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?




  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.

#professionaldevelopment  #lifelonglearning  #Employeedevelopment



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




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





Dog Fight brings about Adult Learning

remmy crop

Christmas morning would never be the same. I woke up before my early-bird husband, brushed my teeth, took a shower, got dressed, and quietly opened the bedroom door. Angel, my husband, is always awake before I even think of opening an eye, so this morning I planned to make him a great breakfast.  We planned  to be at my sister’s house for Christmas day around noon!  But first, I had to take the dog outside for her walk or shall I say visitation.

Our dog Remmy was rescued from Nate’s Honor Rescue.  The nice folks at Nates called me a foster-failure, because I was only supposed to foster Remmy for a week until their flood receded.  My son and neice decided that Remmy was such a great social dog that we had to keep her. I fell in love with her and so did Angel.  So, foster-failure it is!

Everyone was Remmy’s friend. She loved to sniff all of the other neighborhood dogs and even had play-dates with her to girlfriends on the corner.  They have a fenced-in yard and all three dogs play, run, and wear themselves out! Remmy wants to visit everyone and sniff everything that sometimes she doesn’t have time to do her business.  Most of our neighbors have dogs and even the ones who do not, love Remmy and give her dog treats.

So back to Christmas morning.  I put on my flip-flops, my hat and sunglasses, put Remmy on her leash, and walked out the front door.  Immediately we saw Jerry walking Ozzie, his little furry mutt.  We tease that Ozzie is Remmy’s boyfriend.  They are always on the leash as they greet each other by sniffing then ignoring.  Remmy really likes Jerry; she knows that humans usually have dog biscuits! We saw Shirley walking with her two mops Harlee the party dog and Lilly.  Harlee is on a leash but Lilly does not need one.

As Shirley walk up to us, both Jerry and I did what we always do. We moved so all of the dogs could greet each other.  Remmy got a bit tangled in Ozzie’s leash as she went to say hello to Harlee.  Then all of a sudden, Remmy started growling – she never growls unless she is in the pool area and smells Racoon!  I pulled her back as she started pulling harder on the leash making wild dog sounds.  Somehow, I fell onto the driveway and dropped her leash.  She went after Harlee and bit his collar around his neck and shook him like he was a rag dog.  Both of my neighbors just stood there in shock.  I jumped up and grabbed Remmy by her bandana (her Christmas treat). I pulled her away and hit her. “Bad dog, sit!”  She did sit but she would rather not.  I calmed her down and asked Shirley if Harlee was OK. Harlee was wearing a large leather harness that covered most of his neck and back.  He was OK.  But we weren’t.  I quickly put Remmy in the house and went back to the scene of the crime.

Shirley said that she was happy that nothing happened to hurt anyone because everything is closed for Christmas. Jerry thought that Remmy was being territorial. I was just shocked that after having Remmy for almost 2 years that she would suddenly attack a dog that she has always known.  Then Shirley asked if I was hurt.  I looked down and my foot was bleeding and I had scraped my knee and hand.  I didn’t feel anything…yet.  I said good-bye and went into the house.

I put on a couple of band aids and thought “if Angel had been there that would not have happened.” He treats Remmy like a dog.  Angel is the Alpha and that is the end.  He says that I love her too much.  I decided that Remmy needed to go to dog training. We never took her when we got her because she was already a great dog.  She could walk on a leash and listened to us most of the time.  Why did she do that?  She was such a bad dog.  She needs training!

Then I took a breath and decided that I needed to go to dog training.  It was my fault that I did not control my dog.  Yes, that was totally out of character for her, but it was my fault.  It took me a while to realize and re-frame my thoughts.  I needed training.

Training.  One of my favorite adult learning theorists and Malcolm Knowles’s mentor, Eduard Lindeman (1885-1953) defined adult education as “a co-operative venture in non-authoritarian, informal learning – the chief purpose of which is to discover the meaning of experience” (as cited in Brookfield, 1987, p. 122).  Well, I need to discover the meaning of that dog fight experience with other dog owners and a trainer.

I am a life long learner. In fact, I am going to become certified by Lumina Learning on three assessment tools in January.  I am looking forward to learning more about my field and being up to date on the latest assessments and tools.  But, dog obedience school? I have researched different types.  One trainer takes your dog for 2 or 3 weeks and when you get them home – boom – they are trained.  Another comes to your house twice a week for two months of training.  Can we say expensive? I want to go to a good dog training class with a lot of other people and dogs.  I’ve seen them in parks.  Those cute little puppies being “trained”, running all over the course, with their people calling “Marcos, Spotify, Tiffany, Zoe.”  Chaos, but fun to watch.

Remmy and I need to find this special type of training and sign up.  I also need to change my mindset.  I have started by saying, this is my fault, I have to take the blame. At first I was blaming the weather, the fireworks, and my dog.  Mindset can be difficult to change.  I needed to work on my words first.  I need to reframe my mindset.  I get to go to dog training with Remmy.  I need to learn how to control my animal.  Coach Sheri Kaye Hoff blogs often about managing your mindset.  I have learned a lot from her and I will put this into action!


I love to snuggle my pointer mix.  She is so cute and loves being petted.   She even loves the pool, her lounge chair, and a bath.  She does not sit on the furniture in the house, however, she can sleep on my son’s bed when he is home. She has 3 plush doggy beds around the house.  One of the beds is in my office where she is resting right now.  After her walk and breakfast I say to her, “Let’s go to work” and she bounces up the stairs to the office and sits on her bed.  She never fails to snuggle me at least once an hour so I can get out of my seat and stretch.

My dog needs me and I need her.  I will master my mindset, accept the responsibility, and take action to schedule a doggy obedience class.  But, it will be “doggie and me” training.

Let me know if you need a change of mindset or have gone to doggie training recently.  I’d be happy to get new ideas.

Learning and logo

#mindset  #adultlearning  #lifelonglearning  #self-development #training