Funny thing happened to me on the way to completing my Richard Rohr blog post reading this morning.  I accidently hit something on my iPad as I was reading it and ended up on his Facebook page.  (Funny how those “accidents” happen).  From there, I noticed this other organization called “gratefulness.org.”  Well, of course I just had to visit that.  (All this while I’m supposed to be working on a speech–can you say “procrastination extraordinaire?”).

Then the most amazing thing happened.  I stumbled on this blog post that I couldn’t resist reading–if you read it, you’ll understand why.

Serendipity is a wonderful thing.

 


Per a friend’s suggestion–and you know who you are–I went out and purchased the little book by Marie Kondo called, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Picture shown below.

As I look around my home this morning, I have the inspiration to get started RIGHT NOW.  The place looks horrible.  I still have Christmas trees up (not to worry–they’re artificial; I’m not creating fire hazards here).  I have books and papers all over the place from some recent consulting work I’m doing and from two “The Great Courses” I’m taking simultaneously (of course).  Then there is the kitchen with the dishes that need to be washed and stored and recipes and mail strewn all over the place.  I don’t even want to mention the clothes jungle that exists upstairs (oh, but did I just say that in my out-loud voice?!).  The movie Twister showed devastation milder than this place right now.

But, naturally, having “the attention span of a grasshopper,” I want to begin RIGHT NOW and of course, I haven’t read the book.  Ah, but that’s where the wonderful world of Mr. Google and the Internet come in.  Can you type, “Book summary for ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?'”  And what to my wonderous eyes should appear but a blog with the summary tips for changing my life by tidying up–conveniently included below in case you have the same inclination as I do on this Sunday morning.

Blog post summary of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Sigh.  I know I’m cheating a bit…but as you read her blog to see what I mean…my clothing will breathe better as a result of it!  At least I hope so…as long as I don’t get distracted by that other little book sitting just over there…..

 

 


Yep, it’s hard to believe but it’s that time of year again–New Year’s.  To make a resolution or not to make a resolution, THAT is the question.  After–harrumph–fifty plus years of New Year’s that question gets a little “old” don’t you think?

But, we never really stop changing, do we?  We never really stop growing, or at least I hope we don’t.  I’ve learned lessons in recent years which have modified my behavior, and I could never have learned those lessons in my earlier years before I started to experience life’s richness in the form of hardships and blessings.

The grace of a life well lived is that we evolve and grow in wisdom and perspective.  I’m sad that we Americans have lost the art of story telling.  I think that’s something our Irish, Scottish, German and Old Country ancestors possessed that helped younger folks understand life and lessons as they were experiencing them.  That’s why I think it’s so important to continue to read, watch movies, go to plays and so forth because life so often imitates art and we can learn much from the fictional heroes and villains that present themselves on the page, screen and stage.

And to that end, I can’t help but end this post with a wonderful quote out of one of the Harry Potter novels which I found in an article referenced on Twitter.

 

image

 

In case you have trouble expanding the picture it says, “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”  

Here’s to more “grow to be” in 2016.  Cheers!

   


A special lady and SWOG (you may remember who you are!) forwarded me an email awhile ago with the below information. What a GREAT reminder!!!  It compliments the “6-Word Memoir” (that was really 5 words) from my most recent post.  “Bloom where you are planted”–see October 3, 2015 post.

TGIT… Thank God It’s Today Volume #373 – January 12th, 2015   Someday Isle   The Dalai Lama was asked, “What surprises you most about humanity?  This was his response… “Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

I have often heard it said that one of life’s greatest tragedies is when someone dies at a young age. I believe an even greater tragedy would be to live to one hundred, without ever having really lived.   Someday Isle is well known to most people. It is a place that we dream of and talk about, but we never seem to arrive. Someday Isle is all of those things we wanted to do in our lives; all those places we wanted to visit; all those things we wanted to have. But we put them off because of “Someday I’ll”. Someday I’ll try whitewater rafting… Someday I’ll finish school… Someday I’ll move out of this neighborhood… Someday I’ll have a family… Someday I’ll be somebody.

Think about it. What have you been putting off doing that you have always wanted to do, to have, to be? Ask yourself, what is keeping you from doing these things?   Do you have limiting beliefs or fears? Are these limiting beliefs or fears real, or are they just excuses?   What if you didn’t have any excuses?   What would you do?

