Guest Post From Alex Vorobieff - Transform Your Company

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In our hectic world it is more important than ever to bring our work and personal lives into focus. Alex Vorobieff’s new book Transform Your Company - Escape Frustration, Align Your Business, and Get Your Life Back is an effective tool to Discover, Learn, and Eliminate in order to make change whether you are a business owner or part of a team.

The Other Form of Compensation – Does Your Company Offer it or Extract a Tax?

By Alex Vorobieff

Why do people want to work for your company? Do you have a clearly defined answer? Why are the best going to give to your company their all and majority of their waking hours? Monetary compensation only goes so far especially with the younger generation. More and more people want to work for companies with a purpose and culture that aligns with their values while performing work that is fulfilling. In addition to monetary compensation, they are seeking emotional compensation.

Unfortunately, companies without a thought-out emotional compensation plan are more likely to extract an emotional tax. When a company is frustrating to work in, people feel it especially A-players and they grow resentful. People leave companies when they are frustrated when they realize marginal dollars don’t compensate for the emotional taxes. When you hire A-players, does their life-cycle with the company follow a similar pattern? Do they join the company engaged but grow distant and surly over time? They likely grow tired of paying emotional taxes.

Alright, Vorobieff, I get it, our company needs to remove the emotional taxes and replace it with emotional compensation. What are the forms of emotional compensation?

It starts with acknowledgment. People want to be acknowledged for their effort and contribution. “But they are paid to do their job.” Acknowledgment doesn’t cost anything. When you acknowledge the good when you point out poor performance they know you see the positive and the negative and it is more likely better received. Many people spend more energy on trying to receive acknowledgment than on achieving material objectives and if your compensation plan focuses solely on money? Your wasting money.

Other parts of emotional compensation include being proactive. Consistently work to identify what processes are working and which are not. If they are paying a frustration tax, working with them to eliminate it is a RAISE. Companies that pay emotional compensation do not force their employees to find competitive offers from other companies to leverage changes in their current positions.

Emotional compensation is a neglected topic. The good news is the IRS has ignored it as well since they can’t easily tax it, yet 😉

But where do you start? Assess whether your company is paying emotional compensation or extracting an emotional tax. The most common form of an emotional tax is frustration working in a dysfunctional business. Lifting a burden is a raise and the first step to unleashing your HumanPower.

About Alex Vorobieff

Founder and CEO of The Vorobieff Company, Alex Vorobieff is a business turnaround specialist, working to implement Business Alignment Tools for their specific needs. Alex has served as clean-up CFO and president of companies in telecommunications, aviation, aerospace, and real estate development, leading successful turnarounds in as little as three months. He shares his how-tos and techniques through Confident ROi magazine and his latest book, Transform Your Company: Escape Frustration, Align Your Business, and Get Your Life Back.

Is This The End? By Dr. Dawn Graham

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Fewer of us are staying at our jobs for decades like our parents. People are less likely to tolerate toxic work cultures, no advancement, poor leadership, and want more out of life than just work. Are you ready for a change? Pick up Dr. Dawn Graham's book Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers - and Seize Success. Here is some advice or perhaps the kick in the behind that you may have been needing to make changes in your own career. 

While it’s not unusual to have bad days at work (and some that even lead to dreams of quitting and retiring to a sunny island), deciding to actually resign is a big deal. How can you tell if you’re just going through a tough phase in your job or if it’s time to explore new opportunities? Consider these:

1.    Identify the root of the problem: Is the boss hindering your professional growth or maybe the culture isn’t a great match? Is your work environment toxic or maybe your daily commute or travel schedule is slowly killing you? Some things can be changed. Other problems will follow you. Either way, when you can pinpoint the major hurdle, you’ll be more equipped to overcome it.

2.    Craft an experiment: If the company is interested in retaining you and the root of your problem is boredom, they may be open to you taking on special projects or transitioning to a different department to learn a new function. Think about your longer-term career goals and identify skill gaps you’d like to close. Even if you plan to leave the company down the road, you can use your remaining time wisely by building up your resume and relationships.

3.    Know where you’re going:  You’ll always be more successful when you run TOWARD an exciting opportunity versus running AWAY from a bad situation. Once you identify the problem (see #1), next map out what your ideal situation looks like so that you can aim for that target. Even the least skilled interviewers can recognize the difference between motivation and desperation, so clarify your goal and communicate why you’re excited about it.

4.    Evaluate the landscape: If it’s been a while since you’ve changed roles, the market and skill sets may have shifted. Take time to understand your current value in the industry you’re targeting and be able to relay how the problems you solve contribute positively to a company’s bottom line. Reconnect with your network and get feedback on your candidacy. Also, get up to speed on the latest hiring trends. You don’t want to be blindsided by a request for a one-way video interview or miss a job opening because you’re not on social media.

