Clearing Old Dreams


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At the beginning of the year, we often create a list of resolutions. The list can include things we want to do, goals we want to achieve, and intentions for how we want to be. However, one of the most useful things that we can do to create a foundation for success is to clear out and organize our physical things.

When I coach clients, we often start by getting rid of stuff. It’s amazing what a clean, spacious, and organized closet can do for you if you are feeling stuck or frustrated in life.

There are lots of people out there who have ideas and structures for getting your home organized. When my own children were small, I found FlyLady. She got me to run through the house for 15 minutes with a trash bag, collecting things to set free for other people’s enjoyment and use. The two questions that she had me ask were “Is it useful?” and “Do you love it?” A yes to either question meant I got to keep it.

Now, of course, Marie Kondo’s system is all the rage. It varies some from FlyLady, but she has us asking the same basic questions. I think that both of them are missing one of the biggest challenges to getting rid of clutter: many objects represent our dreams for the future.

We all have a clear idea of what we want our futures to hold. We don’t always say them out loud, but we have a vision and a mental to-do list. For example, for a few years, I was determined to go to Italy. I had listened to the book Under the Tuscan Sun (which is absolutely nothing like the movie.) The book is a sort of mundane account of a woman and her husband who decide to buy a home in Italy.

My then middle school-aged children mocked me for listening to the author tell her story in her Southern accent. But the story and life intrigued me. I wanted lemon trees and arugula growing along the driveway.

In support of that dream, I bought books about Italy. I got flashcards to learn to speak Italian. They set on the “someday” shelf on the bookcase in my bedroom.

One day I was clearing books and deciding what to get rid of. By that time, the Italy collection had been collecting dust for several years. I hadn’t talked much about my dream, but my then-spouse didn’t have much enthusiasm for the idea. I also realized that I didn’t really want to live that far from my family.

I decided to give up that dream. It hurt, but it was also freeing. There were a lot of “shoulds” wrapped up in the dream, like learning Italian and saving money. It made me sad to give up the dream, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen, and I gave away the books that represented the dream.

We also have a clear idea about who we are and who we want to be. Maybe we see ourselves as crafty moms who gracefully manage to make papier-mâché snakes with our children. Maybe we fancy ourselves as craftsmen of wool or wood. It could be that we see ourselves as learned or athletic. All of these self-identities have physical items that go along with them.

One of the most difficult things for me to get rid of was a pair of rollerblades. At the time, I had always considered myself an athlete. I played sports in high school and continued to be active. In my 20s I could ski backward down a German mountain slope. In my 30s, I carried children and all of their accouterment to various activities. In my early 40s, I carried camping gear and hiked with Boy Scouts as an Assistant Scout Leader.

When I was 49, I had brain surgery to correct an abnormality. I now live with five tiny platinum coils in my brain. In the couple of years before and since, I was not athletic. In fact, I feel nauseous and dizzy if I break a sweat or lift something heavy. I am not who I was by any stretch of the imagination.

I was clearing out the garage and came upon my dusty rollerblades. I had tried them and wasn’t great, but I had hopes of mastering rollerblading. At that moment, I realized that I was never going to rollerblade. Bigger than that, I was no longer athletic. Wow, what a blow that was. It sounds obvious, but moving from who I wanted to be to who I actually was was incredibly difficult.

I put the rollerblades into the give-away pile while sobbing. It was letting go of the self-image and the thing that represented that self-image.

Most of the things that clutter our lives are “one-day” things that represent what we want to do or who we want to be. Those things are beyond “Do I love it?” and “Is it useful?” The questions are “Am I ready to accept who I really am?” and “Am I ready to change my vision of the future?”

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Podcast: Creating Goals That Work For You


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Sometimes setting goals can be a waste of time. How many items have showed up on your New Year’s resolution list year after year? We can create meaningful goals that we want to achieve with a little reflection and creativity.

2019 Intention: Small Acts = Big Impact


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During the height of holiday franticness, I was driving around town with a friend. We both commented on the demonstrated lack of Christmas spirit by our fellow drivers. People cut in front of us, sped past us, and were generally rude. It saddened me to see that the holidays had brought out worse, rather than better, behavior. Few of us were helping with peace on earth or showing good will toward others.

