Monday, February 28, 2011

Last call for February Month O' Lurvve!

Happy Monday Joy, Love & Work-ers!

I hope you had simply SPLENDID weekends :-)

Wooo Hoooo - we made it! My adventure in the blogosphere has lasted an entire month - now admittedly February is the shortest month but frankly who's counting! - and I have to say I think I'm a little addicted but in a good way!

I started blogging to help develop the discipline of writing. Currently I occasionally write for my Church newsletter and sometimes for work, but I've had a creeping sense for a while that I have at least one and probably more books 'brewing' within me and the only thing stopping them emerge is that haven't developed any discipline around writing.

Discipline has always been something I have struggled with. Every profile or assessment I've ever taken indicates that I have never met a discipline that I really liked or wanted to embrace as my own. My patterns of thinking tend to flit from one thing to another, I'm always reading at least four or five books at once and I tend to leave many U.F.O's - Un-Finished-Objects in my wake.

But I really admire discipline.

The benefits that accrue from diligently working at something are evident for all to see; the brilliance of virtuoso performers, athletes, craftspeople and others who have spent many years in disciplined practice, execution and learning are simply amazing to behold. And discipline contains within it so much freedom - the freedom to improvise, the freedom to make breakthroughs, the freedom to innovate and invent.  Those freedoms are often only available to the few willing to have paid the price of entry through their previous years of discipline.

Even though I'm still a 'baby-blogger' my first month of 'disciplined' blogging has taught me a few things already:
1. You have to blog about your passions otherwise your posts will quickly evaporate
2. The best posts seem to come straight from the heart
3. Write down post ideas as they catch you, or they'll be lost forever
4. Planning too far ahead has its disadvantages, I discovered this when I designated February 'Month O' Lurvve' I thought I would have twenty eight days worth of fabulous love related posts, but as life would have it other stuff happened along the way and my 'Month O' Lurvve' was soon overtaken by different blog-worthy events.

So today is the last day of February and the last call for 'February Month O' Love'....going, going, gone!
See y'all in March!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Rest

Sunday Rest
"For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, 
just as God did from his."
Hebrews 4:10

and recreation
"The true purpose of recreation should be not merely to amuse, 
not merely to afford pleasure, not merely to 'kill time,' 
but to increase our fitness, enhance our usefulness, spur achievement.
Any form of recreation that impairs either our physical or metal
efficiency does not recreate.
Real recreation quickens aspiration."
Bertie Charles Forbes

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Happy Saturday Chaps

This week's wordle (above left) is VERY unusual - just like the week!

Have a GREAT weekend y'all

Friday, February 25, 2011

When I grow up...

...I want to be a _____________(fill in the blank)

Can you remember what your 'blank' was?

Wednesday was 'professional day' at the pre-school attended by some of my favorite little peanuts. The Very Lovely Little Miss Sunshine was transformed into a the smallest 'Bou-rister equipped with antlers, an apron and 'magic drink choosing armband!' I mean honestly, does it get any cuter than this?


I hear Professional Day is a big deal at pre-school and as well it should be! All of that unbridled enthusiasm to 'be all you can be' and 'everything you ever wanted' is an intoxicating and heady mix for pre-schoolers and their parents alike.

So where do all the 'blanks' and all that enthusiasm go?

For me my 'blanks' changed over time, when I was little I wanted to be a police woman (my next door neighbor was a policeman) then I wanted to be a flight attendant (no idea) and then a fashion designer which actually stayed with me for most of my teenage years resulting in a few years at the London College of Fashion which firmly established my career path as...a hotelier & organizational development specialist - yep, that's exactly how it happened!

I'm always curious to hear the stories of how people got to where they are today, and whether it was intentional or happened more circuitously as was the case with me. But even more interesting to me is how they feel about where they are today, do they love it, hate it or are somewhere in between; and if they are in a place other than 'loving it' what's gotta give for change to happen?

