Let Your Daily Routine Begin With Thanks

Photo credit Jessica Bristol on Unsplash

Photo credit: Jessica Bristol on Unsplash

Well, it’s that time of year when we take the time out of one day, Thanksgiving Day, to give thanks.

But what if you gave thanks every day? Instead of giving thanks just once a year, you began every morning with a simple “I am thankful for…”

* Good health

* Love in my life

* Loving family

* Good-paying job

* Dear friends

* Senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch

* Mental faculties (still working!)

* Shelter

* Natural beauty in the world

The list goes on.

Thanksgiving Day becomes so rote, we often forget the real reason we get together with family and friends. Though the day is designed to celebrate the historic moment of the early settlers and Native Americans coming together, throughout the centuries we have derived our own personal meaning from the day. For some,  it’s a day of “obligation” to spend time with both sides of the family, rushing from one home to another. For others, unfortunately, the day can be uncomfortable, frustrating, disappointing, or even depressing. For the rest of us, it allows us an opportunity to spend quality time with the people in our lives who truly matter to us.

Beginning tomorrow morning, take just 30 seconds and fill in that blank statement, “I am thankful for…” and see what comes to mind. Then the day after that, do it again. And the day after that, repeat. By the time Thanksgiving Day arrives, you will be in full thanks-giving mode. You may even be able to find a little more joy with the people sitting around that table with you.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Millennials

Credit: nanonews.org

U.S. Gymnast Simone Biles proudly dons a gold medal. Photo: nanonews.org

With the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics at an end, the young athletes who competed this year remind us all that Millennials are hard working, determined, and anything but complacent.

As a Baby Boomer myself, I have facilitated cross-generational communication seminars. Invariably, someone (older) in the audience will say something like this about the youngest generation: “They don’t even know what hard work is. They have had everything handed to them on a platter. They are the generation of entitlement.” It’s time to set the record straight: Millennials have a lot to offer the world.

This year, I watched in awe at the physical grace and endurance of the young athletes. They came to Rio to win. And many of them did.

Gymnast Simone Biles, 19. What a powerhouse! At just 4’9″ tall, her body was built for gymnastics. She brought home four gold medals, including Women’s Individual All-Around Gymnast, and one bronze medal. Many in the media claim she is the best American gymnast…ever!

Katie Ledecky  Photo: cnbc.com

Katie Ledecky
Photo: cnbc.com

Katie Ledecky, 19, dominated the female swimming competition, bringing home a gold medal in the women’s 200 meter, 400 meter, and 800 meter freestyle races, as well as the American team’s 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay. Add to that the silver medal for the women’s 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay.

Ryan Murphy, 21. First time to the Olympics, he brought home three gold medals in men’s swimming, the men’s 100 meter and men’s 200 meter backstroke, and the men’s 4 x 100 meter medley relay.

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team Captain Ali Raisman, 22, earned a team gold and individual silver medal.

In an interview, target shooter Virginia Thrasher, 19, who won the gold medal for the 10 meter air rifle shooting competition, casually mentioned that she wasn’t able to stick around Rio because she was starting her sophomore year of college in a few days.

One of my favorites…Gwen Jorgenson, 30, won one of the most grueling competitions in the Olympics, the women’s triathlon. No small feat. I so admire any athlete who can swim, then bike, then run. And then win.

Michael Phelps, 31, the most seasoned American athlete competing in the Rio Olympics, secured 2 individual gold medals, 3 relay medals, and 1 silver individual medal. He remains the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, with 28 medals total, 23 of which are gold. He is truly a force of nature.

Multiple gold medalists include swimmers Simone Manuel, 20, Madeline Dirado, 23, Lilly King, 19, Nathan Adrian, and Caleb Dressel, 20, runner Allyson Felix, 30, as well as first-time gold medalist shot putter Michelle Carter, 30. The list goes on.

I know what you’re thinking. “Of course most of the people who compete in the Olympics are young athletes.” I get that.

What struck me about this year’s Olympics was the high level of professionalism of the Millennial athletes (minus one). They showed the world that Millennials have the drive and determination to succeed.

Olympic athlete or not, Millennials offer tremendous value to society and the workplace. Their energy, talent, tenacity, and creative thinking have earned them a place at the table. Let’s invite more of them there, and more often.

