Best friend at work – is this good or bad or generational?

best-friend-at-workI was teaching a class today and this item came up in conversation.  Does having a “best” friend at work increase productivity?  Gallup’s research says “yes” – Having a best friend at work means workers are more likely to report that they are recognized, listened to and encouraged (I am paraphrasing).  But…my class was against having a best friend at work saying that they would socialize too much, take too many breaks and not get as much work done.  If their best friend did not work with them they could concentrate more.

Being intrigued, I did a bit of research.  After a while, Gallup changed the word “best” to “good” making it a different question because audiences were having a tough time with the word “best”.  Gallup article.  The question did not produce the same results.  It seems that having a “best”  – not just “good” friend at work produces more productive teams.  So, having a best friend creates the best workgroups (highly productive vs mediocre).

Next, I realized that most of these participants in the training today were either older Gen X or younger baby boomers.  People from about 40 – 58.  My train of thought went to Generations…are they different?  Maybe Gen Y and Z love the best friend but the earlier Generations were not too sure about this “fact”Forbes article.   I am a younger boomer – on the cusp of X (if you will) and I thought about having a best friend at work.  I agreed with my class that on days that I was not focused, it would seem easy to hang out and discuss all kinds of topics with my “best” friend.  However, if my “best friend” (and here I am thinking of my actual “bestie” Carol) were on my workgroup team and we were competing for the award of the most highly productive team (stay with me on this)… we would do great.

My best friend and I would be great together in a work group.  This is not big news but, Carol and I can read each other’s thoughts; I bet you can say the same about your “best” friend.   If we have a disagreement, we have navigated that path before and know how to compromise, compete, accommodate or any of the other Thomas-Kilman Model dimensions.  Been there – done that – we can communicate faster than with just anyone on any team.  We can encourage each other and call into memory a time when we did something great.  We know each other’s strengths.  We also have that dimension of Trust.  And as we know The Speed of Trust is real.  The more you trust the faster the interaction (or communication) will be – and with good results.

My class still did not agree with the research.  What do you think?



Originally published at

#bestfriendatwork #Gallup  #Strengths   #conflict


Five skills and attitudes Technical Professionals should invest in for the Future

keyboardjpgYears ago I worked for a SAN software (and hardware) Engineering company.  I taught SAN software engineers how to rack and stack the equipment, how to configure a switch and other equipment such as storage arrays and blade servers during a 5 day class. I also taught a 2 day class called “Consulting 101”.  In this class the engineers would learn how to talk to the client, how to escalate a situation that they could not handle and practice various situations through role plays.    One of the engineers stated in a very frustrated voice, “I’d rather take a month of technical classes than a day of this people stuff!”  All of the other engineers agreed with him.  WOW!!!  I had no idea that these “soft skills” were so difficult to learn.

I ran across an article by Lei Han Soft Skills List – 28 Skills to Working Smart that defined and listed soft skills that we all need in the work environment.  He grouped these skills into four groups that we all need in our work life.  These skills and attitudes mirrored Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence model and the 15 factors in EQ-i Bar-On model.  The 15 factors of the Bar-On model – – Reuven Bar-On .  I added the last group – gratitude attitude because I think this is lacking in most organizations.  It is a skill/attitude that we can learn and develop; it can make a true difference in our lives and the lives of our colleagues.

  1.  The ability for Self-Management.  We all know those people who “lose it” in the workplace.  Sure, all of us have our breaking points but usually we can manage our anger, behavior and emotions.  Being aware of and able to identify feelings is the first step to perceive and accept ourselves.  Knowing our strengths, personality and preferences helps us to get along with others in the workplace.
  2. People Skills include Communication Skills and the ability to get along with a team.  This is critical in any work environment but tech environments seem to be more team oriented these days.  Gone are the days when one person was in charge of all of the IT in a company.  Now there are customer service support teams, help-desk teams, server teams and teams to trouble shoot.  Leadership is also included in this area of people skills.
  3. Work Attitude is the willingness to learn and loyalty to the organization.  We all know people with great attitudes at work.  We want to work with them, to talk to them when we are having a rough day and wish we had their attitude.  These are the people who are not Polly-Ana and dream of rainbows and unicorns but realistically optimistic and helpful.
  4. Professional Attitude includes what we expect from people in the workforce each day.  Dressing professionally (for the work environment), getting to work and meetings on time, common courtesy.  Not, people who think that the workplace is an extension of their (dysfunctional) family where they are the “boss” and can do whatever they desire.
  5. Gratitude Attitude is the ability to appreciate all people in your workplace.  To appreciate your job, team, boss and organization.  This is not the rewards and formal recognition program that many organizations boast about but the ability of each person to sincerely look out for the other.  To help, support, encourage, uplift and inspire others.

