Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

E-mail: Is the Person on the Other End an Idiot or Just Not You?

It has been a long time since I posted and I am so sorry.  The short story is I fell on Friday and sprained my ankle.  I am fine but will be sporting a (not so) fashionable ankle brace for a couple of weeks.

Now, on to my thoughts for today.  People seem to feel free to say things to people via e-mail that they wouldn't say in person (or in front of their boss or parents).  In addition, this usually follows a quickly fired off response to an e-mail they haven't fully read.

Here's my plea for the day...next time you have the urge to fire off that scathing e-mail, don't hit send.  Instead, walk away from the computer, grab a glass of water or walk around the office.  Then, go back and read the original e-mail.  Is there something you missed?  Is it possible there is another interpretation besides the person who sent it is a complete idiot?  Think of alternate possibilities.  If you are unclear of the meaning, reply with a question to delve further and try to find a common (and respectful) understanding. 

Why should you do this?  Besides the obvious because it is respectful and polite, think about the time and effort you put into developing a professional image.  One reactionary e-mail can do more damage than you know, even if you don't see it.  A little time now can save a lot of repair work to your reputation later. 

I know it is not easy and the reactions are often natural reactions.  Practice pressing send immediately after every e-mail.  If you develop the habit with e-mails that are easy, it will be a lot easier when you are faced with a more challenging situation.

Good luck and happy e-mailing!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chinese New Year

Happy Year of the Golden Rabbit.  I love the sound of that - is sounds both prosperous and fertile...promising in all ways.  So for those of us who have already broken our New Year's Resolutions and are looking for a fresh start, why not start today?  We know it takes twenty-one days to form a new habit, what do you want to do?  Sit down and make a plan.  You don't need to do something at the same time every day, in fact, play around and find out what works best for you.  Share your plan with someone who will help keep you accountable.  Good luck!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Respecting an Individual's Investment

How many times have you gotten truly invested in a project, either at work or at home, only to have it given to someone else.  At that moment you wonder why you invested your time and effort and become less likely to do so in the future.  Sometimes, the way our organizations operate, one person can have their investment "stolen" more than once.  While reorganizations, realignments, and job descriptions make sense, we need to also make sure we are respecting the investment that our workers have put into something.  Keeping them involved after the realignment is one way to work towards efficiencies and individual respect at the same time.  It is a little fix but requires the acknowledgement that people are investing in their work and that should be respected.

Have you had your mental investment "stolen"?  Have you been in a situation where it could have been but for a good leader who recognized your input?  How do you routinely recognize the investment of those you work with?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We All Need Someone to Talk To

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and afterwards (whether it was fun and easy or painful and hard) just felt so much better?  I think that we all need someone to talk to.  Things are easier to face when you say them out loud, when you talk to someone who feels the same way or has experienced the same thing, when you have the chance to explore options and ideas with another person.  I had two experiences today that were very similar in that feeling but I experienced them both in two very different ways.  I think either way, the value of the conversation in the big scheme of things was more than I could have imagined on my part, and I hope similar on the other people's parts. 

Do you have one person you share everything with or do you have different go-to people for different areas of your life?  Do you share easily or do you struggle to share and then wonder if you will live to regret sharing?   Does it get easier to open up to new people or harder?

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Power of a Positive Person

I've heard before that you can change the kind of day you're having through the power of positive thinking.  Today, I experienced another side of the old adage.  At work, an amazingly positive person made my day just a little brighter.  I noticed that I laughed more throughout the day and hopefully brought a little laughter to others. 

What can you do today to start a chain reaction of positive thoughts?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Behind Closed Doors

Sorry for missing yesterday, I couldn't get my internet to work.  I am back online today though!

