you love?  Why are we here?  How do we help other people?  How to we transform to get better?  What is better?

How do we win at this game called life?  Do we needto win?  Do we want to win or just hope to be?  We are human be-ings.  Maybe we shouldjust be.  I am not sure I can just be.  I know I can be me.  At least I know who I am, what my values are, what I believe, what I love.  And I am still learning more about myself.  I enjoy challenging myself.

I think about these questions most of the time.  How can I do better?  What can I do to help others?  Where am I supposed to go next?  How can I figure out a job where I can use my experience, knowledge and wisdom to help other people do what they wish to do best?  How to I help other people love better?  How do I help other people learn more about themselves so they can figure out how they can help the world?  I think that is what this world is about.  We were put here for a reason.  People come in and out of our life for a reason, both good and bad circumstances happen for a reason.  The reason? I think it is to learn and grow. Maybe life is about learning, growing, and loving.

Maybe each of us can figure out how to adjust to our circumstances in life with grace and kindness. Not just adjust to our situations, but to make the best out of all that we encounter.  We should strive to make each interaction a loving, peaceful, and respectful moment.  My wish is that we start with self compassion and then help other people in our own unique way.  What is your purpose?  What is your passion?

#questions  #self-awareness  #emotionalintelligence  #lifelonglearning

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