I am aware of terminally ill cancer patients that have formed “Adventure Clubs”. These patients have been told they are going to die, some in a few months, others in several months, and a lucky few within the next 2-5 years.   These patients started adventure clubs to seek out and do everything they were afraid to do when they were “well”.   They went white water rafting, sky diving, rode roller coasters, and ate spicy foods they never tried before. They visited places they always wanted to see, but never made time for.    They simply made the best out of every day they had left, without fear or limiting beliefs.   They would tell their loved ones they loved them, every day. They didn’t hold back!

I want to share a secret with you…   You already know this, but chances are you may have lost sight of it. Nobody is promised tomorrow. We are all going to die one day.   You don’t need to have a terminal illness to decide you want to live each and every day to the fullest.   YOU have that choice today. You always have!

Barry Gottlieb’s Blog, Author–Speaker–Trusted Advisor.


I think I’ve told this crowd before that I purchase this ice tea called Honest Tea.  First of all, isn’t that just the coolest name???!!!  I love it!  But, even cooler than the name–the glass bottles I buy at the grocery store have these amazing quotes on the inside of the cap.  I have saved a bunch for future posts, but today’s is this:

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.                                       Dr. Wayne Dyer

Oh that brings some real richness to mind!  Just for background, I looked up the definition of karma and here’s what my Google search gave me:

(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences; destiny or fate, following as effect from cause

Of course, we were just speaking about  Pope Francis and the love, mercy and grace he shows all those he comes in contact with.  Just think about the magnitude of his karma!!!  But, I think this statement is so true.  I think our behavior influences our karma–or outcomes–or fate.  True, there is much that comes from chance, luck, unavoidable encounters and so forth…but how we deal with even those things, I think tells alot about the character of a person.

It is so easy to fall into the “eye for an eye” mentality.  When someone does you harm, it is so easy to sink into the mode of righteous indignation and think about what you could say or do in return.  But, as I know I have quoted Stephen Covey before:

Between stimulus and response there is a space; in that space lies the power to choose your response; in your response lies your growth and your freedom.

What if we chose “love” instead of righteous indignation?  What if we chose “mercy” instead of justice?  What if we turned the other cheek in grace instead of lash out with anger, hatred or even just judgment?  What if we chose optimism versus pessimism?  I am reminded of Jesus’ Parables.  What lessons was he trying to teach us?

Richard Rohr talked about karma in a recent post on his blog:

Karma is an absolute law of cause and effect.  Even thoughts and desires have a predictable karma.  You are responsible for your own thoughts and motives, and you cannot avoid the consequences.  Thoughts and motives are real and create the Real.  You cannot walk around thinking negative thoughts, or they will destroy you.

Conversely, no love is lost in the universe.  I believe you are actually punished by your sins; whereas Western religions tend to teach that you are punished for your sins.  Goodness is its own reward and evil is its own punishment, karmic law would say.  These are two very different world views, and frankly, I am convinced that Jesus taught the karmic one. “You cannot pick grapes from thorns or figs from thistles.  A good tree will bear good fruit,” He said, “and a bad tree will bear bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17-18).  Jesus also said, “If you show mercy, mercy will be shown to you.” (Matthew 5:7, Luke 6:37) and “The standard you use will be used for you” (Mark 4:24).

I think we could all have really awesome karma–don’t you?


More from my now other favorite blog–Harvard Business Review. If you have male colleagues or family members, you can influence them to extend the hand outward to their female colleagues and perhaps make a big difference in their careers. Here’s what the men in our lives can do to help. And, my male blog followers….this one’s for you!

What Men Can Do to Help Women Advance Their Careers
by Debora Spar | 11:00 AM November 8, 2013
Comments (9)

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking — a lot — about the themes of women and work. About how women haven’t even come close to reaching the heights of professional power that many of us once predicted would shortly come to pass; about how women today remain oddly chained to an expanded and wholly unrealistic set of expectations. And I have also been talking, more than I had imagined I might, about what men can do to address this set of issues.

The good news here, I think, is that there is a lot of good news. Once upon a time — say, maybe 50 years ago — there was undeniably a mindset among many men who, for a variety of reasons, firmly believed that women could never make it in their world. They were men (joined usually by a supportive chorus of women) who thought that women were not competitive or strong enough for the world of work. They claimed women didn’t have the inner fiber and inherent smarts; that a woman’s job was to be home taking care of the children.