For the past couple of days, I have been thinking.  How much do you know about the people you work with everyday.  So much conflict at work arises from jealously, she gets more face time with the big boss, he gets better work.  I think if we knew more about the challenges that our co-workers face in their everyday lives, or how hard they work behind the scenes that we never see, we would be much less jealous.  Too often people face personal crisis and challenge alone.  Too often, the truly hard workers do it silently.  Too often, we only see a fraction of what is going on with our coworkers, yet we make judgments based on that very small piece of the puzzle.  Before you covet another's place in the world, take a closer look at what you think they have.  Once you see the bigger picture, you may find that your world is not so bad and you may get along with them much better.  In the meantime, remember that you are only privy to a small part of the story and withhold your jealously and judgement until you know more.

What piece of the bigger picture do you withhold from others?  Is it a personal challenge you face at home but that influences all aspects of your life?  Mentoring and coaching you do selflessly for others only to see them advance ahead of you?  Are you the one that people want to be or do you long for a different place?  Is there something you can share with others that will actually help them understand you?  What would it take for you to be willing to share (or would you ever)?  When you face conflict or an uncomfortable situation, look for a discrepancy in information first, it may be an easy fix.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fridays

Do you ever notice no matter how rough your week or how long your day is, when Friday close of business comes, you have a new energy.  Is it a sense of accomplishment for what you've accomplished (making it through the week) or is it looking forward to two days off?  I think that it is probably a little of both.  That is how I feel today.  With the crazy weather we had here, I worked from home a lot this week, but I worked about 50% more than I would have if I had gone into the office.  So with the work week behind me and an evening with friends, a day of volunteering, and a day off in front of me, I left work Friday full of energy and happiness.  If we could bottle that feeling, we would be millionaires.  Until that time, happy Friday.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Personal Values

I love when people are able to match their personal values to their work.  It is easy to look at a list of values and say they are all very important to you, it is much harder to pick your top five.  Then look at the top five and look at the way you spend the hours in your week.  Do you allocate time to the most important things or are you waiting for that illusive "someday" to be able to devote your time to what you love.  If your current job doesn't fit 100% within your core values look around you - what can you do within your job to feed your values.  Aligning your daily tasks with your values is a halfway step that can often bring you more satisfaction in your job and often leads to innovate ideas and improvements.

Pick one thing that is important to you and find a way to increase the time you spend on it next week.  How does it make you feel?  Can you permanently incorporate the change?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Passion, Part 2

As I watch American Idol, I am constantly amazed at some of the people who try out.  Personally, I would never have the courage to do it and I know I cannot carry a tune in a bucket.  (In Randy's words, "Sing in your car only...with the windows up.)  So I watch those clips, you know the ones I am talking about, and I cringe.  I actually hurt inside for the people on TV.  But here's the thing, maybe they're not the best in their field, but they have passion for what they do.  Honestly, if you told me today that I could be either the best in my field or have passion in what I do, I think I might choose passion.  I think that level of commitment to something is truly admirable.

What aspect of life are you most passionate about.  Do you let people know or do you keep it for yourself?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Those Days

So, last night, I lost my cell phone, I worked at an alternate site today, didn't have my regular (way too many) diet cokes, tripped very ungracefully on the sidewalk at lunch in front of my coworkers, was late to a dinner with a friend, went to a meeting only to find out that my lack of phone made me miss that it was changed to a conference call, and had my cab driver take the really long way home.  It was just one of those days. And I would do it all over again if I had to.  Here is why...

I was just a little off kilter all day, which made me uneasy, which made me THINK first and speak/act later, which made me notice some things I might not have noticed before, and because of the "detours" I got to see and chat with people I would have missed otherwise.  Don't get me wrong, I don't feel the need to have "those days" every day, but today did have a silver lining and I am grateful for it. 

Next time you have one of those days, sit back and approach something the opposite of the way you normally would.  What did you learn, what can you apply when things are going well?