Call me old fashioned, naive, stupid or whatever your choose, but I don't think it's unrealistic to LOVE our work, and to be able to show the same unbridled enthusiasm as The Lovely Little Miss Sunshine and her classmates did at their pre-school professional day. No, it's not unrealistic but it does take courage.

Courage to say NO to mediocre at best and terrible at worst

Courage to say NO to perhaps a third of my life lived in neutral

Courage to say YES to exploration, hard work and discernment

Courage to say YES to not knowing the answer but being determined to find out

And finally courage to say YES to what's better for me and those I love

Are YOU grown up enough to be all you can be and everything you ever wanted, a ___________? (fill in your blank)

Have a GREAT weekend.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Epilogue to the end of an era

Sitting on my sofa listening to the radio and wondering how on earth to follow yesterday's post when all of a sudden it appeared...

"Don't cry because its over, smile because it happened"

Thank you Radio.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The end of an era

Morning Joy, Love and Work-ers!

Recently I found myself at the end of an era, it wasn't entirely unexpected and didn't announce itself with great fanfare but I noticed being cloaked in a peculiar form of melancholy and sadness that only presents itself when something is ending, over, finished, done.

And I am sad.

Life and work are full of eras, some good some bad, eras are the markers that announce we're alive, signifying progress, growth, possibility and change, and that's why they can be painful. Transitioning from one thing to another whether known or not, has more than its fair share of wildness attached. We long for change but we hate the way it sometimes catches us.

Sadness isn't a very popular thing, we get uncomfortable when we or other people are sad wanting to cheer up and get back to normal as soon as possible, but if we skip sadness I think we miss a lot. For me sadness gets me closer to God, makes me slow down and pay attention, take better care of myself and be more thoughtful about others - things which often fall by the wayside in my usual 'high-octane' life.

My saddest end of an era happened in the second half of 1999 when in just eight short weeks and with enormous support from my family and friends I moved my entire life from the UK to the USA. I was a mess, sadder than I could ever have imagined possible and barely able to function. But eleven-and-a-bit years later I'm here to tell you that the end of that era opened a whole new one that was one of the best things that's ever happened to me and has presented more gifts and blessings than I could ever count.

Sadness is the opposite of Joy but it isn't bad. It just is. For me sadness makes Joy even sweeter but I won't rush to get back to Joy, if I did I might miss too much along the way.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Morning Chaps

Call me obsessed but after almost forty hours of snow it's still fresh on my mind!

Just look at this...

Snowflakes, each one different, unique, special and they're all so pretty too - doesn't that just blow you away? 

For some reason snowflakes remind me of the following Bible passage

            For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

             Psalm 139:13-16

God of the snowflakes is our God. He created each one of them and he created each one of us, we can see from the snowflakes that he doesn't spare a single detail in the process of creation, he's on it, all of it, all the time and it's the same with us too.

However we look, however we feel, whatever we think is right or wrong with us we have been perfectly created to do the work God has for us to do, and that work is right here, right now wherever we find that we have landed - just like those snowflakes.

Our individuality and uniqueness are the tools we have to do the work we have to do, there's not one perfect type of person for every situation but instead we are perfectly equipped to do whatever lays ahead of us. In my professional life I've seen people try and change who they are to be 'who they think they should be' and it never works; we can't keep ourselves down too long before we 'pop-up' in all our glory and our cover is blown. 

Here are two top-tips for releasing our in-di-vid-u-a-li-ty:

1.  Position ourselves in a place where who we are is appreciated firstly by ourselves and then by others

2.  Ask ourselves this question on a regular basis "How can who I am make what I'm doing better?" 

Being a first rate version of ourselves is so much better than a second, third or fourth rate version of someone else. So go ahead, let your little in-di-vid-u-al-snowflake-self-sparkle! because by doing so, you'll give others the permission to sparkle too :-)

Sparkle on y'all!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow story

Happy Monday - from a VERY snowy Minne-SNOW-ta!

Yesterday we had about twelve inches of snowfall, which was in dramatic contrast to previous week when we were basking in forty degree temperatures and our snow mountains thawed a bit. Oh well!

