Growth

Are You Crowding Out Your Team?

Like so many of you, I spent the holiday weekend planting flowers.  A lot of flowers. Before planting my annual flowers I had already renovated some garden beds and moved shrubs around. As I planted flat after flat of flowers I resisted the urge to revert to my past gardening habits.  I have a habit of filling in every empty spot in my garden with a plant. I hate empty spaces and holes. On the plus side, my garden is lush and full by summer’s end. The negative? Some of my plants don’t appreciate being crowded out and can’t flourish in their spot.

You don’t need to have a green thumb to know that cramming anything into a constricted place won’t work.  Plants, animals, and people need their space and room to grow. We have seen the results of overcrowding in so many areas of the world. Why do so many leaders still try to “plant” people so close without a second thought or neglect them and expect them to grow?

Have you ever had a manager that micromanaged you day in and day out? Perhaps they had sound intentions, however; their actions were stifling and wore you down every day until your passion was crushed. You dragged your feet to work feeling like you were crowded out.

A few years ago I had a manager that was obsessed with controlling everything that our team worked on. She went as far as standing over our shoulders when we wrote critical emails. She "coached" us on what to say and when in presentations. We had a difficult client at the time, and in her mind, she was protecting us to keep the customer calm. Needless to say, her actions had the opposite impact, and our group was being crowded out.

Micromanaging isn’t the only way that leaders crush growth. Unfortunately, the result is the same. People grow weary, lose their confidence and purpose, and end up leaving where they know they will have a chance to grow.

Here are some more ways that managers crowd out their people

·         Leaders may avoid challenging folks with new projects or opportunities

·         Neglect to offer vital resources or equipment

·         Provide minimal if any, guidance or critical information to assist in work

·         Fail to build strong teams that work together and support shared goals

·         Lead in front, not from behind. This pushes teams and clouds results

·         Neglect employee opinions and input

·         Refuse to listen to alternative options or points of view

·         Undermine employees to save face with other departments

·         Leaders who take credit for the achievements of their employees

·         Managers who refuse to support and back employees when crises arise

·         Weak leaders hold their employees to higher standards than for other teams

If you have ever felt crowded out or demoralized in your career, you probably have some more suggestions. As a leader, look at your "garden" of employees to verify that everyone has the resources and space to grow in their spot. Offer them the resources, support, and leadership that they deserve to sustain and grow those around them.

Are you ready to give your people space?

 

Photo courtesy of Vlado at freedigitalphotos.com

How Are You Growing Your New People?

Spring has arrived in the Mid-West, and people are scurrying around plant nurseries like frenzied squirrels preparing for winter. The sun and warmer temps along with a wave of nursery ads have convinced many of us to fill our carts with an array of colorful perennials, annuals, and fragrant shrubs.  Yes, I have been right in the middle of the chaos because gardening is in my blood. My reaction has been a bit different than my fellow shoppers. I’ve wanted to throw my hands up in the air and yell “No! They aren’t ready yet”!

Mother Nature has a way of getting even with us. Just because it looks and feels like spring, we need to wait until we know that the season is ready for planting. It was 29 degrees here last night and promises to be another cold one tonight. My fellow gardening aficionados that bought colorful plants and welcomed them into their gardens may have tears running as we speak. The plants that they bought can't take cold temperatures and are probably a lifeless brown color by now. Our actual frost date in Michigan is at the end of May. Trust me; I learned early on that you never put a plant in the ground until the plant and the environment are ready.

In many ways, our new team members are like a young plant. You are both eager to plant them where they will flourish. However, new people need some gentle babying similar to a young flower. New employees need to learn and become accustomed to your culture. Like plants, you can’t just pull them out of a warm greenhouse, plop them into the 50-degree soil and expect them to grow. You need to immerse them in the area with some dedicated mentoring until they adjust and are raring to go.

New employees should be planted in the right spot within your organization. You can’t plunk a Hosta in the middle of a hot spot in the yard in the midst of a cactus garden and expect results. Likewise, be cognoscente of your new player’s skills and strengths and place them where they can contribute and thrive.