Monday, January 24, 2011

A $2 Stuffed Pig

As I sit here watching my dog play with a $2 stuffed pig a friend bought for him almost two years ago, I realize that so often we spend money on things we think are important (like all the other stuffed animals we have bought him to try to replace the pig when it got torn) or as a reward or present (for a birthday or holiday).  In reality, the best $2 expenditure was one no one really saw coming and time spent washing it or sewing tears are much better than buying something new.  No matter what new toy he gets, when it comes time to go to bed, all he wants is the pig.  When I wash it, he sits in front of the washing machine until it is done.  As leaders, how often do we try to give people something (like a new title, new project, or new incentive) that means absolutely nothing to them?  It is important to really get to know the people you are working with, find out what is important to them, and learn to adjust when, at some point, you realize, all they really want, is the equivalent of my dog's $2 pig.

Have a good week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sometimes You Just Need to Have Fun

Today, I took the day off, went to a silly movie, and just generally had fun.  And I am glad.  So many of us go and go and go to the point that we wear ourselves ragged.  When you take time to stop and just enjoy life, you remember why you do it.  This coming week will border on crazy with all of the things I have scheduled.  Once again, when it is over, I will vow to limit the things I schedule and hopefully will be good for more than the month I lasted this past attempt.  I constantly struggle with the need to balance working hard and living life.  This week will not be one of my stellar examples of balance, but it will help me recommit to achieving balance.

What do you do to have fun?  How do you know when it is time to relax?  Do you have to justify relaxation to yourself?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Goals and Self Management

When you are working on setting goals, do you work on financial, work, home, everything at once?  How do you balance and organize multiple projects simultaneously.  The key is probably organization and time management.  For me, the best way to organize projects is to break things down into manageable pieces (with individual deadlines).  Where I struggle is keeping track of everything I am working on.  I read an article that said to put actual tasks in your calendar on individual days (rather than weeks).  That just didn't work for me.  It may have been a lack of acknowledgement of how long items will take or it may have been a penchant for procrastination.  Either way, it didn't work for me.  My planner calendar shows a week at a time (with Sunday as the last day) so I am going to try to write things on Sundays (I try very hard not to schedule anything on Sundays) so that during the week I can eliminate the tasks without committing to doing so on a specific day.

I've decided that the first twenty-one days went so well, I'm going to keep up the daily blogging.  After all it is now a habit and one I enjoy very much.  Let me know how you manage your progress to your own goals!

Friday, January 21, 2011

21 Days Complete

So I accomplished one of my two twenty-one day challenges.  I will start another back at the gym, but for now, one of two is a success.  I think my friend had it right, if you do something every day for twenty-one days in a row, you can build a new habit.  Now to incorporate this new knowledge into my everyday life and find a focus for the next twenty-one days of blogs...  Until then, have an amazing Friday night!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Today is the Hardest Day

Up until today, I've had something to write about every day on this little experiment.  I've actually come to look forward to it.  And now tonight, I am sitting here wracking my brain trying to figure out what to write and am drawing a complete blank.  So I thought to myself, what day am I on, how many more days do I have to go?  Well, I started this little challenge, to write every day for twenty-one days in a row, exactly twenty days ago.  The theory was, that if you did something twenty-one days in a row, it would become habit.  While I may have writers block, the fact that I sat here for half an hour trying to figure out what to write is a good indication that I am well on my way to forming a new habit, and for tonight, that is enough for me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Losing Our Technological Edge

As a Gen Xer entering the workforce twenty years ago, we were told that we were special because we had "that technology thing" down.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I've tried to keep up.  And I thought I was doing a good job.  Our twentieth high school reunion, after all, was advertised and documented on Facebook.  When I started working with Millennials a few years ago, I realized that the technological edge was definitely with them.  I'm not too proud to learn everything I can from them, but I'm also not conceited enough to think I'll ever come close to matching them.  So you can imagine my utter shock (and serious ego bruising) today when I asked my seventy-year old mother if she knew how to find something specific she had mentioned and she nonchalantly responded "can't you just Google it?"  Okay, now I am very proud that she knows what Google is and how to use it, but if she knows that (and yes she has a Facebook page although she rarely updates it), it means my generation has not only lost the edge to the new generation, but the older generations are catching up to us as well!  I don't know about you, but this is definitely something I need to ponder.

