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Mom’s #1 Rule for Success

“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” -Christopher Morley Out of nowhere my Mom declared, “You will have to take me out of this house feet first!” My husband and I were stunned. Neither of us had even suggested that Mom be taken out of the house head first, feet first or sideways.  What she was doing was asserting her independence. Her independence was not at risk, but it was a difficult time. It had only been a few weeks since my father had passed. I guess she thought that we were going to try to convince her to move closer to us or to give up her house or something along those lines. We had no such intentions. “I guess you call me everyday to make sure I am still alive.” After Dad died I called Mom everyday. This was a new routine for us.  Eventually we both settled into this routine and it became a cherished time for both of us. We were able to develop a true friendship. We shared our challenges, our triumphs, we shed some tears and we had some good laughs. My mother knew what she wanted.  She was always very clear in expressing what she wanted. Although I used to joke that if Mom was not happy nobody was happy, her clarity and determination were to be admired. She taught me that if you do not let people know what you want you have nobody but yourself to blame if you are disappointed. Her life was not always how she wanted it to be. I am certain that it was not her goal to be raised in poverty and to move around the country from location to location because her father had ‘the thirst’ and had trouble finding and keeping a job. She watched her mother take care of foster babies and do mending to help ends meet.  She ate amazing home cooked meals. Not realizing until much later in life that many of the special treats her mother prepared came from the creative necessity of stretching a limited food supply until the next paycheck came in or until she was able to barter mending or cleaning in exchange for groceries. Most likely these early lessons helped her to become clear about the kind of life she wanted and helped her to take control of her own destiny. Many of her friends married young. Mom had strong feelings about finding ‘Mr. Right’.  She was not going to sit around with her life on hold until he materialized.  She went to work, she went to school and she had a successful singing career. She certainly entered the work force long before women’s liberation, but that did not stop her from becoming the first female office manager for a large insurance company.  She had no problem advising the corporate office that it made absolutely no sense to pay her a lower salary for that office manager position simply because she was a woman.  When they hesitated, she asked them what it was that she did not have to do because she was a female? If she would earn less it must be because the job of office manager had different responsibilities for a woman than for a man. She knew that the raise they gave her still did not equal the pay rate of her male counterparts, but at least she had made her point. When Mr. Right did come along my mom knew it right away. Of course they had peaks and valleys in their relationship, but she always knew what she wanted for their time together.  When they were not able to conceive children, she willingly turned to adoption. When times were tough, she willingly worked in my father’s office to help ends meet. When they were raising their children, she always made sure they had date nights and time away together. When she was able to stay at home, she made cooking and cleaning and gardening into forms of art. My friends all marveled at the fact we used cloth napkins and had gourmet meals. I did not choose the exact same life as my mother. If this ever bothered her (and it rarely did), she had to know that she taught me to be independent, to make my own choices and to be true to myself. “You will have to take me out of this house feet first!” Mom got her wish. She did in fact leave her house feet first. She died quickly and peacefully in her own home, her prayer book on her lap.  She died exactly as she wanted to.  Just like her life her death was on her own terms.  Her life was her own success story.
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Discouragement is no Excuse

images “Discouragement is like a scorpion in your shoe; it takes courage to toss it out so you can move on.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich “Why should I put in for that promotion? I already know that Simon will get the job.” Or, “I could never complete my master’s degree while I am working, I guess it is too late, I guess I should have done it when I was younger.” Oh come on now! You can do better than that. Don’t use discouragement as an excuse and don’t let discouragement translate into laziness. See if you allow yourself to give in to discouragement, you really are taking the easy way out. Look at our opening quotes again: “Why should I put in for that promotion? I already know that Simon will get the job.” Maybe Simon is the favored candidate for the promotion, but if you don’t express interest your leaders will never know that you are seeking advancement. If you don’t apply for the promotion, you are taking the easy way out. You don’t go through the interview process or prove why you are the right one for the job you don’t do anything. So WHEN will you try for that promotion? Will you always let discouragement take the lead? “I could never complete my master’s degree while I am working, I guess it is too late, I guess I should have done it when I was younger.” Yes it is difficult to work full time, have a personal life and go to school. If you doubt me, ask around. There are many people you can ask. Wait a minute, if there are many people you can ask that would imply that many people push forward and do it anyway. So even though it is hard work, apparently it is not impossible. Apparently some people did not let discouragement lead the way; they go ahead and take on the challenge. So next time you feel discouraged about taking on a challenge, remind yourself that if you let discouragement set your course of action, you are really taking the easy way out. How have you pushed through discouragement in your life? It would be excellent to be able to share you answer with others.
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Those Who Annoy Us Teach Us