What We Can Learn From the Olympic Spirit

Team USA Swimmer Ryan Murphy Wins Gold. Image: Reuters.com

Team USA Swimmer Ryan Murphy proudly displays his gold medal. Image: Reuters.com

With the 2016 Summer Olympics underway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I am watching my favorite events, and learning a lot in the process. I particularly enjoy NBC-TV‘s coverage of the events, especially sharing the athletes’ personal life stories about their journey to the Olympics.

On August 8, one story was so inspirational, I had to share it. It began with an eight-year-old boy’s interest in swimming, which became a dream and a goal.

That young boy, now 21-year-old Ryan Murphy from Team USA, claimed a gold medal in the men’s 100 meter backstroke swimming competition on Monday, with his parents witnessing his completion of that goal stated more than a decade ago.


Image: NBC.com

When he was a child, Ryan wrote a letter to his parents  expressing his love of swimming. The letter contained drawings showing him swimming in blue water, with his mom standing next to the pool. The end of the letter simply stated his desire to continue swimming and his intentions to compete in the Olympics, break world records and be “the best swimmer in the world.”

On Monday, Ryan’s goals were fulfilled.

Ryan Murphy’s Olympic win demonstrates what it takes to achieve a goal:

State a powerful intention, a dream, a vision, a goal.

Learn from the best. Work with a coach or a mentor who can help you achieve your goal.

Show physical, mental, and emotional strength. There will be times when you think you can’t make it. Keep strong.

Be persistent. Keep at it. Keep your focus on that end goal.

Practice! To improve in anything, you need to practice every day. I learned that lesson from my piano teacher.

Post a visual reminder of your goal. Even at eight years old, Ryan Murphy put his intentions on paper. At that young age, he knew what he wanted. A visual image helps you see what accomplishing your goal will look and feel like.

Enhance your talent or skill. You have to be good at it. To make it to the Olympic medal platform, of course, you have to be exceptionally good.

Give it your all. Push yourself beyond where you “think” you can go.

If you find yourself struggling to achieve goals, let Ryan Murphy’s example inspire you. Reflect on what it takes to get there…all of the above!

All In, Against All Odds, the Cleveland Cavaliers is a Team Built on Trust


National Basketball Association

Anyone who has read Patrick Lencioni’s seminal book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, knows that when lack of trust exists in a team, the team will implode. Real trust, on the other hand, builds a solid foundation for any team’s success. Trust is what we have witnessed in the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. Trust provided an iron-clad bond that allowed the team to rise above adversity and win the 2016 NBA championship.

Trust perseverance. At the beginning of this NBA season, no one predicted that the Cleveland Cavaliers would make it into the finals, let alone win the national championship. Yet, that’s exactly what happened on June 19. Against all odds, the Cavaliers made NBA history, coming back from trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-1 at the end of Game 4. The Cavaliers is the first team in NBA history to win a championship from such a significant deficit stance, especially facing a team with the “most games won” record in the NBA this year.

Trust ability. The synergy between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving was palpable. In Game 5, the dynamic duo each scored 41 points in the game, breaking an NBA record. In Game 7, LeBron James stormed down the court at record speed to powerfully block Warriors player Iguodala’s layup, now known as The Block. Moments later, Kyrie Irving outmaneuvered Steph Curry’s defensive block and shot a three-pointer, another game changing move.

Trust risks. There were absolutely some nail-biting moments, especially in Games 5, 6, and 7. There were some risky moves, switched-up strategies, and fresh approaches. The Cavs coaching staff and team took risks, and they paid off.

Trust the plan. When LeBron James returned to Cleveland in 2014, he publicly committed to bringing an NBA championship to the city. The Cavs came close in 2015, yet the championship went to the Golden State Warriors. LeBron let the fans know that this 2016 championship was for them.