These days are now long past. Most men — or at least most of the ones I encounter — are firmly committed to advancing the careers of women around them. They want their wives to succeed; they want their daughters to succeed; they want their female friends to succeed; they want to reap the rewards of investing in the trajectories of female employees and co-workers. The problem is that they just don’t know how. And why should they, given that women themselves are having so much difficulty identifying possible solutions to their plight?

So here, humbly submitted, are five simple things that men can do to help women advance in their careers and their lives.

Do your part on the “second shift.” The home front remains a critical piece of the problem facing working women. So do the laundry. Or the grocery shopping. Or the scheduling of dental appointments. Seriously. Studies (like this one) make clear that while men are doing an increasing amount of work on the home front, they are still leaving the bulk of that work to women, burdening them with the well-known problem of the “second shift.” Men need to increase their share of the daily, mundane, chores. The dishes. The carpools. The packing of lunches and scheduling of play dates. And they need, critically, to take responsibility for whatever tasks fall upon them. Action driven only by nagging isn’t good for anyone.

Take a female colleague to lunch. One of the subtle problems that confront many young female employees is that their male colleagues are scared of them. Scared, that is, that being seen with them will constitute some violation of policy, or at least propriety. The result is that women are often left out of the casual social interaction that provides the bedrock for many professional relationships. Invite women for lunch, or golf, or whatever outings constitute the norm in your organization. And if all your office socializing takes place after-hours, try to come up with activities that fit other schedules, like alternating after-work drinks with before-work breakfasts. Behave appropriately, of course, and make junior women part of a larger group, if possible. But don’t ignore the social side of workplace relationships.

Don’t be afraid to criticize. This, too, is a problem caused by fear. All too often, men in positions of power are afraid to give their younger female colleagues tough feedback. Instead, they waffle and demur, resorting to vague niceties rather than specific criticism. Which means, of course, that the women aren’t getting the advice they need to improve and, eventually, succeed. This doesn’t imply that male bosses should make a habit of yelling at their female subordinates, or that they should rush to give negative feedback. But they should be careful to give young women the same kind of feedback — honest, fair, tough, and specific — that they provide to their male counterparts.

Show up and ask questions. One of the best indicators of an organization’s commitment to diversity is who shows up at diversity-themed events. All too often, only women engage in conversations about balance or family or flexible modes of work. And if the discussions do not extend beyond this population, and outside the realm of women-only functions, then nothing will ever get done. Men who want to help need to be part of the dialogue, and present at those conversations.

Give credit where it’s due – and check if you’re not sure. Every working woman has faced this situation: she offers a point or suggestion in a meeting; watches the conversation move on without notice; and then hears her precise point being echoed five minutes later by a man, whose views are then repeated and praised by the others. So pay particular attention to who is talking during a meeting, and who gets credit for these words. Try to call women participants out by name (“As Sally said just a few moments ago …”) and reference them later in the conversation (“Joe, your idea reminds me of the argument Sally was making earlier…”). Go out of your way to call on quiet people — regardless of their gender — and take the time to learn who really contributed to joint projects or presentations. These practices aren’t just good for women. They are good management, too.

By themselves, of course, these five suggestions will not fix the “women’s problem” that continues to plague our organizations and our society. Bringing men into the conversation, though, and engaging their skills and energies, is an important part of the puzzle.

More blog posts by Debora Spar
More on: Gender, Leadership

DEBORA SPAR
Debora Spar is president of Barnard College and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection. Prior to her arrival at Barnard in 2008, Spar was the Spangler Family Professor at Harvard Business School. Spar also serves as a Director of Goldman Sachs and trustee of the Nightingale-Bamford School.


I know I’m being rather lazy these days and short cutting my own blog writing by supplementing with other blog posts, but I couldn’t help thinking this particular entry in the Harvard Business Review post would be of interest to my subscribers. I have recently had to make a few rather major decisions and I had a friend far wiser than me say:

Try not to think of choices as a right one and wrong one. Rather think in terms of a continuum of which choice you may regret doing or not doing more.

So, for example, when recently faced with an invitation by a dear friend of mine to travel 14 hours via air to Dubai or not to go, I asked myself which would I likely regret more–going or not going. Phrased another way, if I went to Dubai, would I wish I had stayed home? If I didn’t go to Dubai, would I wish that I had? The choice was an easy one–GO! And I had an absolutely marvelous time–thanks to my friend’s wonderful hospitality (a true SWOG!) Not once while I was there or after coming home did I feel any sense of remorse over the choice I made. On the contrary, I’m extremely happy that I went. Perhaps the rest of this post–the information from HBR will help explain why. I hope this helps you with any upcoming decisions you may need to make. Enjoy!