Leadership responsibility doesn't end after your new team member is planted. They need periodic touch bases with you to learn how they feel in their new role and what support they require along the way. Periodically, you need to fertilize your people and nourish their growth and progress. Checking in with people should be planned, consistent, and heartfelt. You've invested a lot in your members, and you don't want to wake up some day learning that they are listless and leaving the organization.

Seedlings are fragile and small in the spring, yet they can outgrow their space in a matter of months and become overly crowded and no longer thriving. Perhaps they are shaded by other companions or being choked out by weeds. Don’t let this happen to your newer teammates. Don’t assume that life is just humming along fine. Get out there in the trenches and see how your people are interacting and growing. What areas need attention? Is there some weeding that needs completing so that others can continue their work and grow? Do your people have the support that they need so that they can have an impact where it's needed? Are they receiving enough doses of information to succeed?  Get out into your “garden” every day to walk around and notice anything that just isn’t thriving.

A garden is a sanctuary for those that plan, prepare the environment for planting and spend precious time picking the right "plant" for the right place and nurture growth. You need to think of your team and ask yourself how well you are tending to your work "garden".

Photo courtesy of IMGPK via freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tackling Workplace Conflict: Research and Best Practices to Stop the Drama by Nate Regier

Nate Regier is the author of the new book Conflict Without Casualties. Nate's work sheds some new light on the conflict in the workplace and the costs that arise when we don't address it. If you have ever avoided conflict or don't understand how to deal with it pick up Nate's book today. Here is a guest post from Nate to help you start taking on conflict at work this week.

 

Tackling Workplace Conflict: Research And Best Practices To Stop The Drama

By Nate Regier

On average, employees around the world spend about 2.1 hours per week, or over one day per month, dealing with workplace conflict in some way. In the US, that number is higher (2.8 hrs/week) equating to approximately $359 billion in paid hours. Non-profit sectors experience the most workplace conflict, with nearly 48% of employees reporting conflict at work.

What is the actual prevalence of conflict in the workplace, what causes it, and what opportunities are there for positive changes? To answer this, I’ve studied the most comprehensive workplace conflict research I could find, a 2008 study commissioned by CCP Inc., one of Europe’s leading business psychology firms, and Fellipelli, one of South America’s leading business psychology firms. The study included survey data from 5000 employees at all levels of their companies in nine countries around Europe and the Americas and remains some of the most comprehensive and useful research available. Here’s a summary.  

Costs of workplace conflict

Conflict often escalates into personal attacks, insults, or absence from work.

  • 2.1 hours per week spent dealing with conflict (Belgium was the lowest at 1.3 hrs/wk. Germany and Ireland, the highest at 3.3 hrs/wk).
  • 90% of respondents experienced a conflict that escalated, most often into personal attacks and insults, sickness or absence from work, and cross-departmental problems.
  • Feeling demotivated, angry, frustrated, nervous, and stressed are the most common psychosocial consequences.
  • Negative conflict with customers is risky since it is less costly to keep an existing customer than to replace one who has left dissatisfied.  

Causes of workplace conflict

Personality clashes are the number one cause of workplace conflict.

  • Personality clashes and warring egos top the list at 48% overall, but much higher in Ireland (66%), the US (62%), and the UK (59%).
  • Stress, too much work without enough support, and poor leadership are also significant (around 30%).

Who is responsible to deal with it?

  • Everyone! 62% of respondents believed conflict is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Surprisingly, only 15% felt that HR should be the ones to deal with workplace conflict.  

What should leaders do to improve how conflict is handled?

  • Identify and address underlying tensions before things go wrong (54%).
  • More informal one-to-one conversations with direct reports (42%).
  • Act as mediators (40%).

Research reported in Harvard Business Review revealed that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees.

  • Provide more clarity and guidance over healthy behavior (40%).

* Twelve key leadership behaviors were highlighted by respondents in this study. Our PCM and LOD training and certification programs target all 12 areas.  

What have companies tried and how did it work?