5.    Look before you leap:  Unemployment bias is real, therefore, it’s easier to land a new role while still employed since you’ll seem more attractive as a candidate. Sometimes a workplace is so toxic that it’s not possible to stay a moment longer, but if that’s not the case, continue to deliver your best work while engaging in a stealth job search after hours.

6.    Get creative: If you’re not able to change jobs now or the job search is taking longer than anticipated, keep your energy and motivation high by finding career fulfillment in other ways. Join a nonprofit board, take on a mentee, or enroll in continuing education courses. A positive attitude will be your best friend in an interview, so avoid feeling “stuck” by taking action. Bonus: These actions are great for networking, which may ultimately lead to your next opportunity!

7.    Don’t look back. Trust your gut to tell you when it’s time to move on. Most jobs have difficult periods, but if you constantly feel stressed, are getting physically ill (e.g., headaches, etc.), or if your relationships are suffering, it’s time to go.

Happy hunting!

Dr. Dawn Graham, PhD is one of the nation's leading career coaches. She is the Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio's popular weekly call-in show Career Talk and is a regular contributor to Forbes.

Her latest book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers - and Seize Success is written specifically for people thinking about changing career paths. Packed with psychological insights, practical exercises, and inspiring success stories, Switchers helps these individuals leap over obstacles and into a whole new field.


The Word? Fertilizer!

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If you had the guts to even set some New Year’s resolutions then congratulations are in order. By now 92% of you that set goals have already flunked. Pretty depressing right? I learned long ago to forgo setting any wild vague resolutions as they consistently vanished into thin air by January 30th – or before.

This year, I decided to choose a single word for the year to focus on instead of any resolutions. I wanted a word that is unique, represents who I am, and will guide my course for 2017. My word? Fertilizer. Yes, you read it right. You see, I am a garden geek and I love designing and growing gardens. That passion flows into other areas of my life.

Even if you regularly kill plants you probably know the value of fertilizer. A feeding to your plants will boost growth, strengthen the roots, aid in preventing diseases, condition the soil for long term health, and give you an overabundance of veggies that 5 families can’t consume. In short, fertilizer is like magic in the garden.

I am passionate about digging for the gifts of others and nourishing them so that they can bring out their best and grow to have an impact. I aim to be the fertilizer to those around me this year. This simple word will drive me to:

  1. Look for the beauty in those that I meet and learn how I can help them to grow their inner beauty to the surface
  2. Strengthen the roots of others through opportunities, learning, and forming strong relationships
  3. Discover ways to protect friends from “diseases” such as lack of confidence, low self esteem, or uncertainty
  4. Uplift others and help them to “weed” out those people from their lives that are unsupportive or mock dreams or aspirations
  5. Impact one “plant” at a time growing him/her into a colony of incredible people with positive attitudes and purpose to support growth
  6. Support the health of others so that they are resilient and strong in chasing their uniqueness and bold ideas

If I focus on being a fertilizer this year my hope is that I can feed others so that they will grow and glow. My word will remind me what is important and how I can have an impact. In turn, my own growth and sense of giving to others will be accelerated. It is the year of fertilizer.

What will YOUR word be in 2017?

Do You Need to be Clipped For Growth?

Summer is far from ended but perhaps some of your flowers don’t quite agree. This is frequently the time of year where pots and window boxes look sad with browning leaves and flowers. Your flower beds are likely looking the same and sympathetic to those planted around them. As hard as it is, the best tactic that you can use is to clip them and you don’t necessarily need to be gentle.

For most flowers, especially annuals, their goal is to sprout new life and ultimately set seed (or throw seeds!) before dying. Like all species, they aim to maintain the existence of their species by reproducing. When your flowers, and even some shrubs, look haggard and seem to be drying up you need to deadhead them to give them new life. Deadheading sounds like a drastic measure and it doesn’t mean that you yank them out of the ground. Deadheading entails clipping off the dead or browning flowers and often a sizable chunk of the leaves to jump start your garden into growing profusely and flowering again.

There are numerous benefits to deadheading the flowers and some shrubs in your garden. As tough as it is you are doing them, and yourself, a favor by encouraging growth.

  • Deadheading refreshes the look and lushness of your flowers. Plants improve their health and beauty.
  • When you clip off dead flowers it halts the production of seeds because plants redirect their energy from seed production to root, leaf, and flower growth
  • Clipping plants triggers chemical processes in plants or shrubs that tell them to produce flowers not set seeds.
  • Some plants are notorious self- seeders and clipping off the dead flowers, the vessel for seeds, prevents a mass of baby sprouts the next year
Clearly, you need to be strong, pickup your garden clippers, and cut away. It can be very rewarding as you clip your frustrations away and even more so when your garden springs back to life.

