Category Archives: LEADERSHIP

Choose Your Life – A Tribute to Wayne Dyer

9 30 15 It'sYourChoice DyerIt was a month ago today when many were shocked by the sudden passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer in his sleep the night before. I was especially stunned because I was looking forward to attending his keynote speech at a conference in three weeks. Three weeks! You’ve got to be kidding me!

I had heard his name, but never had read any of his books or material until the summer of 2014 when I watched the movie of his book, “The Shift.” This movie impressed me not only with its message, but also introduced me to this man who possessed such a calmness of spirit. More people need his gentle spirit.

I wondered who the replacement keynote speaker on Friday would be, and then had the thought: maybe they would turn the evening into a memorial tribute for him. And so it was.

The Hay House “I Can Do It” conference/retreat was a weekend of inspirational speakers, each bringing their own insights on personal development. Little did they know that they would be taking the stage individually on Friday evening to share their own experiences with Wayne Dyer and honor his life. It was a powerful evening – a celebration of life.

Dyer’s works were new to me, but there is nothing like seeing a grown man cry on stage to move me to tears as well. These associates were more than that – they were family. At the conclusion of the night, Wayne’s blood family took the stage with his daughter, Skye singing an emotional rendition of “The Leader of the Band” by Dan Fogelberg. The evening was not all tears however! I learned that Wayne had a huge sense of humor, as we all laughed about the story of Jack and the monarch butterfly!

The fact that really made me gasp was when someone shared the story of how August 30 was a key date in Wayne’s life in more than one way. It was on August 30, 1974 that after years of searching, Wayne found his long-lost father, in a pauper’s grave in Louisiana. He had gone there with the intent of spewing years of hate, anger and frustration upon the grave of the father who had abandoned his children at a young age. Much to his surprise, it was at this graveside that Wayne experienced an epiphany, a shift, an awakening to a new purpose, as he found himself forgiving his father. Now free of all this anger, he walked away into a new life of inspiring others. His first New York Times bestseller was published two years later, and the rest is history.

Wayne Dyer made a choice that day. He chose to move towards light and love and away from hate. He spent the rest of his life trying to teach others that they too can make the choices that will create a more fulfilling life. His spiritual awakening was on August 30, 1974 and his spirit passed on August 30, 2015.

What choices do you have to make?

Are you stuck in patterns you can’t break? Do you make excuses for your life? Do you have resentment towards anyone? Do you feel separated from others or from the divine? Have you found the contentment of knowing your purpose?

It’s your choice to seek the answers or stay where you are. Choose the life you want to live.

Because of Wayne’s passing, Hay House has made available several of Dr. Dyer’s books for only $1.99 for the next few weeks. Hello my new Kindle! I purchased five ebooks, and am currently reading “Excuses Begone” and “Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life” concurrently.

Thank you Wayne, for all that you contributed to the world community. I look forward to reading more of your writings and being inspired to continually make choices towards a richer, fulfilled life.

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Cats, Dogs and Rabbits

4 5 2015 Honey BlogLions, tigers and bears! Oh my! Well, no, more like cats, dogs and rabbits!

Honey the dog (see photo left) decides to write today’s blog. Only kidding.

Actually it was yesterday when I was on my second visit to a friend’s place to feed and “litter” her three cats while she is away for two weeks when I realized … cats … tomorrow babysitting the dog … and oh, I made bunny pancakes today. Now there’s a title for a blog!

It seems an appropriate weekend to write about being of unselfish service to others.

On Easter weekend, Christians celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. Members of the Jewish faith celebrate the exodus of the Hebrews to freedom. (If you’ve forgotten that story, the movie “The Ten Commandments” is on TV tonight.) Moses gave up the riches of being an Egyptian prince for the ultimate servant leadership to the Hebrew people.

Sacrifice and service. When was the last time you gave service to others?

Besides helping your friends with their pets when they go out of town, you can make a huge impact on your local community. Volunteering your service does more than help those who are served, it can give you a great sense of satisfaction. There are so many needs in society today, frankly I would have a hard time if I had to select just one cause to devote my time to. I’d like to fix it all!

If you don’t know where to begin, check out VolunteerMatch.org. There you can register and select the causes you are passionate about. You can search the website yourself or sign up to receive emails of volunteer opportunities at local events that match your areas of interest.

The tasks are simple and usually require no special skills, just your time and willing hands. Opportunities range from registrations at charity walks to tutoring children to stuffing envelopes and packing food bags. You pick when and where you want to serve.

Well-known organizations on the list include March of Dimes, Best Buddies, Habitat for Humanity and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

My life of volunteering began years ago when the company I worked for facilitated volunteer opportunities where employees could attend as a group and help the cause. In recent years, I’ve participated in a “bag-stuffing” competition at a local food bank with fellow employees. Another employer adopted a local elementary school and allowed employees to tutor on work time. After I left that company, I registered as a tutor on my own.