Here in the frozen tundra we get lots of opportunity to 'spend quality time' with snow and it's beautiful, each snowflake whether small and sparkly or big and fluffy is unique in its own way and it falls so gently, so gracefully, so delicately down it comes.

Driving in the snow on highways that have been snow-ploughed sets up whirling twisters of snow, they creep across the road in an eerie manner, looking like smoke or snakes writhing with the passing of every car, again so delicate almost etherial.

But snow is deceptive, a few hours of those gentle, graceful little snowflakes can leave behind a whole heap of trouble! Heavy machinery in the form of snow ploughs and snow blowers are required,  snow shoveling is literally back breaking work and forms the basis of a great workout!

I don't count snow as my friend, but moving to the frozen tundra has made me really in awe of it.

Snow is the most gentle, most silent, most graceful, most elegant of phenomena but over time it becomes much more trouble than you could ever imagine.

Snow teaches me that not everything has to be achieved with and speed; but rather that gentle, persistent effort over time can make devastating impact.

As I think about the work I do and the life I lead, I see clearly that persistence is not one of my strong suites, I would much rather go all out for a short time than endure day in and day out.

Perhaps I should make friends with the snow, it seems I have some valuable lessons to learn!

Stay safe and warm wherever you are.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Rest

The LORD replied, 
"My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

Exodus 33:14

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wordle wordle on the wall...

...who's the most garish of them all?

Click on the lovely wordle cloud above left for a word-by-word recap of all the Joy Love and Work action this week.

Happy weekend y'all :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Riding the roller coaster

Happy Friday Joy, Love and Work-ers!

How's your week been? good times? bad times? Yep, me too; that'll be the roller coaster of life showing up large and in charge once again!!

I'm always fairly amazed by the time Friday swings around again at how different the week actually was from the one I had imagined in my head on Monday morning.

Most people who know me understand that 'I don't do detail' so intensive, detailed planning has never really worked for me; instead I like to have a 'directional map of the week' so I can ensure I'm moving in the right direction but still allow for the ups and downs, loops and switchbacks along the way.

My week started really well on all fronts, making progress at the gym, spending good time with people I care about, making headway at work and even managing to maintain positive relations with my small sausage dog by not being gone too much and giving her lots of 'crate time' which she doesn't enjoy.

And then it started to dip - a peculiar meeting...
     the dip got deeper - missed my beloved Bible study group...
          and faster - got stomach flu...

               and deeper - missed my fabulous friend's new job celebration
                    and faster - spent two days in bed...
                         and deeper -  a whole bunch of stuff not done.

Well that's not what I expected, and you know what? I think it's OK, there was a opposite and equal bunch of good stuff accruing at the same time

                         stuff not done - how important was it anyway?

                    two days in bed - could I have needed the rest?

               missed celebration - a future opportunity

          stomach flu - wonderful care and attention from friends and sausage dogs!

     missed bible study - absence makes the heart grow fonder

peculiar meeting - food for thought

I know that sometimes the roller coaster of life does take us on wild rides that we don't expect and can't prepare for, but in the middle of the craziness, the scariness and the madness there always seem to be little encouragements along the way if we just take the time to see them. Friday is one of those times to look back...

What roller coaster were you on this week?
Was is an up-hill chug?
Was is a wild, exciting ride?
Was it a frightening dip into the unknown?
Regardless of the ride, what were your little encouragements along the way?

Happy Friday and have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

YOUR Happy Place

Happy Thursday Chaps!

Do you have a 'Happy Place'? research* shows that being able to access our own Happy Place and go there often increases our performance, improves our state of mind and general well being. Getting there is MUCH easier than you think, here's how...

Ooooh, Oooooh activity alert!!!

1. Get a BIG piece of paper

2. Go through photos, magazines, search the internet to find pictures, quotes and words that:
  • light you up
  • Make your heart
  • make you smile

3. Stick all assembled materials onto your BIG sheet of paper, if they don't fit just get another or a bigger piece of paper!

