I had just taken my seat at the IMAX theatre to see the movie. My friend was visiting from out of town and we decided that this was the perfect thing to do on a cold day. Apparently, so did everyone else in our city— the place was packed and as the people piled in, it became obvious that we were going to run out of seats.


Eventually, one of the employees asked if everyone could move to the middle so they could make room for the people still being seated. Quickly, my friend and I stood up and moved one more seat to my left. We sat down and continued to enjoy our time talking. Suddenly, we overheard the women to my friend’s right begin to complain.


“That isn’t fair— why do we need to move when we got here early and they didn’t?” My friend and I heard this and smiled at each other. Five minutes later, she went on. “Why should I be punished for getting to the theatre on time? I shouldn’t have to move and be made uncomfortable!” I whispered to my friend that some people are never happy and she smiled back.


I finally took a good look at the woman who could only view her world half-empty. The reality was that moving over one seat actually improved her visual experience. She truly had a better seat now. However, she couldn’t see that. She couldn’t see anything but misery.


People can focus on the smallest things in life and become unhappy. However, when they take these attitudes to work with them, it becomes everyone’s problem.


Steffanie Wilk, an associate professor at Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University, studied employee mood and it’s impact on job performance. In the study, she asked telephone customer service representatives from a Fortune 500 company to record their moods during various times of the day over a three week period. They took into account the impact of individual temperament and the moods of their customers. The results proved that when beginning their day, the employee’s mood influenced their mood for the rest of the shift.


It should be no surprise to hear that employees that were happy at the beginning of the day generally stayed that way throughout their day. They responded more positively to their interactions with customers, which resulted in better customer service. Those that came to work miserable tended to continue to feel worse as the day wore on. The important point to glean from this study is that these negative mood shifts resulted in more than a 10% decline in employee productivity.


If you do the math, you can see the implications for revenue loss for any organization. Companies, big or small, can’t afford to have chronic negative employees on their team. Now imagine what happens when the negative employee spreads their bad attitude to the people around them. It’s like an infectious disease that can destroy the culture, productivity and in turn, the profitability of any organization.


Now, back to my miserable friend at the movie theatre. Hopefully, she will change her ways. Maybe it was a one-time thing and I just hit her on the wrong day. But in all probability, she goes to work somewhere every day with this same perspective on life and infects her co-workers with this attitude.


I hope that’s not the case.

Open to Opportunity

images open window


Last week, I was attending a full-day seminar with an old friend that I hadn’t seen in quite awhile. Although I was unsure if the topic would hold my interest, I knew that I would pick up some “nuggets” that I could use in my life. I also looked forward to the training event since I thought I would see some of my old co-workers. As I scanned the room, I realized that I didn’t know a single person other than my old friend. The large room was filled with mostly empty tables and almost all of the attendees were crammed into the back half of the space.


We registered and walked to a table at the front of the room since we both decided that we would be easily distracted in the back. When I sat down, I noticed two women that were sitting together at the table behind me.


10 minutes into the seminar, the trainer started the first activity. She asked us to find a partner that we weren’t seated with and perform the first exercise. My friend jumped up and joined a woman sitting alone at a table. I turned around, stood up with a smile on my face and said to the two friends sitting together, “Would one of you like to join me at my table?”


They both stared at me and said, “NO”.


I turned back around, shocked by the tone in their voice and their firm NO response.


I didn’t personalize this NO that I received. I wasn’t hurt that they didn’t want to be with me. I instinctively knew that the NO had absolutely nothing to do with me. I knew that the NO had everything to do with them.


I was disappointed by the women’s inability to open themselves up to a new opportunity.


Now, you might be wondering why I’m making such a big deal out of this. So what, they wanted to sit together and enjoy each other’s company. However, it IS a big deal and I’m going to tell you why.


Everyday, you are bombarded with situations, problems and issues in your life. Most of the time, you handle situations in a manner that is familiar to you. You have found patterns in your life that work for you and it is easier if you stick to those patterns and habits. When you do this, you probably make life easier for you in the short-term. You feel safe in these patterns and find comfort in them.


However, you are making life harder for you in the long-term. Moving to another table and meeting someone new might seem like such a small thing. However, it might be a pattern in your life to avoid uncomfortable situations. Each time that you get the courage to move to the next table, you build a little more muscle that makes you more RESILIENT. Each time you do something uncomfortable, you develop a little more grit to tackle what gets thrown at you in life. Each time you stretch yourself personally and professionally, you open yourself up to new opportunities—some that you didn’t even know existed.