This is a great list for technical professional who wish to advance in their careers.  Having the proper soft skills and attitudes can lead to leadership opportunities, leading a team or department.  It can also work for non-techs as well. I try to develop these skills and attitudes as I work with different groups and teams.  Not only for them but for myself.  So, instead of learning the next new tech app today, try on a new attitude or soft skill!



Originally published at

#softskills #tech  #Peopleskills   #emotionalintelligence



Are you a Motivational Listener?

motivational-listener“I need to keep my mouth shut”, Debbie said as we were discussing talking to people of all nationalities and backgrounds on our trip to Cuba.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Debbie is one of the most nurturing, generous, loving and caring people that I know (and I know a LOT of caring people).  “I just get myself in trouble.  For example, I asked one lady about her husband and he recently died.  I felt awful”,  Debbie explained.

Our tour guide, Jorge, talked non-stop for four hours about Cuba and their culture.  On the four hour trip back from Havana, he asked us questions.  Leslie and I were in the front seats of the bus and I was listening as he asked her, “I hear that American doctors are so rich that they never touch their patients”.  I realized that people in Cuba have a strange idea of what an “American” is – they may see some TV shows (although they need to buy “the package” in order to watch – Internet is not available).  Leslie listened to his entire question and answered in a most interesting fashion… she said that this was not her experience but possibly other people have had doctors like that.  she went on to describe her experiences with doctors.  As I listened to their conversation I realized that Leslie listened to his question then gave him both sides of the answer.  One from her point of view and one from an opposite view.  She is very diplomatic.  I learned a lot from listening to them talk about America and his perception of Americans.

Then Jorge asked me, “I hear that Americans don’t know their neighbors”.  I decided to not just be diplomatic but use what my colleague, Rick Holt, calls “Motivational Listening”.  This is where you ask questions to get people to talk and open up about themselves.  He believes that we learn more by listening than talking (I’ve heard that there is a reason we have one mouth and two ears).  So, I asked Jorge.  “Do the people in Cuba know their neighbors?”  He explained that each community is VERY close and everyone helps each other.  When you don’t get your ration of  eggs from the “notebook” because all of the bakeries got them – your neighbor will loan you eggs.  He says that most people do not travel much or leave their place of birth unless your job is in another city.  But, most people and their children stay in the province of their birth.  Hmmmm.  Interesting.  I listened and now I could answer his question with more detail – understanding his perspective and what type of answer he was seeking.  “More Americans are moving  around now for jobs or military than in the last 50 years.”  I told him where I had lived in the last 25 years (Michigan, Maryland, DC, Virginia, Texas and now Florida).  “I have always known my neighbors and if I run out of eggs or milk I can also go to my neighbor and borrow something instead of going to the store.”  I told him that each neighborhood is different and that it just depends on the people but in my experience I have always known my neighbors.

Instead of putting my foot in my mouth and just blurting out my perspective, I realized that it was important to practice Motivational Listening when interacting with Jorge.  This is tough for me, because like Debbie, I am such an extravert that I love to blurt out my opinion and ideas per my perspective!   I’ve learned much from Rick on the topic of Motivational Listening.  I learned that instead of asking “about your husband”.  I ask “Please tell me about your family”  – asking more broad questions instead of such direct questions seems to help.

Jorge and I are now Facebook friends and I have received a few emails from him in the last week.  I am trying to practice motivational listening via email – and FB.  I’ll try to see his perspective and ask the correct questions – broad and open-ended.   I sincerely think it helps with my Cuba – American relationships.  Try some Motivational Listening today.  It may surprise you that if you change your questions – then listen, you will notice people open up, express themselves, and feel comfortable with your conversations.



Dream Big and Choose Joy!

choose-joyHappy New Year 2017!  It seems that everyone that I talk to is so excited and looking forward to a new start this year.  2016 was challenging for most of us.  My year was particularlly difficult because I set my goals high and I had some major challenges and setbacks.  Looking back on my journal from January 2016 I set many goals – as I do each year.  I would like to share them with you because I feel that I am just starting to realize that I CAN create the life that I wish to live.