What is your favorite example of multi-generational technology use?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spreadsheets Make My Eyes Cross

So we talked yesterday about those things you are just meant to do and that feeling when you're doing it.  The exact opposite, for me, is working with spreadsheets.  I like putting them together to be able to quickly tell a story, but the repetitive data entry part makes my eyes cross.  The only reason I bring it up, is when you have those things you know you hate to do and that are far outside your preference, remember to balance them with something that is more in your zone.  It will reduce your overall stress and make you look forward to finishing the dreaded task. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

You Know When it is Right

Sometimes we run ourselves ragged trying to fit in or trying to meet new people or trying to do the "right" things to advance.  It can easily get to the point where you don't really know what you want from life.  If you somehow slow down or reflect on what you want you can be shocked at how many years you have been seemingly following someone else's plan.  But then, when you start listening to yourself and following your own path, it may not seem any better and then you really question your place.  And then one day, when you're least expecting it, your're working towards a goal and in the middle you realize you are doing what you are meant to do.  When those times come, relish in it and use it to power your efforts the next time it seems as if no one notices you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A New Look at an Old Favorite...

Today I learned that the method my best friend's mom used to save money thirty years ago still works...coupons.  I don't mean buying something you don't want or need because you have a coupon.  I mean clipping coupons and tracking sales at the stores you frequent (for me, Harris Teeter, Target, and CVS) and getting the products you use over and over at the best price possible.  Saving money in ways like this is like getting an untaxed raise!  As a federal employee, I don't get a raise this year or next and my bills have not declared a similar freeze so anything that helps reduce costs is a huge bonus for me.

How do you reduce costs when you need to save up for something new?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Life After 40

My 40th birthday is quickly approaching so I was intrigued by this segment on the Today show this morning.  My favorite part?  Barbara Hanna Grufferman, Author of the Best of Everything After 50.  She encouraged women to make time for themselves, to stay current but embrace their age, and to truly enjoy where they are in life.  Interestingly, she mentioned don't repeat the mistakes we've made earlier in life.  Time seems to fly and I often catch myself wishing I could start over.  I like the idea of embracing where I am now and trying to move forward more positively. 

Do you have special tricks to help you make peace with your mistakes, forgive yourself, and move forward with confidence?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Be a Problem Solver

Today I observed someone's approach to a problem and noticed their first instinct was to find someone to blame.  From an outside perspective it seemed obvious that the most important thing that was needed was a solution and that nobody really cared who was responsible for the problem.  To make matters worse, the person actually created more of a hassle for everyone involved by acting defensive.  It made me wonder, why did they think it was so important to assign blame and why were they so blind to the very obvious and very simple solutions to the problem?  Some people seem to just instinctively jump into problem solving mode.  Are there times when that is not the best route?   Are there times when even those people are emotionally involved that they miss the opportunity and go for the easy blame?  Are there ways we can practice this skill so in times of stress we instinctively problem solve?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Not Enough Hours in the Day

My favorite thing to do while commuting to and from work is to read through twitter posts.  I have the Seesmic app on my blackberry so it remembers where I left off and I can usually go though a few hours worth of posts during each commute.  (Just for clarification, I use public transportation and do not tweet while driving.)  I try to retweet or quote the good things I see (feel free to follow me at @straserendipity if you want to see what I'm seeing).  Yesterday @CindyBillington tweeted "Plan your work and work your plan."  This is going to be my mantra for this year because I am so easily distracted.  I mean seriously.  So this weekend is going to be my planning weekend.  From this point forward with regard to scheduling: I vow to seriously question whether what I am putting on my schedule is part of my plan and to come up with some solid goals for this year. 