Building resilience all starts with one small move.








image personal values


The other day, I was thinking about my career and the different positions that I’ve held throughout the years. There have been times that I’ve been happy and there have been times in my career that I’ve been miserable— maybe you’ve felt this way too. I remember a friend telling me that she hoped I’d finally figure out what and where I wanted to be in life. At one point, I considered that maybe I was born with some sort of defect that prevented me from figuring out what direction to take in life propecia pills 1 mg.


Now that I’m older and wiser, I better understand all the career decisions I made and why. I can comprehend why I was so unhappy in certain environments and why others made me feel energized. I now know that it all came down to being true to the values that I hold in my life. If I honored those things that were truly important to me and made certain that I received them at work, then I would find the happiness that I was searching for so desperately.


I highly value being in an environment where I can constantly be learning. Being thrown into a new environment and figuring out how to make it work is my idea of a good time. For others, it’s a death sentence. As soon as a position becomes repetitive, I’m in trouble. I’m constantly looking for that next step, next opportunity, that next big thing! Growing and expanding my knowledge base is an integral piece of what I value in a job. If I don’t have this kind of experience, I’m not going to be satisfied. If I can’t see where I grow next, I’ll struggle to be happy.


I highly value the ability to stretch my wings in my job.

If I feel that the position is too structured, I wither away. That isn’t to say that I can’t follow authority. However, if the authority attempts to control or regulate me too much, it will not be a work environment that fuels success for me. I need to be able to think for myself and create my workspace the way I deem fit. I’ve had a few bosses that sensed this and gave me the space I needed to be successful. I’ve also had ones that held on tighter. The latter didn’t end well. I recognize that I’m a free thinker and do best when given the freedom to explore.


Nothing is more important to me than working in an environment where people have integrity and honesty.

I’m a straight shooter and get extremely frustrated with individuals that dance around an issue or outright lie and don’t take responsibility. Confrontation is not a horrible thing when handled in a professional and appropriate manner. I need to have respect from the people that I work with and if I don’t see that, I find it difficult to stay the course.


I’ve shared my top three values because I hope it sparks your own thinking on the topic. What do you value in your professional career? Like I did above, try to identify your top three values. Think back to some of your triggers at work, some of the things that frustrated you—you’ll begin to see what you find important. Is it making sure you have time for family or is it making sure that the position is risk-free and stable? Is it your ability to financially support your family or is it the need to “make a difference” in people’s lives? Do some soul searching and tease out what’s important to you above all else.


Once you have this information, you’ll be armed to find where you belong.


Bring Back the Excitement

images cat picture


Our family took Miles to the groomer at the pet store the other night. While the she struggled with a squirmy pug, we decided that we should walk around and shop. We picked up cat food for Biscuit and Joey and proceeded to check out the cat toys. My son wanted to buy catnip but I reminded him that we have the only cats on the planet that don’t have any interest in this substance. In the past, they’ve just sniffed it and walked away, disinterested.


And then we spotted it. It was a long stick with some feathers, bright shiny tinsel and a bell on the end. Although it had been a long time since I had seen our older cats play, I decided to take a risk and make the purchase. I was curious as to whether they would show any interest in this toy.


When I got home, I brought out the cat toy and called the boys. They came running in and immediately had interest in the new addition to their house. Before long, they were jumping, standing on two feet, and running around the room. I hadn’t seen them this excited in a long, long time.


In fact, the toy caused so much excitement in the house that I eventually had to put it away in a drawer for the night. They just wouldn’t stop attacking the toy, which in turn, revved up the dog beyond our tolerable limit.


The next day, I remembered that the toy was in the drawer, so I took it out to play. The cats came running and a replay of the night before ensued. In fact, they knew the sound of the toy and were present within seconds of me touching it. It kept their interest much longer than my interest in continuing the playtime. This time, however, I left the toy on the ground and walked out of the room.


The day after that, I spotted the toy and picked it up. I called the cats to play, but it took quite some time for them to arrive. I tried to engage them in play but it was a lethargic game, at best. Apparently, the toy was yesterday’s news.


