Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stress Signals are Signals for Change

So many of us, our friends, and our colleagues are routinely stressed with the many demands of full lives. And, the holidays and year-end deadlines can create uber-stress.  Until I had the chance to hear Dr. Bill Crawford yesterday, I'd not ever thought of stress signals like the warning lights on the dashboard of our car. Viewed this way, our stress signals are gifts that let us know that we need to make changes to make the warning lights go away.  How sad, but interesting that most of us are more responsive to our car's dashboard than our body's dashboard.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Art Support

We often think of different broad aspects and avenues of support, but until last night, I'd not thought of art support. Ted Ellis is a talented artist.  Only because I was supporting a valued colleague's special event, did I even have the opportunity to meet him.

He is a talented artist - charming, engaging and knowledgeable.  All attendees received a gift bag with a matted copy of one of Ted's works.  Though many pieces were featured, mine could not have been more meaningful.  As I was leaving, with gift bag in hand, I stopped and returned to have Ted sign mine. Unbelievably, this work was "Funeral Procession".  A month after Edgar's death, it was art supportive to receive another reminder that everything is beautifully connected to help us.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Creating New Memories

Often, when we are faced with grief or change, our instinct is to hold on to the familiar.  However, grief and change require us to do things differently.  When we accept that we can't stop time, it frees us to move forward.

Dread prefaces special occasions and holidays.  Changing the expected celebrations allows us to acknowledge our missing, and create new ways of coping and moving forward.

My birthday came far too close to Edgar's death to anticipate celebration.  However, fabulous family and friends created special new memories to create joy and allow me to move forward.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Better than Expected

With all of the running apps now available, I feared comparing my old trusty app with one of the newer, well-touted GPS-based programs.  Determined to meet my amended annual running goal, my concern was that I'd been overestimating my distance, and would fall impossibly short of the goal, if recalculation was necessary.  I decided to face my fear this morning and tracked my jog using both the old and new programs. What a surprise and relief to learn that my old device was registering less distance than the new app!

Sometimes facing our fears yields far better outcomes than expected.   And, we end the worry of not knowing what we'll find.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Looking Forward

When grief takes center stage in life, it is hard to think beyond the moment.  However, it is healing and healthy to find future oriented things to anticipate.  So often, when asked what another can do for us, we don't have an answer.  One of the loveliest things that our extended family did, to alleviate the anxiety of our first altered Thanksgiving, was to create a totally different venue.

It is helpful to have others engage us in interesting experiences beyond the walls of our "one day at a time" existence.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Measure and Modify Goals

Goals provide a measurable way to track progress toward something important.  Setting goals is a critical first step, followed by consistent steps for achievement.  Despite our best plans for execution, life sometimes gets in the way.  That's when we need to adjust our plan - not abandon it.

My health goal for the year was running 400 miles.  As I saw that I was going to exceed this, I set a new stretch goal of 500 miles, and was making good progress for achievement.  Then life through me a huge curve ball.  When I was unable to run during the month of October, I could have scrapped the 500 mile goal and decided that 400 was good enough for 2013.  Instead, I decided to modify my plan and still strive for what had now become a true stretch goal.  Thus, a little mist and 42 degrees didn't keep me from running this morning, nor did morning and early afternoon appointments yesterday.  I made clothing modifications this morning and timing ones yesterday.  If I'd not decided to stick with my mileage goal, I'd have easily rationalized two missed day of physical activity.

Goals keep us moving - sometimes literally.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Be Kind to Yourself

Many of us are quite accomplished at showing great kindness and compassion to others.  We're not always as apt to respond to our own needs.  The Bible, in Mark 12:31, tells us "Love your neighbor as yourself." The challenge is two-fold:  we must be lovable and loving.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gratitude and Grief

Losing a loved one is incredibly difficult.  The journey is made better by the countless acts of love, kindness and caring of family and friends.  Opening our hearts and minds to receive comfort allows us to focus on the many things we have for which to be grateful, rather than dwelling exclusively on what we've lost.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Teamwork Makes the Team Work!

The remarkable examples of teamwork that I am continuously privileged to witness are inspiring!  When we model an expectation of teamwork, communicate a vision of collaborative successes and recognize those who deliver, the results are amazing!

Friday, September 27, 2013


Though I'm the energizer bunny for my family, friends and colleagues, it was so helpful to be able to tell a trusted colleague and friend that I wished that my next command performance wasn't on my agenda.  Immediately, I felt better.  This serves as a helpful reminder that sometimes we just need to vent.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Flexibility x 2

Flexibility is a critically important life, leadership and relationship skill especially when dealing with controlling personalities.  Recently, I was notified 2 days before an event, that I was expected to be a panelist at an event that I had expected to merely attend.  Fortunately, the time was blocked on my crazy calendar and I responded affirmatively that I'd participate.  Despite my immediate request for info, it wasn't available until less than 24 hours prior to the event.  Thus, Flexibility 1.

Arriving prior to the time requested, I was ready to deliver on the late request.  However, one of the panelists arrived moments before introductions, and hadn't adhered to the late delivered instructions.  Nor did the panelist respond to the moderator's request to adhere.  The alphabetical array of panelists allowed this non-adhering panelist to high jack the expected format.

Fortunately, each panelist followed suit and adapted to the new mini keynote address.  Thus, Flexibility 2.

Leadership requires flexibility x 2 or 3 or 4...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Connecting Willing Volunteers with Fulfilling Opportunities

Comerica Bank hosted an event today, featuring a stellar panel of community leaders, who shared their reasons for volunteer engagement and practical ways to maximize impact.   My aha moment occurred when one of the panelists I'd invited, shared that his community engagement prior to 9/11 had been two-fold: supporting his wife's volunteer leadership and writing checks/attending nonprofit events.  I've only become friends with this successful lawyer and incredible community leader since his immersion into board service.

My assumption, prior to today, was that successful folks included board service or other significant volunteer commitments in their way of being/doing/operating.  My aha discovery was that the "engagement gene" may well evolve as an individual has more control over her/his schedule.  Sometimes it is inherited - and sometimes it evolves.  

Regardless of how an individual invests time, talent and/or treasure, passion is the key.  Excitement about the organization's mission will ideally inspire engagement and commitment.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Santa Claus at Work

Today, I had the chance to counsel a valued colleague.  A couple of important company initiatives had not made it to his A Priority List.  It took only 5 minutes to give him the information he needed to show up well. Since my goal (which was shared) was to get him on all the good lists and keep him off of the bad lists, perhaps today, I was Santa Claus at work.

Every day we have the chance to be Santa Claus to someone at work.  Let's look for opportunities to help move "naughties" to "nice".

Monday, September 23, 2013

Glad to Be Gumby (Flexible)

Flexibility cannot be emphasized enough in leading, getting along or thriving with manageable stress.

Planning and preparation are crucial for creating stellar experiences. However, flexibility is essential in making sure most folks have the intended experience.

Preparation allows for improvisation.  And improvisation allows folks to have the intended experience.

Everything is beautifully connected when we plan ahead.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Left, Left, Right, Left, Left

At a recent luncheon, a right-handed attendee, shocked me with her observation that of the eight guests at our table, four of us were left-handed.  This was the first time I'd ever had a right-hander comment on handedness. My assumption has always been that only left-handers notice, because right-handers don't even think of handedness.  My immediate question was, "Do you have a left-handed child?".  Not surprisingly, she does.

Left-handers have had life-long experiences of adapting to right-handed tools and processes, so we notice this difference.  This awareness, or lack thereof, probably occurs with other subtle differences, as well.  We can benefit from the attention to details and perspectives these differences provide.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gratitude = Happiness

Though many variables are part of the equation: gratitude = happiness, when we factor them all out, it becomes factual.  When we focus on the long list of things for which we are grateful rather than the shorter list of things that cause us angst, happiness wins.

Flimsy Excuses

I'm so glad I didn't let a little sprinkle deter me from my morning run.  My health and mileage goals, coupled with the fact that running makes me feel good, provide adequate motivation for me to hit the neighborhood streets most mornings.  However, with a rainy weekend in the weather forecast, I was tempted to use the dampness as an excuse not to run.  Saturday mornings generally allow for the most sightings of our fitness conscious and dog-walking neighbors.  However, this morning only a few of those motivated by their canine companions were out and about.  

I've long known that I can learn from everyone I meet and from my feline friends.  This morning's tip from determined doggies set a great example of not allowing flimsy excuses to prevent us from working toward our goals.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Share Your Dreams

We all need someone(s) to help us reach for/achieve/exceed our dreams.  But, our friends/family/coworkers aren't mind readers.  We must share our dreams before these lovely advocates/supporters are able to coalesce their talents for our mutual benefit.

