Water Weight

As our lead Lioness, Katherine Eitel Belt, moves into a new home this week, we
decided to reach back in our archives and repost a Monday Morning Stretch
which we hope you will find helpful during these current challenging times.

The health and productivity of teams, whether professional, personal, or community-based, is commensurate with the health and productivity of the individuals who make up those teams. When team members are physically and emotionally healthy, it absolutely has a direct effect on the speed and quality with which products and services are delivered to their consumers, the ability to effectively communicate and achieve their goals, as well as their overall enjoyment of the process of working together.

When I consider some of the high-functioning teams I have worked with over the years, I’ve noticed they attend to three things:

  1. Accomplishing the vision.
  2. Caring for each other.
  3. Caring for themselves.

I recently asked a group of professionals to hold a full bottle of water out in front of them so their arm was not resting on anything. Next, I asked how much they thought the bottle of water weighed, approximately… About a pound, they agreed. Girl Holding Bottle WaterI ask them how much that same bottle would feel like it weighed if they held it without support for an entire hour? Probably, 5 pounds or more, they concurred. How about 4 hours? 20 pounds, for sure! 12 hours? Well, we’d have to call the paramedics! Of course, they understood that the water’s weight doesn’t actually change but the feeling of that weight becomes substantially heavier the longer we hold it without the ability to set it down and give our arm a rest.

If the water bottle is a metaphor for the stress we hold on to in our lives and work, what these participants experienced in their arms is exactly the same thing that happens for our entire physical body when we hold on to stress, tensions, worries, and concerns. When we never “set our burdens down,” the weight grows over time within the bodies that hold them. A lot of activities can serve to release the tension and give us a chance to regain our strength, recharge our energy, and renew our work with increased vigor and positivity. Here are just a few:

  • 6-8 hours of restful sleep a night
  • 20-60 minutes of movement and exercise
  • Laughter, especially long, good belly-laughs!
  • Daily prayer or meditation
  • Reading inspiring, positive books
  • Nourishing, delicious whole foods
  • Walking or hiking in nature
  • Keeping a daily gratitude journal
  • Small, random acts of kindness
  • Pursuing an interest or hobby

Several of my current coaching clients have 21-day challenges going on to help improve the “self-care” factor within their team. Some are keeping daily gratitude journals or walking together at lunch, subscribing to a daily meditation challenge via email or committing to performing secret, random acts of kindness every day. While they all anticipated an improvement by the end of their challenge, many are reporting a surprisingly quick and positive result early on in terms of improved individual morale and team cooperation.

There is a reason that companies like Google and Smile Reminders have ping pong tables in their break room or a masseuse who comes regularly for employee massages. They understand the benefits of “setting the water down” occasionally in our workday to prime the pump of creativity, resiliency, and employee satisfaction … which we know can lead to direct improvements in client satisfaction and bottom-line results as well.

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress, and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
~ George Burns

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coronavirus and Leadership

If you’ve been a subscriber to our Monday Morning Stretch for any length of time, I hope I have inspired you to be consistent in your effort to grow and strengthen your personal leadership skills. If you’ve done so, then you know already that you must first up-level your own mindset and leadership thinking prior to elevating your ability to speak from a strong leadership platform. You’ve been practicing mindfulness in your leadership thoughts, actions, and communications. You know that your actions, reactions, decisions, and all that you speak into existence is 100% within your control.

So, now the BIG question: Exactly what do you think all this work and attention was preparing you for? Well, it wasn’t for the best of times. It was for the worst. It was for when we find ourselves in our next crisis. In this case, COVID-19. What you have prepared for is here.

This is where leaders like you suit up, rise from the bench, and take the field. This is what you’ve been training for. This is where leadership takes action. This is when it is needed and where it counts the most… When we and everyone around us are engulfed in a crisis, real or imagined.

Fear makes people do strange and abnormal things. But leaders know that they will never make their best decisions or speak most persuasively from fear. Great leaders have practiced monitoring their thoughts and directing them toward ideas that are helpful, hopeful, strong, and consistent with their core values.

Now is our time. This is exactly when people who have not been practicing these skills will need us to rise and take the lead for them. And, we can.

