Solitary Places

“Orlando naturally loved solitary places, vast views and to feel himself for ever and ever and ever alone.” – Virgina Woolf.

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We’re not always comfortable enough in our own skin to be by ourselves.  There is real value, however, in learning to be comfortable in our solitude.  I have found as I get older solitude has become more comfortable and more natural.   When I was younger, I hated being alone.

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Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most brilliant minds, left us some nuggets of genius on the topic. He recognize the challenge of solitude when we are young.  Especially in our school years, solitude can be quite painful.  As we get older, we realize how important it is for us.  Consequently, he also commented on how man in general is at one and the same time both a solitary being and a social being.  Every day depending on how much coffee I’ve had, I vacillate between the two.  The more coffee I’ve had, the more social I am.  Some would say, when I have coffee in hand, I glow.

 

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As a mother of three kids, finding solitude has become akin to finding the holy grail. Silent contemplation is a gift of my daily commute into Broward.  Set against the backdrop of an eclectic mix of music, I look forward to my 35 minutes of solitude.   Of course a happy and productive life needs a mix of solitude and togetherness.  One can’t find happiness in either extreme.

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Creative and Inspired

To be creative and inspired, one must be prepared to invest time in the cultivation of ideas.  There is no better way to cultivate one’s creativity than through reading. Norman Cousins, famed American political journalist once said; “A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life.”

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If you were to look at the habits of America’s most successful leaders, one commonality would be their passion for reading.  Reading  can help leaders improve their vocabulary, emotional intelligence, become a more adept communicator and inspire creativity. By and large their reading isn’t necessarily confined to business topics, but rather all types of literature.

I recently took over a new team in my corporate life. Therefore, one topic I have been reading a lot about is change management.  Change management done well results in great business outcomes from a KPI and employee engagement perspective.  Change management done poorly can undermine an entire business.

Here are some of my favorite reads on change management:

  1.  HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management
  2.  Leading Change, by John Kotter
  3.  Change Friendly Leadership, by Roger Dean Duncan
  4.  Changemaking: Tactics and Resources for Managing Organizational Change, By Richard Bevan
  5.  The Theory and Practice of Change Management: Third Edition, By John Hayes

Reading novels is crucial to unleashing your creativity and inspiration.  Here are some of my favorites.

  1.  Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
  2.  The Alchemist, Pablo Coelho
  3.  The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  4.   The Decameron,  Giovanni Boccacio
  5.  A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  6.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  7.  Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes
  8.  1984, George Orwell
  9.  Animal Farm, George Orwell
  10.   Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

What are some of your favorite novels?  I’m always looking for something new to read, so please share your favorites in the comments.

 

 

 

The Grind

It is easy to get lost in the grind of our day to day to professional and personal lives.  As we grind it out, it easy to lose site of how much progress we’ve made. This week we spent three days as a leadership team working on our budget initiatives for 2018.  It was an invigorating, discussing spurring event that was really productive.

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This was my fourth year attending and my third year presenting.  The first year I presented, it wasn’t pretty. They beat me up pretty good.  Thankfully, each year has gone progressively better than the last year.  This year I presented on two days to a much larger audience than I’d been accustomed to, but it went very well.  As I look back on my previous budget experiences and compare to this year’s presentation, I can see how far I have come.  3b8ffd69e15dcd50329cbd68b15ef30f--teen-quotes-work-quotes

While I’ve made some great progress towards my professional goals, my fitlife goals too a backseat to Twizzlers, Snickers, and catered meals.  When I got home tonight and my treadmill and TRX were glaring at me.  I went for a quick run on the treadmill before dinner.

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My treadmill and I got reacquainted before a great dinner with friends.  My TRX, however, is looking a little neglected.  Tomorrow I will be getting back on the wagon eating right.  There are times that we deviate from our health goals and that’s gonna happen.  We can’t let it derail us completely.  There is no quick way to success be it professional or personal.  There is no elevator to take us to the top floor only hard work and persistence.

You Being You

Loved this whimsical quote from Dr. Seuss that’s all about you being you and me being me.   The picture of my favorite carousel from Paris didn’t hurt either.  I looked high and low for pictures from our first trip to Paris.   I have a fabulous picture of Jake riding the carousel near the Eiffel Tower, but that photo album has gone ghost.  I digress.