4. Congratulations this is your HAPPY PLACE! - Woooo Hoooooo at last you've found it!!!

5. Spend a while just looking at it, taking it in and enjoying it

6. Take a picture of it and keep it on your phone

7. Print it out and put it where you work

8. Hang the original wherever you will be able to see it OFTEN

9. Every day look at (go to) your Happy Place, and if you are facing a challenging situation ensure to go there before and after.

Wasn't that EASY?

Let me know what happens now you've found your Happy Place :-)

* Barbara Fredrickson PH.D from book 'Positivity'

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The little brown box

A few weeks ago I attended a Stella & Dot jewelry party and a few days later my wonderful new purchases arrived - they came in a plain little brown box, nothing special or unusual about it on the outside at all.


Inside was decorated with a gorgeous vibrant green and white design, even the packing material had a little stylish stripy tissue wrapped around it, sealed with a delightful sticker and all topped off with a thank you note - not a packing slip as is traditionally the case.

The boxes that contained my new jewels were cute too - with a cheeky little note on each "you look gorgeous!" well that's enough to start your day off well isn't it? No doubt about it, the Stella & Dot people 'have it down' in terms of customer experience, they surprise and delight at every turn and as a customer I will tell you that their efforts make me love them even more!

So what does my Stella & Dot obsession have to do with Joy, Love and Work?

Well I think quite a lot! I'm struck by the plainness of the little brown box and how from the outside it appeared to be nothing unusual, but on the inside the experience was very different, no detail had been missed to ensure that my experience was one of surprise and delight, joy and love.

Some of our work is like this, from the outside it looks plain and uninteresting but WE are the creative agents of Joy and Love who can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. I see this phenomena everyday in my work with the Greatest Coffee Company On The Planet, not only our drinks amazing but even our cups are extraordinary! each one designed with clever little sayings ('bou-isms) to make guests smile & chuckle. I also see the ordinary into extraordinary phenomena with the creativity of my Mummy friends who turn a regular old 'mac 'n' cheese & hot dog' meal into an adventurous and kiddy-thrilling octopus treat!

So I challenge us to create moments of Extraordinary Surprise and Delight (ESD's!) in the ordinary everyday routines of work so we can THRILL our customers / children / patients / students and  colleagues and release ever levels of increasing Joy & Love into our work and the world!

As Winston Churchill one said "You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give"

Let's go and live life. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day Challenge: Live Loved!

Happy Valentines Day Chaps!

The origins of Valentines Day are a bit murky, but regardless of that it’s a BIG business day for card companies, florists, jewelers and confectioners. For some, romance is in the air with all its associated joys and pleasures, for others it's a sad day focusing on love lost or never found. But one thing is for sure - Valentines Day is one of the most emotionally scattering days of the year - we love it, we hate it or we're apathetic towards it.

Now despite what the Valentines-Media-Machine would have us believe, love isn't just a feeling reserved for the lucky few, the passive result of something bestowed from another; no, LOVE IS A VERB - a doing word - something to own and give.

So with this knowledge in hand I'm here to claim Valentines Day back for the masses! Let's Live Loved.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

The chances are you've heard this Bible passage, probably at weddings and that's a great place for it, but it has a much broader application to our everyday lives. What would happen if we changed the way we look at and live love from passive to active...

(insert your name) is patient, (insert your name) is kind. (insert your name) does not envy, (insert your name) does not boast, (insert your name) is not proud. (insert your name) does not dishonor others, (insert your name) is not self-seeking, (insert your name) is not easily angered, (insert your name) keeps no record of wrongs. (insert your name) does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (insert your name) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This to me is Living Loved.

What difference do you think this would make to our lives? What difference would it make to our work? Do you think it might be a little more joyful than the lives we are living now?

I think it's worth a try :-)  

So today I wish you a very joyful Valentines Day filled with love...and if any cards, flowers, chocolates and jewels come your way - that's all good too!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wordle up!

Happy Saturday Chaps!

See above left for this week's Joy Love and Work summary wordle.

Have a SUPER weekend


Friday, February 11, 2011

That FABULOUS Friday Feeling!