These are not in any particular order

  • sell house in Virginia
  • buy house in Florida (see details of exact house in dream book)
  • move by July
  • create own business
  • get 3 clients by Sept 30
  • speak at conference in LA
  • speak at ICE
  • celebrate July 4th at Moose Lodge in Anna Maria Island with Angel
  • join a Toastmasters club in Florida

As you can see, this is a very aggressive set of goals for one year.  I had been in the VA house for over 18 years, at my job for over 10 years.  I was comfortable but I was not living my dream.  I had planned to move to Florida, I had dreamed of moving and changing my life – Dreaming and Planning are not doing.

I am not some special person who can make her goals and dreams come true all of the time.  I put a lot of effort into my dreams and plans.  I made smaller goals, I visualized,  I planned to make things happen by a certain date.  Sure, some took longer than I had planned, sure, I had setbacks but I was persistent.  I am now beginning to realize that I CAN create the life that I have always dreamed about.  If I can do all of these things in one year – just think of all of the things that you can do in one year.  My wish to you is to dream big.  Go for that life of your dreams!  And above all else – Choose Joy!  Best to you in 2017!


Happy Holidays – be joyful

happy-holidays-to-all-from_learning-and-reflective-growth-2Learning and Reflective Growth is not just the name for my company, it is my passion.  My number one strength according to Gallup’s Strengthsfinder (C) is Learner.    My wonderful business coach suggested that I put pictures on my blog – people are visual.  My first thought was that I did not have time to create pictures with captions.  I did not wish to learn something that would eat up my precious time.  I actually told her that I feel it would be a “time suck”.

As usual, I listened to her advice and now I am getting pretty good creating pictures with captions for my blog.  In fact, I decided that I would use my own pictures and my own captions from now on.  I create an original quote everyday as a discipline.  Being creative makes me happy, it gives me such  joy!  As I create these pictures with captions I realized that I am not too bad of a photographer.  I now have a reason to use my own quotes that I have been putting in a book for posterity.

I wish you Happy Holidays and challenge you to do something that is your strength.  Using your strength will bring you joy!  I promise.  Be joyful this holiday season.  Best!





Outrageous Abundance

outrageousabundanceYes, self-development is my “thing”.  As I was researching “Mission in Life”, “what is your purpose in life” and other such topics I happened upon a daily quote application from Ester and Jerry Hicks (Abraham).  I’ve read a lot of their books and materials so I opted in.  Little did I know one of these quotes would change my attitude and vision for the future.  The quote mentioned the concept of “outrageous abundance”.

This is what I would like out of life!  I want outrageous abundance.  But, what does it look like to me?  I was hoping that it means: many friends, perfect health, prosperity, much wisdom, the most I can get out of life.  I meditated I focused on outrageous abundance for the last two weeks.  I was not sure how to visualize this concept.  I was a bit stumped but just kept saying the words in hope for clarity.

As I walked on the beach yesterday morning I was thinking about outrageous abundance -then I saw it.  YES!!!  I saw outrageous abundance.  I noticed that that particular day there were piles of shells scattered around the surf.  As I walked I saw shells sparkle up at me.  I bent down and saw what I call the pointy cone shell (I am sure it has a very scientific name but this is my wording).  I love these shells and began to collect them as I walked.  By the time I had walked a mile I had many of these shells in my hand.  I realized that there were so many shells on the beach…it was outrageous how many shells had washed up that night.   I started to connect the dots.  How much water was in the Gulf of Mexico?  Yes, an outrageous amount of water.  How much sand was on the beach.  You guessed it…

I experienced outrageous abundance during that walk.  I saw it with my own eyes.  I can now picture and visualize so much of something that now my meditation and visualization has become so much easier.  For my friends in the north and midwest I challenge you to take a walk in the snow and experience your outrageous abundance (just bundle up).  Sometimes if you think about something and have it in your mind the thoughts, concepts or ideas will become clearer.  Here’s to clearer thoughts for you this holiday season!

I almost died surfing on South Beach or how emotional intelligence can save your life

i-almost-died-on-south-beachorhow-emotional-intelligence-cansave-your-lifeI was teaching a class on Emotional Intelligence to a group of men who were various ages.  The Amygdala hijack and the pause between stimulus and response (Viktor Frankel) were the topics of the moment.  Mike, about 25, was quietly listening in the back of the room when he suddenly burst out of his seat leaning forward almost standing.  “That is exactly what happened to me  – I totally get it” He had so much passion and energy as he told his story to the entire class.