I don’t think we realize the impact that our actions have on others. Small acts can make a huge difference in someone’s life for good or ill. I was reminded of a time more than a decade ago when two people took the time to do a good deed. I feel immense gratitude for their actions to this day. Seriously, it makes me tear up with thankfulness whenever I think about it.

We were on a family vacation. Honestly, the details of where we were and where we were going are fuzzy. I think we were traveling by public transit to a ballpark outside of NYC. There were a lot of people on the train with us. My two sons were elementary school-age. When we moved to get off, my oldest son got trapped and didn’t get through the door in time. He was on the train, and the rest of us were off.

His father made a valiant effort to force the door open and was almost drug away by the train. I had read a lot of parenting and safety books and knew what to do. I went to the window, looked at my son and yelled through the glass, “Get off at the next stop and wait for us. We will be there as soon as we can.”

He was standing there, a small child in a group of adults. What happened next still brings a lump to my throat. A man and woman traveling separately both stepped towards him. One yelled through the glass, “I have him.” The other yelled, “I will wait with him.” The relief on both my son’s face and mine was obvious.

We all jumped on the next train, and when we got to the next stop, we saw my son standing on the platform with a man who was chatting amiably with him. The woman stood apart but was watchful. I get her and love her. She was making sure that the man was honorable. I was so relieved and grateful that I could have hugged them both and made them my best friends for the rest of our lives.

I have no idea what was on their agenda for that day. I don’t know if they missed meetings or were late for appointments. However, the 20 minutes they gave to us were some of the most significant moments in my life. I hope they know what an enormous impact they had in my life and my son’s. I hope they can feel my gratitude flowing toward them now.

Smaller, less time-consuming acts also can have a positive impact. Any time other drivers let me over into their lane, I wave to say thank you and send a small blessing for a good day and life their way. They have lowered my stress and improved my day.

Commitments to consistently and purposefully help can also change lives. I am fortunate to have a sister and son who made the commitment to call me every day when I was having a rough time. 2017 was a terrible year for me – lots of change and uncertainty. Much of the time, I was desolate and depressed. To be perfectly honest, I felt suicidal much of the time. I doubt that anyone, even my sister and son, knew the depth of my despair.

Yet they called over and over. They chatted with me and gave me hope. They knew I was sad and struggling and wanted to help. At the time, they had no idea how much they helped. They were literally my lifelines.

My son called as he drove home from work. There were construction and a weird traffic pattern that required him to cross lanes of traffic, which was usually at a crawl. He groused and yelled most days because no one was letting him get over. The other drivers would nudge the car ahead to be sure that he had no way to get in.

My call to everyone is “Let Andrew over.” You will improve Andrew’s day. You will ease a mother’s heart. You will actually feel better for the act of kindness. You will be supporting someone who is helping another. You will make the world a better place.

New year, new way of thinking. We all have the power to improve the lives around us and our own lives through small acts of kindness. When someone needs to get into your lane – in any real or metaphorical sense – pretend it’s Andrew, and please let him over. Your action will earn my undying gratitude and a blessing on your day and life.

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at

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Positional Power v. Personal Influence


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There is a simple motivational model called the Carrot and the Stick. It’s a metaphor. Imagine you are sitting on a wagon that is being pulled by a horse. If you want a stubborn horse to go forward, you can hit it with a stick. This is negative motivation, and it is fear of being beaten that motivates the horse. You could take a longer stick, tie a carrot to it, and put it out in front of the horse. The horse will move forward to try and get the reward. This is positive motivation. For the long term, you get better results from people by using positive motivation techniques – carrots.

Supervisors’ authority that comes from a job title is positional power. As supervisors, we can do things like putting people in for certain awards (i.e., give them carrots), and we have official ways to discipline people (i.e., use a stick to motivate). Positional power is important, but it isn’t what we want to use all the time because it’s only effective when we are with or near the employee. However, when we leave the area, the employee is no longer motivated. In fact, they will probably not work hard and will see what they can get away with. Using positional authority is a last resort.

On a daily basis, we want to use personal influence because it is more motivating and effective. We create personal influence by building positive relationships. Our employees will continue to work when we aren’t present if we have a relationship built on respect and trust. The main focus of the first section of the course is how to cultivate that personal influence.