Stop Worrying About Making the Right Decision
by Ed Batista | 2:00 PM November 8, 2013
Comments (38)

Much of my work as a coach involves helping people wrestle with an important decision. Some of these decisions feel particularly big because they involve selecting one option to the exclusion of all others when the cost of being “wrong” can be substantial: If I’m at a crossroads in my career, which path should I follow? If I’m considering job offers, which one should I accept? If I’m being asked to relocate, should I move to a new city or stay put?

Difficult decisions like this remind me of a comment made by Scott McNealy — a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and its CEO for 22 years — during a lecture I attended while I was in business school at Stanford: He was asked how he made decisions and responded by saying, in effect, It’s important to make good decisions. But I spend much less time and energy worrying about “making the right decision” and much more time and energy ensuring that any decision I make turns out right.

I’m paraphrasing, but my memory of this comment is vivid, and his point was crystal clear. Before we make any decision — particularly one that will be difficult to undo — we’re understandably anxious and focused on identifying the “best” option because of the risk of being “wrong.” But a by-product of that mindset is that we overemphasize the moment of choice and lose sight of everything that follows. Merely selecting the “best” option doesn’t guarantee that things will turn out well in the long run, just as making a sub-optimal choice doesn’t doom us to failure or unhappiness. It’s what happens next (and in the days, months, and years that follow) that ultimately determines whether a given decision was “right.”

Another aspect of this dynamic is that our focus on making the “right” decision can easily lead to paralysis, because the options we’re choosing among are so difficult to rank in the first place. How can we definitively determine in advance what career path will be “best,” or what job offer we should accept, or whether we should move across the country or stay put? Obviously, we can’t. There are far too many variables. But the more we yearn for an objective algorithm to rank our options and make the decision for us, the more we distance ourselves from the subjective factors — our intuition, our emotions, our gut — that will ultimately pull us in one direction or another. And so we get stuck, waiting for a sign — something — to point the way.

I believe the path to getting unstuck when faced with a daunting, possibly paralyzing decision is embedded in McNealy’s comment, and it involves a fundamental re-orientation of our mindset: Focusing on the choice minimizes the effort that will inevitably be required to make any option succeed and diminishes our sense of agency and ownership. In contrast, focusing on the effort that will be required after our decision not only helps us see the means by which any choice might succeed, it also restores our sense of agency and reminds us that while randomness plays a role in every outcome, our locus of control resides in our day-to-day activities more than in our one-time decisions.

So while I support using available data to rank our options in some rough sense, ultimately we’re best served by avoiding paralysis-by-analysis and moving foward by:

paying close attention to the feelings and emotions that accompany the decision we’re facing,
assessing how motivated we are to work toward the success of any given option, and
recognizing that no matter what option we choose, our efforts to support its success will be more important than the initial guesswork that led to our choice.
This view is consistent with the work of Stanford professor Baba Shiv, an expert in the neuroscience of decision-making. Shiv notes that in the case of complex decisions, rational analysis will get us closer to a decision but won’t result in a definitive choice because our options involve trading one set of appealing outcomes for another, and the complexity of each scenario makes it impossible to determine in advance which outcome will be optimal.

Two key findings have emerged from Shiv’s research: First, successful decisions are those in which the decision-maker remains committed to their choice. And second, emotions play a critical role in determining a successful outcome to a trade-off decision. As Shiv told Stanford Business magazine, emotions are “mental shortcuts that help us resolve trade-off conflicts and…happily commit to a decision.” Going further, Shiv noted, “When you feel a trade-off conflict, it just behooves you to focus on your gut.”

This isn’t to say that we should simply allow our emotions to choose for us. We’ve all made “emotional” decisions that we later came to regret. But current neuroscience research makes clear that emotions are an important input into decision-making by ruling out the options most likely to lead to a negative outcome and focusing our attention on the options likely to lead to a positive outcome. More specifically, research by Florida State professor Roy Baumeister and others suggests that good decision-making is tied to our ability to anticipate future emotional states: “It is not what a person feels right now, but what he or she anticipates feeling as the result of a particular behavior that can be a powerful and effective guide to choosing well.”