Trust the leadership. Coach Tyronn Lue (I call him Cool Hand Lue), who was elevated into the head coach position mid-season this year, possesses a consistently cool persona, especially in tough times. He never wavers. He never loses his temper. If he questions a referee’s call, he does it in a respectful way. Just five months into his new position, he led the Cavs to a national championship victory. In my opinion, the Coach of the Year Award should go to Lue, because he earned it. MVP LeBron James leads, motivates and inspires his fellow team players to push the limits. In interviews, every player spoke of LeBron’s tremendous leadership, generous spirit and commitment to the team. At the victory rally, LeBron gave accolades to every player for his individual contribution to the team’s success: “I’m nothing without this group behind me. I’m nothing without this coaching staff. I’m nothing without this city.” And let’s remember Cavaliers owner and businessman Dan Gilbert, who has invested millions in downtown Cleveland and in the Cavaliers team. His vision of a championship team began years ago.

Trust the vision. Cavs fans were in shock when longtime Cavs player Andy Varejao was traded mid-season, in exchange for three players: J.R. Smith, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. The irony? Varejao joined the Golden State Warriors. Think about how differently this season could have ended without the critical plays of Smith, Jefferson and Frye.

Trust advocates. The city’s celebration began the moment Game 7 ended, with fans crowding downtown Cleveland, welcoming the team home the following day at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and a record estimated 1.3 million people to celebrate at a homecoming parade and rally on June 22. I was part of that 1.3 million crowd and have the sunburn to prove it. Standing for more than four hours and sandwiched in with a sea of other Cavs fans, it was worth every minute. My husband and I were proud to be part of this historic moment in our city. Yes, we have the souvenir T-shirts, caps, pennant, license plate frame, poster, and commemorative newspapers that will never be sold on eBay!

What does this championship mean to the people of Cleveland and to the State of Ohio? Everything. Cleveland is a great city. I love living here. The city has carried many titles – and promotional slogans – over the years: Best Location in the Nation. Comeback City. All-American City. More recent additions: Believeland and a favorite, LeBronland. Whatever you call it, it’s home to the 2016 NBA Champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and to MVP LeBron James. And we know, there’s no place like home.

Thank you, Cleveland Cavaliers, for the best 2015-16 season, and for demonstrating trust in action.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!


In the classic children’s book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, author Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) begins with:


Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

How wonderful that children are given a glimpse of possibility at such a young age. Let me remind you that at any age you can still dream and imagine the possibilities that lie ahead of you in your life.

When I received my Master of Arts degree in Interpersonal Communication in 1997, the commencement speaker used the theme, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! A smart move because most of the graduates in the auditorium that day grew up reading Dr. Seuss books. Many could recite chapter and verse.

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

As you embark on a new year’s journey, consider the places you want to go that haven’t quite made it to your priority list. They may reside in the recesses of your brain. You may think about doing them more than actually doing them. What would it take for you to focus on what you want in your life? I use a simple A-B-C method, as outlined in my book, Everything I Do Positions Me: The Simple Path to Professional Success. The key word here is simple. Here it is:

A: Where are you currently positioned? (your current status, current behavior)

C: Fast forward to Where do you want to be positioned? What is your ultimate goal? Your desired future?

B: What sandwiches the gap between A (here and now) and C (the future) is B. What action steps will get you to C?


A: Poor presentation skills. (current)

C: Polished presenter. (future)

B: Action steps:

  1. Attend a presentations workshop.
  2. Join a Toastmasters group.
  3. Ask my boss to give me more presentation assignments.
  4. Practice in front of the mirror two hours weekly.
  5. Submit a proposal to present at a national professional association conference.

You get the picture. You can go anywhere you want in your career and life. Focus on the things you want most. Create the action steps to get you there. Enjoy the results. It’s that simple.

You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

who soar to high heights.

Visit Seussville or Amazon to order your own copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! to keep you motivated! Watch a short YouTube video of the book, read by actor John Lithgow.

Title and quotes are copyrighted material, Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Open an Account at the Knowledge Bank, Part 3

japanese-garden-wallpaper-japanese-garden-wallpaper-bedroom-ideas-garden-garden-wall-garden.com-japan-japanese-japanese-garden-japanese-garden-wallpaper-japanese-garden-wallpaper-hdTen thousand hours. That’s how much time you must invest before you can master a new skill, as some experts claim. To build your Knowledge Bank, you must master the third part of the trilogy, application, which follows discipline and assimilation.