Here’s a reminder of our marching orders as Leaders of our Pride:

  • When others speak of fear, reply gently with hope.
  • When others panic, bless them and respond with calm and thoughtful action.
  • When others are consumed with doom, think about and speak of the evidence of resiliency, creativity, and our ability to thrive against the odds.
  • When others feel unstable, insecure, and disempowered, remind them of their limitless personal power and the heart of the warrior within.
  • When others fill their ears, eyes, and minds and drain their reserves with increasing evidence of failure and fear, fill your reservoir with all the available evidence of success, compassion, and adaptability.
  • When others take on the cloak of rigidity and fragility, be the example of fluidity, flexibility and quiet, sure strength.
  • When others see no available options before them, remind them of the sweetness of freedom and the powerful nature of choice.
  • When others feel despair, sit with them, love them, and show them they are not alone.

This is how we show up as leaders. We hold the space of those who have not developed the tools. We help guide those who are on the path with us. We choose carefully those from whom we accept counsel and humbly receive what we need from them in order to continue the good work we have been called to do.

For LionSpeak followers and members of our “Pride,” join me in selflessly, humbly, and totally stepping into the leadership position which calms those who are frightened, balances those who are spinning out of control, and gives hope and strength to those who feel disempowered, pessimistic, and weak.

They need us now. And we’re ready.

“Optimism is a duty. The future is open. It is not predetermined.
No one can predict it, except by chance.

WE all contribute to determining it by what we do.
We are all equally responsible for its success.”

~~Karl Popper

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Redemptive Perspectives

There is much we can proactively do to create a personal and professional life that is abundant, meaningful, and filled with positive aspects. But sometimes… bad things just happen. Even the most positive, hardworking, honest people will likely experience pain and suffering at some point in their life.

The death of a loved one, an unexpected divorce or financial crisis, the loss of a job or home… experiences like these can cause people who are generally strong and positive to feel temporarily negative and miserable and, in the worst cases, broken, devastated, or defeated for a prolonged period of time. But most of us will never have to endure true and sustained horrors like the famous Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, who survived the Nazi Holocaust and later went on to write his famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning.

I recently listened to a podcast interview with Jon Gordon and Don Miller. In it, Don recounted Viktor Frankl’s three points for creating a meaningful life. Frankl believed we must have:

1) A project that demands our attention
2) A redemptive perspective on our suffering
3) And a community of people with which to share it

All three resonated with me in terms of my own fulfillment and resiliency, but, in particular, the idea of developing a “redemptive perspective on our suffering” stood out for me. In other words, we won’t always be able to avoid pain and suffering in our lives, but when we give our pain a meaningful context, our experience of it changes.

Case in point: A young man I know has asked, “Out of all my friends, why did I have to be the one who became addicted to drugs and is destined to fight this fight for the rest of my life?” He wishes he did not have this suffering in his life at all. But when he changes the context for his pain, his experience of it changes: “Maybe by my experiencing this addiction and finding ways to conquer it, I’m equipped now to help others down the road of their own recovery or maybe even to help prevent them ever getting on this road to begin with?” He could just as easily recontextualize it as having learned things that others have not, met important people through the experience or even become someone who he would not have been otherwise.

I believe Frankl is correct in the idea that we create more meaning in our life when we stop trying to avoid pain and instead develop a redemptive perspective by recontextualizing it. Give it a new story, and it takes on a new meaning.

One of my all-time favorite quotes by Dr. Sue Morter puts it even more simply: “Life is hard, until it isn’t. Everything eventually serves.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Music Monday: Motivation vs. Momentum

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote my Stretch on what Tom and I had learned on our quest to renew our health. One of the things we’ve implemented successfully has been to get movement and exercise into every day. After two months, it feels weird if we don’t get some exercise, but it didn’t start out that way.

Breaking bad habits can be hard. Ten years ago, I’d lost 40 pounds with exercise, smaller food portions, a daily meditation practice, and healthy eating. I was able to maintain my ideal weight. I was physically strong and mentally focused. I loved the way I looked and the way I felt.

But in the last few years I’d allowed other priorities to creep in to my daily routine. I stopped putting my own health and well-being first every day and instead put my business, clients, children, and an endless to-do pile at the top of the list… all the while thinking, “I’ll get back to it when all of this is done.” Of course, it was never “done” and so it never happened. The only thing that did happen was the creation of a new bad habit which was reinforced the longer I continued down the path.

Now I was back to hating the way I looked. I felt sluggish, weak, and discouraged. I desperately wanted my old, healthy self back.