Share your dreams!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Embracing our Unique Gifts

This morning provided another fabulous opportunity, not only to start the day, but to also provide some great thoughts to influence future days.  The remarkable Henry Winkler, keynoted an event benefiting Briarwood School, a terrific place to help bright young minds with learning differences achieve their potential.

He was gracious and engaging with all attendees, before and after his presentation, and immensely entertaining and memorable with his remarks.  Some of his share-worthy tidbits include:

  • Don't put a period at the end of a negative thought (What a great and powerful way to banish negative, draining thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations and aspirations!)
  • If you will it, it is not a dream
  • Only one person needs to say "Yes"
  • Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable bunch of qualities and if we don't give our gift to the world, something will be left undone
  • Let your imagination have personality
  • We don't always know the impact we might have (An autistic child who had not previously spoken said, "Fonz" and a year later had a vocabulary of 100 words)
Embracing and sharing our unique gifts beautifully connects everything. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Unlimited Health Potential

Within 24 hours, I've had the opportunity to validate my assumption that unlimited potential exists, in Houston, to positively impact worldwide health outcomes.

On Tuesday, we had the privilege to feature Dr. Robert Robbins, President and CEO of Texas Medical Center at Comerica Bank's third quarter Business Forum.  He shared his impressive vision for this amazing complex, which is the world's largest medical center, with 54 incredible institutions treating more than 7 million patients annually.  His strategic priorities include health policy, regenerative medicine, genomics, clinical trials and innovation/commercialization.  WOW - what an opportunity to collaboratively leverage an amazing brain trust to tackle some of our most challenging health challenges.

And today, Texas Children's Hospital inspired a capacity crowd, with accounts from several of the world class leaders focused on providing the world's children life-saving innovations, treatments and quality of life improvements. CEO Mark Wallace, Dr. Mark Kline - Physician-in-Chief, Dr. Jake Kushner - Diabetes and Endocrinology, Dr. Kristy Murray - Infectious Disease and Dr. James Thomas - Intensive Care cast a great vision for incredible advances in each of these critical areas.

What a fabulous time to support unlimited health potential!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Big Splash - Little Cash

What's not to love about high, positive visual impact with very low investment!  We love fresh cut flowers strategically arranged in favorite vases in the entry, living room, family room, my home office, powder room and kitchen.  Nine days ago, Edgar brought home 2 beautiful bunches of cheery yellow daisies that allowed me to fill all the normal vases and add bouquets in his home office and the master bath.  The flowers are still perky, with only a few stems removed.  He frequently surprises me with fresh blossoms of various kinds, which is awesome.

My inspiration to mention it now is the longevity of these blooms, the number of arrangements and the very modest investment, less than $10 including tax.  We all owe it to ourselves to bring inexpensive cheer into our lives, whatever forms the cheer may take.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


We just returned from a delightful road trip to Austin.  We made this 5 hour round trip trek on great highways, through beautiful country to spend 2.5 hours with Gar.  Ratios are great for measuring business success, but can't begin to capture the benefit of time spent with those we love.

This experience reminded me that impact and importance trump statistics in our personal relationships.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Be Successful Where You Are

Recently, I had the chance to hear Jay Steinfeld, Founder and CEO, of talk about his company's incredible company culture.  I've embraced one of the vivid ways he casts a vision for personal and company success:
  • Be Successful Where You Are
As he made successive steps across the front of the ballroom, indicating that each step toward a goal could be viewed as failure, until achievement of the goal, it made a huge impact in my way of addressing success. Though setting and achieving goals is enormously important, we need to be careful not to define success solely by achievement of the next milestone.  We owe it to ourselves to celebrate current success while striving for even greater successes each step of the journey.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Absence to Presence

Though all of my zoo visits have been delightful, I've not made frequent trips since Julia and Gar lost interest in these family outings several years ago.  So, I'm amazed that I've been to two wonderful zoos 1400 miles apart within the past week.  And, absence of giraffes at one, was contrasted by the special opportunity to actually feed a giraffe at the other.

Since I readily seize new opportunities, I would have eagerly embraced the chance to feed a giraffe this week.  However, it wouldn't have had the same significance, had I not realized the previous week,  that not all great zoos have giraffes.

Interestingly, this made me vividly aware that sometimes absence, contrasted with presence, enhances the impact and appreciation.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


We had a fabulous time celebrating Julia's birthday in D.C. this past weekend!  She's an amazing young woman with an incredible intellect, perpetually positive attitude and amazing ability to get others to seize a broad array of diverse entertainment and dining opportunities.

Our wonderful nonstop activities included wide-ranging conversations, spectacular museums, the national zoo, professional baseball, canoeing on the Potomac, a mini spades tournament, painting with a pro, meeting her friends at unexpected venues all around town, birthday brunch, and many other remarkable foodie feasts.

For me, spending time with my precious angel and her equally adoring father, would have been celebratory. However, her perfectly planned, nonstop birthday weekend elevated celebratory, to indelibly memorable.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Power and Influence

Alice is a friendly, helpful and upbeat security guard at a venue that I frequent many times per year.  Though I've never seen her job description, I can assume that exerting power and influence is not included. However, she is the perfect example of exerting power and influence, regardless of title or prescribed duties.  It is clear that she loves people and life, by her infectious optimism and bright smile.

Yesterday, when Alice and I visited, she said that she would have happily given me a preferential parking place.  I appreciatively told her how thoughtful that was, and that the parking place I found was very convenient.  As I wished her a happy rest of the day, I told her that I'd look forward to seeing her early the next morning, for another event.  She quickly told me exactly where I should park upon arrival.

This morning as I pulled into the parking space Alice had designated for me, in addition to extreme gratitude, I was so impressed by the model she exemplifies, of leading from where you are.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Perhaps the start of school, and the memory of years of permission slips, made me realize that we all need them.  Fortunately, we don't need to officially document and return paper forms.  However, we all need to give ourselves permission to:

  • enjoy every day
  • take care of our own needs, before or on parity, with the needs of others
  • laugh a lot
  • exert influence, power and impact wherever we are
  • be successful where we are, not where we strive to be
  • pursue our passions
  • ask for help or advice
  • make small, inconsequential mistakes or omissions
  • do nothing for a day
  • be rather than do

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

If You Don't Ask...

I recently took my car in for prescribed service.  The very next day, I received an email promotion from the dealership offering $X off of various amounts of total service performed.  My gracious response was that I'd love to have $X credited for the service I'd had performed the day before.  Because I asked, and I assume they evaluated the length of time I'd been a loyal customer, my request was granted.  The carefully worded exclusions for previously rendered service did not thwart me, nor did they prevent my request from being honored.

Often, our reasonable requests will be honored.  But if we merely fume about missing a deadline by a few hours, we won't have the chance to be pleasantly rewarded for our patronage.

Asking is the easiest way to potentially get what we seek.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sarita x 2

Sarita is a lovely name, but not very pervasive.  Imagine my surprise when a colleague and I had just been discussing an upcoming event featuring author and motivational speaker Sarita Maybin, and the phone rang with Edgar letting me know that he'd made it to Sarita, TX on his journey.  What a unique and marvelous way to assure me once again that everything is beautifully connected!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Perfect Timing - Planned or Uniquely Presented

Today, while running an errand, I fortuitously or divinely, ran into a dear friend whom I generally see only a few times a year.  As soon as I saw her, it was obvious that something was quite wrong.  Another few seconds at check-out or any other diversion would have caused us to miss the chance to visit.  And neither of us had ever visited this store during our lunch hour. Though neither of us expected this opportunity, it was perfectly timed and definitely meant to be.

When work trauma presents, it's often helpful to have an interested third party available as a biased, but helpful adviser.  In just a few minutes, we were able to construct a productive action plan.

Though it worked for us, we don't have to rely on fate or divine intervention, when we are overwhelmed.  Those who care about us are willing to find time to help us sort through life's issues.

Perfect timing can be planned or uniquely presented.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dealing with Fear - the Land Shark Didn't Bite Me

Most of us have something that puts us out of our comfort zone.  Big dogs have always created anxiety for me.  So when I was on my morning run and encountered an exuberant, unleashed Doberman bounding from his/her front door my heart raced.  Though her/his owners were steps behind their escapee, assuring me that he/she was friendly, I wasn't so sure that she/he would be so friendly to an intimidated stranger.

I stopped, raised my hands in a surrender position, and waited for the owners to leash their pet.

As I encountered a walker friend, who was half a block ahead, and had heard the barking, I told him what had happened.  He had assumed that he'd interested a leashed dog as he passed - a reasonable assumption, as this was only the second escapee I'd ever encountered.

