Sunday, July 31, 2011

Enunciation Matters

I often wonder how many conflicts could be avoided or resolved if people actually heard what others said.  At a recent community event I had the opportunity to experience a humorous example resulting from a lack of careful enunciation.   We were discussing a community colleague's recent trip to Spain.  He mentioned how expensive food is in Spain.  He and his travelling companion ate rarely in white tablecloth restaurants.  Instead they chose tapas bars for most of their meals.  Our other colleague's stunned expression and subsequent confession, let us know that she thought he'd said that they had been frequenting topless bars.

This was yet another reminder to me to check for understanding in communications.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Powerfully-pointed or Power-pointless?

There's a corporate epidemic that must be addressed: (bored to) death by PowerPoint.  Even when it might be slightly useful, I avoid PowerPoint presentations  when I'm asked to speak.  I've seen far too many presentations that contain poorly designed slides (too much information, bad fonts, distracting colors, etc.) and far too many presenters who read the information contained in the slides.  These presentations fall into the category of power-pointless.  Why waste all that precious time to develop a presentation that detracts rather than adds to the ability to convey information?

I suspect that the designers of PowerPoint intended that it be used to powerfully and easily, visually convey points.  If presenters would use the tool this way, powerfully-pointed presentations would be the perfect antidote to (bored to) death by PowerPoint.

Friday, July 29, 2011

More Odometer Oddities

As I got in my car on Gar's birthday this week, my odometer signaled happy birthday with his birth year prominently displayed.  There are always special signs of connectedness in our daily lives.  We need only take time to notice.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Different Shades of Human

Yesterday, I heard a great description to encompass all aspects of diversity:  we are all different shades of human.  In forming relationships, we seek to identify and appreciate similarities and differences.  Only when we recognize our fundamental sameness, that we are all human, can we begin to explore, understand, accept, embrace and learn from our differences.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If Ego Was Measured in Height

A colleague was recently describing a business associate.  His unflattering assessment of this man was that if ego was measured in height, he'd be 100 feet tall.  Though I don't know the individual who was described, I've known others for whom this is a very fitting descriptor.  How unfortunate that anyone would let their redeeming qualities and measurable skills be overshadowed by such a disproportional and inaccurate self-assessment.  This is a reminder that how we present ourselves makes a tremendous impact on how well we are perceived, received and accepted by others.  Ego is one scale where average is celebrated.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Early Bird Gets the Time

A dear friend reminded me yesterday of another of the benefits of being early - the ability to redo.  She'd allocated extra time to arrive for a lunch gathering with friends.  The designated restaurant was one with a few Houston locations.  On auto-pilot, she navigated to a location closer to her, rather than the appointed spot.  Because she'd planned to be early, she arrived 15 minutes early to her first stop and only 5 minutes late (practically on-time) to the actual destination.  Had she been cutting it close, as many of us often do, she would have been terribly late for a gathering that had little margin for error.  This special visit was shoe-horned into a one-hour window between immovable appointments.

Whether it's time with family and friends or the chance to make a positive impression with clients or prospects, it's usually the early bird that gets the time.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Acting When It's Too Important

Sometimes the importance of the occasion paralyzes us.  How do we adequately acknowledge the occasions of those we cherish dearly?  Gift registries assist us in determining what the celebrants desire.  The price tag assigned to these items makes it easy to know how much each requested item costs.  However, it also makes it almost too transparent.  Alternately, Aunt Maude's silver tray might become a more appropriate gift (for the giver) because it has no assigned retail value, but unallocated worth + sentimental value.  But, this might not be a gift that the happy couple values.

Ultimately, we are all happiest when we apply the platinum rule and gift to others items they would like (with or without the assistance of a gift registry) versus gifting items that we would like.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who is They?

Think about how frequently you hear stories that begin, "They say...".  Don't you want to know who "they" are?  I still vividly remember as a child having things attributed to me that weren't my thoughts or opinions, when my Mother was told, "the girls want to...".  Inappropriate use of "they" or other groups causes imprecise and sometimes inaccurate communication.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Key to Listening

Yesterday afternoon, I answered the phone to a most welcome call in the midst of crazy busy activities, schedules and opportunities.  A very successful business woman greeted me with many messages that were music to my ears:
  • As a follower of my blog, she had used one of my entries successfully for one of her team meetings
  • She reminded me who had introduced us many years ago
  • She connected many of our shared wonderful colleagues
  • She viewed me as someone she'd like as a mentor
She shared a memorable message about listening that her mother had shared with her as a young child - the letters in "listen" and "silent" are the same.  Sometimes a call from the blue is what we need to remind us that we can only truly hear when we eliminate the extraneous noise. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hopeful Anticipation

We are in the midst of an executive search for a non-profit leader.  The current CEO is terrific, but has chosen to retire.  We've carefully crafted a success profile for the search firm to identify necessary skills, abilities and experiences in a qualified leader.  Now we are in hopeful anticipation of a rich pool of superb candidates. 