Once you start serving, it becomes addictive. The good feeling you get from helping others is better than any other “rush” that you can get elsewhere. Try it, you’ll like it!

I much prefer “Honey-sitting” to “kitty-care” but we won’t tell anyone!

By the way, in case you are wondering, this is what bunny pancakes are….

Easter Pancakes

Do You Have Your Keys?

Schl¸ssel zum ErfolgDo you have your keys?

Not to your car or house, but the keys to your professional success. Just as a physical key will gain you access to enter a door, there are “keys” of knowledge that will give you access to opportunities in life.

A friend of mine likes to say, “You don’t know what you don’t know, but others do.” Barbara B. Bergstrom is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and expert on business etiquette and protocol. She is highly valued in our community for her wisdom when it comes to questions of etiquette.

I recently was in a situation where a friend had done something at my residence that I deemed improper from a standpoint of social etiquette, besides just plain presumptuous and thoughtless. We got into a debate about it, but I knew I was right. Later that day I simply emailed Barbara and posed the situation to the expert.

Yes, Barbara confirmed that I was right!

There seems to be a growing decline in knowledge about how to behave in public – whether in the business or social arena. Manners and “common courtesy” are sorely lacking, especially among the younger generation. It’s obvious to many (but apparently not the perpetrators) that showing one’s underwear in public is distasteful, but what about those other things that are not so obvious?

I read online articles and blogs about how to prepare for a job interview and how to behave during the interview. The tips are so common sense that it makes me wonder, has it come to this that we really have to tell people to take a shower, dress professionally, arrive early, sit up straight, don’t chew gum during the interview and don’t bring your mother to the interview? I have been to job fairs where the organizers have published in their advertisements that attendees come professionally dressed. Yet I saw a girl at the job fair dressed as if she had job experience in the oldest profession.

I’m going to grant my esteemed readers the benefit of the doubt that they know how to dress appropriately for business. However, there are many aspects to business etiquette that differ from social etiquette and you may not be aware of them. Don’t you want to be the best version of you?

You don’t know what you don’t know, but others do. You can be assured that the management at your job knows when you are not acting professionally. Your image on the job, your behavior and your manners all add up to how promotable you are, whether you know it or not.

A friend of mine tells a story about an incident when she began working for her employer. She used to come to work very casually dressed, sometimes in sweatpants. I guess they did not enforce any dress code. One day during her quarterly review her manager asked her where she saw herself in five years. She replied confidently that she would be in a management position. His reply was that if so, she had to start dressing and acting the part. She could not be perceived as serious or capable if she slouched into work in sweats. He mentored her and the rest is history.

No matter how technically trained and highly skilled you are, the key to your success is found in your soft skills, or how and what you communicate along with the image you project. These skills, along with your emotional intelligence, or ability to understand people and react appropriately to them, are what truly determine success in today’s world. Emotional intelligence can be the subject of a future blog, so today let’s think about how you are going to develop your best professional image and presence.

The keys that will set you apart from your competition are being trustworthy and honest, and possessing  the quality of civility – having respect for yourself and others. You need to be able to carry yourself with decorum and good manners in all situations, thereby creating a positive professional image.

You can scour the web for tips on etiquette, but in the meantime I’ll recommend you to my friend Barbara Bergstrom’s book, Don’t Forget Your Keys, soon to be re-published on Amazon as hardcover or Kindle version. That is, as fast as the publisher applies my edits! Even authors may not know what they don’t know about grammar and punctuation, but they know to have their key, a copyeditor.

Make sure you have your keys!

Just Say “Thank You”

2 2 15 thanks

When was the last time you said “Thank you”?

When was the last time that someone said “Thank you” to you?

When was the last time that someone said “Thank you” to you on your job?

The act of expressing gratitude and acknowledgement for performance above and beyond is called recognition – in the workplace, employee recognition.

An acquaintance of mine recently shared something her manager had done that was a beautiful example of employee recognition. The manager wrote a letter of thanks.

I don’t mean a Tweet, an email, or a typed message. I mean a handwritten (in cursive) “thank you” note on paper. A note that was sent via the Post Office.

For her that had to be so much better than receiving a bill or “junk mail.”

How many people write thank you notes any more?

I have a colleague who makes it a point to handwrite and mail a “thank you” note to someone every day.

Does this sound old-fashioned? When did thoughtfulness and a personal touch go out of style?

This colleague has spent a lifetime as an expert on etiquette, especially business etiquette, and in her opinion, gracious thanks is never outdated, whether in the business world or in personal life.

Even if you do not work in a corporate environment, keep reading, there is something for you.