By now, I bet you’re wondering why I’m sharing this story with you. What does a cat toy have anything to do with life? Well, you know how excited you are when you start something new? You know that feeling you have when you start a new job, create your own business, or begin a new relationship? It’s all novel, exciting and fresh. Life is easy because you’re full of energy and stoked about your new venture. After a while, however, reality sets in. The newness wears off and you fall into your routine.


This is the pivotal moment that separates the resilient from the less resilient; possessing the ability to hang in there and not give up or move on to something new and easier. This is a crucial step in finding your desired success. It’s also when you have the opportunity to truly gain and learn the most.


Making it through this period, past the initial shininess, enables you to build confidence for future endeavors in your life.


In the Wind

bag in windI was driving down the highway the other day when I noticed something up in the sky. As I drove closer to the object, I was able to assess what was up there. The object appeared to be a plastic bag, the kind that you get at the grocery store.  The bag was flying up and down and around with such energy. It followed no pattern or course, simply depending on the next big gust of wind to decide its fate.


The whole experience reminded me of a number of people that I’ve come across in my life.


I had a conversation with a young man a couple years ago.  The talk turned to his part-time job, so I asked him how it was going.  He lamented that his hours had been cut and felt angry about the whole situation.  He told me exactly how he was going to be affected by this unfortunate turn of events.  He definitely did his fair share of complaining.


I listened to him for a while before I spoke.  I asked him the obvious question— had he had discussed the cutbacks with his supervisor?  He looked at me incredulously and said no. When I asked him why he hadn’t had a discussion with this boss, he really didn’t have an answer.


I explained to him that he needed to ask WHY his hours had been cut. Then, with his boss, he needed to outline the reasons why allowing him to keep those hours would be the right decision. Frankly, none of this had ever occurred to him.  He didn’t feel that he had a choice in the situation. I believe he was just waiting for that next big gust of wind to decide his fate.


I talked to a young woman on the phone today. Earlier this year, she had lost her job to an unfortunate turn of events. She spent hours researching, networking and pounding the pavement to find another job. It didn’t surprise me that she found the perfect match fairly quick in her journey. Today she shared that, again, her new employer is taking drastic measures to cut back and a whole team has been laid off.


This is devastating news considering she just got back on her feet. However, I was impressed by the strength in her voice.  She refused to waste time whining about what couldn’t change and she was already busy networking and researching how she could take charge in her situation. She was adamant that she would control her destiny. She would not accept that the next big gust of wind would decide her fate.


I hate to say this, but I know individuals that have spent their whole lives in this pattern.  They float and bob from one job or relationship to the next, letting others decide their fate.  When the wind stops, they land. Usually, they blame their misfortune on others, never accepting the fact that the whole time, they had the ability to control their own path in life.


This is your reminder that you don’t have to be that plastic bag taking flight in the wind, unsure of where you’re going or when you will land.


You have the power to control your own destiny.







images dandelion


I worked at my desk for way too long and I couldn’t concentrate anymore.  On top of that, it was 85 degrees outside and I was itching to enjoy the beautiful weather.  I decided that I would go for a quick walk to clear my head. As I walked outside the front door and looked around, I marveled at the front yard. It was as if I was seeing it for the first time.


I noticed that there were some weeds cropping up in one of the flowerbeds, so I decided to delay my walk and take care of it.  I looked around and noticed the lush green grass and the flowered trees. As I neared the front of the house, I spotted it.  There, in the middle of a nicely manicured bed, was the biggest weed that I had ever seen. It had a very thick stem and a large yellow flower. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the flower/weed was at least 5 feet high. If you’re wondering if I’m confused and that it really was a flower, I can 100% assure you that it was a weed.


As I stepped over to the gargantuan weed, I wondered how I had missed it for so long. Much to my dismay, this 5-foot behemoth was not hidden behind bushes.  This flower/weed was not obscured from any vantage point in the front yard.  How was it possible that this weed went unnoticed by me?


I grabbed it and yanked hard, pulling it out of the ground. I ceremoniously carried the weed to the trashcan and threw it out.  On my way, I looked around to see if anyone was watching me.  In my mind, I wondered how many neighbors had obviously noticed the weed and were taking bets on when I was going to finally do something about it.


As I went for my walk, I wondered how I could have left my house numerous times during the day and driven back into the driveway without ever noticing the obvious. I mean, it was HUGE and in plain sight. I decided that the reason that I didn’t see the weed was because I didn’t want to see it.