How do you move your plan forward?  How often do you reevaluate your plan?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rewriting

I have written and deleted two blogs already tonight.  One was too personal and one had too many open questions that I want to research to be able to provides solutions as well as identifying problems.  That is all well and good but it still leaves me without a blog post.  Everything I've read says that you should write at the same time every day to establish a pattern.  I've been writing at the end of the day, but I think I might want to start writing a little earlier so that I have time to research when a question comes up. 

I'll try a new time tomorrow, but until then, feel free to send me your best networking tips and your biggest networking pet peeves.

Have a good Thursday if you're reading this then!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow

I spent today hoping that crazy "Snow Hole" that settled itself over Washington, DC during the last snow storm would be back.  Or, in the alternative, that it would be cold enough to just plain snow instead of sleeting and icing.  Sure, I love to sit inside at my desk and watch the big snowflakes float around.  What I don't love, is trying to get from here to there and back again in the middle of it all.  As I look outside, I see a layer of white that makes me think the "Snow Hole" missed us.  If you are local, or in the path of the snow, drive safe.  Better yet, stay inside where it is nice and warm. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Learn From My Mistakes

I remember my mother constantly telling me that she wanted me to learn from her mistakes.  As a kid, I naturally assumed that meant she didn't want me to have as much fun as she had when she was young.  We rarely hear managers or co-workers say, don't make the same mistake I did.  I wonder why that is?  It certainly isn't because we never make mistakes at work.  Is it because we don't want people to know the mistakes we made?  I don't know about your workplace, but I'm betting that people know more than they let on.  There is even a leadership ideal out there that we need to allow our subordinates to fail forward.  But if we never use our own mistakes as teaching tools, are we really giving our subordinates the freedom to fail or are we just setting them up for failure.  I learned today, that sometimes the only thing you can say to another person is I know how you feel and my only advice, unsolicited as it is, is don't do what I did because it failed me in this way.  It may not put you on the fast track to CEO, but it will make you a better peer mentor. 

Hope your Tuesday is a good one!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Are You Watching TV?

Seriously, one of my favorite shows on TV right now is Undercover Boss.  Tonight's episode featured the President of Uni First going undercover in various plants across the country to work on the floor.  I delivered on what I've come to expect from all the episodes: it let's the boss see and hear things he/she never would on an official visit, it exposes those under-appreciated yet very hard working employees and gives them a very public thank you, and it provides amazing leadership lessons.  Tonight's lesson was actually pointed out on two of the stops: the best made designs/plans/processes can be approved by asking the people who will be doing it everyday.  In one case, the employee had already worked with a maintenance crew to incorporate her design ideas and it was saving the company an estimated 30-60 minutes a day.  In the second, the President decided to send a crew down to work with the employee who pointed out the flaws.  If you aren't watching this show, look for it on Netflix or your cable's OnDemand.  It is definitely worth an hour of your time and I promise you'll learn something that can be incorporated into your working life.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Good Marketing

Today we spent a pleasant and relaxing day cleaning, cooking, and watching tv.  As a joke I stopped it on Dogs 101 because our dog gets so excited when it was on.  Of course, I didn't then have the heart to switch the channel on him.  Now we have an adorable, 6 year-old dog who was born on my boyfriend's farm.  We know that our dog's father was a rather large chihuahua and his mother was an Australian Shepard.  We make lots of jokes about his parentage, but usually just call him a mixed breed.  In DC, you sometimes need to say that with an apologetic tone as there are many pure breeds in the area.  Today's Dogs 101 was on designer breeds, the new IT dogs like labradoodles, puggles, chiweenies to name a few.  Each designer breed starts from mixing a pure breed parent of each type.  Wait, isn't that a mixed breed????  After much laughter around our house, we have decided to proudly announce our dog's breed as Chaussie.  And it just made me think, isn't it all about good marketing?  So next time you find yourself explaining a less-than-heroic job on your resume during an interview, remember my adorable Chaussie.  Don't lie or misrepresent your qualifications, just point out the unique combination of skills it allows you to bring to the new position. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Authenticity versus Progress