One of the first steps is to define the qualities and abilities of an exceptional leader. In the workshops, the list created by participants usually includes knowledgeable, compassionate, confident, creative, approachable, humble, honest, trustworthy, trusting, big-picture thinker, motivating, inspiring, constant learner, consistent, and integrity.

In addition, there are two more qualities to highlight. Frontline employees always list two things right up front: listens and is fair. When we pay attention to people when they talk, it’s called active listening. When we practice active listening, we are letting people know that they are worth our time, that they are valuable. Listening with the intent to understand the other person’s point of view helps to build positive, trusting relationships. When discussing “fair,”  most employees mean not showing any favoritism.

It’s important to know that people usually don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. As supervisors, we don’t want to run people off with a negative attitude. Turnover is expensive for an organization. The statistics vary between 50-90% of an employee’s annual salary. If at all possible, we want to keep people working for us and make them successful.

As supervisors, we have an enormous influence over the people who work for us. We can create a pleasant and supportive environment that makes people want to come to work or a negative, fear-filled environment that employees resent and want to escape. We affect the quality of our employees’ lives at work and at home because people carry their dissatisfaction with work to their homes.

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at

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The Power of Really Listening


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Being a good listener is one of the top two qualities that frontline employees usually list for a good supervisor and leader. So how does an employee know that we are listening? One of the first ways we can let people know that we are listening is with our body language. The most influential piece of any message that we send to someone is the nonverbal part. Nonverbal communication is our facial expression, tone of voice, and body language.

The appearance of listening is as important as actually listening. There are a few things that we can do to make sure we look like we are listening. The first is to squarely face the person talking – shoulders and hips should face the person. We can also lean forward a bit if we are sitting and sit up straight. It’s very important to maintain eye contact. We want to look at the person while he or she is talking. Eye contact can feel a little intense if you aren’t used to it, but we want to maintain eye contact as often and for as long as we can.

There are several body positions that do not give the impression that one is listening for understanding. One is leaning back in a chair with legs crossed and hands behind the head. It’s a control posture; it tells the other person that you are more important and that you might take what they say into consideration. Another position is crossing your arms across your chest. This posture is defensive and tells people that you are guarding against anything that they have to say. Facial expression also has a huge impact. Frowning or looking bored will make a person nervous. It’s best to look friendly and then show reactions to what’s being said. If it’s funny, smile! If it’s serious, look serious.

If our nonverbal message does not match our verbal message, the people we are talking with will go with the nonverbal message every time. If I say the words, “You are doing a good job,” but I roll my eyes, cross my arms, and use a sarcastic tone, the message that you take away is, “I am not doing a good job.” Even though I said you were doing a good job with my words, my body language and tone of voice let you know that I didn’t mean it. Nonverbal communication is powerful and always overrides verbal communication.

Looking like we are listening is important. However, more important is that we actually are paying attention to what is being said. We can be leaning forward and looking at a person and be thinking, “I think we’re out of peanut butter. Is that person still talking? I wonder what they’re saying.” Actual listening is the goal!

Supervisors often claim that they can listen while doing another task like checking email. First, we cannot fully listen for understanding if we are also concentrating on something else. Second, by not stopping all other activities and focusing on the person speaking, we are telling them that they aren’t as important as whatever it is we are doing. Employees complain that when they go into supervisors’ offices to tell them something, the supervisors never look up from their computers. They nod their heads and say, “Uh huh,” but do not fully listen for understanding.

If for some reason we can’t talk to someone when they initiate a conversation, we should tell them and ask if we can set up a time to talk later. We could say something like, “I really want to hear what you have to say, and I want to make sure that I can pay attention. Can we meet in 10 minutes, or can we set up a time?” Then they’ll indicate whether the conversation is urgent or not. If it’s not urgent, we can set up a time when we can give them our undivided attention.

In coaching, we talk about three listening levels. Think of the light of a flashlight as an indicator of where our attention is. In Listening Level 1, I have the flashlight pointing at myself. I am not listening to you at all. While you are talking, I’m thinking, “The right-front tire looks low, and we might be out of milk.” I’m only listening to the voice in my own head. At Listening Level 2, I have the flashlight trained on you, but it is a narrow and weak beam. I’m listening to the words but not paying attention to the situation or context of the words. Your body language may clearly show that you are upset, but I am not noticing that. At Listening Level 3, I have a big spotlight on you! I’m listening to your words, and I’m paying attention to your body language. I notice what emotions you are feeling by noticing your nonverbal communication. It’s not just the words, but the entire situation and your nonverbal communication that I’m focusing on at Listening Level 3.