Happy Friday Peeps!

WOW what a week! but hey it's almost the weekend - YIPEEEEEE!

Friday is my day to look back and reflect on the week that's gone and think forward to next week and what I can do to make it better. For me this week has been all about learning & lessons, here are the questions I'm reflecting on today, please feel free to use them for your own weekly reflection.

What did I learn this week?
What surprised or delighted me?
What concerned or rattled me
How has what I learned changed the way I look at the world?
What do I need to do next week to keep moving forward, learning and growing?

And finally does anyone LOVE to watch movies at the weekend? CLICK HERE for some fabulous Joy, Love and Work wisdom from some of the best of the best movies around.

Have a WONDERFUL weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

If you're happy and you know're unusual!

Happy Thursday Chaps!

Yesterday I had the priviledge of meeting Mauricio, the conference and banqueting manager of a large Washington DC hotel where we're running our leadership training.

I knew there was something unusual about him when we first met, stylishly dressed and well coiffed, he was delivering boxes to our conference room and took the time to open them, help us distribute the contents and check that everything was just perfect for us. It was.

I met him again a little later when he was very concerned that I wasn't eating lunch with my group, "but you must eat, you need energy to lead" he was right, I needed a delicious nibble but wasn't looking after myself sufficiently to get it. "Let me bring you some fruit" OK, good idea. He came back a few minutes later with a delicious fruit salad and yoghurt, plus a few pieces of whole fruit. "We have to take care of you" he said, and left.

Later, we were sitting in the lobby waiting to go out when Mauricio appeared again, I introduced him to my colleagues and once again he asked how our day was going and if there was anything else he could do to make our stay better. There really wasn't, he had done a great job.

The moment I met Mauricio I knew something was different and special about him, because of my previous twenty something years in the hotel industry I knew without a shadow of a doubt that his kind of sparkle, energy and care isn't the norm and because of my Joy, Love & Work radar I was curious how he arrived at the work he was doing today.

"I had my first job at the Howard Johnson hotel not far from here, I started in the potwash but I was interested in everything and they started giving me new jobs, I just moved up and up. I was there for eighteen years and then I came here (to the Crown Plaza - a far cry from a Howard Johnson) and I've been here for seven years. I LOVE my job, I get to meet new people everyday and I LOVE that."

HOOORAY for Mauricio! For all the things that make him good at his work, but even more importantly for the sheer JOY he exudes in doing it!

Mauricio is blog-worthy because he's happy and he knows it. Do you know a Mauricio?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When the student is ready...

...the teacher appears.

Happy Wednesday Chaps!

Today's word of wisdom is a Buddhist proverb that has always intrigued me. I don't know about you but whenever I actually get to the point of realizing I might be stuck or struggling with something and start earnestly looking for answers, God seems to show up (cunningly disguised as the entire universe!) and pours huge amounts of possible options into my lap; it's happened to me time and time again and it's amazing!

I think what this proverb is saying is that we have to admit we don't know before new teachers can make any impact; all the time we sit up on our high horses of 'What We Know For Sure' new teachers and learning just roll off us (nagative teflon moments) but if we open ourselves up to the possibility, curiosity and not knowing extraordinary things can happen. We could actually learn something - wooo hooooo!

me on my VERY high horse

The proverb reminds me of a wonderful Bible verse:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" Matthew 7:7

This verse makes me wonder how often we don't get answers because we don't ask for them, instead we believe that God is way too busy dealing with the really BIG problems in the world, so the last thing we want to do is to bother him with "little old me." It's a wicked lie people, he wouldn't have made a promise like Matthew 7:7 if he didnt intend to keep it.

Today I'm in Washington DC teaching a leadership class, these classes are some of the highlights of my work because I just love seeing what people do with all the new ideas. My prayer for today is that even though I'm teaching, I can adopt the position of learner so God can work in wonderful ways through me and bring forth extraordinary learning for each of the participants.

A few thoughts for today...

Are you ready to become the student today and wait for the teacher to appear?

How high is your horse? (I bet mine is higher!!)