Today I learned that some days, you just have to do your best.  I believe that if I have good intentions, even if I don't see immediate results, good will come from it.  I thought that if I put myself on the right path, and believed in it enough, and deserved it enough, things would turnaround and I would see it.  When faced with a stumbling block, I wondered, is this my old luck showing its face?  Is this something that if I work harder can be overcome?  Or is this a detour that will shape the next path I take?  I don't know.  What I do know, is that I am trying my hardest to improve myself, to learn more, and to make the things I touch better.  If it turns out that at the end of this year, nothing has changed in my life, I will be able to say that I did my best and I am proud of the efforts I made, I will consider the year a success. 

I hope you all had a productive week and plan to take time for yourself this weekend.  Let me know what you're doing to recharge and what your goals for next week are!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Meditation - Learning a new skill

I tried guided meditation in a group for the first time today and I am very intrigued.  It is something I have been interested in for over two years now but reading a book really didn't help me and I couldn't figure out how to record myself saying things that would help me.  So I asked a friend if I could go to a half-hour session with her and she graciously invited me.  I loved the process and if there was any day I needed it, it was today.  I was able to follow for a while but I will admit to starting to lose focus about six minutes before the session ended.  (I know it was about six minutes because the only way I could keep my mind from wandering too far was to start counting and I made it to 360.)  Overall, I think that is a pretty good start for a first timer.  I am looking forward to going back next week and to downloading something off of iTunes to use in the meantime.  I'm not sure if that officially counts as what I learned today (since I am still learning) but I think it does!

How comfortable are you with seeking out opportunities to try something new? 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day Five - Don't Take No For an Answer

Today I learned that I tend to take no as an answer and give up.  I also learned the value of not doing so.  When encountered with "no" my friend encouraged me to ask "what do I have to do to move this to a yes?" and keep searching for options until you do.  While the end result may not be exactly what you started with, you are able to move ideas into actions and that is more valuable in the long run.

I noticed today that it was really hard to keep up with the gym/workout portion of my challenge, ironically, the blogging part was really easy.  Earlier today, in a fit of energy and cockiness, I informed my boyfriend that I was going to do 4 miles on the treadmill today.  Now my minimum each day has been 2.5 and the most I've done has been 3.5.  Since I'm walking, this usually takes at least 45 minutes to complete.  Seriously, what was I thinking?  So I went to the gym and twenty minutes into my workout I decided that if I could make it to 2.5 miles without collapsing I would consider it a miracle.  I played my favorite music and made sure the songs had a fast beat.  Around the thirty minute mark I started to think I might make it to 2.5 miles.  And then at 3.25 I decided to end with a specific song as reward but as I was searching through the playlist I kept saying "and that one, and that one, and that one."  I listened to them all and finished at 4.25 miles (and over 77 minutes)!  I am now showered, and exhausted, and hungry...and so proud of myself.  I'm starting to think this process might actually result in some new (good) habits!  Are you with me?  How are you progressing?  How do you keep yourself going when you just want to stop?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Do Over

As I saw people for the first time in 2011 I noticed how excited everyone is for a new year.  If last year was good, you are hoping for more of the same.  If last year was bad, you are happy to put it behind you and start over.  As I thought about that, it occurred to me that every day we have the chance to start over.  You can choose to continue what worked well the day before and change what didn't. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Little Wisdom from Dr. Phil

What did I learn today?  Today was you are not the boss of me day on Dr. Phil and he theorized that people are overly controlling are usually doing so when internally they are spinning out of control.  It was like a light going on and yes I am willing to admit when I am most controlling on the outside, I am most unsettled on the inside.  So not a huge revelation, but sometimes just identifying the problem can help a lot. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

That Little Extra

Day 2 - What I learned today...

There's an old saying, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.  Anyone who's walked through the gates at Walt Disney World knows they know what that little extra is.  I'm currently reading Lee Cockerell's book Creating Magic. 

