Here’s to your great new ideas for 2016

I love sending out snail mail cards and just finished my Happy New Year 2016newest mailing.  I intentionally handwrite addresses as the process gives me a few minutes, at least once a year, to think about the depth and breadth of my connections.  To think about that person; my colleague, my client, my friend, and to wish them well.  To wonder what they are up to, to remember something special about them or something special we did together.  If I missed you this year and you actually enjoy receiving something personal in the mail, email me (debbie@life-logistics.com ) your address and I’ll joyfully add you to my snail mail list!

For those of you who didn’t receive this via classic old snail mail, I thought I’d share my “new ideas” for the upcoming year.  I am delighted to be working with new clients and working with a new coaching partnership for organizations looking for a team of coaches.  (Check us out a www.theleadershippartnership.com).  What is truly a stretch for me is working behind the scenes (really far behind the scenes) on a new magazine (paper and digital) called Inspired Living for Women.  It’s a fascinating process to watch something like this grow and evolve and I hope one day to be able to make the big announcement of its official paper launch.  (It’s available for preview in its pre-launch format if you really want to watch it grow.  (http://www.inspiredliving.today/)

In the “renewed” category – I am renewing my commitment to stay connected to friends, clients and colleagues in a variety of means.  I do use Facebook quite a bit and would love it if you “like” my business page.  Just click the link below.

Life-Logistics on Facebook

In the meantime – start working on “what’s new for you”.  Would love to hear all about it.

 

 

 

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Spring…Forward…Has Sprung…Cleaning…Spring Promise

forsythiaThe wind is whipping across the still frozen cove, once again spewing horizontal snow. Yes, it’s the first day of Spring. And it all feels forced. I forced my forsythia. They popped, bringing promise. Promise that the snow will melt, the cove will defrost, and reliable warmth will return.

Just as I forced the forsythia, I will force warmer weather. A change of scene is in order and so we head south for a few weeks to remember what a southern breeze feels like. A change of scene, working with a different view, like Spring, brings renewal. Time to shake off the winter routines. Time to get out of the winter rut we slipped in to unknowingly. Put down the remote and create each longer day anew.

The anticipation of change is half the fun. Like Spring – full of promise. We will return to a familiar place on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s like walking in to an old friend’s house. You know where everything is – knives, soap, restaurants. Now to keep guard that we do create each day anew.   With a view of the ocean , a HUGE stack of books, client calls on the calendar , project ideas, and two dogs and a husband (all three of whom love routine) it will be my challenge to make the days my own, fresh and full.

Anticipation, it’s like Spring. Full of energy, full of promise, full of renewal.

If a change of scene isn’t in your stars right now, create some time this weekend to shake it up – to break the routine and to enjoy the promise of renewed vibrancy and energy. Here’s to the promise of Spring!

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February 25th- Time to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

PassionPlannerMy daughter suffers from the same affliction as me, Planner Hypomania.   It consumes us, particularly in December. We spend all month reviewing our options, researching on-line and face-to-face. We troll the office supply sections of various stores in search of the perfect planner.   We agonize over the choices: size, color, texture, and layout. It is all about paper. Full disclosure: I do use electronic calendars, and I appreciate their unique benefits, but nothing compares to an open book. A planner with colors and handwriting and notes and appointments and lists.

This year Melissa picked out a planner for me as a Christmas gift. Perhaps you can appreciate the courage it takes to pick a planner for someone. But she knows me well and knew I would love it. And apparently many people loved it, because it was back-ordered for months. (The absurdity of a calendar being months late doesn’t escape me.)   But I finally I received my Christmas present last week http://www.passionplanner.com/.   Time to get to work!

