React or Respond

You’re waiting in line for the next available agent and someone steps in front of you and takes the lead.  Did you react or respond?

You’re in a conversation that quickly turns from disagreeing to an argument.  Did you react or respond?

To some the words mean the same, but there is a difference.  When we react most often it’s a behavior that comes from the past.  Somewhere along the path of childhood to young adult situations occurred that shaped how we understood what was being said to us.  Despite all the high level thinking we might have developed over the years, put us to the test and we will react. Something throws us off center.

Knowing what tosses us off center (i.e., disrespect, anger) allows to find a better way to interpret interactions with forethought.  It allows for a response that has been thought out and keeps you out of conflict, keeps you grounded.  This process can take but seconds once you have identified where the reaction is coming from.

And then there is the aftermath.  If your reaction to someone else’s behavior has left you empty, nourish the soul.  Don’t be a carrier of their stuff.  What brings you simple joy?  Find that and undo the damage.

Be on the watch for reacting or responding.



Why be normal?

Why be normal?

This statement was on a bumper sticker and it caused me to reflect on who I am and what I am willing to expose of myself.  Society has taught us the do’s and don’ts of getting along with people.  Sometimes we stay within the boundaries and other times, well we just want to be ourselves.  Because being our self is a good thing.  Staying grounded in what you believe, what you stand for creates more peace within than compromising to get along, to be normal.

Why be normal?  Who’s to say what normal is?  Certainly we are all cut from a “different cloth”, so why settle for what someone else thinks normal is?  Find yourself and define what is right for you.

As Oscar Wilde says “be yourself everyone else is already taken”.

It takes a community

We’ve all heard the expression “it takes a community to” ….  bring up children, work on a cause, build a church, so on and so on –  you can easily fill in the blank.

But I am going to take a bit of a different twist on this thinking.  I think it takes a community to stretch our boundaries.  This thought came to me last week while in yoga practice.

I’ve been going to yoga for about 4 years.  I think I am doing a pretty good job at some of the poses and having trouble with others.  We were working on hip openers, a pose that helps with hip flexibility.  This was one of the poses that I thought I did quite well – wrong.  The teacher took my leg and stretched my hip open at least 5 more inches.  Who knew that I could push that deep?  And that’s when it struck me.  Sometimes we can go it alone on activities we are involved in but other times, it takes being with a group to be challenged, to stretch to the outer limit of our abilities.

Why not become part of a community that will help stretch your boundaries?

Mixed race woman practicing yoga in park


An unexpected goal

The experience of an unexpected goal came to me on Saturday.

Since I do a lot of walking I decided I would walk to an appointment that I had Saturday morning.  I had 1 hour and 45 minutes to walk 6 miles – could be tight but definitely doable.  If I didn’t make it my husband would be along to pick me up.

As time and distance wore on I decided to pick up the pace and start jogging.  Now, a jogger I am not despite thinking about it on occasion.  But I thought “well, I’ll just jog to the next telephone pole” I did that and next it was “let’s see if I can make it to the next street light” I did that also.  Then I started thinking that I WAS NOT going to get picked up by my husband, I was going to get to the appointment and be there waiting for him.  The unexpected goal fueled me to push beyond my usual limits.  I was at the appointment 10 minutes early and before my husband arrived.  The thrill of that victory stayed with me throughout the day.

I know we all have goals we want to achieve in a given day, personal or professional.   But there’s a lot to be said for the spontaneous unexpected goal.   It’s an unexpected gift that builds confidence, leads to greater accomplishments and gets you to thinking about “what else can I do today that I didn’t plan on?”

I know some of us don’t want to put ourselves out there for fear of failure, or even more difficult is just not having the energy to do something different.  I’m here to tell you, the effort and the small risk is well worth the reward.  An unexpected goal doesn’t have to be physical, it just needs to be something you’d like to accomplish but haven’t taken the time to focus on it.

Is there an unexpected goal you can achieve today?


Relax and be more productive

It does seem counter-intuitive to think that if we take time to relax we can achieve more.  After all, time is what we have so little of why would we “waste it” doing nothing? But research and a plethora of articles support the belief that relaxation improves our productivity.

I once worked with a manager that was a great partner when it came to breaking away from the stress of the workplace.  Either he or I would say “let’s take a walk”.  Regardless of the temperature we would walk the perimeter of the building, breath in fresh air and clear our minds enabling us to go back to work with more energy.

I also worked with another manager that was the total opposite.  I referred to her as a “rush-a-holic,” everything needed to be done immediately, snap decisions, minimal discussion just rush, rush, rush.  No time to think or reflect.

A past article in the New York Times sheds light on this thinking “The difference is that during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.”

Last week I took a sunset yoga class at the beach and this all came back to me.  If we carve time out of our day to nourish the soul we are better prepared to face the challenges put before us.