When the recession hit, many companies shrunk their rewards and recognition budgets. This was a stressful time when hard-working employees needed appreciation and reassurance more than ever. While monetary reward programs might call for trimming in hard times, the concept of thankfulness and appreciation is always free. Perhaps when times are tough, companies need to focus on their recognition culture even more.

An employee recognition program is a means of supporting and honoring individuals and teams who contribute to the success of the organization through positive behaviors. Studies show that recognition increases productivity, reinforces initiative and creativity, builds relationships and team functionality, improves customer service, raises employee engagement and improves retention of employees.

It’s one thing to motivate people towards behavior through promised rewards, but better yet to instill a constant sense of “doing the right thing” because it is better for the company, customer and employee. In the end, it is the corporate culture that needs to be shifted so that the underlying philosophy will become firmly established.

To be effective, informal recognition needs to be sincere, timely and specific, and may consist of nothing more than a few well-chosen words of appreciation or praise. Sometimes the best recognition is simple and free. But just because it doesn’t cost, doesn’t mean it can’t have a great impact on an employee. What is key here is fitting the method of recognition to the employee’s likes or dislikes. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to be recognized in a public display! Given in the wrong way, praise can end up being counterproductive. When managers get to know their employees on a one-to-one basis, then they will know how their employees want to be recognized.

So the next time that someone does something for you on the job, whether it is expected or unexpected – take a moment to say those two words that our mothers taught us were magical: “Thank you.” It will only take a moment of your time, but it could be the bright spot that makes that person’s day.

This advice applies not just to managers, but also to co-workers, to entrepreneurs, clients and vendors. It applies to mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins. It applies when you go to the grocery store, retail store or restaurants. It applies even when a friend does something for you. When was the last time you said, “Thank you for just being you”?

My mother always reminded me to say thank you often. One might feel it in your heart, but unless the person hears it, they are not going to know. “Please” and “thank you” are three of the most magical words.

Here’s a challenge for you this week. See if you can say “thank you” at least once a day to someone. Once you master that, you can go buy those notecards!

Trick or Treat your Talents

10 27 14 IndiansI’ve always loved autumn. To me there was something different in the air. There was a scent associated with the season, the crispness of the temperature as it began to dip at night, the smell of fallen leaves as they were raked and played in, the wispy smoke of bonfires, of hay, of apples and of pumpkins.

Halloween was always my second favorite season of the year (after Christmas), probably because I got to dress up in costume. And could do it legitimately. I used to dress up around the house and play act the rest of the year too. It’s a wonder that my mom didn’t send me to drama school. I wish she had!

In my younger years I was obsessed with playing cowgirl, which eventually switched over to playing Indian. My mom indulged me by sewing a fringed Indian outfit for one Halloween. I still have the photo. Ironically, years later I sewed an adult Indian costume for myself. I wish my mom could have seen it, she would have been proud.

Adults are not exempt from dressing in character. Party stores and online websites are full of adult-sized costumes of every kind imaginable. There are adult costume parties and contests – we don’t leave all the fun for the children.

What type of costume character do you choose? Is it something that maybe deep down inside you want to be? Do you want to be a superhero? A Hollywood actor? A doctor or nurse? Or the YouTube sensation of the moment?

Have you ever thought about what motivates you to choose your costume? Inevitably it is something you are comfortable with, and I think it can be a reflection of your inner mood. Costume parties allow you to tap into that inner desire.

It doesn’t have to be just a fun game that happens once a year on Halloween. You can be a superhero. Donate blood and save a life. Be that actor. Join a community theater or take part in an open mic night and let your inner actor out. Be that one who helps the less fortunate. Volunteer at a hospital or assisted living facility. Visit the sick or elderly who have no visitors.

Have a talent that you want to share with the world? Don’t hide your talents. Your gifts were given to you for a reason. Step out and take a chance. You don’t have to become famous, just share your gifts and talents with those around you.

It’s no trick. Treat yourself to the joy of letting your imagination really take shape. Find those roles in society where you can “be” that champion.

Harry Potter and his friends faced down danger and changed their world. Have you ever worked in grassroots politics or campaigned for the causes you believe in? We are in early voting week. Get out and vote. Make a difference in the world.

We didn’t stop being heroes when we became adults. That’s the treat. We actually became even more powerful.

As for me, The Black Cat will be out Friday night. You can knock me down but I’ll get up again; because black cats have nine lives.

10 27 14 Cat

Find Your Voice

8 25 14 microphoneI was a quiet child. Remember how they used to say, “be seen and not heard?” That was pretty much me! Although I do recall getting in trouble in grammar school for talking in class! What was I thinking? However, I don’t think students get in trouble for talking in class anymore, they are texting each other!

Which leads to a question, are children learning how to communicate in the true sense of the word? Are they learning how to speak and listen and get a message across, face to face? What does the future hold for the communication skills of this generation? That could be another blog, but today I address the adults.

How are YOUR communication skills?

