Month: December 2012

Kindness goes viral

This is a wonderful account of how one person can make a difference – even as young as 17. A high-school senior ended the online bullying in his school simply by creating a twitter account to praise his classmates. He kept his identity secret as he tweeted things like “She is so good at dancing, she gets more scholarships than D1 athletes,” about a girl who was attacked by an anonymous account.

http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/most-popular/football-captain-tweets-kids-praises-to-counter-bullying.html

One SpeakStrong principle is: Praise in public, correct in private. And it goes without saying, bully nowhere. 

Completing Christmas holidays includes One Note Organization

Last summer I visited a factory called FastCap a day after a city-wide total power outage. They debriefed the experience for wins and improvements that would better prepare them for the next power outage. 

I loved what one employee said: “Let’s not waste a good crisis!”

Christmas and New Years aren’t crisises, but they are opportunities to practice and upgrade our organization skills. So this holiday season I created a One Note (a Microsoft product – Evernote is similar and free) section in my Personal One NOte folder for Christmas. The pages include what worked well, what to do differently next time, and what to buy. I’m flagging tasks for when I want to do them so they’ll show up in my Outlook tasks folder when it’s time to do them. 

I’ve known about One Note for a long time, but only started using it one I heard the excitement of one ot the admins at my admin training. It’s a fabulous tool for storing ideas so you can find them again when you’re ready for them.

And now, on the the new year!

Christmas, Completions, Closure and Continuous Improvement 1

Christmas-treeIt sounds simple, but it has a profound effect on my mind, heart and effectiveness!  I’ve noticed that every project, cycle, activity, and event has a start, a middle and an end. Like a good book, before I open it, I make sure I have time to read it, considering the possibility that I might have another “book” to  finish before I start another one. 

I’m beginning this blog series at the end: closure. My motto these days is to stop starting and start finishing. I used to move on from a focus without bringing things to a close. And while I still haven’t mastered the art of completions, I am much more inclined to take what I do to closure before shifting focus. A simple example is: yesterday I sorted the wrapping drawer to a higher level of organization and put everything away before I started another task.

Christmas (and other seasonal holidays) can illuminate how much we’ve grown and where we still need to grow. This Christmas I enjoyed the pleasure of having my world less cluttered than ever before and was able to enliven the spirit with minimal frustration. And yet, there were still things I could have used that I discovered the day after Christmas, things I had to search for, things that took longer than they might have because I still have room to grow. 

So part of closing out Christmas and preparing for a New Year is learning from what went well and what could have gone better, and creating tasks and checklists for next year. I’ll tell you how I’m doing this on a technical level in tomorrow’s post. 

The significance of a today that is one minute longer than yesterday

deckThe sun dropped below the mountain at 2:42 tonight. That’s one minute more sunshine than we had yesterday. The shortest day has passed, the days are getting longer, and my friends with Seasonal Affective Disorder are happier than one might imagine, since we’ve only gained a minute. Why? Because things are going in the right direction for them. A minute or so each day adds up, and the future is getting… brighter.

Continuous communication improvement is like that, too, except that we build on and keep our gains. Just like the change in seasons doesn’t mean a large immediate increase in daylight, being on the path of improving communication doesn’t transform your world overnight. But it does transform your world. Imagine what a difference you would experience over a year if you improved your communication just a little each day. 

Emily’s Executive Admin skills enhanced our Christmases

EmilyChristmas has never been the same since Emily died. Emily was my late husband’s mother. I always wondered what it was about her that made Christmas magical.

I was reminded of one thing Emily did by a comment a reader made in response to my blog post asking what my readers do to make the holidays special. My reader tries to match the gift to the person. That’s a real skill, and it takes effort, but it makes such a difference. 

In fact, it’s the same skill Executive Admins use to really support their leaders. They see a need and fill it. 

Emily did that. I always wondered how she knew what we all needed when we sometimes didn’t know, and how she did so many other things to make Christmas so magical – while working full-time as an Executive Admin. 

And then it dawned on me. The same skills and traits that made her the kind of Executive Admin executives would give their right arms for, made her the kind of matriarch who turned Christmas into a magical event that we were blessed to experience. 

I’ll never come close to doing it up like she did. But I will always feel blessed for having experienced what Christmas was like when Emily used her love and her talents to make things happen. She remains an inspiration for enlivening the magic of the season.

This picture is from before I knew her, as homecoming queen. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it! And when you’ve got it and you share it, you have people remembering you like we all remember her so many years later. Our hearts are grateful. 

 

Gracefully into the night, joyfully into the light

moon“I love the cocoon feel of winter,” my friend Ahri told me. 

Now, I don’t mind the early sunsets, except for the fact that they limit my hiking window. (Here in the mountains, the sun goes down at 2:45 these days.) I’m blessed to not have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and don’t get depressed by lack of sunlight. But the idea of actually welcoming the early darkness was new to me.

Until now. This year I get what she meant. I’m embracing the cycle of long evenings and nights. Instead of being more time to crank it out, it’s an opportunity to settle in to music, reflection, home, family, prayer, stories, reading and mediation. 

It’s satisfying to flow with cycles, but it’s practical, too. I always recommend people plan their days with awareness of cycles. For me, morning is prime time for efficient output. I dive right in with work that requires focus. I schedule the mindless activities for later in the day. I sleep much better – as most people do – if I settle in before bed time. Each day has it’s own seasons.

The more we honor rhythms of the days, weeks, months, years – and our own life cycles – the more graceful, joyful and significant our lives can be. 

Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. I am enjoying the cocoon feel my friend told me she embraces. And as the days get longer again, I’ll be ready, and embrace that, too.

I wish you the sweetness of moonshine and the brilliance of sunshine and the grace and joy of life in balance.  

Sandy Hook and tender words for tender times. A letter from a mother about loss, learning and love

I posted a few days ago that I hadn’t found my words around the Sandy Hook tragedy. I was full of thoughts and feelings that couldn’t find words. I waited, silently listening for what I felt called to say about it. Then I remembered the powerful true story a reader shared with me years ago.

Her words are touching, instructive and inspiring. I know my feed readers can’t see the slides. I encourage you to click on the link and read the presentation. It says so much, and says it so well. 

Mayans verbed a lot and verbing is on the rise for us

Think about how language both shapes and reflects culture. With that in mind, consider what my mentor told me. The Mayan language is verb-centric, and English is noun-centric. 

Verbs are dynamic and nouns are static. 

I observe people verbing more. We’re turning nouns into verbs with new words like Googling, tweeting and branding. It suggests to me that our culture is becoming more dynamic. 

Which strikes me as a good thing, since life is dynamic. It helps when words match reality.