Given my past experience, it wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do it or that I had any doubt I could do it. And, it surely wasn’t a lack of motivation on my part. So, what was it? Why couldn’t I get off dead center? I’ve determined it wasn’t a lack of motivation but a severe lack of the other “M” word: Momentum.

My business coach, Mark LeBlanc, has a saying: “Consistency beats commitment…” which he often reminds me of when I’m slipping back off the habits that created our current success. In other words, we can say we are committed to a goal but without taking daily steps consistently toward that goal, our resolve isn’t enough. The same is true for motivation and momentum.

Motivation, like commitment, is tied to a feeling or an intention. Momentum, like consistency, is tied to action. Action is what creates results, not intentions.

What Tom and I discovered is that once we got a few days of early morning walks under our belts… we were on a roll. We had momentum. After a week, we increased our distance. After another week, we increased our speed. By the end of two months, we were craving our walks and adding more kinds of exercise to it. Some days all we can get in is 15 minutes in the evening before dinner. When I have a travel day for work, sometimes all I can do is walk around the airport and take the stairs a couple of times while waiting for my flight to board… but we get it in. We have momentum.

And our momentum feels so good, we didn’t want to break it with excuses. So, we’ve supported each other, created a new habit, and continued to push the edges of that habit together.

Where do you need momentum in your work or life? All that’s required for momentum is just to start… no matter how small. Just start. And the next day, just start again. Pretty soon you’ll find, as we have, that a new habit is formed, and your momentum is carrying you farther than any motivation ever would have long-term.

So, this week, get going! Take a small step. And the next day… take another one. Get the boulder moving even if it’s just ever so slight… you’ll be building momentum. Then hold on because the change will accelerate, and you’ll quickly find yourself racing full speed ahead toward your dreams. Just like our song choice for this Music Monday, you’ll definitely be… “On a Roll!”

Sugarland: On A Roll

Got my hands in my pocket
Got a heart like a rocket
Man a train couldn’t stop it today
I got a smile like the sunshine
Eyes closed, keeping time
My feet know the beat and the way

Can’t hold this down
We own this town
Done walking round
From now on

I’m on a roll, babe
Watch me go, babe
I’m solid gold, babe
Of good things getting better
Life is short, but so sweet
So cut the cake and let’s eat
Right next to me is where you wanna be
I just can’t stop
I’m on a roll
I’m on a roll

Got my headphones thumping
Feel my blood start to pump
And ain’t it something when the rhythm’s insane
It’s like the whole world’s dancing
I hold it in my hand
Like a kid that is ready to play

My mirror ball
It shines and spins
Even if it falls
I still win

‘Cause it can roll, babe
Watch me go, babe
I’m solid gold, babe
Of good things getting better
Life is short, but so sweet
So cut the cake and let’s eat
Right next to me is where you wanna be
I just can’t stop
I’m on a roll
I’m on a roll

I’m on a roll babe
I wanna reach out and touch your soul, babe
I’m like a southern Baptist preacher, babe
I got enough of that in me that I can reach you, babe
I’m thinking up speed, hit the gas go fast
‘Cause there’s nothing more fun to me
I just love it how lucky I am, kiss the dice
Ace of spades, remember the third grade
You on fire, gotta stop, drop…

And roll, babe
Watch me go, babe
I’m solid gold, babe
Of good things getting better
Life is short, but so sweet
So cut the cake and let’s eat
Right next to me is where you wanna be
I just can’t stop

I’m on a roll babe
Watch me go babe
I’m solid gold babe
Of good things getting better
Life is short but so sweet
So cut the cake and let’s eat
Right next to me is where you wanna be
I just can’t stop
I’m on a roll

I’m on a roll, roll, roll
I’m on a roll
I’m on a roll

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Excellence Requires

In May, Tom and I are taking two of his Grand Delights (aka, granddaughters) to see Shen Yun in Palm Desert for their birthdays. They love the stage arts… dancing, drama, music… and so do we, so it’s sure to be a magical memory for all of us.

I’d seen the commercials for Shen Yun over the last few years but didn’t really know much about the troop, the show, or their history until I watched the short video below. After watching it, I knew I had to see it.