  • Less than half of the employees surveyed (44%) have received any formal conflict training. Belgium and France have the lowest level of workplace conflict training (28% and 27% respectively).
  • 27% of those receiving formal training said it helped them feel more comfortable and confident in handling a conflict situation. Confidence is one of the biggest predictors of success (which is why our trainers use NEOS to measure changes in self-efficacy for their conflict communication training programs).
  • The most frequent positive outcomes of training were better understanding of others, improved work relationships, and finding a better solution to a problem.
  • 39% said training provided no help at all. We concur with the researchers that many conflict-communication training programs do not target the right issues and skills, especially personality differences and communication skills.
  • Conflict can generate positive outcomes. Three quarters (76%) of respondents had seen conflict lead to something positive.

In a nutshell

  • Conflict is costly.
  • Personality and ego clashes are the top cause.
  • Everyone is responsible.
  • Coaching and mentoring through daily conversations is the key to improvement.
  • Conflict can be positive and requires targeted training at all levels of an organization.  

Best Practices

Companies will make the most gains around workplace conflict by following these guidelines;

  1. Implement formal training targeted on understanding and communicating with different personalities.
  2. Focus not just on individual competencies, but skills to coach, facilitate, and mentor others during difficult conversations.
  3. Adopt a pro-active approach that recognizes conflict is inevitable, and is a source of energy for positive outcomes.

 Train these Core Competencies

Search for training programs that assess, develop, and measure these competencies:

  1. Self-awareness and recognition of positive and negative conflict in self and others.
  2. Awareness of personality, communication, and motivational differences in self and others.
  3. Ability to assess and respond to individual differences in and out of conflict.
  4. Ability to lead self and others out of drama and into positive conflict conversations.

About Dr. Nate Regier
Dr. Nate Regier is the co-founding owner and chief executive officer of Next Element, a global advisory firm specializing in building cultures of compassionate accountability. A former practicing psychologist, Regier is an expert in social-emotional intelligence and leadership, positive conflict, mind-body-spirit health, neuropsychology, group dynamics, interpersonal and leadership communication, executive assessment and coaching, organizational development, team building and change management. An international adviser, he is a certified Leading Out of Drama master trainer, Process Communication Model® certifying master trainer and co-developer of Next Element’s Leading Out of Drama® training and coaching. Nate has published two books: Beyond Drama and his latest work, Conflict without Casualties.

 

Are You Ready to Say Hello to New Growth?

For many of us, spring is just popping up, and old crabby winter has moved along. Spring is my favorite season. I continued to be enthralled by how life slowly unfolds and reaches up to the cloudless sky praising the sun. Small creatures start to rumble about and the insect's twirl by with ease and zest. There are so many fresh smells, and nothing beats hearing birds tweet just as the sun is rising. I am always mesmerized by the sound of croaking frogs in our woods even though our neighbors behind must beg for headphones to drown out the constant chatter.

I have a great friend that recently shared his video with me (above). Greg Heeres is a leadership aficionado and rascal with a passion for bringing out the best in others and sharing leadership lessons. He shares short snippets of video lasting only seconds but sharing what takes most several minutes to offer advice. Greg is a proponent for growth and walks the talk. His video connected with me because spring is such a season of newness, freshness, and growth. Spring is a better time to set new goals, make a change, and renew your life than New Years. What better time to grow and fertilize those around you than a time when you see and smell new growth every day.

As a gardener, I feel alive and ready to get outside planting, fertilizing, growing, and pruning. As Greg shared, it's a time to reflect on what kind of growth that we want to experience. It's looking at what tools we need to grow and what impacts others. Just like our plants, spring is also about fertilizing those around us according to their needs and what motivates them to grow. You just can't plant a cactus in the shade and expect growth when it craves the sunshine.

Moreover, pruning can be a painful process because we become accustomed to what we are comfortable with and like around us. The initial pruning is stark or painful, and we don't always know if our efforts are worth it. Isn't life like this? That to which we hold close to us is the hardest to let go. This includes behaviors, thoughts, and habits. 

I encourage you to make spring about you. Here are some ideas for bringing on some "newness" this season that will set you up for long-term growth and enable those around you to flourish.

·         What negative habits or thoughts are dragging you down? They are like diseases in the garden, and you need to address them to ensure your growth.