So when we’re stuck or even paralyzed by a decision, we need more than rational analysis. We need to vividly envision ourselves in a future scenario, get in touch with the emotions this generates and assess how those feelings influence our level of commitment to that particular choice. We can’t always make the right decision, but we can make every decision right.


So I woke up to this on my Harvard Business Review blog email notification. Tell me this isn’t right up our alley!

How Women Respond to Frustration at Work, and Why
by Kathryn Heath | 1:00 PM November 5, 2013
Comments (31)

One Monday morning, I rode the elevator with an attorney who works in my building. She was fuming. Apparently, she and a male colleague brought an idea to their senior partner meeting. They had both been over-the-moon-eager to make the pitch and spent the week preparing a full presentation with video clips. Then, five minutes into the pitch their hopes were dashed. The managing director didn’t like the idea and he was in a hurry to close the meeting. He shut them down with a blunt remark, leaving zero room for rebuttal. My friend was in a spiral. The experience ruined her weekend and she was still thinking about it days later. She felt humiliated and couldn’t let it go. You’d think that her colleague would be equally insulted by the shabby treatment. Yet, according to her, he was barely fazed. He took the setback in stride, essentially brushing it off.

Everyone has bad moments and foiled presentations, but not everyone carries it around with them for days or weeks. One anecdote does not indicate a trend, of course, but other evidence suggests that there may be a gender divide in how men and women respond to frustration at work.

This is a common topic of discussion in my coaching sessions with female executives. They report feeling disappointed and sometimes defensive when a decision or debate at work doesn’t go their way. Similarly, my review of 360 feedback reports indicates that women harbor what my colleagues and I refer to as “retained angst.” That is, they second-guess themselves and take negative moments to heart for an extended period instead of reflecting on the incident and letting it go. On average, the managers we speak with say that they see more women than men “taking it personally” when the tide turns against them. In addition, in a 2013 survey of 270 female managers in Fortune 500 organizations, including McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, and Walmart, and follow-up interviews with 65 top managers, my colleagues and I found that both male and female executives reported that women have a more difficult time letting go of bad experiences at work. They blame themselves, feel insulted, or harbor resentment for days at a time.

When we asked a senior HR Manager about this he said: “…from my vantage point, I’ve seen that women in business settings struggle with frustration and get defensive when they are challenged. [The problem is that] this takes away their power.” He went on to agree that men are able to express their frustration without sacrificing their authority.

In our interview transcripts, we found a few common threads that help to explain why women may be more likely to feel frustrated and let it show.

1. Women have more to prove. In the executive ranks of many companies women are still playing catch-up in terms of pay equity and promotion opportunities. With fewer female peers to pull them into upper management, the stakes to “get it right” in office interactions are high. Some women report feeling more scrutinized than their male colleagues. (Betty Spence, president of the National Association for Female Executives, calls this “skirtiny.”) As a result, they feel that they need to be perfect. They become stressed and upset when they don’t meet their own impossible expectations or live up to the scrutiny of others.

2. Men think of business as a game, while women want meaning. Many women and men despise the use of sports and battle analogies in business. And yet, many men told us they’ve internalized more than women that business is like a game—you win some and you lose some. One COO told us, “Women internalize things. Whereas men realize that sometimes you lose the battle but you can still win the war.” In other words, know they need to “live to fight another day.”

This difference may connect back to the idea that women, more than men, want to find meaning in their work. A groundbreaking survey from 2010 showed that meaning in work is a prime predictor of high satisfaction for working mothers. While men commonly cite their paycheck as the primary motivation, this study and others tell us that women may be looking for something more.

3. Men keep it inside. Be it constructive criticism, verbal opposition to their ideas, or simply a perceived slight, both men and women can become frustrated by intense opposition. That being said, my experience as a coach, as well as the interviews I conducted with my colleagues, tell us that women simply admit their feelings of frustration more readily than men. They vent, while men maintain a poker face.

This brings us back to our female tax attorney and her male business partner. Is it possible that he was more upset than he is willing to admit? When I asked him, he just gave a little smile. He’ll never tell.

More blog posts by Kathryn Heath
More on: Gender, Morale, Personal effectiveness

KATHRYN HEATH
Kathryn Heath is a principal of Flynn Heath Holt Leadership (FHHL). She is co-author of Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women’s Paths to Power (Jossey-Bass; September 2011). Join the conversation at FlynnHeathHolt.com and on Twitter @FlynnHeathHolt.com