I stopped, showed my lack of ability to handle the situation on my own and waited for competent reinforcements.  This action plan has the potential to productively address countless fears lurking in our lives.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tiny Matters

It's easy to forget how big tiny things can be:
a smile
an ant bite
a wave
1 degree from freezing or boiling
a lucky penny
1 test point between letter grades
a spec in your eye
a bang trim
a splinter
an encouraging word
a seed
pepper between your teeth
a thank you
a minute before or after a filing deadline
a split second between first place and second

Everything's connected and it all matters.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Just Start

To Do Lists are so helpful.  And often, they include things we just don't want to do.  It's so very rewarding to be able to accomplish a goal and eliminate an item.  But sometimes, just noting progress toward a challenging item is liberating.  Getting started is frequently the most difficult step for a project that we don't want to do.

Setting a timer works well for me.  I often choose 15 minutes because it is such a doable time frame. Happily, I'm often so motivated by the start, and the option to quit, that I do far more than anticipated.  

Starting is the first step toward achievement!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Details Matter

Great marketers are skilled at getting us to remember what they emphasize.  Edgar and I had a lovely meal at a neighborhood restaurant this week.  They also have other locations, and were celebrating their 20th anniversary by distributing $ off coupons for the next visit.  Edgar remembered the 20 and thought that our coupon was $20 off of our next meal.  However, I remembered that they were celebrating their 20th anniversary with $10 off of our next meal.  Wish he'd been right!

This reinforced one of the gender communication differences from the session I facilitated earlier in the week. Though each individual is distinct, there are a number of females who are better at recalling details than male counterparts.

Though the details in this case did not matter, there are frequent interactions where details do make a big difference. When that's the case, it's important to communicate more than once or have more than one person study the details.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Start, Stop and Continue

Today has been filled with milestones:

  • Start - we celebrated a special colleague's achievement of her U.S. Citizenship
  • Stop - we toasted another special colleague's retirement
  • Continue - as of today I've run enough miles to be on pace to reach 500 miles by year end: 100 miles over my 2013 annual goal
Life is a series of starts, stops and continuations.  We don't often get to vividly recognize all three phases in a single day.  Celebrations, large and small, provide important connections, acknowledgements and incentives.

Here's to new beginnings, happy conclusions and productive progress achieving!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Diplomatically Sharing What Else You Know

When hired for a particular role, it can discouraging to make additional skills, abilities and experiences, beyond a current role known. Social media can be a great equalizer.  Effective users of social media, regardless of age or experience, can become known as subject matter experts, to those at all levels of their current or asprirational organizations.

Mentoring, sponsoring, volunteering, speaking, blogging, continuous learning and sharing are incremental ways to demonstrate additional aptitudes.

And, creating an independent agenda for 1:1 meetings with a manager allows the subordinate to adequately prepare to positively portray not only accomplishments, but also skills and abilities.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Iceberg Diversity

What we see in others is influenced by what we expect to see and what they reveal.  However, we miss so many elements of who others actually are unless we delve deeper than the persona initially revealed to all encountered.

A small percentage of who we actually are is readily revealed to all those we meet.  Thus, like an iceberg, our true depth, breadth and potential impact is hidden.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Circle of Joy

We make decisions every day about what we will and won't do.  Decisions are often influenced by our interests.  When we decide to do things outside our areas of interest or expertise, because they are important to someone we care about, we have the possibility of experiencing unexpected joy.  We get to see something new through their eyes, and also appreciate them as accomplished in areas in which we are not.  

Discovering new ways of seeing the world, through the eyes of those we cherish, creates a circle of joy.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Turning a Negative Into a Positive

Frustrations are part of life.  How we deal with them impacts our success and happiness.  A dear friend encountered a major wreck on her way home from work this week. She knew that she could spend an uncertain, but significant amount of time stuck in traffic, so she changed the scenario.  She exited at one of her favorite retail haunts, enjoyed visiting with similarly destined and friendly strangers; had the chance to offer fashion advice to her new situational friends, and snagged a cool handbag.

Rather than moaning the next day about her traffic woes, she cheerfully sported her new find.

Life happens best when we choose to turn negatives into positives.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Life-Long Joys of-Summer Reading

The Library Summer Reading Program was always a fun activity during my youth.  The tradition continued when Julia and Gar were young.  Little did I know, as a child, that this would help encourage my life-long love of reading.  Though I'm no longer eligible to participate in the structured goal based library programs, I've devised my own.  I've embraced a best-selling author, who Edgar has long enjoyed, starting with his just released latest mystery.  It's been fun to discover a number of this author's books in our personal library, and am enjoying a third great read.   Based upon my recommendation, Mama, also chose and is enjoying one of this author's books.

There are several mystery authors whose new works I eagerly anticipate, knowing they are sure to delight. Not too surprisingly, this love of mysteries began when I followed Mama's own childhood footsteps in devouring accounts of Nancy Drew's adventures. What fun for Mama and me to once again discover and share a series of novels that bring great joy to hot summer days.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Trash or Treasure

My mom, husband and children are all accomplished chefs.  Because they routinely create yummy feasts, and enjoy the process, my culinary skills are quite limited.  However, my creative instincts and ongoing desires to make something delightful from unexpected materials  (that often yield non-culinary successes),  occasionally result in delicious, yet usually non-repeatable dishes.

Seeing and acting on potential, where others fail to realize possibilities, is so rewarding.  Refrigerator ingredients that would have been trashed, were combined to produce a scrumptious potato corn soup.  Though I was the only one in town to enjoy it, it was quite exciting to realize that acting on good instincts can occasionally yield results that would ordinarily require skill and experience.

We are generally more apt to experiment when the stakes are low.  And when we are able to turn trash to treasure the rewards are amazing.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Start Again

Reboot sounds so technical.  However, starting again sounds so full of promise.

Whether we are human or machine, we sometimes need a break from continuous expectations.  Machines tend to let us know in gentle, or service impacting ways, that something needs to change.  As humans, we aren't usually as apt to realize or communicate that we've reached our limits of operating as we usually have operated.

Time out, restart, reboot or start again are all differently acceptable ways of positively accepting that something needs to change in order to realize different outcomes.

Starting again, with mutually endorsed objectives and mutually accepted unmet expectations, can be the human equivalent of a reboot.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Great Advice

We are all bombarded by unsolicited advice.  Some of it may be good to excellent, but if we're not receptive, it might as well be worthless, because we won't act upon it.  And some of the unsolicited advice is terrible to dangerous.  So, wise caution is prudent in evaluating and acting upon unsolicited advice.  The more we trust the source and her or his expertise, the more likely we are to accept it.  That is, unless we feel competitive with the adviser, be it parent, friend or colleague.

However, when we solicit the advice of a trusted source and are eager to embrace it, we often not only receive a tremendous gift, but give one as well.

Today was a banner day for solicited advice from me.  And in each of the five instances, the appreciation of the recipient was so gratifying.

Great advice is that which is knowledgeably given and enthusiastically acted upon.   Great advice appropriately shared and acknowledged makes the giver and receiver both realize that a gifted exchange has occurred.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Try Again

I encourage trying once again things that might have been unsavory, yucky, unpleasant or dissatisfying, if others you trust continue to tout the merits. Though I spent the first half of my life hating cooked cauliflower and brussel sprouts, I now enthusiastically encourage others who might have also been turned away by these veggies to give them another chance.  It is liberating to finally embrace and fully enjoy two previously abhorred dishes (that happen to also be nutritionally terrific).  Granted, the preparation of the veggies has varied tremendously since my first awful experiences, but my tastes and adventuresome have also expanded.  

Whether it is food, experiences, ways of thinking or people, it is easy to adopt an attitude that one bad encounter is enough to permanently eliminate future encounters.  However, just as my longtime  negatively held beliefs about cauliflower and brussel sprouts changed to positive, we may sometimes realize that maybe that, as in baseball, we should allow three strikes before declaring anything potentially worthwhile as out (of our lives).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Low Tech Connections

We sometimes take for granted the instantaneous fingertip access we have to unfathomable amounts of information.  And, once information is available on social media, a website or blog it's generally quick and simple to share with those who want to see it.  However, when the parties who want to see the info, don't have access to sites that easily provide for information sharing, we need to get creative in providing low tech access.

We were able to share fun, festive and patriotic photos with a group of colleagues who occupy 3 floors of an office tower by printing photos and mounting them on a large foam poster board and displaying them on an easel in a common area on one of the floors.  An email message announced the contest winners and provided the location for viewing the photos.

This low tech solution provides a reason for colleagues on other floors to leave their area, stimulates positive conversation about and among colleagues who participated, and presents a  visual display of cross-team camaraderie to all who pause as they pass.

Low tech and high tech provide different ways for us to keep everything connected.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Don't Rain on Anyone Else's Parade!

Each of us finds fulfillment and enjoyment in different big and small ways.  And big and small are relative.  Things that I find exciting may be tremendously boring to others.  And things that bring great joy to others may be trivial to me.