·         What needs pruning from your life right now? Maybe personal time is non-existent, and you are slowly sinking into the ground. Set your priorities and make a list of what you can minimize at work to maximize your personal life.

·         Who are you mentoring or coaching? You have the power to "fertilize" others, and it's amazing how you feel when you see someone grow in front of you.

·         Become more diverse. Beautiful gardens take time, planning, and patience. You need to bring in a variety of plants and have enough diversity in your yard for beauty and for the health of your plants. Are you engaging with diverse groups of people? Are you lifting others up and making efforts to expand your world? It takes time, and a concerted effort but the rewards are incredible.

·         How does it smell around you? Spring is a time for freshness. Are your ideas still fresh? Do you take the time to lighten up with those around you? Do you make a concerted effort to maintain a positive aura around you or lend positive words throughout your day?

·         Plan for future growth. Before you can plant a new garden, you need to prepare the soil. The same goes for growing new leaders. Are you purposeful in building others up so they can jump into your role some day? Are you purposefully looking to bring out the strengths in others?

·         Be the sunshine in someone's life every day. Smile, and you will light up those around you. Likewise, work the soil so that people have a strong foundation from which to sprout.

Breathe spring in and not only grow yourself this season but plant, fertilize, grow, and prune all around you!

Compassion and Service Go Hand and Hand

It's no surprise that culture is the key to driving service, sales, growth, and empowerment in organizations today. Culture can make or break those within the company which in turn impacts client and vendors in the marketplace. We all have our favorite culture needs but have you given any thought to championing for compassion within your organization?

How many companies have you read about that even have compassion as a goal? I still remain stumped and never gave thought to compassion being a key component that organizations are lacking until I read the new book Awakening Compassion at Work by Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton. Below is a guest post from the authors and I would love to hear your thoughts!

If Your Business Competes Through Service, You Need More Compassion at Work
Monica C. Worline & Jane E. Dutton

Try this thought experiment: First, remember the last time you ate at a restaurant with poor service. Second, remember the last time you ate at a restaurant with great service. Which one would you rather return to today?

Many organizations, like those restaurants, depend on delivering high-quality service to build their competitive advantage. But managers and leaders often overlook or undervalue compassion in service encounters as an important aspect of distinctive service quality.

When Sarah’s grandmother died, she spent time cleaning out the house, immersed in memories. Sarah’s children were young and mystified by what was happening. The family stopped at a nearby restaurant for a much-needed bite to eat. Five-year-old Sonia started to cry, missing her great grandmother and the chocolate milk that had been their favorite treat together.

Lindsey’s shift had just started when she took the family’s order. It struck her that the young mother had asked for a dish that hadn’t been on the menu in years. Lindsey brought drinks out and the children were crying. Asking the little girl what was wrong, Lindsey learned of the death of Sonia’s beloved grandmother, who used to make special chocolate milk. After sharing hugs and telling the family how sorry she was for their loss, Lindsey stopped at the manager’s desk. She arranged to get them chocolate milk, and also for the restaurant to take care of their bill. That act of compassion as part of the restaurant’s service made a distinctive impression and won them a loyal customer.

It turns out that wasn’t the end of the story, though. Leaving Lindsey a sizable tip that night, Sarah wrapped the money inside a napkin with a simple note: “Thank you for your kindness and compassion, and the love you showed to complete strangers tonight.” A few months later, Sarah and her family were wrapping up details related to her grandmother’s funeral and they stopped at the same restaurant. Lindsey had just started her shift. She delivered water and menus to her new table, then she stopped in her tracks. Hugging broke out. She welcomed the family by name. She remembered their favorite foods and brought Sonia her chocolate milk.

At the end of the meal, Lindsey showed the inside of her black order pad to Sarah. Taped inside was Sarah’s note from the napkin. It buoyed Lindsey up on every shift, and helped her keep her calm when she encountered difficulty customers. One act of compassion had rebounded, helping bolster both the giver and the receiver.

Research by the Gallup organization shows that genuine expressions of compassion such as this one, when delivered authentically as part of high-quality service, create brand loyalty and forge lasting bonds with customers. These emotional bonds are far stronger aspects of great service than almost anything else organizations can do.