When we have carefully prepared for an important task such as this, hopeful anticipation is a realistic and energizing force for the team responsible for taking the next steps.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

World's Longest Sudoku - Finished!

I set a goal to complete The World's Longest Sudoku Puzzle by August 15.  Today, 4 weeks ahead of schedule, I finished the final puzzle!  With our need for instant gratification, it feels good to plan and complete a long-term project.  And I hope that these 8,929 correct answers in the 167 interlocking puzzles will help keep my brain young. 

Friday, July 15, 2011


Today my odometer turned to 759 as I reached my exit - #759.  If I bought lottery tickets, I'd definitely choose 7, 5 and 9 as today's numbers.  Oddly enough, 9 and 5 are my favorite numbers, with #7 ranking 3rd. Spotting quirky coincidences in our daily journeys keeps us alert and life interesting.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't Leave Home Without...

Most of us leave our home every day.  I don't know about you, but I try not to leave home without:
  • my smile
  • a plan
  • a positive attitude
  • being appropriately dressed
  • my keys, sunglasses, wallet and Blackberry
  • directions
What must you have when you leave home?

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Often we can minimize problems, but sometimes they must be eliminated.  I cut an irritating tag from a fitted t-shirt.  It appeared that I'd solved the problem. However, though I cut it to the seam, it was still an abrasive nuisance.  Only when I took the time to remove the stitches securing the final tiny remnants did I solve the problem. 

In life and work we must determine which problems can be minimized and which must be eliminated. Sometimes it takes trial and error to find the right answer. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Asking Great Questions

One of the best ways to engage interesting conversation is to ask open-ended questions.  So often we are asked yes or no questions, which have a 50% chance of leading to an answer the questioner is not hoping to hear.

Some engaging options include:
  • How have you continued to excel?
  • What are some of your best success tips?
  • What exciting things are you doing?
  • Tell me about your organization.
When we offer the opportunity for others to share their expertise and experience, we have a chance to connect and learn.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Make Other Feel Special

There are myriad ways to make others feel special and I've highlighted thirteen.  It's a win-win, because we also benefit from positive interactions with others. 
  • Recognize and acknowledge positive things about them. 
  • Actively listen to what they are communicating.
  • Smile.
  • Remember significant milestones and special occasions.
  • Tell others about their expertise and successes.
  • Recommend them.
  • Engage in meaningful conversation.
  • Be fully present when in their presence.
  • Share tips, tools and resources.
  • Provide constructive feedback.
  • Send an unexpected greeting.
  • Make helpful introductions.
  • Give sincere compliments.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Obstacles as Opportunities

We often view obstacles negatively.  Obstacles can cause delays, lost opportunities, additional costs and other unpleasant outcomes.  They can also spur creativity, eliminate hasty costly decisions and produce much needed time to think. 

When we deal with obstacles as temporary barriers to be circumvented, removed, minimized or repositioned we can learn from the experience. Sometimes the things we don't want or expect can be exactly what we need for continuous improvement.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

It's Not the Words

The words are the same, "Good Morning, God" and "Good God, It's Morning".  Our attitude impacts how we greet everything, from the start of the day, to opportunities along the way. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Holding On By Letting Go

After our Ole Miss orientation experience, I'm convinced that Gar has found the right school.  The students and staff are incredibly helpful and friendly; the professors and advisors are dedicated to student success; the Goldilocks student population is not-too-large, not-too-small, but just-right; the campus is beautiful and immaculately landscaped; and resources abound to make out-of-staters feel part of the the community.

It is normal and expected that Gar has been spreading his wings during his senior year.  It was wonderful to hear published advisors validate that our increasing parental flexibility is healthy and recommended. 

In one of the inevitable lines for the women's restroom, I realized that we are far better poised for a successful freshman year than others.  A mother who lives 30 minutes from campus engaged a mother who was a few hours away and me, who is 610 miles away, in conversation.   The closest mother had already planned to meet weekly to exchange clean laundry and home-cooked meals. 

Though I'd love nothing more than to have my precious angels, Gar and Julia, in my home, city and/or state, I realize that having options contributes enormously to personal well-being. 

When we are able to let go and allow our loved ones to do what is important to them, we strengthen our bonds by demonstrating our confidence in their judgment and abilities. 

The pre-K roles are once again highlighted: we know that love is without limit, but we've got to separate to experience all the excitement that exists outside our home turf.