However, we can make the world a happier place by eagerly interacting, actively listening and responding with empathy and interest to others.  We might even learn something in the process!

Monday, July 1, 2013

This Is Exactly What I Want to Be Doing!

Whether we say anything or not, others realize how enthusiastic we are about the activity that we're:

  • enjoying
  • pretending to enjoy
  • waiting for it to end
One of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves and others is fully embracing whatever experience we are tackling, and fully engaging with those with whom we are experiencing the activity.

Early this morning, I realized that running was exactly what I wanted to be doing at that time.  This realization encouraged me to consciously evaluate other meaningful experiences (useful, interesting or expected).  

The more frequently we plan our future activities to include only things that we will eagerly anticipate, or truly must do, the more often we will find ourselves doing exactly what we want to be doing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Willpower and Won't Power

Willpower is an oft valued component for achieving our goals.  It is important, helpful and high impact.  However, each of us is motivated somewhat differently.  It struck me, as a dear friend mentioned the limits of willpower, that it might be beneficial to also incorporate won't power.  For instance:

  • Losing weight - willpower - stick to a prescribed diet; won't power - allow the dieter to indicate that she/he won't deviate from the diet more than 2 times per week
  • Increasing Exercise - willpower - implement a well-crafted exercise regimen; won't power- allow the exerciser to indicate that no more that 3 consecutive inactive days will be allowed
Pairing willpower and won't power strikes me as a way to recognize the realities of life's best intentions.  Incremental winning may result rather than giving up because of an unmet goal. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Diversity Dimensions

I became intrigued by Comerica’s Master of Diversity Awareness program as soon as I discovered it, but fully realized its potential when everyone in the Business Bank was asked to engage.  It is encouraging that nine elements of diversity are included in the curriculum, the widely expected areas: age, gender, sexual orientation and culture/ethnicity plus other oft included topics: religion and disability but broadened to also encompass: work/life balance, thinking/personality styles and leveraging diversity for performance enhancement. 
The curriculum is ever expanding and positively evolving with opportunities for all colleagues to recommend options for inclusion.  This ensures that the program will remain fresh and relevant and interestingly, creates the possibility that no two colleagues will experience the same content as different levels of completion are recognized – bronze, silver, gold and platinum. 
In addition to the corporate expectation of program participation, I knew there was an opportunity for continuous learning, which I’ve always embraced, plus the chance to be a role model and advocate for our Houston Comerica colleagues.  There have already been chances to educate colleagues about the importance of including broad experiences, perspectives and points of view.  And I’ve been able to share the variety of elements available, including Academy Award nominated films that provide entertainment value to share with family or friends.
My official diversity training began early in my career and initially focused only on ethnic/cultural differences.  Though the first class was likely over 25 years ago, I vividly remember learning from an African American colleague that diversity is not about color blindness.  Rather it is about actively recognizing, acknowledging and accepting differences.
Thankfully, a gay friend told me early in my career, how difficult it is to fit into a predominantly straight workplace.  Photos of their partners weren’t expected to be displayed in the office, invitations were often extended only to spouses and with so little information available with early cases of AIDS, unfounded fears of exposure existed.   I became sensitive and supportive of these challenges and universally began extending invitations to spouses or significant others.
Though various tools (Myers Briggs, Birkman, DISC, Social Styles Selling Skills) to understand and enhance individual and team performance weren’t then categorized as diversity initiatives, it is clear to me now, that these were critical early efforts to recognize diversity’s ultimate promise.  By best understanding ourselves and others, we have the chance to utilize the skills, strengths, preferred ways of working and new ways of approaching projects to improve individual, team and company performance. 
Years ago, I realized that diversity is like a multi-faceted diamond.  It is far broader than even the nine elements included in our MDA program.  Our family composition and dynamics, education, where we were raised, skills, abilities, experiences, physical traits, emotional well-being, attitudes and outlooks all influence how we present ourselves, interact with others and perform the roles we play.
Some discoveries from the different program elements and suggestions include:
  • Micro-inequities can play a huge part in discouraging, disengaging or losing valuable perspectives.  Thus exercising the Platinum Rule has huge importance.  The Platinum Rule indicates that we should treat others as they expect to be treated.  This has far greater potential than the more broadly advocated Golden Rule.
  • Gender issues must be taken seriously by men as well as women.  Unless we are all committed to using the entire workforce, we will fail to realize the gains available when females are more broadly represented in board and leadership positions.  New books like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and Bonnie St. John’s How Great Women Lead expand the dialogue and raise awareness of the opportunities that exist.
  • Religious speech in the workplace is allowed, even if controversial, just as other nonreligious speech is allowed.  Speculation of negative feelings or impact is not sufficient to thwart religious expression.
  • “Overqualified” is a seemingly politically correct way to address a prospective employer’s concerns that an older worker might be less committed to a job.  Until we understand a person’s true interest in a job, we risk unintentionally failing to hire the best, most experienced candidate.
  • “Looksism” is another diversity element not included in traditional diversity programs.  It is easy to discriminate against another because of appearance with or without consciously acknowledging these biases.

The MDA program has great potential to broaden our expectations of gains to be realized when we choose to be truly inclusive of the differences that make each of us unique and special individuals.   As more colleagues tackle the curriculum, we have the chance to overcome biases, increase respectfulness and improve performance.   And we add another common language for achievement - bronze, silver, gold and platinum. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Little Things Make a Great Day

Early this week, I reflected on another great day.  Though nothing spectacular happened, I realized a number of small things combined to create a remarkable day:

  • lovely, even if only brief, connection with those I love most
  • meaningful interactions with treasured work colleagues
  • important incremental advances on work projects
  • special, planned time with long-time friends
  • time committed to advancing the mission of a marvelous nonprofit organization
  • yummy food, lovingly prepared
We can get so caught up in expectations for significant events, milestones and plans that we can lose sight of the many, many small occurrences that create great days.  

Great moments lead to great hours, then days, then weeks, then months, then years and thus lifetimes.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Make a Day

My day started with a 7:00 a.m. conference call  At my second meeting, a stranger complimented my attire, and late in the day, colleagues I rarely see mentioned how put together I always am.  Though I make it a point to find positive comments for family, friends and colleagues; as the recipient of these unexpected positive observations, when I didn't think I was necessarily at my best, I fully realized that a little positive and sincere attention to others can really make a day.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


A Comerica Bank computer based training course, that is an option for achieving various levels in our Diversity Awareness program, effectively addresses micro-inequities.  These are small gestures, actions, comments and lack of acknowledgement that can disengage team members.  It's not always the big affronts that cause the biggest damage. Eye rolls, arriving late, leaving early, crediting a friend/insider (rather than the first to propose) with a great idea, exclusive pre-meetings and post-meetings, side conversations, checking electronic devices and failure to listen are a few ways that valuable inputs are thwarted and valued colleagues   may choose to seek other employers who value their perspectives.

Every day we have multiple opportunities, big and small, to gain insight from those whom we encounter.  It doesn't take a lot to make someone feel special, nor does it take much to make someone feel insignificant.  Special wins every time!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Respectful and Respected

Being respectful of others can lead to being respected by others.  Everyone deserves to be treated respectfully for who they are. Treating others well is a sign of respect - being respectful.   However being respected is only earned when we consistently do and say the things we say we will with an interest in outcomes that benefit others, not only ourselves.  We can earn respect for character, actions and accomplishments.  But we can show respect to all we meet.  Thankfully, respectful behavior is often reciprocated.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Top and Bottom Performers May Look Alike

We just saw and immensely enjoyed a movie that our local film critic had rated 1 on a 5 star scale.  We found the entertainment value to be close to 5 stars.  If you average our ratings you get 3 stars.  This is a prime example of how meaningless average ratings can be when there are only two raters, and the absolute ratings are at the top and bottom of the scale.

It would be far more meaningful to know that two raters gave absolutely different assessments, and understand why.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Embracing Change

It's often said that only a baby with a diaper that needs attention likes change.

 I love change!  So, it's been hard for me to understand why most people don't.  I look to the positive opportunities that change brings and embrace the chance for growth and improvement from status quo.  However, I've discovered that the element of loss of the familiar is what most people embrace, and thus react negatively to change.

To embrace change, we must look forward to the positive expected outcomes.

To deal with the loss of the familiar, we can celebrate the positives of what we've enjoyed with the current situation, by recognizing that those successes, impacts and memories provide a foundation for even greater successes, impacts and more positive memories.  And, in the best scenarios, we carry forward best practices into the changed environment.

Change is constant and we can embrace it while honoring what has been.

No More Ready, Fire, Aim!