I always say that humans aren’t all that different than the plant and animal life around us. That’s why I started this blog. Sure, we are more complex but we are so similar in many ways. As professionals there are times that we feel like a browning flower in late August. We may feel like we are mentally shriveling up and not producing like we once did. We may lose our purpose or reason to bloom. We aren’t as strong or committed as we once were. We long for the days where each morning we jumped up out of bed fresh and ready to blossom with growth. We may no longer bloom for others or even care about their growth. In short, you feel and maybe even look, like a dead flower head. Sound familiar?

When you feel like this there is only one solution – you need some clipping in order to grow and bloom again. You need to acknowledge that you are in a rut and need a restart. Your mind must change focus from spewing out seeds to growing from the roots and flowering again. So how do you do this?

  • Make a list of what attracted you to your career/job in the first place. Are you doing those things or has your role changed over time without you realizing how far you have drifted from what drew you to it in the first place?
  • What factors with your job, team, or boss have stunted your growth? Is it time to ask for new responsibilities or a change to a new area?
  • Sometimes you just need to admit that it’s you, not “them” or vise-versa. If so, what changes can be made or is it time to clip yourself out of your current job?
  • It may not be your job that is the problem. Maybe you need some growth and to take a class to put some spark back into your field. You may even meet some new people and grow your circle of friends.
  • Teach a class in your field to empower others to grow. You can impact young leaders and I guarantee that you will feel renewed again just helping others learn and flourish.
  • Join a Meetup group in your field or better yet, in a different field. Likewise you can jump back into various associations in your area. You will meet like minded people and you may find that you have something to offer. This may be the new start that you need.
  • Sometimes we get planted in the wrong spot. You can’t grow cactus in the shade and perhaps you do need a change before you shrivel up from being in the wrong place or from a lack of growth. Find a trusted mentor or look into a career coach to guide you to give you a little fertilizer.

I know that there have been times where I have over identified myself with my job. That’s not healthy and there is more to you than a job. Have you noticed that the first thing people ask is what you do or where you work? I found that by volunteering or lifting others up I felt a renewed sense of being and growth. Focusing on the growth of others and trying to have an impact have grown me far more than I could have ever imagined.

As drastic as it sounds you have one life and sometimes you need to either clip yourself or wait for someone else to do it - which may not be pleasant. Many people need to hit bottom first before we take steps to cut off the old in order to grow again. Do you need to be clipped for growth?

Are You A Lightning Bolt?

"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work" - Mark Twain

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One of my favorite things about summer is the spectacular thunderstorms that roll in off Lake Michigan where I live. There’s nothing like the slow approaching sound of thunder, the darkening thick clouds drifting in, the warm breezes picking up momentum, a smell in the air, and the lightning.  I love to watch Mother Nature’s symphony in the heat of the summer. Every element of a good storm plays their part with the lightning often being the conductor – in more ways than one.

After a strong storm passes through and all is calm, have you ever noticed how healthy and green everything looks in the garden? The air smells fresh and cool. Raindrops glisten like tiny diamonds off plant leaves. If you think that everything looks greener and fresh, it does. You can thank the lightning from the storm for leaving a gift in your garden – nitrogen.

As destructive as lightning can be, it has some magical qualities. Lightning works with rain to clear up the atmosphere of dust, pollen, and other pollutants. A lightning bolt can be 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit releasing up to a billion volts of electricity! All this power produces 100 million tons of nitrogen compounds a year worldwide. The valuable Nitrogen that lightning produces is like a power drink to your garden. Nitrogen is the key nutrient that gives plants their rich green color and leafy growth. It needs to be continually renewed for plants to use it. Nitrogen is like a giant fertilizing machine.

Nitrogen is all around us in the atmosphere but it’s not in a form that plants can readily use. In order to green up and grow plants need Nitrogen at the soil surface or in the dirt in order to take up Nitrogen to grow. This is where lightning comes in.  Our atmosphere is about 79% Nitrogen. When we get a strong storm the lightning provides energy that converts the atmospheric Nitrogen into Nitrogen Oxide which just happens to be the prime ingredient in fertilizer. Once this takes place, the Nitrogen is in a form that plants can absorb and use it to green up and flourish. As with any fertilizer this isn’t an instantaneous process after a lightning storm. The plants still need to draw up the nitrogen from the soil, but the rain does immediately help perk things up.www.myproductivebackyard.wordpress

Next time the storms come rolling in be thankful for the rain but hope for some strong bright lightning bolts of thunder – your plants will love being struck by lightning!