There are so many things I love about a new calendar/planner. Typically, during the downtime of New Year’s vacation, I spend some quiet time setting up my new planner. I use highlighters, I put in standing appointments, vacation plans, travels, and if I’m really good I add family birthdays and celebrations (which still doesn’t explain why I rarely get cards out in time).   This process, this project, of planning out the year is all about anticipation and expectations.   You have the whole year lain out in front of you. You get excited about the family reunion in August. You think about your 30th wedding anniversary and start to plan how to honor the occasion. You talk to friends and family about get-togethers. You “save the dates”. What’s not to love about this process?

But now it’s the end of February. And I have my blank planner. And the year is 2/12 over.  It feels sort of anticlimactic, sort of “old newsy”. What a different experience. The year feels very different now, not nearly as exciting. A little more real. And then there’s the 16% that’s already over. How did that happen so fast? And was it as fun and exciting as I planned it to be?   Well I had to go back to my temporary calendar and transfer some of the fun and some of the accomplishments. We had lots of ice skating parties, on our frozen Cove and up in Ottawa at Winterlude. Our son was home visiting, I visited friends in Boston and Philly and friends visited us. And my client work was particularly rewarding. So yes it has been fun and meaningful, as I “planned” it to be.

So why does it still feel so different? There’s an urgency that comes from starting a planner in February that doesn’t exist when you are looking at it January 1st.   While I still feel I am just coming in to the year the reality is that a good part of it is done. I lose focus because there is so much white space. And the more pressing project, taxes, has nothing to do with goals and passions.

My solution to the dread, the urgency, and the lack of focus is to use this planner as intended. There are exercises to create a roadmap to reach your goals, short and long term. I am a firm believer in specific, written, actionable plans to achieve your goals. I see it work all the time with clients. Breaking them down in to daily plans and doing the work makes them a reality. I suppose I just needed a reminder.

And it must be working, because I haven’t done any writing for a few months, but listed WRITING as part of my Passion Plan. And here I am, creating my first blog post for 2015. Thank you planner. And thank you Melissa!

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One Woman’s Book Club: “Thrive” – Well-being

500px-Twelve_seconds_laterWe’ve all heard the same advice:  get your rest, exercise, blah, blah,blah.  Huffington is on the bandwagon too, but her approach is a refreshing read.  She offers different perspectives including her own, as an individual and as a CEO responsible for an organization’s health.   She offers data, but not too much, and examples of the many ways to achieve well-being.

Her arguments are helpful, supportive and nonjudgmental, encouraging individuals and corporations to commit to well-being for significant business and personal reasons.  Her arguments are convincing and she offers lots of specifics like:

  •                                     mandatory vacations
  •                                     benefits for part-timers
  •                                     wellness incentives
  •                                     nap rooms
  •                                     standing desks
  •                                     gyms
  •                                     PTO- Predictable Time Off – no email, no smartphone, no work
  •                                     Quiet Time

I hesitate to put this list here as many leaders will read it, not their heads and move on.  Her writing is strong and convincing and full of facts and proofs.  Each item on the list matters and has a significant impact on the bottom line.  The hows and whys are expanded on in this chapter.  Any leader that sees the impact of stress and burn-out on their teams, or that agonizes about the increasing health care costs their company is incurring, should look for inspiration in this chapter.

And then there are her thoughts on Sleep.  (She talks about it as if it should be capitalized so I did.) I haven’t heard any corporate leader talk more about Sleep – THE performance enhancing drug.  Many, many pages are dedicated to this essential ingredient to peak performance including tips on how to change your sleep habits – like setting an alarm to GO to bed.  Also included in the well-being plan are suggestions about things like walking and having a pet.  And she is as extensive in her writing about meditation as she is about Sleep. (I mean Meditation)

For me, I was drawn to her discussion of mindfulness.  It sits easier with me.  And I found her challenge/suggestion intriguing.  It is about habit breaking – getting off autopilot, even when autopilot works perfectly fine.  Like brushin your teeth.  Find a daily habit that you do automatically, and train yourself to pay attention.  Through this habit-breaking you will start to learn how to be mindful about other things.  It takes training and it is essential in this world full of distractions.