In leadership workshops, participants take turns sharing something that’s important to them. While the speaker is talking, the listener practices good body language and listens for understanding. When the speaker has finished, the listener tells the speaker what he or she heard. Here’s the important part: if the speaker doesn’t feel that the listener has fully understood the point of the conversation, they start the process over and continue until the speaker is satisfied that the listener fully understands his or her point. It’s a valuable process to practice in everyday life to ensure that we really do understand what someone wants us to know.

When we listen for understanding, it is important to fully understand the other person’s perspective. However, listening for understanding does not mean that we have to agree with the person’s perspective or take his or her suggestions. We want to maintain a mindset that says, “There is a possibility that I might agree with you or that I might incorporate your perspective.” However, there is no obligation to agree at the end of the conversation. We can just say, “Hey, thank you. I appreciate you sharing your point of view, and I’m going to think about it.”

It’s also not necessary to ask for input all the time. Sometimes it can actually harm the relationship. For example, if we’re deciding on a policy and we know we’re going to do it a certain way, we don’t want to invite input on it. We shouldn’t lead people to believe that their input is valuable and can make a difference. If the decision has been made, we offer the rationale for the decision if that’s possible, but we don’t ask for any employee opinions.

Giving someone our full attention and listening attentively is a fabulous gift. It makes people feel like what they say is important and that they have value as a person. When someone feels truly listened to, they feel more positivity toward the person listening. As a result, the positivity of the relationship and the listener’s personal influence increase.

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at

Intentional Change Theory


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Intentional Change Theory bridge the gap

A professor named Richard Boyatzis studies leadership and personal growth. He came up with a model for the best way for us to improve ourselves. It’s called the Intentional Change Model, and here are the steps:

  1. What does your ideal self look like? What skills does your ideal self have? In what areas is your ideal self an expert?
  2. Take a hard look at your real self right now. How are your ideal self and real self similar? Those are your strengths. Gaps are where your real and ideal selves are different.
  3. Create a learning agenda that builds on your strengths and reduces the gaps.
  4. Try new behaviors, thoughts, and feelings in alignment with your learning agenda. If one thing doesn’t work, then try another!

The final point that Boyatzis stresses is the importance of having a person to journey with you through your intentional change. He says that trusting relationships enable us to experience and process each new personal discovery better.

Personal growth is a challenge. It takes analysis and hard work. As Boyatzis says, “People change in desired ways, but not without intentional efforts.”

Take some time to think about who you want to become. What can your ideal self do? How does your ideal self behave? What thought patterns or perspective does your ideal self have? My ideal self is a little more fit and financially more secure than my real self. Those are my gaps. My ideal self and real self are both confident and motivated. Those are my strengths.

Once we’ve identified our strengths and gaps, we want to create a plan! My plan would include more exercise and actions that will create more financial security. As part of my plan, I get to try different things to accomplish those goals. You get to experiment, too! It’s fun to try new behaviors and thought patterns.

We all want to be sure that we have a trusted friend or coach to help us process the journey and increase our awareness.

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at


Developing Empathy and Care


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Not everyone on the planet is lovable. A few aren’t all that likeable. Keep in mind that this is “lovable” and “likeable” from our own perspective. Individuals that we don’t care for at all usually have a few people who love them to pieces.

In our personal lives, it’s a good idea to eschew people who do not share our fundamental values or are mean-spirited. We come to be like the five people that we hang around the most. Choose wisely. It’s okay to create distance between ourselves and people who are negative and make us feel bad.

However, at work we don’t get to choose with whom we interact. Negative, callous coworkers and bosses are always a challenge. They are also pervasive; it doesn’t do a lot of good to leave one organization because another set of negative people will be waiting at the next place.

More challenging still is the fact that great leaders care about everyone in the organization. The adage “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care” is true. One of the ways that leaders create personal influence is by truly caring about the health and welfare of their peers, employees, and bosses.

In workshops, I get a lot of pushback on this topic. “How could I possibly care about this person?” they cry. There is a way to create empathy for everyone, but it requires some work and determination. I remind them that no one said that it was easy to become an exceptional leader.