What do you need to open up to and get curious about?

Where would a little less you and a lot more God help?

Have a GREAT day y'all

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And I'd like to thank...

Hi Joy, Love and Work-ers - Happy Tuesday!

It's red carpet season, a time when actors and entertainment types are donning 'posh frocks & penguin suits' and anxiously waiting to see who will win the coveted awards for their contributions to the entertainment industry.

Writing yesterday's blog really got me thinking about all of those fabulous teachers I've had over the years, and in particular pondering their astounding lessons and contributions to my work and life. It struck me that my teachers rarely receive the accolades and recognition they deserve, often because I just don't stop long enough to say a simple thank you, that must change and here's the first step:

My Teachers & Lessons Red Carpet List:
  1. For 'Treat them all the same that is, differently' Thanks Mum
  2. For 'A joke, a smile and a story are three of the most powerful things on earth' Thanks Dad
  3. For 'Technology is fun and exciting, but don't forget routine maintenance' Thanks Paul
  4. For 'Work hard and always have something to look forward to' Thanks Rache
  5. For 'Creative tension is a beautiful thing' Thanks Jasminder
  6. For 'It's all about the Guest' Thanks Mr B
  7. For 'Pennies & process matter. A lot' Thanks Audrey & Kristin
  8. For 'Strengths are always the right answer' Thanks Marcus
  9. For 'Worksheets, templates and tools are miracles waiting to happen' Thanks Amy
  10. For 'If you're not moving forward you're going backwards' Thanks Scott
  11. For 'Sometimes God shows up so powerfully he makes you cry, and that's OK' Thanks Uncle John
  12. For 'Catch people doing something right and fan the flame like crazy' Thanks Mr. M
  13. For 'Learn. Grow. Develop. Repeat' Thanks Sue
  14. For 'It's God's economy' Thanks Bob
  15. For 'Life is short' Thanks Larry
Getting my Red Carpet list down on paper was an emotional experience because I know many people on it will never realize that they and their lessons rarely leave my side; we may be geographically distant or haven't seen each other in years, but their wisdom and positive impact remains a constant companion for me

So today I challenge you to create your own list - who will make it onto your red carpet?

Have a GREAT day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

What did we learn?

Happy Monday Joy, Love and Work-ers!

I hope you had a marvelous relaxing weekend and the right team won the Superbowl :-)

Last week we ran our first Joy, Love and Work poll and asked the question 'Do you LOVE your work?' here's what we learned:
60% said YES! 
28% said Sometimes
and sadly 12% said No

HURRAH for the 88% for whom love is at least sometimes a part of work, and for the loveless 12% I hope you are soon able to make changes that will positively affect your answer.

I've always found polls interesting, it seems very cool to me that polls allow the participants to take the driving seat, become the teachers if you like, and the poll creators take the role of learners; this is pretty different from the way many of us think about teaching and learning.

I'm in complete awe of great teachers and am blessed to have been exposed to many at home and work. It seems to me that great teachers set themselves apart by having a boundless appreciation for both their subject and their students, they enable themselves to continually grow in their own area of expertise whilst simultaneously being able to flex to support each student on their individual journey of discovery. Great teachers have an internal passion and fire that is viral - they share the love - and fortunate students get positively infected!

Of course not all teachers are great, for whatever reason some people with the responsibility of teaching others are not on fire, they often fail to grow their own expertise and fall back on a dwindling body of outdated knowledge. They are not attuned to the needs of their students and instead take safe standardized routes of rote learning. Poor teaching is a disease that inhibits learning and closes minds off to future possibility - love don't live here anymore.

I would LOVE to hear your stories of great teachers and learning today, so take a moment think about your greatest teachers, what was it or is it about them that's so powerful?

And who looks to YOU as their teacher? - could it be your children, neighbors, colleagues or friends? - how are you doing? are you positively infecting or closing their minds?

Whether at home or at work - HUG A GREAT TEACHER TODAY!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Rest

Jesus said "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 
Matthew 11:28

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Whole Week of Joy, Love and Work For Speed Readers!