“Identify a regular activity that trains your mind to be still, fully present, and connect with yourself.  Just do it regularly and integrate the benefits in to your everyday life” (p.53)

I’m going to take her up on it – and go with the toothbrushing example… because I’m guessing I’m not alone in wandering around my bathroom and bedroom with a toothbrush in my mouth, looking for my shoes or picking out a blouse, or whatever.  I think it will be hard for me to concentrate on just brushing my teeth, but I am feeling the need to control my distractability – and this is a good way to start.  As a matter of fact, I was just in an airport restroom, and used the hand dryer that advertises the most effective drying in 12 seconds.  It concerns me that I was actually impatient for it to be over.  Really – 12 seconds??!!! Like I said – I need to control my distractability and pay attention- even to the little things, or may be especially to the little things.

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Second in a Series- My One Woman Book Club – THRIVE by Arianna Huffington

wiba thriveA year ago it was all about Lean In Though I appreciated Sandberg’s messages, something was lacking.  I’m happy to report I found it in Thrive, Arianna Huffington’s most recent book.  Here’s a little background on my discovery.

In 2012 I stumbled across Anne Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”.  It was the word “Still” in the title that caught my attention.  Her story resonated with me.  She left a powerful government position because the costs of her career far outweighed the benefits and the compromises created for her and her family.  I certainly don’t put myself at her level, but I too turned down a promotion because the personal and family costs would outweigh the benefits.  Her words created a firestorm in the “women and work” world. ( Slaughter article )

Sandberg’s Lean In, published a year later, inspired women all over the world.  I read it, appreciated it, but felt something was missing.  In case you missed my first One Woman’s Book Club, here were some of my Final Thoughts on Lean In.

And then Arianna Huffington filled in the missing pieces for me with her posts on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/third-metric/ .  The third metric – redefining success beyond money and power.  Huffington incorporated Slaughter and Sandberg’s ideas in to a broader context – encouraging people to not only strive for traditional success (money and power) but to redefine success – to THRIVE!

And so when I had the opportunity to see Anne Marie Slaughter AND Arianna Huffington speak, I jumped.  (Thank you Princeton’s Women in Business Alliance!).   Two feminist powerhouses  talking about what is still missing from the current paradigm of success.  Of course, I took notes so I could share them with you.  They will hopefully lead you (as they did me) to read and re-think what it means to Thrive.

Here are three points I took away from Arianna’s comments that night:

Thriving means you don’t have to be striving all the time.

Three MEGA ideas are driving change in the definition of success:

  1.       The current world is unsustainable when fueled by burnout and exhaustion
  2.       Science is finally supporting the wisdom that sleep and meditation are performance enhancing tool
  3.      There is a growing recognition that we are MORE than our jobs.

A new success mantra:  Upward, Onward, Inward

I hope you’ve read enough to pick up the book and read along with me.  If you’re not inspired to go that far, then I sure hope you will continue reading my blog posts as I comment on each of her chapters including Well-Being, Wonder and Wisdom.

Her call is out to women to drive corporate change, just as the suffragettes and the feminists changed the world before us.  And so far, from what I’ve read, her book will inspire you to action, motivate you with concrete plans and ideas, and encourage you as corporate leaders to jump on board so organizations too can THRIVE.

Next week – Chapter 1 – Well-being.  “It’s not ‘What do I want to do?’ it’s ‘What kind of life do I want to have?” (Kate Sheehan, p. 27)

 

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Good Enough!

Confidence Gap“Good Enough.”  If you are to get anything done – especially as a leader- you need to develop an understanding and acceptance of this idea.  You must understand selective perfectionism – VERY selective.  You must understand the positive, explosive power of delegation.  And you must appreciate the costs of holding back when it’s “only good enough”.