“I seem to be some sort of lightning rod. I really irritate people, you know? I really do. “– Howard Stern

There is no question regarding the power of a single lightning bolt in a turbulent stormy sky.  It has the power to inconvenience, destroy, and yes, even kick start plant growth. As bright and powerful lightning is, it can also be very silent. We know that lightning travels through the atmosphere turning nitrogen into usable Nitrogen Oxide which our landscapes gobble up producing green growth. We don’t see the process, but it’s there and it delivers a punch of growth.

Guess what? Every team has a lightning bolt as well. Is it you?

Team dynamics can really impact productivity and success. Most of us have been catapulted into teams where there is a disconnect or lack of partnering and focus. Some of my experiences still make me cringe to this day. Often the key to changing the negativity and dysfunction of a group is a lightning bolt. The lightning bolt that I am referring to is that one person on a team that has that special “something”. This person is a catalyst for new ideas, change, building consensus, and jump starting people into action. Although we see lightning bolts as dramatic and bold, that’s not always the case with the lightning bolt on your team. Often they are the quietest, steadiest, yet energetic person in the room. Look around you today at work and ask yourself who electrifies your group and has the ability to jump start change. Is it you?

The key drivers of a lightning bolt

·         He or she is the go to person on the team. This person has the knowledge, skills, and guts to jump in and contribute.
·         Not only does a lightning bolt know what others don’t, he jumps on problems and even has a sense where they will pop up. They can smell a problem a mile away.
·         Lightning knows exactly where to strike and is drawn to particular things. Those bolts on your team are equally as decisive and easily make key decisions. Decisiveness is powerful.
·         Are you flexible and open to change? In a storm it’s critical to have the ability to change direction on a dime and go in another direction.
·         The sky is a big place. So must the view be of a kick starter on your team. The ability to see the big picture is critical to leading teams.
·         Lightning is full of electrical charge. To be a lightning bolt, you must be positive.
·         Lightning bolts know how to get people moving and challenge them. They strike to bring out the best in others.
·         They are disruptors. They bring creativity and innovation which can intimidate some people.
·         Key players have the courage to strike and learn from their mistakes.
·         Lightning bolts have strong intellectual firepower - they know when to use it.
·         They have the courage to show their passion in everything that they do.

Next time you are caught in a strong storm at work, peer through the clouds and look for the lightning bolt of energy in the room. Is it you?

Don't Get Suckered!

"Never give a sucker an even break" - W.C Fields

Even though it's June I'm still toiling away in my garden getting chips down, digging up dead plant victims to the harsh winter and cleaning up. As I've been crawling around low and pruning up high I encountered something that I haven't seen in abundance in a long time - I've been "Suckered!" Guess what? You probably have been too but you just didn't know it.

Suckers are all around you. In this case, I'm not referring to your friends but to your garden. Have you ever had branches growing at the base of your trees like the picture below? Have you come across a woody plant or tiny thin tree growing an odd distance from a tree or bush? Frequently, the branches that sprout don't look a thing like the mother plant and seem to sprout out of nowhere. Just as the word indicates, “suckers” are not a good thing. In fact, suckers will drain the energy from your tree and may even weaken it to the point of death.  

Suckers are the result of a tree or large shrub trying hard to grow more branches, especially if it is stressed. On grafted trees (trees that have a different root stock from the actual tree to give it vigor or disease resistance – fruit trees are a prime example) the branches usually grow at the base of the tree like my Witch Hazel in the picture. What happens is the top part of the tree is happy as can be but the lower part (the roots) are stressed and the tree attempts to reproduce for protection. It essentially goes a little crazy. Other trees, like my Weeping Cherry, grow suckers as far as 5 feet away from the tree. I occasionally find small lanky trees trying to grow in odd places.

So what do you do with suckers? Pull them as soon as you find them. They grow super fast and have a lot of energy. They suck the energy from your trees and are parasites. In some cases on grafted trees they can take over the tree. Keep tearing them away and don’t let them take control. Some trees tend to sucker more than others and it’s just a matter of regularly pulling them. I’m always pulling suckers from the base of my Apple trees.

You can’t always prevent suckers but there are some things that you can do to try to keep them away.

ü  Keep your trees healthy and well watered. Fertilize them each spring. Strong trees have the energy to survive an onslaught of suckers.
ü  Don’t over prune your trees. It will weaken them. When I was young we never let my Mom have the pruners. She tended to go on a pruning rampage.
ü  Don’t over prune, but prune regularly. Pruning enables the tree to stretch out and grow. Pruning also stimulates growth hormones within the tree which is exactly what you want to start the new growing season.
ü  Pull those suckers the minute you see them and check back in periodically to make sure they haven’t returned.