As humans, we are wired to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. If you think about it, everything in life comes down to these two things.  Let me tell you a secret— I don’t like working in the yard.  To me, it’s a pain. I’ve been putting off planting my flowers and other yard work for sometime now. As I thought honestly about this, I realized that I hadn’t noticed the obvious because it was painful for me.  I avoided looking at the yard at all costs. This way, I didn’t have to feel any pain or discomfort and could go about my life. Yes, this sounded like denial to me.


As I faced the music, I made a commitment to change this negative pattern.  No matter how much progress you make in handling issues in a proactive manner, now and then, you can easily revert back into negative patterns from your past.  So here’s you’re wake-up call— is there something in your own life that you’ve been conveniently avoiding?  Are there some weeds that you need to attend to in your own garden?


I have faith that you’ll take the steps to move forward in your life.



Opportunity Leads to Growth




images change life I was complaining to my husband over dinner last night. I had taken a look at my schedule and realized that I was booked for a seminar the following day. Although it had sounded like a good idea at the time, I was now lamenting the fact that I’d be tied up all day. On top of that, I always felt wary of attending this specific event every year. The truth was that I felt anxious about seeing people from a previous workplace at the event. You see, the job had not ended on positive terms— the supervisor had suddenly become disenchanted with my talents.


As I drove to the seminar, my mind skipped around from thought to thought.  I envisioned being in the seminar and feeling uncomfortable. I imagined that I would have no one to talk to during the event and I wouldn’t have anywhere to sit.  I saw myself asking people if I could join their table with their response being anything but enthusiastic. My brain swirled with these toxic thoughts until I arrived at the event.


As I made my way into the room, I was surprised to spot a good friend.  I had no idea that she was going to be there.  Another woman walked by and was very excited to see me.  She came over to say hello and proceeded to remind me that we had gone to school together. She commented that she had been reading about me and was so interested in what I was doing. We talked for a while and I moved on.  A few minutes later another woman walked by and called my name.


Again, I had no idea who she was but I spent the remainder of the morning trying to figure it out.  It finally dawned on me how I knew her— she had worked at the previous job where things had gone sour. On a break, I worked my way over to her table to talk to her further.


We discussed our current careers and she shared that she was still with the same company. She then looked at me and said, “You know, a funny thing happened after you left.  I was going through some old papers and I came upon a memo from years before addressed to all the employees.  It was concerning some policies that the director felt weren’t being enforced.”  She continued, “The thing that really struck me was the tone of the letter. I wish you could have seen it. It was so harsh, so ugly and so not appropriate. It made me think of the way she had treated you. At the time, I felt her behavior toward you was so out of character.  I realize now that it wasn’t out of character at all.”


I finally spoke. “So I must have made her feel threatened.”  She nodded her head.  I spent the rest of the seminar soaking in this new bit of information.


What if I had given in to my unrealistic thoughts and anxiety and not attended this event? It’s one thing to have negative thoughts, but it’s quite another to give in to those negative thoughts and let it affect your actions in life. Being willing to ride out those uncomfortable feelings that we all have now and then enabled me to have the exhilarating experience of finally being validated.


Each day you have the chance to become a better person.  Each day you have the opportunity to grow as an individual and learn from your experiences.  Each day, you are given this gift but you might not always grab for it.


I hope you grab for it.

Empowering Others

image empowermentI have a memory from my childhood that comes back in my consciousness every now and then. It’s bedtime and I’m going through my evening rituals.  I’m standing at the sink with my mother and it’s time to wash my face.  She has the washcloth in her hand and it’s all warm and soapy.  She’s ready to start cleaning my face when I grab it out of her hand.  I remember the strong feeling of wanting to be independent and be able to take care of myself.  However, my mom is impatient and not pleased with this action since she assumes that I won’t do it properly. She grabs the washcloth back from me so she can complete the task.


Isn’t it strange the way our brains work? When I’m together with my childhood friends, they tell me many stories and experiences that I just can’t recollect.  But this moment I remember vividly and I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old.  You know why?  Because of the way that moment made me feel.  I felt so helpless, out of control and frustrated.  I wanted to be independent and she wouldn’t let me. I recall feeling proud that I wanted to take care of myself.


I think that in a way, my mom wanted to make things easier for me than they had been for her.  Or maybe she wanted to be needed in her role as a mother. It’s possible that she was tired and she just wanted this task done so she could finally relax.  The point is that in the process, she squelched my ability to be independent and feel that I could stand on my own two feet.