A recent (very lengthy) article published in The Atlantic discusses the confidence gap between men and women and identifies the costs of underusing confidence:

“Perfectionism is another confidence killer. Study after study confirms that it is largely a female issue, one that extends through women’s entire lives. We don’t answer questions until we are totally sure of the answer, we don’t submit a report until we’ve edited it ad nauseam, and we don’t sign up for that triathlon unless we know we are faster and fitter than is required. We watch our male colleagues take risks, while we hold back until we’re sure we are perfectly ready and perfectly qualified. We fixate on our performance at home, at school, at work, at yoga class, even on vacation. We obsess as mothers, as wives, as sisters, as friends, as cooks, as athletes. Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson, the authors of The Plateau Effect, call this tendency the “enemy of the good,” leading as it does to hours of wasted time. The irony is that striving to be perfect actually keeps us from getting much of anything done.” (The Confidence Gap)

So start now – look around.  What is on your plate now that is almost done, but you were going to spend some time tweaking it or giving it one last look?  Try an experiment.  Be done.  Let it go.  And look for feedback – did any problems come from releasing the project without the tweaks?  Were they significant or minor?  Did you save time?  Were you able to spend more time on what really needed your attention?  Did you get home earlier?  I will bet that the good that will come from letting it go will far outweigh the bad.  I dare you!

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Mindless Moments

Girl reading magI was really looking for a mindless moment.  Nothing like a pedicure for drifting away and maybe it would also urge flip-flop weather along.  I took my seat in the comfy massage chair, dipped my feet in to the really warm water and picked up a woman’s magazine.  Ahhhhh.

My intention was to draw out this mindless relaxation.  So I started at the very beginning of the magazine – Letter from the Editor.  And I didn’t get one page further. 

May 2014, More Magazine.  Lesley Jane Seymour submitted her Letter From the Editor (a piece that I cannot find a link for, so I’m going to quote most of it because it was so good).  As her story goes, she was at just another Women’s Issues Conference when she was stuck by a presentation called “The Heart of the Matter – What is your Question?”  Here’s my edited version of what she wrote:

I sat in the front row with my arms crossed as the moderator asked the six women onstage to share the one question “you are never tired of asking and will never know the answer to.”  One panelist said her question is, ”How do I live a life with purpose?” A dietitian asked “What does healthy feel like?”….In a room full of women who all carried the burden of being the answerer-in-chief at home and/or in the office, the joy of asking a question for which you did not need to produce an answer was palpable.

Your question should be fascinating to you-so much so, says [Laurie] Patton, that “no matter where you land and what you do with your life, you will always focus on your question.”  …It’s really important to understand, however, that you’ll never come to the end of the question.  That’s not even the goal.  “A sense of purpose is not a sense of conclusion, of finishing.” Patton says.  Instead, it is “a sense of being happy with forever being a seeker.”

I think we should all gather our friends, put some drinks on the table and ask one another, ”What is your question?”

I put down the magazine and sat and sat and sat.  My mindless moment had become a project (that is so like me!) to figure out my question.  It didn’t come right away, and my pedicure was over.  But I was stuck – I didn’t have my question and I didn’t want to lose track of this idea, so I ignored my moral compass and ripped that article out and shoved it in my purse.

I’ve pulled it out a few times and the other day the question came to me.  And I know it’s the right question because it is reflected in every phase of my life – even now.  My question?  Do you really want to know?  It’s “What’s Next?”   For better or for worse – that’s my question.

I hope you will follow Ms. Seymour’s advice and gather some friends, put some drinks on the table and ask each other “What is your question?

Here are some More readers’ questions:  http://www.more.com/question

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Whistling in the Dark

Whistling in the DarkHere I am smack in the middle of a significant life change.  It’s unnerving and exhilarating, and it’s risky and scary.  It’s kinda like whistling in the dark.  You are mostly sure it will all be ok – sure enough to force a whistle, but it’s forced and it’s still dark.

My big life change is a new home and a new lifestyle:  leaving an area where I’ve spent all my life, saying goodbye to suburbia and a wonderful home that my husband and I raised our kids in.  But it really isn’t about leaving – it’s about going.