Happy Weekend Joy Love & Work-ers!

Click on the lovely Wordle cloud above left to see what you may have missed this week and here's another opportunity to catch mr turbo hamster (click here) who was moving too fast to be included in the wordle!


It's The End Of The Week As We Know It...

and I feel... err, well-I'm-not-actually-sure-how-I-feel-but-I-am-VERY-busy-and-typically-my-weeks-end-up-looking-a-bit-like-this! (click here)

I don't know how many of you will relate to that clip but for me it often perfectly describes the end of my weeks; talk about dazed and confused! but I know better, I've been blessed to spend most of my working life focused on human performance and effectiveness, and as I've mentioned before I love it :-)

Increasing performance and effectiveness relies heavily on measuring or assessing where you are today, thinking about how to improve for the future, making a plan and then working the plan. Sounds simple, but all too often in today's world we lose the first few steps and instead go headlong into 'make-a-plan-work-the-plan' and then we wonder why we never seem to make much progress, our weeks all feel the same and we up looking like the poor hamster!

In order to improve the performance and effectiveness of our work, which hopefully will lead to us LOVE it more, we need to carve out time to stop, reflect & plan. Fridays are a perfect day to do this because typically we're all a bit pooped from the stresses and strains of the week, reflection is a low stress activity and a great way transition into the weekend.

I recommend taking just 10 minutes each Friday to ask ourselves three simple questions:
1. What worked or went well this week?
2. Where did I get stuck?
3. What can I do differently next week?

If you're like me, just the act of slowing down to think is helpful, I notice things that otherwise would have been missed, like who really helped me this week and who I need to thank, where I'm struggling and need help from others, and where I just need to try a different tack because I'm making no progress.

The act of weekly reflection is a POWER-activity, it seems like just another 'to-do' and is easy to ignore but its positive impact on performance, effectiveness and LOVE can be exponential.

So try it today, take 10 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of your world, pour yourself a delicious beverage (preferably a CARIBOU beverage!) and just reflect...

Let me know how it goes :-)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two-four-six-eight! Who do we appreciate?

Happy Thursday Joy, Love & Work-ers!

Ever noticed how hard it is to trust and collaborate with people who criticize your work? What about the impact the criticism has on your output and mood? How likely are you to go to the criticizer for advice or include them in projects? Nope, it just ain't gonna happen; you'd be more likely to volunteer for root canal surgery or scorpion wrestling! 
Who are your criticizers?

On the other hand we literally fall over ourselves to be in the presence of those who encourage, cheerlead and seek to make us better, we extend trust and open up. Our work output grows, we take more risks and become more innovative,  our mood lifts and we end up always wanting to work with these people, often trying to include them in everything we do either formally or informally. 
Who are your encouragers?

It would be easy to throw up our hands at this stage and just give into the fact that some people are good for us and others are bad. Give up the toxic and gravitate towards the pleasant, but how would that help? Surely it would just entrench us even further in our position and polarize our points of view to the extent that even the mention of our criticizers name would have an adverse effect on our blood pressure. Is there another way?

A few years ago I was introduced to the concept of appreciative inquiry (AI) and it intuitively made sense to me; it's based on the premise that even in the direst of problems, bleakest times and worse relationships there is always something going right, and that's the place to start work because that's where the hope, possibility and energy live. 

In today's world we tend to start in exactly the opposite place, we look for problems, differences and obstacles and throw ourselves wholeheartedly up against solving them, often only hurting ourselves in the process because these are barren, hard places with no life and little energy.

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" Philippians 4:8-9

Hmmmm what would happen if we tried this approach on our criticizers - is it worth a try? 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Torn between two (or more) lovers

Morning Joy, Love and Work-ers! Happy Wednesday from a frigid Smith Towers! I inadvertently switched the heating off last night and it's a brisk 54 degrees here - brrrrrr - let's hope it focuses the mind!!

Well, we seem to have hit a nerve yesterday in our exploration of fabulous work-at-home Mums, I received lots of calls and notes, thank you, thank you! So today let's appreciate another fabulous Mum varietal, the work-at-home-and-at-a-job (WAHAAAJ) Mums!