It is commonly said that the fear of public speaking is the number one fear in the world. You don’t have to have the goal of being a motivational, platform speaker, but in today’s world, you should have the confidence to answer your boss coherently at staff meetings or make a toast at your sister’s wedding.

I have a theory that this fear stems from a source that is unique for each person. There is a reason for that fear, and it takes some introspection to get to the root of that fear. It usually goes back to childhood. I believe that in general we feel that the audience staring at us is somehow better than us. We deny our own self-worth.

Once I figured out where my fear came from, I experienced a breakthrough. I was afraid of speaking in front of a group because in grammar school the other students teased me. Today they call it “bullying.” Why did they tease me? Essentially because I was “the smart kid,” the “teacher’s pet,” or now what they might call “nerd” or “geek.”

OK, so now I’m thinking: if I am the smart one, then why should I care what they think about me? Light bulb moment!

But just like a garden, it takes some watering and nurturing of this confidence in order for it to grow. I found that supportive and nurturing environment with an organization called  Toastmasters International.

There are Toastmasters chapters, or clubs as we call them, in 126 countries around the world. This past weekend our World Convention culminated in a speech competition for the World Championship of Public Speaking. These are grand and glorious conventions. The speakers at Finals level are phenomenal! But it all starts at club level, a “speech laboratory” where one can practice, get feedback and grow as much as you want to. Your development is up to you.

Are you lacking self-confidence? Do you wish to be a better speaker and leader? My manager wrote on my performance appraisal 25 years ago that I had to join Toastmasters. It was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. Now, I am coaching and mentoring speakers who are aiming for that World Championship. One of them said they’d like to see me on that stage. Hmm, why not?

Don’t wait for your boss to make that move to push you towards personal development. Take some steps to find your voice. Determine the cause of your fears. Find a supportive environment to vanquish those fears.

Find your voice, because it’s those who can use their voice who change the world.

What Kind of Leader Are You?

Shepherd And FlockDoes anyone remember Theory X motivational management? In 1960, Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous X-Y theory of management. Both theories are still referred to in the studies of management and motivation.

Theory X is the “Authoritarian Management” style based on the premise that the average person dislikes work, so must be faced with the threat of punishment so that he/she will work towards corporate objectives. Theory Y is the “Participative Management” style where work comes naturally and the responsible employees will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of objectives, without external control or threat of punishment.

I met many “Theory X” managers in my early career, and one rather scary story comes immediately to mind. A co-worker told me one day that the department Vice President had become upset after overhearing employees laughing. He said to his secretary, “We can’t have laughing here!” What? Yes, this is a true story! No punishments were dealt out, but the fact that the words were spoken is rather unnerving.

Fast forward several years to when I worked for Marriott, where we operated on the principles of its founder, J. Willard Marriott Sr. who said, “Treat your Associates the way you would like to be treated – provide them every avenue to success. Take care of your people and they will take care of your customers.” Happy employees lead to happy customers and happy profits.

This falls more in line with the philosophy laid out in a wonderful little book I was introduced to a few years ago.

In The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People
by Kevin Leman and William Pentak, an entirely different perspective on management is told in short story format. A young MBA student named Ted is mentored by an eccentric and brilliant professor. Jack Neumann, who just happens to own a flock of sheep.

Over the course of seven weeks, Jack assists Ted in coming to understand seven ancient principles of shepherding a flock of sheep, as well as people: Knowing the Condition of Your Flock, Discovering the Shape of Your Sheep, Helping Your Sheep Identify with You, Making Your Pasture a Safe Place, The Staff of Direction, The Rod of Correction and The Heart of the Shepherd.

Each of the book’s seven chapters focuses on a different principle of effective supervision, offering in simple, everyday terms very powerful lessons in leading others. Principles include:

  • Get to know your flock, one person at a time.
  • Your choice of people can make flock management easier or harder.
  • Build trust with your followers by modeling authenticity, integrity, and compassion.
  • Keep your people well-informed.
  • When directing, use persuasion and not coercion. When your people get in trouble, go and get them out.
  • Regularly ask about your people’s progress.

Most of all, have a heart for your people. Quite a change from the old school, right?

As a result of reading The Way of the Shepherd, the following strategies jump out as immediate steps you can take to improve your leadership style:

  • Get out of the office and interact with the people on your team.
  • Get to know what is important to them as people, not just workers.
  • Remember that it is the people who get all the work done. They are your greatest asset.
  • Treat each person as an individual, not just a member of the team.

What kind of leader are you? Maybe you should take a look at shepherding. You can be a shepherd leader wherever you are, at work, in any civic or volunteer organization, at a parent/teacher association or at your place of worship. The simple lessons taught by Leman and Pentak are things we rarely think about. If you care about the people you lead, this short but insightful book is a must read. Get a copy of The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People
Create a green pasture in your workplace or organization today.