"If you look around the table and you can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you"– Paul Scofield

Do you sometimes feel like there are suckers all around you as you go through the day? They sap your attention, your energy, and your growth?  Suckers distract you and you feel like you are working hard but never getting anything done. There’s a name for these “suckers” and they don’t belong to your coworkers. The suckers that I’m talking about are productivity suckers. I’m guessing that right away you can name a few that pop into your mind. Their goal is to turn you into a fire fighter and to keep you busy without accomplishing a thing. They turn you into the person who is running around all day working like madman but seemingly getting nothing done. Stop the suckers! Yank them away like we do to the suckers on our trees and get growing!

Here’s a list of the most common productivity suckers that you want to avoid. I guarantee that you will take back control of your time and your results will grow:

ü  Attend fewer meetings. Shorten ones that you hold. Don’t feel obligated to accept every invite and are regular weekly meetings really beneficial? Nope. They are often the biggest time suckers of all. Start saying no and prioritize. Protect your time and your schedule.
ü  Run from chatty coworkers. Hide from the gossipers. Be pleasant but don’t get sucked in.
ü  Create action plans for yourself and others to avoid other priorities from creeping in.
ü  Avoid your email. Emails can pull you in and force you to lose your focus. Don’t manage by answering every email that comes in one after another. Create folders for low priority emails to drop into automatically. Stick to your priority list, not the email list.
ü  Don’t copy everyone on every email that you send. Stop people from copying you on every email. Copying = covering butts in most cases.
ü  Ignore emails all together and do what our parents did back in the day. Pick up the phone and have an actual discussion rather than an email war. Person to person communication will always win.
ü  Set aside quiet time for goal setting. Block your calendar. Silence the cell phone. Hide in the bathroom if you must. Do it.
ü  Don’t multitask. You know that it doesn’t really work. How many people do you know that multitask in meetings and are clueless about the discussion? Every day all day.
ü  Use the technology at your fingertips. Make sure it’s updated and functional. If you don’t know how to use it then learn. It will help you fight the time suckers.
ü  Stop trying to look good by being the “nice” girl to work on extra projects or be on every committee. You will soon be lost in a field of suckers. You know what they will do to you!

What is your worst productivity sucker? Email would be mine, and you?

Why You Need To Prune Yourself This Spring

Everything has seasons, and we have to be able to recognize when something's time has passed and be able to move into the next season. Everything that is alive requires pruning as well, which is a great metaphor for endings" - Henry Cloud

Photo courtesy of Llafano via Compfight

For most of the country, this winter has been horribly cold, brutally windy, and the snow hasn't stopped. As I look out the window right now there is a mixture of snow and sleet. It's bleak and I feel like spring will never arrive! Most of us in cold climates are itching to get outside and enjoy warmer weather and melted snow. For gardeners, this is the calm before the storm. It's time to start planting seeds inside, draw up vegetable garden plans, make dream lists of new plants to add, online plant orders to execute, and time to prune. Yup. Even though the snow may be a few feet deep it's the best time of the year to prune your trees and shrubs. Bundle up and get out outside.

While it would be great to plop trees and shrubs into the ground and forget them, you can't. They need regular pruning to remove dead branches, control growth, and maintain their shape. Few plants tolerate an absence of attention after they are planted. Can you blame them? Pruning reinvigorates, spurs growth, and prepares trees for the future. Why would anyone want to plunge out into the winter air and prune? Now? There's several reasons why you SHOULD prune now - here's why:

  • Trees are dormant now and they won't suffer shock when pruned.
  • The sap in most trees doesn't flow at all (or much) now.
  • Pruning now means fewer chances of the tree or shrub contracting a disease. Ditto for insect problems.
  • The cold ensures that there is less hormone disruption within the tree.
  • There's less active sugar in trees/shrubs right now than when they are leafed out so the chances of weakening the tree is less.
  • Winter pruned trees are ready to jump into growth mode when spring arrives. They start the season stronger and more vigorous.
  • Pruning now enhances flowering and growth months from now.
  • You can easily see the tree structure now. You can prune crossed branches and see the dead wood.
  • You can work slow and meander around the tree to examine it's shape without distraction. You may avoid hacking trees/shrubs to nothing like my Mother once did - repeatedly.

Get outside now and start pruning. It's great exercise, fresh air will invigorate you, and your trees will thank you in a few months!

"The tree of life is self pruning" - Joel Determan

People are in many ways just like trees. Some of our needs are the same - survival - we are just a bit more demanding in our care. Just as a tree needs pruning, you need to "prune" from time to time to jump start your personal growth. This is a perfect time of year to get busy because by now you have forgotten your New Year's resolutions or thrown them out completely. Spring is a time of fresh growth, calmness, and beauty - don't YOU deserve to experience a healthy growing season?