One of the best ways to shift our attitudes and feelings about even the most unlovable people is the Loving Kindness Meditation. Its results are well-researched. Loving Kindness Meditation increases our empathy for others, as well as our feelings of friendliness and compassion.

The meditation is easy. There are no right or wrong ways to do it, but there are guidelines. You can search online and find all types of Loving Kindness Meditations. Many of my participants like the Christian versions. What’s important is that we create statements to use in the meditation that have the most power and meaning for us.

Basically, during the Loving Kindness Meditation, we say three or four phrases to ourselves first. The most important thing is to create and hold onto feelings of friendliness, joy, compassion, and expansiveness as you say the phrases. Here is an example:

  • May I be filled with loving kindness.
  • May I be well in body and mind.
  • May I be at ease and happy.

Then, we say the same phrases while thinking of someone with whom we feel close. We start by thinking, “May [name of loved one] be filled with loving kindness.” It’s important to hold onto the positive feeling while thinking each phrase about our loved ones. Then, we move on to someone that we feel neutral about, someone we don’t really care for, and finally everyone in the world. Use the same three to four phrases each time.

Research shows that this specific type of meditation also increases positivity – which is another important foundation for the lives of leaders. A positive attitude motivates others and increases workplace morale.

In case you need some more motivation to take on this daily practice, here are some more benefits that result from an increase in positivity: increased resiliency, increased satisfaction with life, less inflammation in your body, increased broad-mindedness, increased immunity to viruses, better ability to connect with others, less depression, and better focus. Wow! That’s quite a list! Who doesn’t want all that?

This practice can be a game changer in our lives. We will see results with 10 minutes of meditation five or six times a week. The challenge is to incorporate Loving Kindness Meditation into our lives for eight weeks. By then, we should see results that will have positive effects in both our personal and professional lives. Remember, the key is to hold on to positive and expansive feelings while thinking the phrases. The words alone won’t create any change.

Empathy and caring are skills that we can develop. The ability to see a person as a person and not a nuisance or a bother is crucial for leaders. We can’t influence or motivate someone until we have created a positive relationship with him or her. Ultimately, a leader’s job is to help everyone to be successful – that’s a lot easier on both sides if we genuinely care about the people we are helping.

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at


Holiday Conversation Outline


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holiday conversation outline

I’ve talked about an effective outline for conversations in the past. Discussions at work usually require some sort of agreement. Many personal conversations do, as well. However, holiday discussions over a turkey rarely require agreement and an action plan to move forward. Keeping this in mind can help us create a peaceful and enjoyable holiday.

Let’s go through a holiday version of the Conversation Outline.

Open. The opening happens when one person brings up a topic. When acting in a leadership position, we want to make sure the topic is focused and clear. Holiday openings made by anyone at the table can be a messier affair.

We can help to start the conversation in a positive way by avoiding assumptions and getting curious. If Aunt Joan says, “People with tattoos shouldn’t be allowed to get food stamps,” she is opening a conversation. Instead of disagreeing immediately and assuming what she means by that comment, we could better serve the group by getting curious.

We could ask, “Aunt Joan, what connection is there between tattoos and receiving food stamps?” Now, our nonverbals our key here. If we ask with the slightest hint of sarcasm or disapproval, all is lost! Curiosity is our guiding light. Why does she think there is a link between tattoos and food stamps? Don’t make assumptions. Ask!

Once we have a clearer picture of her objection, we have our topic of conversation.

Discover and Share. This is the most important step in a conversation. We often skip this step and move straight to positional arguing about the best thing to do.

In Discover and Share, we take time to listen fully by being completely present and listening for understanding. We pay attention to the words being said, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. We are curious about everything and ask a lot of questions.

Giving focused attention to someone is a gift. We don’t often feel like we are in the spotlight of someone’s attention, even though we like being seen and heard.

It’s very important to be curious about both the fact and feeling parts of another person’s stance. We usually focus solely on the facts. We can get a lot further along in knowing another person if we ask about their feelings, as well. We could say to Aunt Joan, “This topic seems to make you angry. What about this makes you mad?” Many of our most closely held beliefs aren’t logical and can’t be swayed by logical arguments. Understanding a person’s feelings is the key to understanding the person.