When I had my own children, I wanted to take a different approach.  It was important for me to give my kids the tools they needed to feel confident and independent. I allowed my kids to make mistakes and color outside the lines. It meant that I was willing to step back when they made a mistake and allow them to work out their own issues.  It also meant that at times, my children felt discomfort and even pain, and I allowed them to feel their own pain. I’m not saying it was easy, but I knew in my heart it was for the best. I wanted them to be able to feel secure in their decision-making and their ability to steer their own course in life.


I mimicked this approach in the workplace.  I wanted to empower peers and my employees to confidently handle their own issues, and get comfortable with solving their own problems.  I felt that it was my job to give them the tools to be successful, independent and strong. Again, it was certainly not easy, and sometimes quite disheartening, but I knew it was the right thing to do.


You probably agree with everything that I’ve shared with you thus far. Your head is nodding and you absolutely see my point. However, I’m asking you to take an honest, raw look at your life right now.  It’s time to question whether you might have failed in your attempts to empower the people around you.


Maybe your enabling involves a relationship with a child. It’s easier and less stressful if you can take care of the task and be done.  Maybe it’s an employee relationship. You have repeatedly handled issues because you want to make sure it’s done properly and perfectly.  Maybe it’s a friend that consistently needs your assistance. Time and time again you help, because, to be honest, it just feels good to be needed.


I guarantee that you have at least one relationship that smacks of some enabling in your personal or professional life.  In the moment, the action might feel good to you and to them, but the long-term effects can be quite destructive.


Make it your mission to empower others to stand on their own two feet. Eventually, they’ll be glad you did.


Advance Your Career

I’m beginning to see a pattern. A number of the young clients that I’ve worked with are struggling to thrive in their careers.  The bloom happens during that first job right out of school.  They’re unhappy and they can’t figure out why or what to do about it.  I know exactly what’s running through their mind: they’ve worked hard, they’ve done all the right things, yet they’re still in a bad place.


I began to give this more thought within the last few days as I read Sheryl Sandlin’s new book, “Lean In”.  In the book, she relays the steps she took to advance her career and she candidly shares the mistakes she made along the way.


After some thought, here’s a couple suggestions for young (and not so young) women struggling to find happiness in their career:


Know who you are and what you want in your career and personal life

This might sound like common sense to you, but there are many women that have no idea what they need and want. How can you possibly begin to search for that next step unless you know what makes you happy and what you need? Don’t even waste your time looking at job openings until you’ve done the hard work. Do you know your passions and strengths?  Are you very clear on your talents in life and where you shine? One way to discover more about yourself is to get involved in activities outside your current job.  You never know where you’re going to discover (or rediscover) a talent.


Be able to make the hard decisions and offend people

Sheryl mentioned this in her book and I agree 100%. Women like to be seen as nice and this often becomes a big, fat roadblock in their career.  I’m not advocating stepping on others to move up the ladder, however, there will be times where you make a decision and not everyone is going to love you.  That doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision; it just means that you take pride in making the right decision over making the decision that’s popular. That’s called integrity.


Realize that you have the power to change your situation

I’ve wasted a lot of time in past jobs trying to rationalize my current situation.  This is a futile exercise that will only prolong your misery. You have a lot more choices than you THINK you do.  Just because you’re unhappy in your current situation doesn’t mean that you can’t create a new and improved situation. Brainstorm possibilities right where your feet are planted. Be proactive and talk to key people in your present organization that are knowledgeable about opportunities. Focus on solutions and keep an eye on your goal. And here’s the big one: let people KNOW what you want.


Be willing to take a step backward to move forward

This is a hard one for many women to accept. In fact, this thinking keeps women in jobs that they can’t stand.  It’s not easy to take a step back, but if you’re in a new position more aligned with your strengths, you’ll grow quickly.  Realize that career growth is not always a linear process— there’re ups and downs and stumbles. Many women reinvent themselves at different points in their careers. Just keep the momentum going.


Don’t stop believing that you’re capable of great things

It all comes back to this very statement. Without your unwavering belief of YOU, it won’t happen. Sure, we all waver now and then, but a core foundation of belief is necessary for you to build career success. It’s truly all about the power of positive thinking.


Own your power and go after what you want!