"I always feel guilty about being in the wrong place, everything I do is a little bit below my expectations although others tell me I'm doing a great job; I don't know, perhaps one day I'll get the hang of it." This quote was from a colleague of mine who was talking about the life she has as a WAHAAAJ Mum. I remember being so touched by her revelation that I wrote it down with a question "Where's the JOY in this?"

It seems to me that our wonderful WAHAAAJ Mums are torn between two or more things they love - their families and their careers and/or income, benefits, grown-up time, individual identity - the list could go on and on and is probably unique in every situation.

I work with many WAHAAAJ Mums and frankly I have no idea how they do it. I can barely get myself to work on time and they have already spun together a whole complex choreographed production involving all kinds of people, attention spans, wardrobe choice, destinations and desires and they often manage to get all that done AND get their make-up on - a morning activity which almost always eludes me!

5 things I LOVE about WAHAAAJ Mums:
1. The makeup thing ;-)
2. They have awesome perspective and rarely make a drama out of a crisis
3. They can call upon reserves of energy that only WAHAAAJ Mums know exist
4. They understand the world doesn't revolve around them
5. They have a sense of humor and an inbuilt creativity

SO hug a WAHAAAJ Mum Today!

Bravo WAHAAAJ Mums! I'm a fan :-)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Greater love hath no Mum...

Last night I attended a Stella & Dot jewelry party (be still my beating credit card!) at the home of my groovy friend Jennifer one of those 'one-woman-miracles' who combines being a successful wife, mother, business woman and fashionista with being one of the most FABULOUS friends a girl could ever wish for. Truly, I'm a fan :-)

Anyway, because of her many roles, Jen has a wide circle of friends and last night's event was populated by a wonderful group of women, all of whom happen to be currently working as stay at home Mums.

Because my Joy, Love and Work radar is on high level right now, I was interested to hear these women's perspective about the work they do and how they feel about it, but uniformly the response I got was an embarrassed "I don't do anything, I just stay at home and look after the kids"...and fade to grey


It seems to me that the women (and men - Hi Howard!) who make the choice to stay at home to raise families are performing an enormous act of love. On call 24/7 with no discernible reward, recognition, pay or benefits often with no 'grown up' conversation or treats. This seems like a hard life to me.

As someone who has never left the workforce I'm often struck by the big wedge of judgement and 'perceived unworthiness' that creeps into the lives of people who choose to exit paid employment to raise families - this makes me sad.  And as an HR professional I'm acutely aware of the 'transferable skills and competencies (corporate code for 'really useful stuff') that people like my friends last night acquire, but the accompanying deterioration of self esteem that often seems to be present - this makes me furious and curious...what could I do to help?

"Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends"John 15:13 - Isn't this what Mums do every day? they put their lives & careers on hold (lay them down) in favor of their families, so their families can thrive. This is an enormous act of love at work.

Bravo Mums. Truly, I'm a fan - just help me work out how to support you in your labor of love.

February - Month O' Lurvve!

Happy February Joy, Love & Work-ers!

Welcome to the 'loviest' month in the year, where hearts, flowers, diamonds and chocolates fill every inch of retail space, and truly love is in the air!

But whilst retailers would have us believe that's the case, in today's world we often have problems talking about love and are hesitant to do it for fear of being misconstrued, branded as a weirdo or landed with a sexual harassment lawsuit; it seems that part of our problem stems from the English language (also used by Americans!) in which we only have one miserly word for love :-(

By contrast, the original Greek used the Bible's new testament has four distinct words for love - Agape or brotherly love, Eros or passionate love, Philia or friendship and Storge or affection. There now, doesn't that make the whole idea of love seem more spacious and less risky to talk about?!

In February my 'cunning plan' is to explore some of these different forms of love as they relate to work and to find FABULOUS examples of the people who make them come to life every day...if YOU are one of these people please contact me - have I got an interview for you!

Go LOVE chaps!