The wave demolished me as I was surfing on South Beach.  It pulled me down, down.  I got caught in the current – rip tide – rocks.  I felt stuck.  I panicked.  I couldn’t breathe.  The current was all around me pulling me, pushing me.  This was the closest to death I had ever been in my life.  Then everything suddenly went into slow motion.  I slowed down – totally – got my head straight.  I knew that I needed to let go and let the current take me – let it pull me out.  Then I had to swim diagonally with the shore to get out of the rip tide.  I made it to the shore.

He then explained that he started meditating about two years ago because of his anger management issues.  He learned how to calm down when he felt his body get tense, hot and angry.  Mike had never heard of the Amygdala hijack – when the emotional part of the brain takes over the prefrontal cortex (the logical part of the brain).  As we were discussing  the emotional intelligence concepts in class his near death experience suddenly came flashing back to him.  This time he now understood what had happened.  He realized that his meditation and training his brain and body to relax had saved his life.

Yes, research shows that for humans there is a pause between stimulus and response.  That pause is usually only lasts for a second – but as Mike described- that second can go into slow motion and feels longer.  We can train our brain to control our bodies to relax so we can think more logically without the clogging of emotion.  I am not saying that meditating can save your life one day.  But, Mike sure did.


I’ll eat that Frog with a side of Big Rocks

3Time management has never been an issue for me until recently.  I find myself getting lost doing the “fun” things and not wanting to do the “boring” things that I really need to do for my business.  So what does a frog and big rocks have to do with time management?  The answer is…SOOOOO much.  Now that I know how to eat the frog and put my big rocks first – time management is a bit easier.

A few years ago I asked a colleague, Michael Wharton, to teach a seminar on time management for Faculty and Staff Enrichment Day at George Mason University.  That is when I was introduced to the book, “Eat that Frog”by Brian Tracey.  The concept is very simple.  You get a big ugly frog at 8am and have until 5pm to eat it.  Most people procrastinate and moan and groan that they have to eat that frog thus wasting valuable time.  If I just ate that frog first… all problems solved.  So, do that tough thing, first thing in your day.  You will be happy it is out of the way and you don’t have to fret or worry. (or moan and groan).  Usually, frogs are not the big projects that you need to complete – they are the phone calls you don’t wish to make, the filing that has piled up or the one task that  seems too boring or difficult.

Big rocks on the other hand are the very important projects or planning that need to get completed or at least – started.  Stephen R. Covey’s famous Seven Habits of Highly Effective people introduced me to Habit 3: Put first things first.  One of the biggest things (pun intended) is putting the big rocks first.  He has an awesome exercise (volunteer needed) to experientially demonstrate how we should put the big rocks first because these are the most important things.  The little rocks (or not important things) can fall away and we won’t notice much.  Sometimes it takes days to complete the “big rocks” so I break them down into a few big rocks and try to do one each day.

I have a frog on my to do list (literally – a picture of a frog) to remind me to do this thing first thing in the morning or when I sit at my computer that day.  Most days I do eat that frog first thing in the morning, however, my most recent frog has jumped (yes I did write that) from one to do list to another over the course of a week.  I just got busy, I tell myself. There are other things to do today, this week, this month (please not this YEAR!).  So, how do I get back on my lily pad and get things done?  I found 5 things that worked for me.

  1.  I make the to do list simple – only 1 or 2 things on the list – that way I am forced (by myself) to do these things.  I hate a not done “to do” list.
  2. I make those frogs bigger – literally make the picture of the frog huge.
  3. I use the Bridget Method – my most wonderful former training assistant, Bridget, used to put post-it notes all over to remind her (OK… seriously, mostly me) do to something.  I put a post – it note on the screen of my computer.
  4. I ask someone to help me.  My first accountability partner, Patrick is excellent at sending me reminder and summarizing emails.  Then I have Marie who holds me to one thing each week (I choose that thing) and I do the same for her.
  5. I celebrate!  When I finally ate the frog and removed the big rocks I do something that I love to do.  Recently, that has been setting aside time to read murder mystery novels.

Hopefully, when you can’t eat that frog and the rocks are all falling this simple list may give you some ideas on how to motivate yourself to get done what you need to get done.  Now go out there and eat that frog!