The great news is that research supports the idea that when employees give feelings and actions as gifts to customers, like Lindsey did for Sarah, employees feel better about work as well. Daniel Homan and Lonnie Collins Pratt in their book Radical Hospitality remind us about the power of service as a meaningful aspect of work: “It isn’t just the food that we pass out that nourishes or impoverishes the human heart. … Work is always for the service of others.” Making room for compassion as part of your customer service strategy opens the door for work that is more genuinely meaningful and customers who are more genuinely delighted and loyal.

If you have story of compassion and service quality, we’d love to read about it in the comments.

 

*****

Monica Worline, PhD, is CEO of EnlivenWork. She is a research scientist at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and Executive Director of CompassionLab, the world’s leading research collaboratory focused on compassion at work.

Jane Dutton, PhD, is the Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration and Psychology and cofounder of the Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School of Business. She has written over 100 articles and published 13 books, including Energize Your Workplace and How to Be a Positive Leader. She is also a founding member of the CompassionLab.

Their new book, Awakening Compassion at Work, available now on Amazon, reveals why opening our eyes to the power of compassion is smart business.

 

 

The Word? Fertilizer!

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

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?










What's in Your Stuffing?

Photo courtesy of Slice Of Chic via Flickr


"The thankful receiver bears a plentiful  harvest " - William Blake


Don’t tell a turkey, but I really don’t like them. We have some that travel in our woods and it’s a bit creepy how these humongous chunky birds roost in trees. They aren’t particularly good looking and they can be very violent and will happily charge at you without notice. They will be pleased to learn that I really don’t enjoy eating them either. To me, turkey tastes bland and dry and perhaps it can be chalked up to the lack of cooking skills in our family tree. I just haven’t met a turkey that I like.

On Thanksgiving Day I am definitely more of a stuffing kind of gal. The taste of moist stuffing that has aged and been nourished by the cooking turkey is a treat. There are so many tasty and unique stuffing recipes and I’m willing to try them all. Meats, veggies, nuts, spices, herbs, berries, breads are all options for personalizing your stuffing. These ingredients mimic the paints that an artist uses to create a unique picture. Cooks create their own work of art that really brings out the best from within the turkey and brings the meal together.

Stay with me for a minute and imagine yourself as a turkey – pretend that it’s not Thanksgiving. We have all been one at one time or another. Our kids probably think it every day! What kind of stuffing would you have inside you? Don’t just reflect on the ingredients, texture, and smell. Really think of what is inside. Does your “stuffing” reflect who you really are? If you have strong values are they truly being reflected outside in your day to day activities? Are you growing and nourishing your “stuffing” so that it is served as the best part of you?

If you are a stuffing lover like me, you want to add the ingredients that really reflect your tastes and that you enjoy. You want your stuffing to reflect who you are and really “wow” others. So I ask you, what are your most effective “stuffing” ingredients?

  • Garbage in, garbage out. Strive for adding optimum ingredients and you will be rewarded. Surrounding yourself with people who challenge you will bring out your best
  • Join local Meet Up groups to add some spice and companionship with like minds
  • Read 30 minutes every day. Ingesting words will impact your written and verbal communication
  • Meditate daily. Relax and look within to bring out your best in the form of gratitude, serenity, and calmness in confronting issues and openness
  • Volunteer. Appreciate what you have by giving back and adding to others
  • Set goals and follow them. Set goals weekly so that you focus on them
  • Seek out new learning. There is a plethora of online learning opportunities or TED talk to beef up your mind
  • Find a coach to guide you. Cooking the best stuffing is achieved by lessons and practice. Find someone to teach you how to make and bake the best in you
  • Change is good. Why not change up your recipe for success? Try something new. Allow yourself to add new or different ingredients
  • Be willing to try the recipes of others. Watch and listen to what other people are doing to perform or achieve and mimic some of the best
  • Don’t hoard your recipe for success. Share it will others and be willing to guide them through the “stuffing” process


You really are what you learn, do, and give back every day. The best is always inside you as is the stuffing is in our Thanksgiving turkey. Take the time to add premium ingredients throughout the cooking process, allow it to simmer and reach its potential, and take that “stuffing” out this week to allow others to enjoy.