When you apply what you have learned, you practice or “try on” your new knowledge before you master it. How does it fit into your work and your life? For example, if you have learned a new method to better facilitate meetings, then begin using it in your next meeting. Adjust it where needed. As you use this new knowledge, ask questions like, “How else could I use this knowledge?” or “Is there some other way I can apply it?”

Author Napoleon Hill wrote the classic book, Think and Grow Rich in 1937, outlining 13 principles for leading a successful life. The fourth in the list is specialized knowledge. When I first read this book in the 1980s as a young professional, I was impressed with how simple Hill’s writing was. I remember him speaking of the importance of applying what you learn. With application comes knowledge. All these years later, Hill’s advice is still fresh and meaningful to me.

Consider the beauty and tranquility of a Japanese garden. The gardener must learn various techniques for carefully pruning shrubs and trees, meticulously sweeping leaves, and raking gravel to create traditional patterns. It takes months and years of practice to become master gardener of a Japanese garden.

What is different about the Knowledge Bank that I have covered in these past three posts is that it belongs to you, and you can build your bank so that it provides riches to you and to others. When you invest your knowledge in others, it pays dividends in their lives and in yours. You will feel good knowing that you played an important role in helping others learn and grow.

How much do you have invested in your Knowledge Bank?

How are you sharing your knowledge wealth with others?

A is for Act

SnailSpeedPart 2 of this B-A-L-A-N-C-E Your Life series.

One of the best ways to balance your life is to act – take action – when you need to. I add “when you need to” because sometimes it pays to do things now and other times it pays to wait. It’s one of our greatest challenges, deciding when to do things.

When you have a lot going on in your life, you may feel overwhelmed, helpless or even paralyzed. Often when there is too much going on, it is hard for your brain – and your body – to sort out and prioritize things. Here are some thoughts on how to be productive and balanced at the same time:

Decide what is important both long-term and short-term. A long-term goal could be “To finish my college degree.” The key follow-up question is “By what date?” Once you attach a date to the goal, you are committed. If there is no date, the long-term goal then becomes a lifetime goal. “To finish my college degree sometime in my life” is not a targeted goal because it lacks a fixed timeframe. When the goal is stated with focus and purpose, and you break down that goal, anything is achievable. “To finish my college degree in the next 12 months” gives you a specific timeframe to achieve that goal. How many course hours are required to meet graduation criteria? How many hours can you handle managing the other priorities in your life? A short-term goal usually can be accomplished in one day, one weekend, or one week. It could be “To organize my office this weekend.” That can be a huge task, depending on the current condition of your office. You may want to break it down to “To spend four hours cleaning off my desktop (your real desktop, not your computer desktop). When you finish that first task, focus on another task like “To record last month’s expenses.”

Break down large tasks into smaller chunks. This is a tried-and-true time management tip that’s been around for decades and it works just as well today. Large tasks can feel daunting if you give them that power over you. Create a step-by-step process that will work for you. Prioritize. What comes first? Second? After that?

To act or not to act? What a great question! You may choose to read another chapter in a book to clear your mind rather than start that big project. That’s okay. Other times you may prefer diving into that big project over reading a book. It’s up to you. You decide what you need to balance your life.

Reward yourself. It works with adults equally as well as it does with children and pets. Surely there is something special that you consider a real treat. Think of relaxing and enjoying that treat. Then back track and think of what you did to earn the right to enjoy that treat. If you love Cherry Garcia ice cream (double scoop, of course), then picture yourself enjoying that ice cream right after you have finished your goal, like cleaning your office. Graduating from college? Well, that deserves a much bigger reward like a weekend away or an overseas trip.

When you stay ahead of life’s curve balls (they are always coming at you, you know) and act on the most important things first, then you will find time to do the others. It requires discipline, focus and action.

Ask yourself: What have I been putting off that I have really wanted or needed to do that, once complete, would give me the freedom to do other things? When you get into the rhythm of taking action in small bits and rewarding yourself, you will notice that your approach to those tasks will be much more positive.

Olympic Lessons Are Plentiful

olympic-rings-cool2I admit it…my 2014 Winter Olympics withdrawal is in full swing. Seventeen glorious days of winter sports events, full of pageantry, anticipation, victory and defeat. With every viewing came a lesson. Here are a few:

Silver is just as exciting as gold. US skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace leapt into her husband’s arms with a radiant smile, shouting, “We did it! We did it!” She enthusiastically and proudly accepted a silver medal. She raced for her family, and this was her final Olympic competition. Often times athletes are disappointed to receive a silver or bronze. In this case, Pikus-Pace demonstrated a positive spirit and true grace as a medal winner.