There are some simple steps in planning your growth. Hopefully you already have a shimmer of an idea of what you need to be healthy  and flourish. Here's a 3 step plan to get you started on achieving your goals and growing to your potential:

  1. Craft a personal mission statement. This defines who you are, your values, what you stand for, what you need, you ultimate goal. You are your own company with a brand that you need to manage. You can't do that without a mission statement. This is the big picture of you.
  2. Plan your strategy. Just as we need a plan as to why, how, and when to prune a tree you need the same. You need to look at your existing "structure" and take the steps necessary to prepare and guide your own growth.
  3. You need a "gardener" to foster your growth and guide you. Find a mentor or coach to help you throughout your growth and journey through life. We benefit from relying on the skills and advice of a masterful gardener. Who is yours?
In addition to your 3 step plan it's critical to be mindful every day of how you really do periodically need to be pruned. Here's some key ideas to help guide you in your growth:

P - POSITIVE: Be positive inside and out. Your world will change. You will change others.

R - RESPECT: Be open and mindful of the thoughts and characteristics of those around you. Respect yourself too!

U - UNIQUE: Remember that you are one of a kind. You have a purpose on this earth and no one can duplicate you.

N - NIMBLE: Always be ready to jump at opportunities. Look for ways to grow and respond.

E - ENTREPRENEURIAL: You are the CEO of you. Be  mindful of the decisions that you make. Make your world flexible and always be mindful of making changes and developing "your" company - YOU.

Are you ready to get out there and "prune"? What if you don't..... Are you ready for the consequences?

Refire! Don't Retire: Make The Rest Of Your Life The Best Of Your Life

"Refire - an attitude of embracing the years ahead with enthusiasm rather than apathy" - Morton Shaevitz"

How many times have you heard about or even known people who retire and die within a short time? It's more common than you think. Humans are wired to face challenges and grow. As with plants, without the right "nutrients", humans slowly weaken and die. We need a sense of purpose. We want to be important to someone else. We want to leave our imprint on the world. We need to grow every day. We need to feed the mind, body, and soul. How are you doing with your growth? I was given the privledge of reading Blanchard and Shaevitz's new book Refire! Don't Retire and loved it. Start thinking about it now because there will come a day when you may need to Refire!

I have an incredible aunt with a zest for life who is in her late 70's. She retired as a neonatal specialist nurse years ago but continues to do research, teach seminars, and publish papers. She doesn't stop there. She learned Reflexology. She traveled to Thailand and banged drums with natives on a retreat. She travels with a thirst for learning. Aunt Mary is who I thought of when I first heard the title of Blanchard and Shaevitz's new book. Refire! Don't Retire: Make The Rest Of Your Life The Best Of Your Life. Aunt Mary is a poster child for this great read. Age doesn't mean that we can, or should, show down. Life is full and we all need to think about what we can do to make our lives satisfying and meaningful.

Refire! Don't Retire is written in the comfortable storytelling fashion that only Ken Blanchard can tell. The book is an easy and relaxing read about a middle aged  couple, Larry and Janice Sparks, who are in a funk in their lives. They meet Dr. Jeffrey who carries them on an adventure throughout the book meeting different people and learning each step of the way how they can approach life with "more gusto". The book really got me thinking about how I can approach life  differently and make changes that bring inner peace and a satisfaction with life.

The early pages of the book offer a great picture of what Blanchard and Shaevitz want us to remember. We should "Approach life with gusto. It's to see each day as an opportunity for adventure and learning. It's to infuse passion and zest into every area of your life - emotional, intellectually, physical, and spiritual. Heart, head, body and soul." They continue to illustrate how achievements and money aren't truly what make people happy. It helps for awhile, but eventually people crave more. Cravings include happiness, significance, generosity, service, and loving relationships. You can't argue with that!

There are four life  areas that Dr. Jeffrey leads the Sparks through within the pages of our book:

  1. Refire Emotionally.  Love and strong relationships are important. We need to reconnect with others and let people know that we care. Ask them how you can help them and focus on making the world a better place. Do something different. Jump out of your comfort zone and out of your rut. Be more spontaneous and be ready to get up and go to try new things. Don't be a "stick in the mud" as my Mom used to say and just do it! I lovingly refer to my husband as "Last Minute Mike". He's always wants to do things at the last minute with friends or to just go somewhere with no planning or advanced notice. I'm more of a planner and always putting a halt to "Last Minute Mike" adventures. Reading this area in the book made me do some self discovery. I need to be more "last minute" and spontaneous. I need to Refire Emotionally"!
  2. Refire Intellectually. Intellectual growth is a key to the fountain of youth. You need to partner intellectual grow with emotional growth. It keeps your mind sharp, gives you purpose, presents challenges, and prevents you from becoming a zombie. Learn something new every day. Afraid of technology? Face it and take a class or have your kids show you the ropes. Always wanted to learn to speak French? Start now and get those brain muscles firing away. 
  3. Refire Physically. You are as old as you feel and if you don't physically take care of yourself, you will age really fast!. Take care of your body. Set goals to be active. Hide the cookies and eat healthier. You will find that your mind is sharper, your emotions are healthy, and your attitude will be jumping off the scale. 
  4. Refire Spiritually. Blanchard and Shaevitz wind our journey down by showing a glimpse of strain between the spiritual beliefs of Larry and Janice. Larry has life long strong spiritual beliefs while Janice only knows that there are "higher powers" in the world bigger than her. Eventually after some soul searching they  agree that there are higher powers and that they need to respect the individual beliefs of others without prejudice. They learn how critical refiring spiritually is to the overall satisfaction in their lives.
Our lessons are further reinforced at the end of each chapter. Each chapter includes a Code of Conduct for living out each of the life areas. We are also given Pause, Reflect, Take Action suggestions. Some sample suggestions include; Be aware, Be Forgiving, Be Playful, Be Friendly, Be Open to Learn. These are wonderful reflecting points to ponder after each chapter and really bring new meaning to the story that we were included in.

I really admire my Aunt Mary and how she continues to learn and Refire in several aspects of her life. You can't just stand idle in life. YOU need to take control of your growth. Think of the 4 points above as your fertilizer to keep you nourished and growing. Incorporate them into your life now so that you stand strong with gusto as you grow down the path of life.

It's Hard To Leave A Glass House

Photo courtesy of tiexano via Comfight

People who live in glass houses...have to answer the door" - Karl Pilkington

I have a favorite scene from the holiday classic "Frosty The Snowman". It's when Frosty is trying to keep little Karen warm and finds a greenhouse in the middle of snowy nowhere. They both get locked in and Frosty melts...only to be rescued by Santa. When I watch Karen go into the warm greenhouse with fresh plants inside and the frosty cold outside, I can literally feel her relief and the peace that comes over her. I want to be little Karen this winter!
One of these days I am going to buy a glass greenhouse. A special sanctuary where I can escape and lounge in a tropical moist woman made rain forest I dream of watching the cold whipping snow and wind twirling outside as sweat drips off my brow with the smell of fresh dirt in the air. If you are a fellow gardener you know the fresh scent that I speak of. Heaven! An added touch will be the Tiki Bar that I need installed in the corner....

I dream of a greenhouse for reasons other than just sitting in it watching Frosty melt. The possibilities are endless.
  • Overwinter my tropical plants
  • Grow fresh veggies all year
  • Start hard to find plants from seed
  • Create new plants from cuttings and cross pollination
  • Perhaps start a unique plant business
  • Teach my kids some horticultural lessons
  • Save money on plants by growing my own in mass
  • My sanity!

My dream is to have an old fashioned English free standing greenhouse on a brick foundation. Greenhouses don't need to be grandiose or even permanent. Pinterest is a perfect place to start to get some ideas. There's lean-to greenhouses, window mounted, hoop, cold frames, hot beds, shed garden house. The possibilities are endless. Many people only use their greenhouses in the coldest months so the house can be real simple.
 I do know one thing, I will never want to leave my glass house to go back out into the cold. It's more comforting to remain in my warm cocooned world where I have control and everything is a friend.

How often are you leaving your glass house?

Most of us prefer our lives to remain fairly stable taking in some bumps here and there. Few of us love constant change, upheaval, and chaos. We are comfortable in our own skin and in our own "glass house". Why leave somewhere where we work best, know best, and have our tribe all around us? Because you don't know what you don't know and you need to find out. Get out of your glass house and wander down a different path.
Photo courtesy of swiss can via compfight
Most everyone has heard about "Management by walking around (MBWA)". The same goes for team members. This doesn't mean that you should flit about like a social butterfly during the day bothering people. It means that you should pop out of your glass house (or cubicle in my case!) to interact with your environment and tribes within your company. For instance, my company is going through a merger and naturally there is a lot of uncertainty and nervousness. What better way to jump over fears than to connect with others and share insights, challenges, and ask advice? It helps us to connect and it's cheaper than a therapist!

Why you really need to open your glass door and venture out
  • Meet people outside of your circle and area
  • Learn what's really going on and how people feel about changes, new programs, opportunities
  • You may find a new position by lurking into new areas and making connections
  • You will be seen as more approachable and friendly
  • Your morale will be more positive and you have a chance to share your mojo
  • Share ideas with a new groups of people and gain new insight and ideas
  • Let's just say it - Gossip. Sometimes it's helpful to learn a little gossip because there is often some distorted truth to it.....
  • You can empower and recognize others for their achievements and work
  • People from different areas interacting can really bring down silos and create dialog
  • It's great exercise to get out and about!
  • A change of scenery and new people will help jump start some creativity
  • It's fun to leave the glass behind for a short time

You remember the saying "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"? Guess what? People who don't ever leave their "glass house" never really see through the glass... I would love to live the winter in a greenhouse however..... eventually I need to open the door and walk out!