Making Decisions

This past week decision making has been on my radar.  I have been struck with those who make solid decisions that lead to success  and those who  continue to make the same poor decisions.  What separates them ~ is it knowledge, experience, drive or luck?  For the most part those who make poor decisions on a regular basis are not successful, happy or content with their surroundings.

If you Goggle decision making there is all sorts of information that can direct you to make better decisions.  Although decisions can be made using either intuition or reasoning, a combination of both approaches is often used.

I found a quiz on MindTool that helps evaluate how well I make decisions.  I scored 65, it reflects I do a fairly decent job making decisions but I should be more systematic in my approach to problem solving.  It definitely provides food for thought as to approaching a decision. Take the test and see where you can improve your thinking.

Whether you are a leader of an organization or an individual living a full life, sound decisions are key to your quality of life.  When faced with a decision take the time to think it through, search for solutions, evaluation the options, share with others, listen to your “gut” and then make the decision and stick with it.


A Good Habit ~ so hard to develop so easy to break

Fourth Quarter of 2014 I made a commitment that I would write a weekly a blog. I wanted to build the habit and learn from the experience.  I began and was diligent with my writing.  But then the first of year came along and distractions of the winter put writing on the back burner. Bang – the habit that took quite a bit to develop was so easily broken.

So it only seemed obvious that I would kick start my weekly blog with what’s it take to build a habit.  Success is derived by many who are self-driven sports players, successful leaders, inspirational leaders and even the person next door that goes running each night sun, rain and even snow!

I read an article in Forbes magazine by Jason Felk that I thought was pretty interesting and help shed some light on Habit Formation.  It seems I got stuck in Phase 2, inspiration fades and reality sets in.

The quote “if it is to be it is up to me” I think sums it up.  Excuses can soar for why we don’t do what we know is in our best interest but it all boils down to discipline.

What habit have you started and stopped?  Or, what habit have you started and remained committed to?  For me it’s back to weekly writing about life’s lessons and how it applies personally and professionally.

I’ll close with this interesting presentation by BJ Fogg on Tiny Habits, he’s pretty smart and also adds perspective on how to create positive habits.



Hiking to the summit, reaching the top is an experience many do not understand.  After all it takes hard work, focus and drive to succeed, to attain positive results.  The same drive is necessary for a team to achieve results.

The purpose of building  trust, facing conflict, embracing commitment and  ensuring accountability is for one reason – achieving results for the team.  It seems like results would be a natural progression but it most often is the greatest challenge for a team.  Despite everyone’s best effort to work on the first four behaviors, if the team does not achieve results then it is not a team.The only measure of a great team is in fact results but ego and selfish loyalty can get the in the way.  Some may be focused only on their department’s success (selfish loyalty) or  others on professional growth or acknowledgement (ego).

Build a strong foundation for success with The 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.

Five Behaviors model_red


Where team behavior most often fails – Accountability

Accountability is where the rubber hits the road, it’s when you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask “did I do what I was supposed to do and if not, how come?”.  If a team is going to abide by the decisions that were made, then it is up to the team to keep one another accountable to be sure the team stays on track with an eye focused on results.  But team members are most often not comfortable calling out someone and asking “why?”.  There could be doubts as to whether the other team member actually bought into the decision that was made.

Peer-to-peer accountability is the most effective way to achieve results.  Peer-to-peer accountability takes the pressure off  the leader from having to make sure everyone is staying on track.  It also frees up the leader from having to get involved with politics and distractions associated with sidebar conversations someone is having about so and so not doing what they are supposed to be doing.

When team members are confident they have built their relationship on trust, conflict and commitment – accountability naturally flows.  Helping someone get back on track for the greater purpose of success is helping to carry the load, removes finger pointing and, yes, creates a cohesive team.

If a team enthusiastically  embraces accountability, the last behavior that is critical for a cohesive team will naturally follow – results.

For it little diversion during this holiday season and  a different perspective on accountability, sit back, relax while you watch this amusing  movie clip.



Without Commitment Results Will Suffer

Commitment:  being bound intellectually to a course of action and to other persons. That’s the third level in the five behaviors of building a cohesive team.

The foundation of the 5 behaviors of a cohesive team  is trust-  vulnerable trust.  Build it further with conflict – ideological conflict. And next is commitment.  But do not confuse commitment with consensus.  Consensus is nodding your head, not voicing your opinion and leaving the meeting with little to no desire to follow through with what was agreed to.  Silent sabotage.

If all team members have the opportunity to express their opinions about a decision or issue, commitment can be achieved. However,  it is the responsibility of all team members to be sure all voices are heard because failure to achieve commitment affects results.

Trust, conflict, commitment building blocks of the 5 behaviors of a cohesive team.