Watching the video, here’s what I learned about what is required to be a Shen Yun dancer. It takes:

  1. A mind of steel
  2. A flexible body
  3. Pushing the limits to know that the only limit is in our minds
  4. Repeating the same skill over and over and over
  5. Facing your deepest fears to conquer them
  6. Falling over a hundred times only to get back up a thousand more
  7. Delving into the past to inspire the future
  8. A head devoid of doubt and a heart full of humility
  9. Learning to speak without saying a word
  10. Knowing that greatness isn’t achieved alone but by the spirit of the team
  11. Filling our hearts with truth, compassion, and tolerance because the outer form embodies the inner spirit
  12. Changing ourselves first to change the world

Funny, it sounds like the exact same things that it takes to be at the master level of leadership, business success, speaking, clinical excellence, or anything else we’d like to master. How many of these qualities, skills, or commitments have you experienced or applied in order to accomplish excellence at something you’ve pursued?

This week watch the video with your team and look at this list together. Discuss the things it takes to become a Shen Yun dancer and how those apply to our quest to achieve true excellence in our careers, families, business, client care, and personal health and growth.

Here’s what else I took away from the Shen Yun video: Though the journey may be long, the toughest challenges bring the greatest rewards. No matter what it takes, it’s worth it.

I look forward to sinking into this performance of Shen Yun in a few months. But no matter how effortless the perfection looks… I’ll know what it actually took to deliver it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


We all have them: habits – good ones, bad ones, ones that seem neutral. We have habits that serve our goals and some that don’t. Habits can appear to wield ultimate power over our choices and decisions, but I’ve discovered that in actuality, they don’t. It’s just the story we’re telling ourselves and others.

In January, Tom and I committed to a 30-day cleanse called Whole30. The idea is to remove all foods that tend to cause inflammation in the body and typically give people trouble. Then, you gauge how you feel. No dairy, legumes, peanuts, sugar, grains, soy, or alcohol. Just a 30-day diet full of whole, healthy foods including meat, fish, veggies, fruit, nuts, eggs, and healthy oils. The idea is that after 30 days, you add these off-limit foods back into your diet one at a time to see how you feel and which of these are causing you the most trouble.

Talk about breaking habits! Over the years, Tom and I had settled into a nightly routine of cheese and crackers while we were cooking dinner together accompanied by a beer or two. Then, we enjoyed a bottle of wine over dinner followed by cookies and an occasional Bailey’s nightcap. It had become our cozy, enjoyable, daily habit with only one problem… we just didn’t feel good.

We weren’t sleeping well, had increasing joint pain, gained weight, and felt like our minds were foggy much of the day without lots of coffee to wake us up. All of this contributed to feeling less and less inclined to get in our daily exercise. Pretty soon we found ourselves over-worked and over-weight. We had clearly developed habits that weren’t serving us, either physically or emotionally.

We knew what we needed to do. We even spent time talking about it, but ultimately the healthier habits just didn’t sound as good as the ones we had and seemed way too hard. I honestly didn’t think I could give up my wine and cheese and told that to myself and anyone else who would listen. That’s where we were wrong. We soon learned some lessons about changing habits that we’ll use now to conquer anything in our lives we want to improve in the future.

1)  Short-term benchmarks for long-term change. Making a big change is hard at first. It just is, especially if you’ve been doing it that way for a long time. So, we planned for “hard” in the beginning and set some small short-term benchmarks to work toward instead of thinking about the entire 30-day commitment. We knew we didn’t want to be on the diet boomerang. If we were going to do this, we’d rather go slowly, discovering and developing a way we could live for the rest of our lives.

2)  Support. We both agreed that it was invaluable to have each other as support. When one was weak, the other stepped up. When one was down, the other infused a sense of humor and encouragement.

3)  Prep. In our case it was food prep that made ALL the difference. Tom packed me salads for my plane rides when I traveled and daily bags of pre-prepped foods for when I was hungry or without healthy options. But even if your change is not health-related, prepping for success and pre-planning for those eventual moments where you might revert back to the old ways is essential.

4)  Discovery. We literally didn’t know what we didn’t know. We didn’t know how much sugar was in our bacon, mayo, mustard, spaghetti sauce, mixed nuts, and salsa (seriously!). But, we discovered delicious, sugar-free versions of all these as well as grain-free chips, flours, and crackers. Without the change, we would have never found what has now become a staple for us. Good to know that in developing any new habits, you’ll discover some new ways or tools you wouldn’t have otherwise known.

5)  Patience and victories. We found we had to be patient with our progress. After that first hard week, our taste buds had changed, and we were looking forward to meals, snacks, and exercise that we hadn’t in the past. Our skin and our minds cleared, joints felt better, and we noticed our jeans zipping up just a bit easier. It felt good to celebrate those little victories along the way.