Lee is a former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World Resort.  Lee led a team of over 40,000 cast members who daily made dreams come true.  The first story he tells in the book is about the summer of 2004 when three major hurricanes hit the park in just over a month.  Yes, they had to shut down during the storm.  I'm as big of a Disney nut as you'll find and even I wouldn't go out in 105 mile an hour winds.  What amazed me in the story, was how everyone worked together to secure the park for the coming storm.  (You should know that when I read this I picture Snow White and the Dwarves in full costume nailing plywood over the windows of the castle.)  After the storm hit, they were able to clean the park and open the next day on time.  He talks of cast members who had to have been stressed, exhausted, and quite frankly worried about their own homes and families working together to clean up behind the scenes while entertaining guests at the hotels.  In my head, I picture families who save and plan for a year or more to make that once in a lifetime trip to Walt Disney World only to get there just as a hurricane hits.  Kids so close to the magic they can taste it and would probably go out in the 105 mile an hour winds if their parents allowed.  What could end up as a nightmare vacation, saved because Mickey and Minnie made an extra round in the hotel during the rain and because the park opened on time the next day.  He goes on to tell how they also helped their community and cast members families recover from the storm and that is an even better story (check it out in his book!).

What struck me was that a man who held this amazing leadership position for so many years started his leadership book with one of the handful of days that the park had to close.  He quickly clarified that the point of the whole story was to show that, "[t]he real test [of your leadership principles] comes when a crisis hits..."  In good times, Mr. Cockerell had plenty of trends to track and letters to read from customers to know what was working and what could stand to be tweaked.  But at a time when nature took over and every single cast member had to make on-the-spot decisions they managed to work together and bring each other through the other side.  I am guessing that it is the absolute nightmare of leaders the world around and his team, his cast, performed beautifully.  Of course, it was the perfect story with which to start his book.  I am hooked and can't wait to keep reading. 

Today I learned many things, but most importantly, I learned that when you have the least control is when your true leadership style (and effectiveness) shines through.  Those who have good systems, good training, and people working towards a common mission in place in a crisis will pull through the quickest.  It is certainly a lofty standard, but obviously well worth the effort.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

20 Days to Go

A dear friend, Phyllis Serbes of Many Creative Gifts,was telling me last week that it only takes 21 days to put a new habit in place.  I don't know about you, but 21 days sounds a lot less intimidating than committing to do something for the whole year.  I've decided to take her up on the challenge and today is as good as any to start. I hope you'll join me - what do you want to change!

I have two things I'm starting today.  I know, don't overwhelm by trying to start too many things at once, but I think (hope) I can manage two.  The first is blogging, that is right 21 posts in 21 days.  Each day I will share with you day something I've learned.  I believe that learning is a lifelong activity and there are opportunities every day if you just open your eyes, so I'll prove it to you. 

Secondly, I'm going to the gym.  Seriously, I am one of those people that cannot lose weight by simply dieting.  The only time in my life I have been able to successfully lose and maintain a healthy weight I was walking anywhere from 4-10 miles a day.  (That is another story for another time.)  For now, I am starting out of shape and realistically just expecting to get the gym and try.  (I wore a pedometer for a few weeks in December and I average 4,000 steps a day...far below the recommended 10,000.)

Today, my two goals are intersecting because at the gym this morning (45 minutes/2.5 miles if we are keeping track, including the walk across the street to the gym and back 5809 steps), I discovered that the speed of the music I am listening to on my iPod can actually change my feeling/energy/determination while I am on the treadmill.  I was dragging and ready to call it a day when I hit 1.5 miles and then Poison's Fallen Angel came on and helped me boost my energy enough to go just a little further.  I kept the music upbeat and managed to walk another mile.  As I find songs, I'll put together my treadmill playlist on a list here.  Please feel free to send in your suggestions!

Happy New Year to you all!  May 2011 bring the beginning of something special in your life!