Are YOU ready to open the door and venture out?

Picture Your Goals For 2015

"Make sure that you visualize what you really want, not what someone else wants for you" - Jerry Gillies

Visualize your goals - I'm planning for Spring!

Although winter continues to rage in many areas of the country, the first signs of spring arrived in my mailbox this week. I received the first of many garden catalogs that start hitting households across the country in January and February. There's nothing better to a gardener than sitting in front of the fireplace with a cup of coffee and a pile of garden catalogs with a Visa Card nearby.

The internet is a priceless tool for finding unique and specialty garden companies. It's the ultimate way to find catalogs to spurn your imagination and check customer reviews. I'm still a bit old school because I love to hold a catalog in my hand and page through every section while writing a wish list of plants for the new year. The pictures connect with me, give me ideas, and help me to plan new gardens or make changes. The pics are priceless aids in combining colors, textures, and sizes to intermingle in my existing beds. If the gardening  bug has hit you, it's simple to find some great catalogs for inspiration. Once you are on "the list" you will be not be disappointed opening the mailbox every day. For a list of garden companies, to order an online or mail catalog go to Direct Gardening Association . Enjoy!

 Our eyes are one of our greatest gifts and they allow us to visualize what words can't quite do. Many of us are visual by nature and pictures stay in our minds longer. Pictures allow us to make new creative connections. The internet has opened up a whole new world for visual enticement, along with online sales. I buy most of my plants online these days because I can locate what I want and lurk about for the unusual. I get inspiration from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, company websites, and blogs. It can get rather addicting!

Inspiration from Pinterest

This is the time of year when every TV network reviews the good and bad of the past year. It drives me nuts. I never like to dwell on the past and negativity. We need to learn from the past and look to the future. Naturally, we are also being inundated with goal setting ideas and tools to guilt us into setting goals for 2015. We have fitness trackers, apps, calendar sheets, and buddies to "encourage" us to stick our goals. Few of us do. It's human nature. I have started to get more serious at writing down my goals but I need to look at them every day. That's not happening much. I'm not one to plaster them all over my mirror and house as some hearty goal setters suggest. That would get awkward. I can just hear my kids heckle me now....

Looking back, I have always accomplished the goals that I carry around in my head. I just have not been faithful in writing a list. I need to make the process easier and well, more interesting.

 Just last week I discovered an alternative way to set my goals - A Vision Board.

I belong to a valuable LinkedIn Group called "Lead With Giants" with Dan Forbes. If being a better leader inspires you and you want to learn with the best, I suggest that you join the group. In his article Dan explains how to not use lists, but visuals to set your goals. He explains that a Vision Board highlights your "most important goals, aspirations, or intentions". You SEE your goals as opposed to looking at a daunting list. Most of us are highly visual and pictures stay imprinted in our minds much longer than words. Dan goes on to say that "Images and visuals stir our emotions so that powerful subconscious thoughts go to work to make our visions a reality". I love it!

Making your board doesn't have to be flashy or time consuming. You can be as creative as you want or not at all. I love it because you can glance at it quickly to remind yourself of your dreams and carry the image with you all day. Moreover, my goals are personal to me and only I need to understand what my pics  mean. My goals can lay out in public, yet only I know the true impact of the pictures. Dan suggests that you divide your board into four sections to be most effective. The areas include:

  1. What do I want to be?
  2. What do I want to do?
  3. What do I want to have?
  4. What do I want to leave?

Wow! Just asking yourself these questions will bring out more emotion and thoughts. You may set goals that you didn't anticipate. Perhaps your goals will be stronger than you originally planned.You may learn more about yourself and what is truly important to you. Find all the pictures that you can that depict and bring your goals to life. Place your board in a prominent place where you will see your goals several times a day. The best part of having a Vision Board is that it's flexible. You change it anytime. You can add to it or arrange your goals differently. Once you accomplish goals you can add new ones.

 Make 2015 YOUR vision and start your board this week. Here's the link to Dan's article for more inspiration: Lead With Giants Vision Board

Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build." - Robert Collier

I have a Vision Board all ready for my goals. Right now it's above my home office desk. Once my visions are complete, my board will come with me to work where I can look at them several times a day. The best part of my board is that my goals are out in the open, but only I know the true significance of my pics!

Happy pinning and have a wonderful and prosperous 2015!!

Picture your goals with a blank slate