6)  Goal-Focused. On our daily walks and workouts, Tom and I focused our conversations on the “why” of our habit change. We met late in life, and we want more time together, seeing the world and enjoying rich experiences. To have that, we have to be healthy and energetic. Staying focused on our long-term “why” and keeping it active in our conversations really helped to make the work of the change lighter and more doable.

Whether you’re changing your diet, the way you parent, an organizational tactic, or a new communication tool, try applying these six principles to be more successful long term. After all, isn’t that why we’re doing it – to develop a better, sustainable habit that will soon feel like the normal way you do business or live your life?

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily.
The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.”
~~John Maxwell

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spinning the Positive

Every coin has a flipside. Every inside has an outside. Every “No” response has a “Yes” alternative.

At the Disney University, I’ve heard that one of the class assignments is to go out into the theme park and find a few Disney “cast members” and ask a question for which the reasonable answer would be “No” … and listen to the well-trained responses. What Disney knows is what all great communicators, sales professionals, leaders, and customer service representatives know… When faced with a request you cannot grant or to which you cannot agree, a response filled with sincere empathy and a focus on what is possible will always be the better answer and often save the client, sale, online review, and future relationship.

“Can I march in the parade next to Cinderella?” “Oh, how I would love to say yes to that! You’d make a perfect prince charming. What I can do is recommend the best place to sit and watch the parade so you’ll feel like you’re practically in it!”

“I forgot my wallet. Can I take my hamburger and come back in a minute and pay you for it?” “Gosh, don’t you hate it when that happens? So frustrating to wait in line and then realize you can’t pay. Here’s what I’ll do… I’ll put your meal right here where it will stay perfectly warm and when you find your wallet, just come right up to the front of the line and I’ll ring you right up.”

Here’s a real experience that happened to me. One year, while attending the Speaking Consulting Network annual conference in Anaheim, I enjoyed a truly amazing farm-to-fork meal at a restaurant called The Ranch with three of my favorite colleagues. The service was impeccable, the atmosphere charming, and the healthy, delicious food was perfectly prepared. Throw in rich, meaningful, and funny conversation with good friends and it was a truly lovely evening. Only one problem. In my haste to leave, I left my credit card and receipt and didn’t realize it until I was home a few days later.

I called The Ranch and asked if they had found it. The none-too-friendly gal that answered confirmed that, “Yes, we do have a credit card in your name locked away in our secure vault.” Great news! May I give you my address so you can send it to me? “No, we cannot mail credit cards to people who leave them.” Okay. I don’t live nearby. How about I ask a local friend to stop by and pick it up for me? “No, we can only give the card to the owner with a matching ID.” Hmmmm. Okay. Help me out here. This is a corporate credit card with all kinds of bill payments, subscriptions, and for God sakes, my one-click Amazon account tied to it. (I’m starting to get pretty riled up now!) Not only don’t I live nearby but we are leaving the next day for several weeks of travel. Can you just hold on to it for a month or so until I return and spend the 4 – 5 hours round trip it will take to retrieve it? “No, we destroy the cards after 2 weeks.” Is there a manager I speak with? “No, he won’t be in until after 3 today. I can ask him to call you but I don’t think he’ll be able to do anything. These are our policies.”

No empathy. No solutions. No Bueno.

If I were a communications coach for The Ranch, a business who clearly cares about their patron’s experience, here’s what I would advise as a better trained response:

“Great news, Mrs. Belt, we do have your credit card and we’ve kept it secure in our vault hoping you would call. How can I help reunite you with it? Do you live nearby where you can come in to claim it?” No, I don’t. “I’m so very sorry for the hassle of all this for you. We typically can’t mail it or give it to anyone other than the cardholder but if you’d like, I will speak to my manager to see if there is any other arrangement we can make for you. Worst case, we’ll put a note on your card that you’ll be picking up sometime over the next few months. If you forget, we can certainly give you a courtesy call before we actually destroy it. How would that work, Mrs. Belt?”

You can’t always change your policies. Sometimes, the rules are the rules because, well, attorney’s advice and all. But there are very few events where we cannot focus on what is possible, what we can do, and what will work. And there is never a time when true empathy doesn’t soften the hardest news.

This week reinforce with your team how to meet clients with a positive, can-do, empathic attitude and response. The Golden Rule is a good one. Treat folks the same way you’d like to be treated and give them a reason to stick with you even if the answer is actually, “No.”