I love action!  But I really only love informed action.  Ready, aim, fire works well for me.  Ready, fire, aim makes me very nervous, as there's a huge opportunity to miss the target.  We all know folks who are so obsessed with doing something that they miss the chance to take the best action.  Ready incorporates attitude, ability and resources - the perfect first step.  However, when we fail to take time to plan and narrow the options to those with the best chance of success (aim), we can waste a lot of time, talent and resources (firing) at the wrong target.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Diversity is Differently Abled

Though we often think of the term "differently abled" to address those with special needs, it is a term we all need to embrace to recognize, engage and utilize the different skills, abilities, experiences, insights and perspectives each of us have to offer.  So often we seek and find commonality, yet innovations, breakthroughs and ideal engagements are generally the result of incorporating different ways of thinking, seeing and acting.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Knowing v. Doing

This morning I almost allowed my self-talk to convince me to miss my morning run.  As soon as I hit stride, it was clear that running rather than rapidly retreating to the office was the best decision.  This experience vividly impressed me that most of us know the beneficial actions we need to take to achieve our desired objectives.

However, knowing is far easier than doing.  The more often we do what we know needs to be done, the more positive benefits we reap.  Here's to more knowing and doing, rather than knowing v. doing!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Things We Can't Delegate

Delegation can  reduce stress and increase productivity.  However, there are a number of things that we can't delegate  - eat, sleep, exercise and relationships.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How Great Women Lead

Bonnie St. John and her then 14-year-old daughter Darcy Deane authored a book, How Great Women Lead.  Their refreshing look at leadership is the result of two years of interviews with 20 diverse female leaders, including celebrated leaders and those who also deserve to be well-known and celebrated for their contributions.  This mother-daughter team's shared approach to interviews provides dual generational insight into this important topic.

Leaders include:

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - President of Liberia, Nobel Laureate
Leslie Lewin - Executive Director, Seeds of Peace
Condoleezza Rice- Former U.S. Secretary of State, Professor at Stanford University
Sharon Allen - First Female Chairman of the Board, Deloitte LLP
Hillary Rodham Clinton - Former U.S. Secretary of State
Wendy Kopp - CEO and Founder, Teach for America
Deborah Tom - Founder of Human Systems, Ltd.
Amy Pascal - Co-Chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Lt. Col. Nicole Malachowski - First Woman Thunderbird Pilot
Marin Alsop- Musical Director and Conductor - Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Geena Davis - Women's Rights Activist, Movie Star
Noemi Ocana - Nicaraguan Director of Microfinance Loans - Opportunity International
Eileen Fisher - Fashion Designer - CEO and Founder, Eileen Fisher, Inc.
Cathy Sarubbi - Homemaker, Mother of Five
Lisa P. Jackson - Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Rishika Daryani - High School Junior
Sheryl Sandberg - Chief Operating Officer - Facebook
Susan Rice - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Denise Dresser - Human Rights Activist, Professor - Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico
Fay Deane - First Woman Dairy Company Chairma in New Zealand

These inspiring women share that Leaders:
Unite people to common goals and create collaborations.
Are positive
Are interested in the needs of others
Help others fulfill their potential
Create a vision
Communicate and inspire
Get very talented people to do their best work
Inspire themselves and others to dream big
Lead by example
Encourage other women to lead
Incorporate great ideas from the team
Incorporate diverse viewpoints and experiences
Achieve buy-in
Recognize the power of face-to-face
Are passionate
Let their self-confidence show
Advocate for change
Succeed with and through teams
Pay attention to details

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Link, Tweet and Friend Like a Pro in 2013

Social media is an important part of our lives.  We first presented a Link, Tweet and Friend Like a Pro panel  four years ago.  We just engaged two social media experts, Raissa Evans (Executive Manager of Practice Growth, PKF Texas) and Tracie Welch Brenton (Director, Audience Development, Houston Business Journal) to share their expertise for a capacity crowd at a Comerica Bank Business Forum today.

Tracie and Raissa very successfully embrace social media in their professional and personal lives. They enthusiastically shared valuable strategies, tips, do's, don'ts, success stories and helpful encouragement to launch or expand social media as a crucial, cost-effective part of our attendees' overall marketing and business development plans.

Though, Raissa and Tracie are terrific marketers with strong technology interest, education and experience, I am proof that technology acumen isn't a prerequisite to diving in to social media.  Tracie and Raissa both emphasized the importance of intentional messaging that is beneficial to your target audience.  They both have access to colleagues who have very valuable content to share (reporters and CPAs) and have the opportunity help extend their expertise to others.

Some take-aways from their enlightening dialogue include:

  • Know and cater to your audience
  • Provide interesting, useful content - don't forget that pictures speak volumes
  • Post regularly
  • Be authentic, consistent and human
  • Don't over-promote
  • Listen twice as often as you post
  • Time is the biggest investment in social media - use it strategically and wisely

Friday, May 3, 2013

I Added Balance by Abandoning a Bad Book

It's generally my nature to finish things that I start, so it was a big deal when I decided (this week) not to invest any more time in a book that had been recommended, but was not adding value to my life.  As an avid reader, this is only the third time I remember consciously deciding to quit reading a book that was "bad" compared to what I was expecting.  Two were novels, and this week, it was a book about life balance.  Rather than giving me practical tips about how to achieve this illusive goal, it presented the reasons that balance is so difficult.

I don't need scholarly research to remind me of the many things that impede life balance.  My simple take-away from this experience, is that sometimes we gain more balance when we say "no" to something someone else has determined might be helpful.  Listening to our own intuition is an important step in reducing stress and better juggling life's opportunities.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Acts of Kindness

Whether spontaneous, random or well-planned, all intentional  and unintentional acts of kindness make the world a bit better.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Winners Get Up and Go

Bonnie St. John, the first African-American to win Olympic medals in ski racing in downhill events at the 1984 Paralympics, captivated a packed ballroom at the Girls Scouts Annual Success to Significance luncheon last week.  She is an accomplished speaker, trainer and author, who radiates enthusiasm and possibility. The story of her Olympic medal races provided insight for everyone.  She was number one after her first run, and in sight of the finish line when she fell during her second run.  The icy course had caused many racers to fall.  Bonnie earned an Olympic medal by getting up and finishing the race.  The gold medalist also fell, but got up more quickly.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Today was a great day for DePelchin Children's Center. A Board Strategic Planning Retreat produced marvelous alignment in board and staff priorities.

Multiple constituents, much research and many internal and external experts were included in the process leading to today.  Passion, commitment and balancing resources drove the consensus for our strategic initiatives.

Alignment is a beautiful thing!

Friday, April 26, 2013

No Limits!

This month has been a blur of positive energy, successes, possibilities, encouragement, advancements, challenges overcome, teamwork, creativity, initiative, compassion and innovation.  Though there are countless things over which we have no control, this reminds me that there are no limits to the way we react, respond or take charge of the situations we encounter.

I've previously shared insights from several of these events, but feel inspired to share some thoughts from some of the exceptional women I've been privileged to hear in the past two days:
  • Kathrine Switzer - 1st female Boston marathon runner
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison - 1st female to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate
  • Sheryl WuDunn - 1st Asian-American Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Dr. Bonnie Dunbar - Astronaut who flew the first docking flight between the Russian Space Station and the Space Shuttle
  • Bonnie St. John - 1st African-American ski racing Olympic medalist
Each of these remarkable women has chosen to use her accomplishments and wide public acknowledgement to become positive, outspoken role models and change agents.  

My loving parents encouraged me from birth hat I could do and be anything.  So many of our young women and men need external encouragers.

When we positively pursue our passions with hard work, commitment and obsession for excelling, there are no limits!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Now and Next

Regardless of our passions, age or experience -  we owe it to ourselves, families, communities and careers to consciously consider what we are doing now that excites us, or brings us joy, or makes a difference.  (Ideally these things will converge.) And with those answers, we must consider how we will invest our time, talent and treasure to insure that what we do next will continue to make a difference to us, those we love and those we aspire to help.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What is a Volunteer?

There are countless descriptive definitions and examples of volunteering.  Volunteers make priceless impact every day.  As I was running this morning, in a volunteer t-shirt, I thought of a simplistic way of depicting what ideal volunteers are:

  • Valuable
  • Open
  • Listening
  • Understanding
  • Needed
  • Talented
  • Empathetic
  • Energized
  • Resource
Thank you to each of you for making such a difference in so very many ways!

Monday, April 22, 2013


I've long loved a quote I originally found attributed to Shiller, but have subsequently found as Louis Pasteur's (though "favor" replaces "luck") - "Luck favors the prepared mind."  It so inspired me that I created and framed this counted cross stitch quote.

Years have unfolded and I've created my own version - "Luck favors the curious, optimistic, caring and prepared!".