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When we travel, we’re free to be ourselves.  Being free of other people’s expectations and perceptions, if even for a week, is completely liberating.  The truth is we have to learn to accept who we are before anyone else can accept us.  Further, and far more difficult, we have to learn to accept that not everyone will like us.

Reality is when we embrace who we are and we say what we feel those that are important to us will embrace us.  Those that don’t simply don’t matter.   Sometimes one needn’t look further than Dr. Seuss for great advice and Green Eggs and Ham.

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Take Pride

What does it mean to take pride in what you do?  Perhaps renowned basketball coach Red Auerbach said it best, “Take pride in what you do. The kind of pride I’m talking about is not the arrogant puffed-up kind; it’s just the whole idea of caring – fiercely caring.”

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My kids, as you know, are home for the first summer since 2008. Each week day, I give the kids of list of chores to complete.  Each day the boys are in a mad rush right before or right as the Hubby and I are getting home from work.   Of course, the result is substandard work on most chores, which drives me crazy.

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In order, to get the chores done correctly and on time, I turn off the wi-fi device by device.  Its akin to being put in the corner without a toy.  An electronic device without steady data or wi-fi is useless to most kids.  The goal in all of this is to teach them responsibility, how to do certain chores (i.e. laundry) so they’re well prepared for life and lighten our load.

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The real lesson here is whatever you do; do it well.  Don’t settle for mediocrity and take pride in your work.  Whether it is a household chore, school, a sporting event or your career; do your best.

Tether Ball

I remember playing tether ball as a kid and being pretty awful at it.   It was a lot of fun, but if you got distracted for even a second there was a good chance you were going to get smacked in the face by that ball.  Now as an adult, we all have days like that.  Days that smack us upside the head like a tether ball.

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Thening.  Our daily routines, can set us up for how we handle the stressors of our day.  In a perfect world, I’d start each and every day with at least 20 minutes of yoga.  My snooze button – a very stubborn thing – keeps getting in the way.  Another practice that helps during the day is taking regular walks throughout the day.  If you can’t get away from your desk for multiple walks, set aside at least one fifteen minute break to take a walk outside.

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The events of our day, much like our life, don’t define us.  Rather it is our reactions to these events, both good and bad, that define who we are.  Setting yourself up each day for a calm reaction will go a long way to ending the tether ball feeling.  Being mindful about how we react to other people and to our stress is an important skill needed to be successful.  With a little practice, some breathing exercises and a few walks, one can find balance in even the craziest day.

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The Last Mooring

Shiny New Toy

What is it about human nature that when something newer comes along, we tend to abandon our older toys or belongings in favor of the newer, shinier toy?  It would be okay if this was limited to inanimate objects, but this behavior is most egregiously displayed between people.  Sophocles paints a much more eloquent picture of this phenomenon in his play Women of Trachis writing “the eyes of men love to pluck the blossoms, from the faded flowers they turn away.” How is that we’re so quick to turn on those that have been loyal in favor of people that are new to our lives or our organization?  And does it have to be this way?

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The obvious, but not so easy answer is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If we learned anything from the movie Toy Story, and I think we all did, it is that the new and old can co-exist peacefully and productively. When a new person comes into our organization or lives, we want them to feel integrated and a part of the team. In hiring a new person, it is important to hire someone that can integrate into your team as this will alleviate many potential problems.

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In the corporate world, solving this issue comes down to leadership.  Leaders can integrate new members into the team making them feel important without neglecting or negating the accomplishments of existing team members.  One easy to do this is by highlighting the special skillsets and expertise each team member brings to the table and while clearly defining each party’s role in the organization.  This will help ensure new team members can integrate into the team without causing existing team members to think their being replaced.

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In our personal lives, the onus is on us to make sure we do not neglect our friendships.  Life gets busy and relationships evolve, but we can always make time to nurture our friendships be it a call, a text, a Facebook message just to say hi.  There may be finite room in your house to store stuff, but there is no cap on many people we can have in our lives.

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Walt Whitman Wednesday

I love this quote from Whitman.  It is a perfect reminder to focus on the good in life and let the sad, scary or bad shadows fall behind.   So today don’t get lost in the shadows, keep your chin up and your face towards the sun.

It’s Friday – Time to be Amazing

While it is easy to celebrate that the end of our work week in near, bring focus to today’s work and strive to be your best as the weekend draws closer.

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