Goals: Setting and Getting

3Many people talk about goal setting but I wish to discuss goal getting.  Sure there are millions of articles and coaches who have given us ways to set goals.  There is a ton of literature about goal setting.  I do believe that you must set a goal before you GET your goal.

First, write down your goal in a clear, SMART goal fashion in the present tense.  It needs to be specific – for example, “I need to lose weight” is not specific, “I now weigh 150” (20 lbs less than I weight now) is more specific.  If nothing else make sure your goal is Measurable – “When I step on the scale on December 1st I will weigh 150lbs”.  (I can measure the date and the weight).  Attainable – I know there is no way that I can lose 30lbs in a month.  This is not attainable or realistic (R).  Timely – make sure you have a date that you will reach the goal.

Here are Seven Ways to GET your Goal

  1.  Keep your goal where you will see it each day.  If it is in your journal, on your wall in your office or on the ceiling under your bed.  Sure, if you read the secret you heard that someone put a $100,000.000. check the ceiling so when he work up he would see it each day.  I think it was Jack Canfield of the Chicken Soup for the Soul fame.  I keep my goals in my journal (first page) so I see it at least 5 times a week.
  2. Break it down… (OK my musical prodigies are now singing and dancing).  Yes, break the goal down into sections.  If I wish to lose weight I could break it down by time – 5lbs each month for 4 months.  Or I would break down a goal by parts.  Do each part by a certain date.  Go after each part of the goal to GET the entire goal.
  3. Fear!!!!  Some people feel the fear and are paralyzed.  Sometimes I have paralysis by analysis.  I think and think and don’t do.  My coach, Sheri, told me feel the fear and do it anyway. If fear interferes with your Action – just do it.  Face it head on and deal with it.  Make that call.  Go to the gym.  Meet that person.  Go to that meeting.  Once you take the first step it gets easier.
  4. Thanks!  Give thanks for all of the parts of the goal that you CAN get.   Give thanks for those who help you.  Send thank you emails, notes and texts.
  5. Ask for help.  Yes.  This is the one that gets me in trouble.  I hate to “bug” people.  I good friend told me once that I NEVER bug anyone, what I have to offer is always positive and important.  My son would disagree, but I try to keep that advice in mind.  Asking for help when I can’t do something myself (or it would take me forever) is a very important step toward getting your goal.
  6. Visualize what life will be like when you get your goal.  I always do this in the moment right before I wake up or right before I fall asleep.  Day dreaming is good for you.  Close your eyes and take about a minute to see you at your goal.  I also have a possibilities journal where I write what I want in the future — I write it as a story as if I have it already.
  7. Celebrate even the smallest victories.  Yes, I only went to the gym once this week.  But that is one more time than I went all last year!!!  Celebrate with something you love  (note:  not with chocolate if you are losing weight) – Call a friend and share your victory!

Good luck with your goal getting.  Now go out there and GET em!

The meaning of life…your purpose unveiled.

4Recently, I have been on a month’s challenge to meditate and exercise each day.  I have noticed that for some reason I am listening other’s messages better than I ever have before.  Waiting to hear all of what someone is saying – clarifying if i don’t understand and paraphrasing back to make sure I did indeed understand.  That is a the definition of active listening and I have been noticing that I am doing much better in my attempt to communicate since my challenge.  Also, participants in my classes are asking deep, meaning of life questions.  I don’t have the answers but after listening – I blurted out what I thought was something very important.

The meaning of life is to find your gift and your purpose in life is to share that gift with others.

I realized long ago that my gift is to assist adults in learning what they wish to learn.  To facilitate their learning process, ask questions, summarize and motivate.  I hope to share this gift with others by facilitating classes in self-awareness and team building.  Also, through coaching.

Recently, I have realized that many people do not know the purpose of their life.  Most people have not reflected or sought the answer to this question.  Many  people are fumbling with the question and have not made it to the answer and others are stumbling, frustrated to find the answer.

It is quite easy to find your purpose in life, once you know the process.  Take some time to reflect about what you love, what you are good at doing and why you love to do what you do.  Learn more about yourself through self-assessments, coaching and interviews with loved ones and work colleagues.  Once you find your life’s meaning/purpose – share it with others.  If you love art – share your art.  If you love working with children – share your gift with children.  If you are gifted at fixing – fix for others.

Sure, this seems like such an easy solution to an age old mystery.  “What is my purpose in Life?  Why was I put on this planet?  What does it all  mean?”  Once you know this answer – do what you love to do – do what you do best!  Then share that with others.

Please share your gift today.