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Just Enough

Over a year ago I purchased special note cards to present lucky pennies, without a plan for their deployment.  I'd also procured glue dots for my lucky penny experiment, and used most of them.  This past week, I found the perfect deployment for 24 messages of luck and love.  Unbelievably, I had just enough cards, glue dots and shiny lucky pennies (I still have a supply of non-shiny lucky pennies).

So often, we worry about supply.  It thrills me when just enough is perfect!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What Animal Would You Be?

This week, I had a chance to participate in an icebreaker exercise, in a group of 13, where the facilitator asked for a topic.  I suggested, "if you were an animal what would you be?".  The option spontaneously occurred to me, and when the facilitator chose this query, the answers were revealing. The answers also opened additional conversations.

The answers included cats (domestic and large, wild), chameleon, eagle, blue bird, Big Foot, elephant and dog. Each respondent's reasons for their choices, added another dimension to the group dynamics.

Sometimes, an unexpected query can spur creative ways of thinking and learning.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Creativity, Heart and Passion

One of my Comerica Bank colleagues, Dawn Allen, has abundant energy, limitless creativity and unbridled passion to make a difference for nonprofits in our community.  She has created 25 professionally presented baskets for our internal March of Dimes Silent Auction.  Thanks to her initiative, we will raise significant funds toward our $51,000 goal.  She saw a need and volunteered her incredible talents to raise much needed funds for March of Dimes.

When we are receptive to ideas, input and platforms for success from our broad networks, we often identify key contributors whose skills we might not otherwise realize.

Creativity, heart and passion are priceless!

Human Diamonds

Many of the most resilient people I know are human diamonds, all the more empathetic and special because of their trials and tribulations.

Human diamonds are strong, beautiful, brilliant, multi-faceted, treasured and revealed through volcanic action.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Easy and Priceless Impact

There's no stated cash value, yet potential priceless impact for blood donations. Each whole blood donation has the potential to save 3 lives. Yesterday, was my 63rd blood donation to the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.  In 8 weeks, I'll reach a personal 8 gallon milestone.

If you are healthy and have an hour to commit to saving lives, please consider making a potentially priceless (and practically painless) donation with no out-of-pocket impact.

Each of us can make a difference in so many ways - this is one important one!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dressing from the Dryer

Infrequently, I have the double pleasure of dressing from the dryer.  Regardless of the outdoor temperature, our home is comfortable for my polar bear family members and nippy for some guests.  When I'm drying a load of clothes before my morning run, that includes running attire, it's fun to grab and wear dryer warm clothes. (Those who know me well will be relieved to know that I don't dress from the dryer for my work and community responsibilities.)  The second part of the pleasure includes the elimination of the folding and stowing process for these clean items.

This is a reminder to myself and others that we have many seemingly insignificant chances to bring good cheer to our days.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Time to Care

Now is our only given.  How we choose to invest our time differs for each of us.  Thankfully, many generous Houstonians voted with their time and financial resources to make the first "fun"draising and "friend"raising luncheon for The Rose a tremendous success!

The Rose's mission is to reduce deaths from breast cancer by providing screening, diagnostics and access to treatment for all women regardless of their ability to pay.

My friend, Donna Mittendorf and I were honored to chair this luncheon, and thrilled that so many friends helped increase funds and additional friends for this amazing organization.

Our stellar media celebrity panel: Melanie Lawson, Andrea Watkins and Debra Duncan beautifully moderated by Ernie Manouse, vividly highlighted the importance taking time to care for ourselves.  Melanie's MS, Andrea's breast cancer and Debra's brain aneurysm brought to focus the reality that health issues don't wait until we have time to address them.

Unless we take time to care for ourselves, we won't be able to give our best to others.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Easy or Impossible?

Most things are easy once we know how to do them well.  And many things seem almost impossible when we don't have any idea how to do them.

It's important to remember this distinction when we are learning or teaching.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Enemies of Learning

Yesterday, Houston's Nonprofit Leadership Collaborative featured another remarkable speaker , Julio Olalla, founder Newfield Network.  He shared 14 Enemies of Learning and I will add two more:
  1. Inability  to admit that we don't know
  2. Blindness to blindness (we don't know what we don't know)
  3. To live in permanent assessing (judgment)
  4. I don't have time
  5. The lack of inclusion of somatic learning (body)
  6. The lack of inclusion of emotion in learning
  7. Gravity (inability to laugh/play)
  8. Triviality (joke at the expense of others)
  9. Confuse having opinions with knowing
  10. Belief that gathering information is equal to learning
  11. I can't learn because of who I am
  12. Inability to grant others the  authority to teach us
  13. Only asking how and why questions
  14. Addiction to answers
I add:
  1. Lack of interest
  2. Addiction to success
He emphasized the importance of learning by sharing that until we expand what we know, we will continue to do more of the same actions and continue to receive the same results. That's a compelling case for continuous learning!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Transported by Scent

 The marvelous honeysuckle aroma that filled my being during an early morning run transported me immediately  back to fun-filled  summer days of my childhood.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Practical Impracticality

My life is so full of doing what is expected, practical, and multi-faceted.  I was shocked at our running shoe selections, when Julia and I visited one of Houston's premiere running stores during Easter weekend.  My young, multi-half marathoner daughter, chose a sedate shoe.  Surprisingly, I chose the hot pink running shoe!

My normal shoe purchases are basic colors which go with everything in my wardrobe.  Even my first running shoes coordinated with most attire.  However, this year I decided to be practically impractical, and chose hot pink running shoes.  Though I'll often clash with my running attire, my bright happy feet will bring another terrific reminder that sometimes impracticality is amazingly practical.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Powerful Pauses

It's a big deal when an action oriented person acknowledges that pauses can be powerful.  

During my morning run, I encountered construction obstacles which would have rerouted my course.  However, the freight train that stops traffic multiple times per day on three of Houston's busiest north/south streets: Westheimer, San Felipe and Richmond provided me safe passage today.  

For most of my adult life, these traffic delays have been an unwelcome nuisance as I'm racing to and fro.  Today, the train that I've always willed to speed through the intersection and allow me to quickly reach my destination, became my safety net to complete a few steps of my morning run on one of these busiest streets.

It was marvelous to be vividly reminded that there are usually at least two valid ways of viewing a situation.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shred, Recycle and Nourish

There are many experiences that excite us, and Comerica Bank's First Shred Day Houston event on April 6 exceeded my expectations by every measure.  This event originated in Michigan, migrated to Dallas 3 years ago and debuted in Houston last Saturday.  Comerica Bank partnered with Iron Mountain to offer free shredding and recycling. We partnered with Houston Food Bank to encourage grateful recipients of secure shredding and recycling to contribute food to Houston Food Bank   Houston delivered beautifully on all fronts!  We welcomed 1,757 cars, shredded and recycled over 103,000 pounds of paper (a mere 8,000 pounds shy of the Guinness record) and collected 7,276  pounds of food (which will provide 5,597 meals) and raised $6,842.70 in monetary donations (which will provide 20,528 meals for hungry Houstonians).

Each of us has the opportunity to make a difference for others every day.  I'm thrilled that I had a chance to be part of the team that helped prevent identity fraud, kept over 50 tons of paper out of landfills and provided the equivalent of more than 26,000 meals for our hungry neighbors.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Expect the Best!

I'm continually thrilled when others go above and beyond the great things I expect!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

1000 Things to Say? Yes!

When I began this adventure - 1000 posts ago, with the encouragement of Christine and Janet, I wouldn't have done it if they'd told me I had to post 1000 times. Thankfully, they both assured me that only one post every week would suffice.  And, what an inspiring project it has been!

Things I've realized:
  • starting is often the hardest step and encouragement is crucial
  • we all have more to share than we know
  • attempting something contemporary and new to us is another way to continuously learn and relate to younger friends and associates
  • expecting to share information makes us more observant and communicative
  • no one has 1000 things to spontaneously share
  • setting an achievable goal is motivating (it's exciting to realize that I've exceeded the once per week objective nearly five times!)
  • we never know who might be touched by the things we share
  • reconnecting with old friends is a joy
  • stuff that happens to us might encourage another
  • creative outlets take different forms at various stages of our lives

Do You Hear and See What I Do?

My eyes have begun to play tricks on me.  Having been the poster child for contacts since 7th grade, it has been frustrating to realize that I no longer have the sharp vision I've always enjoyed for reading.  (I still vividly remember when my precious Mother, who had always enjoyed 20/20 vision asked me to thread a needle for her.)  And a similarly aged friend was recently diagnosed with significant hearing loss. Shes just been fitted for hearing aids and is amazed at what she has been missing.

When we don't get the reaction we're expecting, it may be that the other person doesn't see or hear what we do.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Encourage One

Sometimes goals that are too lofty discourage well intended progress.  Three times this week I've had the opportunity to remember that encouraging one person can have positive ripple impacts.