What ingredients will you be adding to your “stuffing” for the remainder of the year? Hopefully you will look at stuffing in a whole new way and Happy Thanksgiving!










Foster The Seeds of Growth

Photo courtesy of reddeergrowboys



The leaves are slowly starting to change with autumn approaching. I have always had mixed feelings about fall because winter will be on its heels. I’m not a fan of winter because I don’t like being enveloped in gray skies and cold. Moreover, I hate being forced to put my garden to sleep until the winter skies clear.

Fall remains one of the best times to plant new trees, shrubs, and perennials. Even better, it’s a great time to find some deals because nurseries are hunkering down for winter. This may surprise you, but now is an opportune time to plant seeds. It’s a fairly effortless task and it will bring a smile to your face next spring when the seeds spring to life.

Numerous seeds need stratification in order to sprout. This means that the seeds need to have a period of cold so that when ground warms in the spring the seeds have a jumpstart from Mother Nature to sprout.  Everything young in nature needs some guidance and care in order to flourish and grow. Check the needs of your seeds before just scattering them and walking away. Invest in their growth.

There’s still plenty of time to do some planting and here are some seeds that would appreciate being planted now:

  • Bulbs are always no brainer to plant in the fall where there will be several months of cold for them to snooze in
  • Annual Poppies
  • Hollyhocks
  • Cosmos
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Nicotiana
  • Cleome
  • 4 O’Clocks
  • Bachelor Buttons
  • Sweet Pea
  • Wall Flowers


The wonderful thing about fall planted seeds is that you can sow them up until the ground freezes in most areas of the country. Grab some packets, pick a breezy autumn day, and plant some beauty.

Sometimes we forget how delicate the young are whether it’s a child, animal, or plants in nature. When I see small children I have flashbacks to when my kids were tiny. Caring for them was such a priority. As they grew they needed guidance, individual attention, mentoring, and at times, monitoring. Unfortunately, not all young people are given the guidance and care that they need to grow into leaders within their communities. If their growth isn’t fostered at home, it may only happen at school or with friends. For most young people, this isn’t enough.

Lately, I’ve read several articles in which leaders share their advice to their young selves. Most of this advice is career focused aimed at people in their late 20’s and beyond. What about those that really need advice when they are young and easily influenced? So many young people are lost or lack sound mentoring or role models, especially those that aren’t on a career path yet. Perhaps they aren’t focused on a career because they remain confused or are more focused on just finding a job to get by.

Leaders today should focus more on our young people working through middle and high school. We can impact kids at that level and offer them hope, guidance, and assist in preparing them for their future so that they can impact the world with more confidence and ownership. Let’s make their future a priority before they are thrust out into the world without skills to cushion any mistakes that they make.

So, I went way back in time dropping myself into my younger body. What advice did I really need then? Here’s what I wish my friends and I had heard when we were young, impressionable, and downright squirrely.