communication skills
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” -Carl Jung
Mary Carol was so annoyed. Her subject matter expert Sue had just interrupted her while she was speaking. “That is not what I asked.” Sue said. Inwardly Mary Carol seethed. Inwardly she thought, “Well if you would have let me finish I would have answered you.” Mary Carol tried again and this time she kept her answer much more concise and to the point. Later in that same conversation, Sue cut her off again. This was really irritating. She began to realize that she did not enjoy Sue’s communication style at all. She found it to be very curt and unfriendly. She thought that Sue was being very impatient. She could not wait to conclude the conversation and move on. The next day Mary Carol had participated in a meeting where Sue was also in attendance. There were times during the meeting where Sue seemed to be impatient and worked to move the conversation along more quickly. Then it was time for Sue to speak about her part of the project. As Sue discussed her work, the challenges she faced and some of the potential solutions she had found, her whole communication style seemed to change. She responded to questions fully. She did not cut anyone off when they spoke and she looked much more happy and more engaged in the conversation. It occurred to Mary Carol that Sue was really comfortable in her knowledge and more than willing to share ideas. Sue was really responding to the questions and feedback on her area or expertise and interest. As Mary Carol watched Sue something occurred to her. Maybe Sue was not the only one who needed to work on her communication style. Mary Carol could approach Sue differently. Perhaps Mary Carol was guilty of wanting everyone to communicate the same way or to respond to her style no matter what. And just maybe Sue was not the only one who was being impatient. It was definitely worthy of consideration and Mary Carol decided that next time she spoke with Sue, she would try using a different approach. What is the best lesson you have learned from someone who irritated you? Do you ever wonder what others might have learned from you? Yes I am implying that at least once you were probably irritating to others
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Are high-performing teams beyond emotion?

compassion at work, workplace compassion, high-performing team,Is this you? “As a business student, you don’t want to show compassion; you don’t want to let your guard down,” she says. “You’re taught to be strong and not show emotion.” This is a quote from Samantha Serna, a business student who was drafted with other members of her class to participate in compassion training. Too often we are taught not to show emotions in the workplace. We do not want to be insensitive, but if people know that we care about them they will walk all over us, won’t they? Or they might misinterpret our feelings and we certainly do not want that. Yet we know that toxic teams decrease our ability to succeed. Time and again we read how it is our responsibility as project managers to build a high-performing team. Consider the hallmarks of a high-performing team: • Team members trust one another • Team members work toward the same goal • Team members face conflict and diffuse tension • Team members carry their own weight YET know that when they need help their team mates will jump in How can we accomplish this without caring about our team members and without feeling like they care about us? When you know that your team members will jump in to help you and you are willing to jump in and help them, it is because you care. You might argue that the caring is about team success and not about caring about people. Well then what about trust? Can you really trust someone you do not care about? Or look at it this way, why would that person be trustworthy toward you if they do not care about you? I suppose you can make a case for trustworthiness as separate from caring about others. Perhaps you are trustworthy as a matter of general principle. Let’s think about the true high-performing team. They really do go beyond being functional and although they do all focus on the same goal, it is their strong bonds that make them high performing. It is very difficult to develop a bond with team members if you think that they do not care about you. Compassion at work means caring about your team members. Team members who feel cared about have more positive experiences and attitudes. These positive experiences and attitudes lay the foundation for the creation of a high performing team.
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3 Tips for Setting Remote Workers Up for Success

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’” Brian Tracy shy_hide_behind-computer_350x202Last time we discussed how to remain visible while working remotely. Today let’s look at working remotely from another perspective. How can you support your team members so that they are successful as they work remotely? More and more of us work remotely. Not everyone enjoys working remotely and not everyone is a good candidate to work remotely. You can build a successful team by following these guidelines to put the right people in the right places. Some people should work in the office, while others really shine at working remotely.
  1. Select disciplined and self-motivated team members. BEFORE you place someone in the position of working remotely, be sure that they are disciplined and self-motivated. Working away from the office presents a whole new set of distractions. Especially for a worker in a home office. There is web surfing and phone calls and television and errands to run. The undisciplined worker can easily get lost. If the opportunity presents itself, have your team member start in the office. See how they do with some specific assignments, set due dates and give them independence. If they have problems meeting their goals in the office, it is likely they will have challenges meeting their goals while working remotely. This is not to say that when your team members work remotely you can ignore them. Of course not. But some people who work remotely are less likely to reach out to you than they would if they saw you in the office. YOU want to make sure that you do check in with everyone on a regular basis and of course schedule regular touch base sessions and one-on-ones. YOU do NOT want to be someone’s alarm clock and you do NOT want to have to continually remind someone of his or her responsibilities.
  2. Create connection. Help to build relationships between team members who are in the office and team members who are working remotely. One of the keys to the success of a virtual team is connection. Team members need to feel connected to the work, connected to you and connected to other team members. Even the most independent of remote team members needs to feel that they are not just floating around in space alone. Set up some working partnerships or small groups that include team members who work in the office and team members who work remotely. Make sure that every remote worker has someone in the office to call for information and updates aside from you. When that contact is on vacation or out for extended periods of time make sure that there is a back up. (This is why sometimes it is good to set up small work groups.) Allow team members who work in the office to have time in their day to act as the in office liaison for remote workers. Some relationships will spring up organically, but it helps if you provide the proper environment to help these relationships grow.
  3. Set Realistic and Consistent Expectations - One of the first arguments you might hear from someone who wants to work remotely goes something like this, “But I am so much more productive when I work from home and because I do not have to commute I work even longer hours.” This does tend to be true of the truly responsible and diligent remote team member. They want to make sure that you know that they are producing and not slacking off. Doesn’t this sound great? How can you lose? Well, you lose if your remote worker experiences burnout or feels like all of his or her effort is not being appreciated. The fact that he or she does not have a commute does not mean that time should automatically go toward work. Set clear goals and deadlines with your team members and make sure those goals and deadlines are reasonable and are the same types of goals and deadlines you set for your team members who do not work remotely. If you suspect that one of your remote team members is working too hard, encourage them to relax their pace and assure them that you do not expect them to work for you 24/7. Let them know that you are aware that they are productive and valuable.
And there you have it! Three tips that will help your remote workers experience success.
If you enjoyed this blog posting, then you may enjoy our inspirational quotes and tips to get you through the workweek!
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