One of my friends is an amazing golfer.  When we were visiting at the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013, I shared my 400 mile running goal for the year and we talked about a golf game per week goal for him.  Not only did he adopt it; he motivated another golfer friend to embrace it.

And, at a Comerica Bank and Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce event this week, one of the inspiring comments was, every attendee could, at a minimum, encourage one more person to help reduce negative portrayals of women in the media..

Then, a blown glass starfish was the party favor at an event this week, and included the story of the child who is walking the beach throwing each starfish she finds back into the ocean.  When challenged by an adult about the impact she was having, given the enormous number of beached starfish, she continued her quest with the assurance that she was making a difference to each starfish she assisted.

These three vivid examples made me realize that when I make a difference for anyone, it is a difference that matters.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Keep Looking

Last evening, Dr. Robert Ballard, best known for his 1985 discovery of the TITANTIC, fascinated Chevron's guests at a special dinner lecture as he shared information about that and many other significant undersea discoveries.  Though most of us are captivated by his many shipwreck discoveries, he believes his most important discoveries were of hydrothermal vents and "black smokers".  It strikes me that his most enduring impact will be his JASON Project, which allows hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren to accompany him from afar on undersea explorations around the globe.  His passion, experience and enthusiasm are captivating and can motivate budding young scientists to pursue technical educations.

Dr. Ballard shared that most of his greatest discoveries occurred while he was looking for something else.  What motivation that provides for all of us to persistently follow our curiosity.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Life's a Buffet

All you can eat buffets have great appeal for some, and aren't attractive to others of us.  Though, I don't like them, I've learned to love the analogy.  With an enormous buffet, options are beautifully presented.  Choices are left to the diner (life architect).  Theoretically, a diner could choose a portion from every offered option.  However, the realities of capacity, appetite and interest cause most of us to make choices that are realistic for us.

In life's buffet, we would all be well served to choose people, experiences, foods and things that fully nourish and energize us.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Real or Figurative Dinosaur?

There are two broad dinosaur definitions:

  1. extinct reptile, many gigantic, from the Mesozoic Era (real)
  2. outmoded or outdated person or thing (figurative)

Unclaimed print documents accumulate in our corporate community copier, printer, scanner and mail area.  Helpful colleagues often attempt to ensure that they are united with the intended party.  A colleague who wanted to be helpful asked me about a dinosaur report.   Though I'd not heard of a dinosaur report, I first assumed that a clever colleague had renamed a report deemed important only by the report originator.  However, it was actually the class schedule for kindergarten class reports on dinosaurs.

This was a vivid reminder that we all attach different meanings to words, terms, references, experiences and things.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cold Water is Only for Drinking

I'm a water baby and love swimming pools, lakes, ponds, creeks, bays, oceans, seas and bath tubs. I even like seeing evening rain through the windows from the dry comfort of the terrace. However, the only way that I enjoy cold water is as my favorite iced beverage during a meal.

We often broadly accept many categories of things.  However, when we know specifically what we like, we are able to embrace, experience and recommend enjoyable opportunities.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Being in a Snow Globe

Fishing in the Laguna Madre in South Texas provides a 360 degree panoramic view with no tall buildings in any direction.  On a boat in open water, with beautiful big clouds in a sky that meets the water, it's as if we're  momentarily contained in a perfect, giant snow globe.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In

One of my young friends who works for Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, gave me an autographed copy of Sheryl's new book, Lean In, when it was released last Monday.  The well-researched book builds on her 2010 TED address which encouraged women to take charge of our careers (Lean In).   She shares data, provides humorous and candid anecdotes, labels biases and challenges many of us to subtly or dramatically change our approach.

Some of her key messages include:

  • The leadership ambition gap for women is perpetuated by a "stereotype threat" (most leadership positions and well-compensated positions are held by men) and the assumption that a creating a successful personal and professional life is difficult to impossible.
  • Sit at the table - don't let self-doubt or deference banish you to the sidelines in meetings where your voice is needed.
  • Success and likeability are usually negatively correlated for women
  • The proverbial career ladder would better be viewed as a jungle gym, with multiple paths to success rather than a single straight upward trajectory.
  • Mentorship, sponsorship and seized conversations can all offer advantages.
  • Authentic communication requires acknowledging others' truths as well as our own
  • Don't plan with specificity too far ahead - keep options open
  • Make your partner a true partner.
  • We can't do it all, all the time.
  • No one wants her achievements minimized.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Big Dose of Sunshine

One of my colleagues was in an even better mood today than normal.  She attributed her ebullience to the beautiful day and  daylight savings time produced sunlight in the early evening, I joked that she had a sunshine I.V.  We all need to assess the people, places, things, experiences or memories that easily boost our spirits, like my friend's big dose of sunshine, and find ways to frequently harness that natural boost.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Is It Just a Game?

Score keeping is necessary in all levels of competitive sports - from pre-k games through professional athletics. We all keep score in one way or another.  I don't like it when I hear someone say "it's just a game" as it seems to minimize the play.  Games serve many purposes including building skills, teaching teamwork, getting mental and/or physical exercise, reducing stress and providing entertainment for players and spectators.

Let's play!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Friends Live On

Yesterday, a dear friend lost her battle with cancer.  I had the privilege to sit by her bedside and tell her how amazing she was hours before she died.  Today the hole in my heart is being filled with precious memories of countless examples of her character, faith, love, loyalty, friendship, motherhood, leadership, integrity and strength.

We are rarely able to  truly convey how deeply we are  touched by those we consider dear friends.  We realize with death that physical absence cannot steal precious memories.  Thankfully, those we love live forever in our hearts and memories.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Two Ways to Get 100%

I count the number of people ahead of me in line and calculate how long my 6 mile commute home will be based upon traffic flow at the 2 mile mark.  So it's not surprising that I track completion of my run route by percentage completion at various points.  This morning as I was doing my mental math it also occurred to me that any steps I take are 100% better than inactivity.

It helps keep me motivated to have different ways to measure success.

How do you measure progress?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Little Irritants Aren't About Me

One of the hardest things to remember when we're stressed or frustrated, is that things didn't suddenly conspire to increase our angst.  It's often the way I'm viewing the circumstances that make it seem that way.  Some interesting things to rationally consider when we're very calm and controlled:

  • traffic lights don't randomly turn red when a given car appears
  • the trains that block traffic on Westheimer, San Felipe and Richmond travel on their schedule, not ours
  • processing cut-off and pick-up times are uniformly applied
  • expiration dates are set well in advance of our intent to use an item or service
  • the "change password gremlins" have a preset timeline independent of our important deadlines
  • adult proof packaging is intended to protect our children, not preclude us from accessing products
  • airlines don't intentionally delay flights
  • the copier and printer have a preset number of pages a cartridge will produce
  • retail stores have established times for opening and closing
  • many professional service providers tend to keep the same business hours that we do - so that very early or late appointment that would be ideal for us isn't an option
  • Daylight Savings Time isn't optional
  • the change in the postal rate was universal and every conceivable stamp denomination is not available (remember this if you receive snail mail from me with three stamps - 32 cent,  10 cent and 4 cent)
  • the office doesn't have a mother-in-charge, we all are expected to be responsible adults
  • the person declaring urgency or importance doesn't always have sway with the person assessing the situation
  • there is no organizational mandate to have only one cashier
The list, is of course, endless.  Which minor irritants challenge you to remember "it's not all about me"/

Monday, March 4, 2013

Beauty of the Detour

Most often, when challenged by a detour, I fret.  Expected timed appearance is usually the source of my detour stress. This weekend I had the chance to embrace the beauty of a detour.  My run route was altered by a fire truck attending to a gas leak, caused by demolition, so that a home site can be reconstructed for new owners.

Had I been racing to my next meeting, I would have been stressed.  Fortunately, I'd already altered my weekend schedule and readily adjusted my route.  The detour allowed me to drop a layer of clothing along the route, increase the length of my run and see what's happening in a different part of my neighborhood.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

New Uses for Things We Have

It is always energizing to me to express creativity and/or save time, money and other resources by embracing  things we have.  Some love single purpose tools.  I love things that meet multiple needs or that can be creatively re-purposed   Some of my top of mind favorites include:

  • binder clips as chip clips and money clips for active pursuits
  • Kleenex boxes to contain the endless supply of shopping bags (even when we often take our own reusable bags)
  • contact lens case for travelling with preferred shampoos and conditioner ( can still avoid checked bags)
  • law books or other hardback favorites stacked as a table
  • ring holder as a visible, attractive and accessible hair band holder
  • pine cones as filler around a potted plant
How do you creatively re-purpose things in your life?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What a Difference a Year Makes!