  • Quit spending so much time worrying about what others think of you. They are thinking more about themselves and worrying about how they come across as well. This is advice I wish that I had been brainwashed into believing at a young age – it would have saved me a lot of grief!
  • Don’t try keeping up with others. There is life beyond these years and you need to move at your own unique pace. 
  • Fail young BUT learn from your mistakes. Even better? Learn from the mistakes you see around you. Those are free lessons. As the youngest of 3 girls in my family I can’t even count the lessons that I learned from my siblings. 
  • Find an older crowd to hang out with that seems to have their stuff together. I promise that you really do become what you hang around. It’s cool to be smart and a geek. Life will reward you if you lay a sound foundation of friends now. 
  • Don’t feel pressured to pick a career and stick with it. Life is a journey and you can’t make sound choices without life experiences to guide you. Don’t let people place you in a mold that doesn’t fit. 
  • Work a lot of different jobs when you are young to learn and grow. Volunteer in a variety of areas as well. Doing so will help you determine your work preferences and you will learn if you prefer working with people, data, or things. This will shape who you are and where you will be years from now. 
  • Grow up and mature, but always stay a kid at heart. I can’t tell you how many people in their 20’s that I have encountered that live like they are still in college. They drink and party like there’s no tomorrow and share way too much on social media. Poor images are hard to shake and social media is with us forever. Be careful of the image that you portray and hang out with your older and more focused groups. Conversely, always see the world with a child’s eyes and act like everything in life is a new experience. 
  • Begin building your brand young. When you get older and go to a school reunion you will find that reputations really never change much. The party guy in school probably still is and lives with that rep. Obviously, the best way to build your image is to be careful how you come across on social media and to those your interact with. 
  • Passion is great but don’t spend your life chasing just one dream. Life changes and chasing a dream may leave you dissatisfied and always looking for more.
  • Find a mentor early on. Ask for advice and learn from him or her. 
  • Never regret your mistakes or what could have been. This has been one of my weaknesses and it’s not productive. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People really find joy helping others 
  • Develop grit and perseverance. Grit is one of the key factors in success. After you get knocked down be prepared to get right back up. 
  • Bullies will always be around. They just learn to hide their tactics better. Develop a thick skin.
  • Don’t let your job consume you. You are more than a title or profession.
  • Live your values and be transparent with others.
  • Never stop learning and read for a lifetime. 

As a leader you need to make it a priority to reach out to our young people. Volunteer in schools, with youth groups, community events, and within your own home to impact a young adult today. Give them the confidence, young wisdom, and appetite to grow like the tiny seeds that we sprinkle on the ground.

What other advice do you have for our young people? I would love to hear!













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 Swimming With The Fish?

Photo courtesy of A Href via compfight.com

One of the joys of having a fish pond goes beyond all the wildlife that visit and the plants that shower it with color during the summer months. A pond is all about growth as well. Every year I am delighted by the baby fish that spawn from the depths of the pond seemingly from nowhere. We started with 12 fish a few years back and our team is now in the thirties.

Last week I was having a bad day and wandered outside to feed the endless gaping fish mouths as they zoomed to the surface of the pond. The water was a bit murky after some heavy showers but the fish caused a bubbling of activity. Off to the side of the pond I saw a tiny single orange and white speck. It was a lone baby goldfish on a journey to find food as he was too tiny to eat the fish pellets. I watched him for a few minutes and was excited at my first sighting of new fish life this summer.

Little fish was busy on his own just doing his own thing which can be unusual for fish as they tend to school with others. He was fairly ignorant of his surroundings. At that moment I felt like that little guy. My bad mood caused me to feel alone and away from the group on a journey of my own pursuing my interests and goals, not really knowing where I was headed. I didn’t know what life will bring or who will be brought into my life to swim with me.

 I think that we all feel like this at times. We feel that no one understands us or “gets” why we are on a particular path. Our choices seem crazy to others as they swim off in a different direction. To us, they seem to be moving blind while we probably look like the sole rogue fish in the pond to them. As I stood at the edge of the pond the little fish popped out of sight. I turned and smiled because although he may have seemed lonely, he was also independent and venturing out on his own to learn more about his world and to seek meaning. My day quickly brightened as it always does when I am in the garden. I understood the journey the fish was on and how lucky was to be alone and making his own waves.

The next day I went to visit the fish and was greeted by several new baby fish friends. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw so many! My little friend was schooling with the group right in the middle of the pack and they were quickly learning that when the human walks up, dinner is served. It was delightful to see that my tiny friend was strong enough to be on his own yet easily assimilated and was accepted by the group. There is nothing like seeing new life spring up from the pond and surrounding garden.

As I watched the group glided through the pond nibbling away (or trying in some cases!) I reflected. Initially, the day before I felt isolated like the tiny fish in the pond. Guess what? It’s not a negative to feel alone or be on your path. It’s admirable and something that we all need to do to discover what is out in the world and learn how we can have an impact. As my fish friends taught me, you will never be alone because you have a whole team or “school” right beside you for support.


Put on your fins and jump into the murky water to start your journey and know that you aren’t alone, but it’s OK to feel like it from time to time.