Going to a lake, where life is about water, boats, birds and destinations.  There are so many destinations on the water – wineries, small towns, restaurants and parks.  Even drifting is its own destination.  And for our drifter friends and family, it is our hope that our home will become a destination;  that we will be a change of scene, a place to reconnect and to rejuvenate.  But back to the hard part…

I’m sure there are universal reactions to taking a big step in a new direction, whether it’s a new home, new  job, new partner,  whatever.   There are ups and downs to change.   Are you coming or going?  Leaving or staying?  Like two sides to a coin.

There’s the anticipation and excitement of what might be.  And there’s the anxiety of what might be.

There’s fresh paint on walls.  But then there’s fresh paint on walls.  That first nail in the wall is so symbolic of taking ownership, making it your own, creating your own holes and blemishes.

There are goodbyes to familiar things like highways and hairdressers.  (I’ve always been comfortable with the idea that hair grows back from a bad cut but anyone who has had to find a new salon knows the anxiety that confronts me.)   And hellos to stoplights that are few and far between.  (I think there’s one about 5 miles from here.)

And so smack in the middle of this change – half in and half out- I understand how it helps to whistle in the dark.  It minimizes the fear of the unknown.  It announces that you are here and you are expecting light at any moment.  And it stirs the confidence that good things are coming.

So as you anticipate your next big change, if you are just thinking about it, if you are in the midst of it, or if you are settling in to it– in those scary moments that change always bring, join me in whistling in the dark!

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Clearing Off My Desk No. 2

newspaper_clippingsAnother article I’ve been holding on to. Here’s why….

Important Work demands obsession. A Champion Ad Nauseam.  Someone whose focus is so intense and predictable that every one in every meeting learns to come prepared to talk about how their work or the other unrelated issues on the agenda relate to the Important Work.

When you are spearheading a change in work process, a cultural shift in an organization, a new system implementation,  you must  “…bird-dog every stage of its creation and rollout, with obsessive attention to the testing …to the public’s first encounter.  There [will] be go/no-go inflection points and back-up timetables, cold-eyed performance reviews and abrupt dismissals.  And, in the worst case, a plan to put everything on hold to sort out all the problems.”  Edward Kosner describes how a seasoned executive learns from mistakes and manages successful implementations.

The Wall Street Journal Opinion Kosner shares is an incredibly well-written article on leadership, management, and delegation.  (I guess I should not be surprised at the writing.  He was the editor of Newsweek, New York Magazine, Esquire and NY Daily News.  Actually that long list makes me wonder if he wasn’t able to hold down a job , but I digress).  Set your politics aside, the example here is Obamacare, and read this piece.  It’s about management and there’s much to be learned.  Here’s the full piece:   http://online.wsj.com/Kosner on Management

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Clearing Off My Desk

newspaper_clippingsScraps.  My fingertips are black from rereading saved newspaper articles.  As I resort – garbage, save, share-  some are still worthy, others I wonder what I was thinking.  Rather than shuffle I thought I’d share the ones I still love.

Holly Finn wrote A Cure for the Age of Inattention  for the Wall Street Journal.  She wrote:

 

“Across the board, our perceptiveness has plummeted.  What makes a person stand out now is the ability to look and keep looking.  A ‘museum intervention’ is now mandatory at Yale’s School of Medicine.  Called Enhancing Observational Skills, the program asks students to look at and then describe paintings.  The aim?  To improve diagnostic knack.”

This is one of the best ideas I have heard.  Medical students examine a painting for 15 minutes and then compare notes.  The course has proven to increase the effectiveness of these students’ diagnosis.  So slow down.  Look intently, for 15 minutes, at your operation or your team.  Observe.  Compare.  Share.

Exactly a year ago today I posted my first blog post, about this idea of intentional attention.  How fitting that this is the article I chose to share again today.  (Really, I was stunned when I went back to the post and saw the date!) .   Here’s the post:   My 15 minute experiment.   Keep On Looking!

-Debbie

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