* * * * * * * * * *

This week we are recycling a favorite MMS. Our new subscribers will enjoy
Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from the experience. And to all of our
MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers from the beginning… you’ll remember
why we love seeing the world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next.
Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”
~Denis Waitley, Author and Motivational Speaker

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Music Monday: What Are You For?

Over the next ten months leading up to the presidential election, many of us will hear, see, and experience the exact same things but assign them vastly different meanings, come to different conclusions, and craft and tell a different story about them… to ourselves and others. Many will talk about what they dislike or even hate. They will tell and retell the story, focused on what they worry about, things they dread, and what they don’t want to happen. Most of all, they rail about what they’re against. But what are they “for?”

It’s the flipside of the same coin. It’s the yin to the yang. As my son used to say when he was little, “It’s exactly the same. Just different.” But this reframe can make all the difference.

This week, for our Music Monday (always the first Monday of the month), I’ve chosen “What I’m For” by Pat Green, a favored Texas son. His lyric, “You don’t have to guess what I’m against, if you know what I’m for” exemplifies the idea that we can have a more positive effect, tell a more hopeful story, and place our focus on powerful ideas instead of powerless complaints when we frame our comments in terms of what we want, what we champion, and what we’re “for.”

Use this concept in your workplace to discuss how you can reframe your complaints into requests, your frustrations into hope, and a pessimistic viewpoint into a positive one. Speak more about what you’re for and what you want, and others will automatically know what you’re against.

And, I agree with Pat Green. I’m for Texas margaritas and getting outta debt, and for having faith in something that hasn’t happened yet, for counting all my blessings when the wolf is at my door… You don’t have to guess what I’m against, if you know what I’m for.

Pat Green:  What I’m For

“I’m for wildflowers in the window,
Mechanics you can trust.
I’m for crackers in my chili
And leavin’ grudges in the dust.

I’m for drive thru order takers
Who can muster up a smile.
I’m for takin’ in that stray dog
That’s been hangin’ ’round awhile.

I’m for turning off the TV,
Gettin’ off the internet.
I’m for learning all the words
To the Gettysburg Address.

I’m for dusty pawn shop guitars
And boxers passed their prime.
I’m for soakin’ up the wisdom
When an old man speaks his mind.

I’m for laid off factory workers
When the wolf is at the door.
You don’t have to guess what I’m against
If you know what I’m for.

I’m for Texas Margaritas,
Gettin’ outta debt.
I’m for havin’ faith in something
That hasn’t happened yet.

For the shy kid in the corner,
Afraid to ask the girl to dance;
For the ex-con outta prison
Who just wants a second chance.

For the inner city teacher
With her heart stuck in her throat;
Can still see God in every child
And never gives up hope.

I’m for dusty pawn shop guitars
And boxers passed their prime.
I’m for soakin’ up the wisdom
When my old man speaks his mind.

I’m for Detroit factory workers
When the wolf is at the door.
You don’t have to guess what I’m against
If you know what I’m for.

I’m counting all my blessings
When the wolf is at my door.
You don’t have to ask what I’m against,
You don’t have to guess what I’m against,
You know what I’m for.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Girls (and Boys) Just Wanna Have Fun!

Picture your life as a measuring tape: The left end represents the day you were born; the right, the day you “transition” from this life. Now, mentally cut that tape at the spot that would represent today. Many of you will notice, like me, that even if you hope to live to 100… the left-hand side is longer than the right. Sobering visual, right?

We have one life. One measuring tape. One long movie inside which we will live, and we are the directors. It can be a drama, tear-jerker, thriller, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, or comedy. I’m determined to direct a comedy. And for me, that’s not very hard to do because I do a lot of silly stuff. I’m clumsy, a bad driver, forgetful. I snore when I sleep. I leave my purse, wallet, or cell phone somewhere at least once a month. I’m always telling stories and, in the process, knocking a glass of something all over the table and on those around me on a pretty consistent basis. There’s plenty to laugh at in my life for sure.

There’s a ton of research over the last 10 years which concludes that smiling and laughing adds positively to our physical and emotional wellness as well as extending our life. It’s always our choice whether to have fun and to find the fun (and the funny) in what we’re doing. Having fun for me means I must enjoy what I’m doing and the people with whom I’m doing it.