It's hard to believe that I've been running for a year!  Little did I know at this time last year that the novel activity I accidentally tried would become an important and positive part of my life.  This one year milestone caused me to think about why something I'd never considered embracing would make such a difference.  There are so many positives including:

  • Open to new activities and ways of thinking
  • Influenced by positive role models
  • Focused on health
  • Balancing active and busy
  • Setting and achieving a fitness goal 
  • Enjoying the outdoors
  • Seeing neighbors
  • Don't have to schedule it, able to just lock the door and start the route on my time frame
  • Time to think and pray without distractions

Friday, March 1, 2013

You are Strong

I recently had the chance to engage with some survivors of the dysfunction caused by a loved one's addiction.  On the surface, there was fragility.  But once they shared their stories, their great strength was evident.

We often see what we expect.  Though I expected fragility, I found their strength.  If we consciously look for  and acknowledge the strength in others, everyone wins.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

You Will Be Missed!

People sometimes think that no one will notice if they don't attend a corporate event even though they've indicated that they will be there.  The reality is that corporate events are planned and executed by real individuals who are trying to accurately assure that everyone who attends is warmly welcomed and well accommodated.  Budget, name tags, food, beverages, handouts, room size and speaker expectations of audience size are a few of the variables the event planner is trying to manage   The event planner is expecting you to be there when you accept the invitation.  And he/she is expecting to know if your plans change.

This week, I witnessed something I've  not seen before in my long career - the worst case scenario of everyone thinking that no one would notice if they didn't attend.  Acceptances for an all colleague event were received from 131 employees.  Actual attendance was 29.

Thankfully we did not have venue or hospitality expenses for this workday event.  However, we had the embarrassment of billing a large audience to our talented internal speakers, while delivering a small, but engaged group.

When queried, the post event explanations from the no-shows largely favored client serving opportunities and included a few things beyond the colleague's control.  Others clearly didn't realize that their response mattered.

Regardless of the nobleness of the  reason for the change of plans, courtesy requires timely communication.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Three Things I Can Control

It is my nature to try to make things as good as they can be.  This tendency has led to struggles as I've tried to control things beyond myself.  This year I am consciously focusing on three things over which I have absolute control - my attitude, actions and effort.

Regardless of what is happening around me and what others are doing, I have the option to disengage from  circumstantial drama or group think.  With positive focus, my attitude, actions and effort are within my total control.

Monday, February 11, 2013


At the end of January, I once again had the opportunity to represent Comerica at the Houston Touchdown Club's Comerica Bank Sportsmanship Luncheon, one of my favorite annual events.  This event honors 5A, 4A, 3A and private schools that have been highest ranked on multiple dimensions of sportsmanship by the refs.  The refs not only evaluate the players and coaches, but also the booster groups and parents.

The ceremony honors those who play the game with integrity.  Coaches are well known for their competitiveness and drive and many awards just recognize skill.  I've been delighted by the number of coaches in the past 7 years who have shared pride in winning this award and highlighting this success with their respective players, staff and schools.

It is always invigorating to hear competitive coaches share their pride in being honored for inspiring their players to play the game fairly and  well.

The Golden Rule serves us well in athletics and in life as we treat others as we'd like to be treated.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Care is Care

It's easy for most of us to care for others.  In fact it's often a part of our DNA.  The concept of self-care isn't as readily embraced.  However, care for an individual is meaningful whether the individual is another or ourselves.  When individuals are adequately cared for by another or self (hopefully both) the best emerges!

Care is Care!  And Care is essential! When we are acknowledging, addressing and responding to our own needs and wants we become our best selves.   Self-care is far from selfish -  it equips us to offer more care for others

Thursday, January 24, 2013

No is a Gift

An interesting discussion last night prompted me to provide another way of thinking about saying "no".  Life has taught me that "no" is distasteful to many.  I've coined and oft used the phrase, "I know a thousand nice ways to say no".

Though I had not thought about it as concretely as I shared last night, I do believe that the ability to deliver a deliberative "no" is a gift to the sender and the receiver.

A decision is helpful to set expectations and boundaries for those who are asking for time, talent or treasures.
A decision allows us to move on to other priorities, issues and requests with closure.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Foolproof Instructions

As I've mentioned previously, I've been thankfully surrounded by accomplished, inspired and intuitive chefs since birth.  Though I can cook (via recipe) it is awesome to be continually nourished by those who love me and create dishes from their inspiration and ability!

Since I am no chef, it is interesting to note that seemingly foolproof instructions also demand good common sense:

  • what is low heat?
  • when, in the process, does one stir once?  
Whether in the kitchen, workplace or volunteer assignment, it is important to verify instructions that are delivered by those accomplished in the area, if it's one that is new to us.  

Foolproof instructions generally aren't.  Most require additional info.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Many Heroes are Nameless

Edgar and I have always loved movies.  In recent years, life has gotten in the way of us being able to evaluate which Oscar nominated best movies should win.  We've resumed our pursuit and among our recent viewings have been two great films inspired by actual events, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.  

We often aren't aware, until many years later (if ever) of the disasters avoided by talented men and women who apply their talents, risk their lives and can't say anything about their missions.

I'm so very thankful for the men and women who are nameless heroes.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Great Communication

We rate communication on many variables including content, delivery, style, impact, credibility, importance, interest, timeliness and speaker.  These are all important elements and the mix will vary by situation.

I've had tremendous communications without words and challenging communications with well chosen words.   Regardless of the format, mechanism or venue, great communication occurs only when there is a connection between parties that allows each to be appreciated and understood.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Even Good Change is Stressful

I recently took my car to my favorite tire place with the expectation of a 2 hour fix. It turned into a 24 hour fix when they discovered that I had two nails in my tire and they didn't have a low profile replacement tire in stock.  Their late night revelation that I'd be without my vehicle until after lunch caused Gar to offer his Suburban as my work day transportation.  A seemingly perfect solution, since the tire store is less than a mile from home and my office is six miles away - and I had meetings scheduled starting early morning and his waking hours are much later.

This was a yucky, rainy day, with forecasts of high water and rampant street flooding.  Driving a sports utility vehicle rather than a sporty convertible would seem to be the perfect safe option for me, with another SUV available for my guys at home.

Though I've been driving forever, driving a vehicle twice the size of mine is challenging, especially in the parking garage. Parking the Suburban in my normal small reserved space between a garage pillar and another large SUV wasn't an option.  Trekking through the garages in contiguous buildings finally yielded 4 unclaimed spaces, providing the opportunity to park this tank in a designated space without concern that I might hit another vehicle. (One of my friends who normally drives an SUV that is quite a bit smaller than Gar's recently ran into her assistant's car in a parking lot, so I was hyper-sensitive to the possibility. )

This experience reminded me that it's easy to forget that changing an element of a familiar process can cause great discomfort, stress and angst.   I've been driving forever and am quite adept at maneuvering my small car. However, when the vehicle size changed, so did everything else about the experience.

At work, we sometimes forget that changing programs is equivalent to asking an adept small car driver to parallel park an RV.  Proficiency at a task is often severely challenged even when we provide better equipment.

Patience, training and practice are necessary to reap the expected rewards when we change equipment, processes or programs.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Coined words have impact.  Automatically, when you read the title, "Voluntold", you realize the implications. After chairing a productive meeting for one of my nonprofit organizations, the staff liaison and I were debriefing.  She asked another staff member (one of her direct reports) to join us as we recounted the opportunity to construct a survey  for the group.  He quickly shared the term "voluntold" when we explained his role in the survey.

Though he was eager to assist, it reminded me that many of us love to volunteer for causes that match our passions. However, when we feel that the option is not ours; rather there is an expectation to participate it feels like we are being voluntold.

We all like options and volunteering creates far more options than voluntold.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is filled with fascinating examples of lucky breaks, timing and background that are common to success in many fields.  Though the combinations vary by field;  passion, opportunity and persistence are common across fields.  And, a great truth was confirmed that "good enough is good enough".  Brightest does not necessarily equate to most successful.  Regardless of the pursuit, ten thousand hours of practice yields an expert.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Yellow Toothbrush

This week, I opened a new package of toothbrushes and chose my favorite color, yellow.  Instantly, I was so impressed that I asked my husband and son if they, too, needed a new toothbrush.  Toothbrushes, like most other things have become high tech.  This particular purchase incorporated pleasing design features with soft bristles, but was a drugstore brand, not a widely recognized, broadly marketed product.  Of the hundreds of toothbrushes I've had, this one is the first I've ever thought much about and actually tried to share a similar one with family members.  My fascination is multi-faceted:

  • I've consciously chosen my favorite color for something that I use twice per day.
  • Though most toothbrushes accomplish the task, this one is gentle and effective.
  • I love bargains that are actually, in my perception, the best available product.
  • It's a daily, happy reminder that simple pleasures have high, positive impact.
  • It makes me smile each time a brush my teeth.
2013 is my year of yellow toothbrushes and their cousins.