Personal Impact

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!

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!

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?

Leaders Are Readers And Social Media Counts

"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers" - Harry S Trueman

Knowledge at your fingertips!

Trueman's quote is one of my all time favorites! I've said it before, but I choke when people state that they read maybe 1-2 books a year!  I read that number or more in a week.  There is so much in the world to learn  and so little time to absorb it all. Reading opens up your mind and makes it so easy to share and learn from  others. The internet has really placed the world at our feet and we have a virtual library in the phones that are attached to our bodies.

There's a lot of chatter out in the cyber world about how social media is rotting all of our brains. People are too absorbed in social media on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. Guess what? I don't agree. Social media is like your education - it's what you do with it. You can be a genius but if you don't put it to use, what good is it? Social media can educate you, help you engage, and open up your mind. However, you won't get these benefits if you use your time stalking people all day on Facebook or tweeting mindless thoughts to your friends on Twitter. Use social media to your advantage - to learn.

I'm active on most of the top social networks. I follow thought leaders and numerous business channels. In the past 6 months I've become very active on channels such as Facebook but not for the reasons that you think. I don't have 5000 friends nor do I want to! I have joined a lot of groups focusing on my favorite business issues and gardening. Wow! There is a lot information to be gleaned from others!

We all love to share our passion with those who understand us. I have found some great communities within social media on gardening. I learn something new every day and can swap ideas or even plants. I have connected with gardeners in England and admire the gardening craft there. I have an outdoor cactus garden and connect with groups about cactus and succulents. Some of the groups that I follow include: Pruning Tips, Gardenaholics Anonymous, Miniature Conifers, The Plant Exchange, The Garden Club. The list is endless. I literally have experts on call that I can interact and share with - for free! I have even joined gardening groups on LinkedIn such as Horticulture, Master Gardeners, Garden Design, and Healing Garden. Some of the top thought leaders in gardening are a part of these groups. I learn  more about the industry and new plant introductions. Don't even get me started on Twitter. There is a wealth of sharing and great pics as well.

Put social media to work for you as a learning and connection tool and you can quickly become overwhelmed. Start with sites such as Facebook and grow from there. I have found that so many of the leaders I follow and interact with are on several channels and it's such a blessing to be able to join them.

"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader" - Margaret Fuller"

Photo courtesy of mgysler via Compfight

We have become an on demand "give it to me now" society and technology continues to accelerate at a dizzy pace. Every day we have new tools at our command to literally bring the world to us. Don't let the world fly by. Jump into reading and learning every chance that you can. We all have some spare time and you need to make it a priority to invest in yourself. If you really can't make time for books (you do know that you can get them online these days right? You can have 50 books in your pocket) then use social media to grow. There are a lot of options out there to pull in new ideas and knowledge. Seek them out and get started.

I was just lamenting this week how frustrating it is to have the ability to only follow 50 groups on LinkedIn. Too many options and too little space. I have found myself making tough choices about which groups to unfollow so that I can join another group, depending on interests. Other platforms are more generous. Do I interact with all of them? Of course not. What I do is soak up articles and thoughts that appeal to me or my work. For instance,  I'm working on improving my speaking skills so what better way to find some tips then joining groups that discuss strategy and share what's worked for them? I have also had the privilege of  interacting with leaders via Google Hangouts and Twitter chats.

Jump in and dabble in some groups where your interests lie. Start small and start the learning curve somewhere. For instance, I love my feeds from Facebook. I follow brands like Fast Co, Inc, Forbes Women, Lead With Giants, Social Media Examiner, Entrepreneur, the list goes on. On LinkedIn I am privileged to be a part of Leadership Hub, Forbes Leadership, Mobile Marketing, Connect Professional Women, and Social Media Today. Imagine the knowledge and ideas that I soak in daily! Twitter offers an untold amount of articles and the ability to share directly with authors and thought leaders. You need to get yourself "out there" and share what you know. If you are hesitant, here's a great article from Fast Company to convince you and get you going Fast Company 15 minutes a day

To be an effective leader you really need to take control of your learning today. Read read read. Share your experiences with others as well. You too have so much to contribute. We are all experts on something and the world awaits your ideas and thoughts.  If books are not for you, make social media your library. Quit wasting your time just flipping through your friend's posts - join groups that invite you to learn and share.

I would love to hear which social platforms are your favorites and how you use them to grow!