About ten years ago I took my first Labor Day trip up to Tom’s rustic mountain cabin near Lake Tahoe. On the way, at 6:00 pm on a Thursday night, in the middle of nowhere in the hot, dry, tree-less California desert, the engine on my car fried. Burned up. Toast.

We rode 50 miles in an un-air-conditioned tow truck to the nearest town with a motel, repair shop and Avis Rent-a-Car. In many ways, it was not pleasant. But, if I just looked through a different lens, it was also fun and funny. The tow truck driver was an adorable, shy, nearly deaf man who had somehow learned how to whistle to the blaring radio without any teeth. His oil-stained hands tapped out a beat on his grimy steering wheel, and he winked at every female he talked to including me. He practically screamed into his handheld radio as he communicated to the female tow truck dispatcher, “Angie, I’m bringing two California folks whose car blew up on the side of the road to you, and they need you to put off that happy hour you’re headed to so they can rent a car.” As we held on for dear life, bouncing around in the cab of the tow truck which seemed to have no shocks at all… we couldn’t help but laugh at the comic feel of it all.

Finding out that it would be 8-10K and 3 weeks to fix it meant that my plans to buy a new car after the first of the year had just been “moved up.” Even though the news was unexpected and had disrupted our plans, I was lucky enough to be traveling with someone who could immediately find the humor and the adventure in it all, kept it all moving, and quickly got us in a really cool rental car and tooling through the mountains on to our destination. Soon we were singing to the XM radio, making jokes, kidding around, having fun. A lot of fun. What were our choices? We couldn’t do anything about what had happened, but we absolutely could refuse to allow it to suck the fun out of our plans and out of our day.

This is our life. Right now. Not tomorrow. Not after the first of the year. Not when winter’s over. Right now. If you’re not having fun… at work, at home, in the shower, in the car… stop it. It’s ALWAYS your choice to make whatever you’re doing lighter, easier, and more fun. So, get crackin’ on those silly jokes, tickle your kids, tease your lover, smile and laugh more at work and at home. Bring a funny video to play at your huddle tomorrow and kick off your day with some deep, tear-producing belly laughs… and just see how good you and your team feel and how much better your day is. (We provided a couple just to get you started at the bottom of this Stretch.)

This is your only job this week: Have a ball! Have a blast! Laugh your butt off! You’ve got one shot at this… so make it fun!

“Unless each day can be looked back upon by an individual
as one in which he has had some fun, some joy,
some real satisfaction, that day is a loss.”
~~Philips Walker

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From Obstacle to Hero to Guide

Last week, I wrote about speaking and marketing to your consumer base with the idea of being the guide who is helping them to become the hero of your product or service story. This week, I’d like to offer a more personal perspective on the exact same idea.

As a leadership and communication coach, I’m hoping to be the guide who leads my clients and teams to become the hero in their business and life. As a mother and wife, I’m hoping to do the same for my family. But to be the guide, you must first be the hero. And to be a hero, you must conquer something. To conquer something, you must face an obstacle or challenge over which you ultimately prevail.

What if our current challenges were the fuel for eventually becoming the guide who helps others navigate similar circumstances with greater ease and success in the future? We cannot be one with the other. It’s simply how it works.

To guide other trainers and speakers to be better on stage or to develop and present their material to others in an interesting, engaging, and highly effective way, I had to struggle with how to do that myself until I had mastered the obstacles and achieved some good results with my audiences and trainees.

To guide leaders and managers to develop mature, accountable team cultures, it helps greatly that I have struggled with that challenge myself and found ways to create it with my team in a sustainable way.

For my son to live a sustainable, drug-free life, he needs a guide who has battled the same demons and found ways to conquer it long-term to show him the way and give him real hope.

To be a guide, you must have been a hero who conquered something. We root for heroes, especially those with big challenges, public scrutiny, and with a true comeback story. We root for them because deep down we know that there is a hero deep down inside of us who can overcome our own pain or our past to courageously create an amazing future.

This week, remember that the things that you are finding challenging, maybe even insurmountable, are the necessary landscape in which you are struggling to emerge the hero. Ultimately, you will be able to use these lessons and revelations to help others who need a guide just like you. So, bless them if you can and be patient with what you’re learning. It’s what’s needed to step into the role of the guide for our children, friends, colleagues, and team members in the future.

“This idea that we are our own saviors, our own heroes.
That’s hard, but also incredibly uplifting.”
~~Reese Witherspoon

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment