The last week of 2009…

December 28, 2009 § 8 Comments

It’s the last week of 2009.  This Christmas has been rare in that I haven’t gotten caught up in all of the hubbub.  My stress levels have been at an all time low.  I’ve enjoyed every moment, every person, and every morsel of food more than I ever have.  And now, with the year on its final legs, I think I’m going to take this week to relive and relish the highlights of 2009, and decide how I will set the stage for 2010.

One way people attempt to start out a new year is with resolutions.  And while the intentions behind resolutions are usually good, so many people have set themselves up for failure.  The reasons for not following through on a resolution depend on person to person.  For me, I think it’s been because there’s always that expectation that you try hard to follow through, but nobody ever actually makes them, so if you give up on your resolutions after a month or two… well, heck, at least you tried, right?  This year, I want my resolutions to stick.  And so they won’t be resolutions.  Because taking one day out of the year to look at what you want and setting a goal isn’t enough.  It takes changing our day to day to really make change in our lives.

I’ve been coming across the quote from Ghandi a lot lately “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”  That has been my focus for 2009, and will continue to be my focus in 2010.  Finding alignment in my own life and in what I want to see in the world.  Being the change.

During the last couple of months, David and I have been talking about a New Year’s feature to do.  We’ve gone to our networks for some feedback, and thought through a couple of iterations of what this might look like.  We will be kicking off the New year with a bit of an experiment.  Over the course of the first 10 weeks in 2010, we’ll be posting 10 Things to Inspire and Motivate in 2010.

All the best for a motivational and inspirational New Year.

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The first step to wealth is health

December 21, 2009 § 14 Comments

“The first step to wealth is health.”

That rhymes, I told my doctor as he was chiding me for letting a period of extreme stress get in the way of effectively managing my diabetes. He hadn’t considered that, he said, noting he is not a poet. It would to me as a writer.

“There will always be jobs,” the doctor continued. “But if you don’t take care of yourself, that won’t matter.”

For someone who several others readily call a mentor, the motivator had allowed himself to be distracted from Looking out for Number One. He who has pushed others to be positive has lost his own focus.

No excuses. I know better. If I am to remain competitive in the battle against the D word, then I have to do better. Every day. It has already taken its toll in varying ways.

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 10 years ago this fall. At first, my doctor felt I could address it with proper exercise and diet. After five years that didn’t work, primarily because I didn’t do the work, and I was prescribed two medications for that as well as pills for cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Diabetes can best be described as juggling four balls – there are four main contributing factors – heredity, stress, diet, and exercise. The first, I can do nothing about. My dad was “borderline” diabetic. When I told the diabetes nurse this, she laughed. “That is like being borderline pregnant. Either you are or you aren’t.”

Then there is stress. Mostly, I am able to use this in a positive sense, feeding my natural drive and energy but lately I have found myself distracted by it, letting things over which I have little or no control bother me.

Speaking of feeding … although I don’t eat horribly, my diet management is not great, mostly in terms of portions and timing. Before I learned I am diabetic, I didn’t eat breakfast so that was an improvement.

The exercise has improved lately, walking the dog almost every day for at least a half hour, often more.

The bottom line is, diabetes is a silent disease. It is not necessarily going to give you a daily reminder like a lump or chronic pain do. But holding it at bay does take daily attention.

So, while I am great at fostering motivation in others, I must accept the responsibility for managing my own stress, diet and exercise. It is MY blood that needs to be monitored and MY doctor appointments that must be kept.

Others can provide encouragement, but it is me who must take charge of my own health.

And, ironically, the best prescription to stress has been at the forefront all these years.

On the side of my mother-in-law’s fridge (for the record, the least reason for me to have stress and, no, my wife is not standing over me as I write) she has posted the Serenity Prayer … God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My mother-in-law learned in her late 70s that she, too, has diabetes, and has done a much better job of monitoring the disease.

Why?

Perhaps, even though I know I have the disease and know the consequences, I’ve been just too busy worrying about other things.

The doctor was right.

The first step to wealth is health.

Channel Surfing

December 14, 2009 § 3 Comments

It’s another boring night with nothing on.  You’re on your couch passively flipping through the channels, trying to find something that will spark your interest for at least a minute.  But as you go, the more you surf, the less you find, and the less you pay attention.  You get lulled into a sense that there’s never anything on.  And so you continue to move through channels, now at lightning speed.  Click.  Click.  Click.  Wait, what’s that?  Nope, I’ve seen that before.  Click.

Sometimes you settle on something to watch for a few minutes before passively clicking through to the next channel, but every now and again you hit the right frequency with that click and come across a program that piques your interest. It’s not that you were looking for this specific program, in fact you probably didn’t really know what you were looking for.  But here it is.  Out all of the hundreds of channels at all of the different times of day you’ve been through, for once, here it is.