During holiday gatherings, we can keep the sharing part to a minimum. It’s imperative that we keep in mind that we are not trying to change anyone’s mind about anything. We are listening to understand and creating positive relationships. If we manage to offer a perspective the other person hasn’t thought about, it’s a bonus – but not the goal.

The chances of changing Aunt Joan’s mind are minimal at this point. We are giving her the gift of our attention. The greatest gift that we can  give is our time and attention.

Develop Solutions. In business, we begin brainstorming once we have all the facts and feelings on the table. I see it as a funnel that begins with a wide variety of options and slowly narrows down to the best choice.

With family and friends, we can participate in this step if everyone else thinks it would be fun. Coming up with outlandish possibilities to challenges discussed can be enjoyable. It can also be a nightmare. If we start handing possible solutions to Aunt Joan, who is an argumentative person, she is likely to get defensive.

During this phase when acting as a leader, it’s important to continually ask what is best for the people involved in the decision – whether that is a couple, a team, a family, or an organization. Developing Solutions at a holiday gathering is COMPLETELY OPTIONAL.

Agree. Ignore this step entirely! Most holiday discussions at the dinner table do not require agreement. Accept that families can offer us some of the best opportunities for personal growth. We get to practice letting others be themselves without any effort on our part to change them. One conversation with us isn’t going to transform Aunt Joan into an open-minded, empathetic person. We get to practice listening to her fully and allowing her to be who she chooses to be.

Close. If we did need to agree on how to move forward, we would now check to make sure that everyone was on board, and we would explicitly state the agreement. Since we didn’t require agreement, we don’t have anything to clarify.

However, we can close by summarizing what we learned about the other person’s feelings and perspective.

The Discover and Share step of the conversation is the most important step. Holiday gatherings give us the chance to practice being curious without the pressure of coming to an agreement. Bonus: We create a more positive relationship with friends and family. Our holiday gift to the world can be to make each person we talk with feel listened to, understood, and respected.

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at


The Overconfidence Effect


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The Overconfidence Effect sends a chill down my spine. It says that the more certain you are of something, the more likely it is that you are wrong.

Is that not one of the scariest things you have ever heard? It means that I, a person who makes swift and confident decisions, could often be wrong!

The Overconfidence Effect happens most often when we don’t see all the various perspectives of a situation. In other words, we are not seeing the big picture.

The Rubin’s vase above is an excellent example. If you said it is a picture of a vase, you would be right. It is a picture of a vase. However, I might say that it is a picture of two faces, and I would also be right. We could stand yelling at each other in defense of our facts, but both of us are correct.

However, neither one of us is seeing the entire picture. Rubin’s vase is both a picture of two faces and a picture of a vase. It’s a great metaphor for life. If we are very certain of something, we are probably missing the big picture.

So, the next time that you feel absolutely certain about something, pause and take a step back. Are you seeing the entire picture? Is there another way of looking at this situation that is equally valid? Keep in mind that anyone who disagrees with you also has a reason. It’s a good idea to find out what that reason is so that you can make a decision based on the complete picture.

For a little bit of fun (and free) leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at #PositiveEffectLeadership #LeadershipRules #KathySays

Noticing the Good


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Human beings are hardwired to notice and remember the negative things that happen in life. However, we are not doomed to dwell on the less than desirable events of life. We can choose intentionally to change our focus.

As leaders, we want to develop positive relationships. In order to do that, we have to maintain a positivity ratio of at least 5:1. In other words, we must have about five positive interactions with a person for every negative interaction that we have.

In order to maintain a 5:1 ratio, we need to be noticing and commenting on what is going right all the time! It can be a challenge because leaders are trained to look for and comment on problems. However, research on motivation tells us that commenting positively and showing appreciation for a job well done is very effective.

When I first began my quest to create positive relationships, I noticed that I wasn’t regularly saying even one nice thing to my family members in a day. I began to intentionally make one positive comment daily about something that each family member was doing or a quality they had that I admired.

At first, they were suspicious. They wondered, “What is Mom up to?” I kept doing it, and after a while, they began saying positive things to me and each other. The entire family dynamic improved.

We begin to create positive relationships by noticing what is going right both at work and at home. If we see someone doing something that we would like to see them do again, we should comment on it positively. We want to show gratitude for effort and action. The results are astounding!

For a little bit of fun (and free) leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at #PositiveEffectLeadership #LeadershipRules #KathySays