I’ve been thinking about my life in terms of frequency lately.  What frequency am I on?  Do I like what I’m seeing?  If I don’t, I change the channel until I find something that resonates with me.

There’s a bit of singing advice I heard from Matt Good that fits well here too.  In order to get the most out of your voice and to hit all of the high notes, he’s learnt to sing from a place where his voice resonates inside of his mind, not from his vocal chords.  He said that’s why Thom Yorke from Radiohead is always moving his head around so much.  He’s finding the spots in which his voice hits just the right frequency.

Imagine the practice it takes to find that.  Imagine the kind of head space you’ve got to be in to make that work.  For me, that’s not from a knowing space, that’s from a feeling space.  That’s being aware of your own mind enough to hear when those notes hit the right spot.  And that may take some searching and practicing to find.  But once you do, it’s pure gold.

Think of this now in terms of finding yourself through life, finding a point where things can resonate for you.  You’ll need to have your feelers on as well as your thinking cap for this one.  Think about how off life can feel when you’re not tuned into the right frequency, but how easy it is to just pick up the remote and change the channel until you like what’s on.  Once you’re there, you stay for awhile, if it’s really good, you’ll come back and watch it again.  So try that with your life, the more you find what feels right, what strikes a chord in you somewhere, the more your going to want to come back to that.  The more you come back to that, the more you’ll like what you see.  And soon, you may just find yourself another step closer to living passionately.

Motivating takes more than me.

December 7, 2009 § 12 Comments

I had a Eureka moment the other day during a training session. Now the point of attending workshops and taking courses is to learn new skills be exposed to new ideas. In this case, however, one of my fundamental thoughts about being a supervisor was challenged.

It had always been my thinking that I can and have motivated people.

It turns out, I have only paved the way.

Kris Robins, one of the facilitators of the Essential Skills for Supervisors Program through Northern Lakes College, told our Staying Positive – Rewarding and Energizing Employees class last Thursday that, as supervisors, we can only create the environment where people will be motivated, we don’t motivate people ourselves.

I have to agree when it is put that way. You can’t wave your magic wand and, presto, your employees will be motivated.

I suppose that is much like the old adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

On the other hand, Kris noted, we can de-motivate people with a single action or word.

The class was asked to cite examples of what motivates and de-motivates us.

Motivating situations include the opportunity to make a difference, having varied and challenging assignments, a sense of pride in the organization, decisive leadership, the opportunity to learn, and the ability to reach new levels of achievement.

De-motivators cited include negativity, no flexibility, minimal or no communication, lack of variety, poor direction, bureaucracy, and employees thinking in terms of their own department and not the good over the overall organization.

I believe the best employees are self-motivated and our job as managers and leaders is to fuel their fire, to nurture their growth and to give them opportunities to succeed to even greater heights than they can on their own. Essentially, we need to take steps to eliminate items on the second list from our workplaces.

Enabling employee motivation to flourish must be an ongoing effort, not something we contemplate once a month or a few times a year.

Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar summed this up well.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”

It was also interesting to note that many of the points cited on the de-motivator list are also factors in employee burnout.

I have been blessed with many good employees over the years, including when I operated my communications company full-time.

It is a thrill to work with people who are highly motivated. It is much like a sense of lighting a torch and then when your own torch flickers, having the employee regenerate your fire.

Working with motivated people is motivating to me!

It has always been my approach that I work with people, they don’t work FOR me. I contend that if people feel like they are stakeholders in the company, they will want the business or the organization to succeed just as much as you.

I am taking the Essential Skills Program to gain a certificate through Northern Lakes College.

There are nine components to the program, including:

Leadership – Giving Employees What They Need to Succeed
Effective Supervision – Directing, Coaching & Facilitating Employees
Communication – Getting the Message Across
Working Together – Building Effective Relationships in Your Workplace
Performance Management – Optimizing Results
Intervention – Managing Employees with Personal Problems
Resolving Conflict – Reaching Agreement at Work
Managing Time – Scheduling People, Paper & Priorities
Leadership – Giving Employees What They Need to Succeed

I’m eager to complete the program in the next few months and continue on to the advanced level. It is great to see how people from other workplaces operate and the challenges that they face. The beauty of this program is that while the facilitators provide instruction, you learn as much from others in the class.

When it comes to energizing my staff, it’s important for me to continue acquiring tools that ensure I’m providing the best environment possible – today and every day.

Part of that is providing those in my charge opportunities to thrive through their own growth opportunities.

That’s a given. I am a firm believer that when you quit learning, you quit living.

Where Am I?

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