Even a ponytail can Tweet. US figure skater Jason Brown, who dons a neatly coiffed ponytail, created a Twitter account…for his ponytail, some call a bronytail, reporting news and events from Sochi. A brilliant marketing move. If you are afraid to use social media, this proves that if a ponytail can do it, so can you!

Every hero has a hero. Canadian mogul skier Alex Bilodeau won the gold for Canada and for his older brother, Frederic, who has Cerebral Palsy. “He is my hero,” Alex says of his big brother. As Alex crossed the finish line, it was hard to tell who was more excited about the victory – Alex or Frederic. Alex won back-to-back gold in this Olympic freestyle sport.

Patience is the greatest virtue. Paired for 17 years, US ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White gracefully and elegantly grabbed the gold, reminding us that all important goals in life are worth the wait. And speaking of waiting, let’s include two extremely patient and proud mothers.

When you fall, get up and keep going. When US figure skater Jeremy Abbott fell and crashed into the wall of the ice rink, the audience gasped, expecting him to limp off the ice. Instead, he slowly stood up, regained his composure and finished skating an otherwise flawless program. That’s class and determination.

Community trumps adversity. With the negative hype leading up to and surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the athletes in Olympic Village proved that despite differences, people of various cultures and backgrounds can get along. And they did. Isn’t that what the phrase “Olympic spirit” means?

As you watch the upcoming Olympics – the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang, South Korea – watch not just for the victories and defeats; look for the important lessons that spur you on as you compete in this wonderful game called life.

Photo credit: Photobucket.com


Discipline Delivers A Voice

Viking Opera SingerOne year ago this month, I began this new journey called blogging. Prior to that, the word only was captured as an item on my rather large to do list. What brought it to life was discipline. Each week, I have written on a topic that is relevant to today’s professional. I’m still at it today.

Before I began the process, I engaged in a healthy debate with myself, asking questions like, “What are you going to say?” or “What do you have to say that’s different from everyone else?” The answer: Plenty.

During a conversation with my husband a few years ago, he asked the really big question: “What do you really want to do with your life?” I revealed a deep desire by responding, “I want my voice to be heard.” I didn’t know at that time exactly what those words meant. I also didn’t know that blogging would be a way for me to share my voice with the world.

We all have a voice inside of us that wants to be heard. A voice that is different from everyone else’s. A voice that is unique only to us. Our own voice. When we share our voice, we speak from the heart. Our voice can allow others to see our perspective, understand how we feel or open up the conversation. Our voice can be soft and gentle or loud and clear. Our voice can advocate for others or set ourselves free. Our voice can create positive change.

You have a voice. What is it that your voice wants to say? If you were to share your voice, what positive change could occur?

Image by Strauss/Curtis/CORBIS

Who Inspires You?

Elderly Woman Smiling Wearing a Swimming Cap in a Swimming PoolWhether it’s someone you have known for years, someone you have just met or someone you have never met yet admired from afar, there are people who come into your life and inspire you. Who inspires you? What does that person inspire you to do or be?

It happened to me this past week. I returned to our local recreation center to begin exercising again. (I usually take a break in the warmer months because outdoor activities like bicycling, walking and gardening take the place of indoor exercise). I walked into our circuit exercise room and said hello to a woman who I had not seen in nearly six months. It didn’t take me long to realize that she had lost a lot of weight. “Wow. You look great. You’ve lost some weight,” I said. “Yes…I’ve lost 79 pounds total. It’s almost the weight of another person!” she replied. “I’ve had to replace my entire wardrobe. My daughter says she remembers me being this size when she was growing up. That was a few decades ago.” Diane started her fitness journey 11 months ago. She comes to the recreation center just about every day, works the circuit room and walks three miles. She also eats right. And…she is in her 70s. She has succeeded because she has a goal and the discipline to reach that goal.

I continued my workout, going from machine to machine, lifting, shifting, stepping and thinking about that five pounds that I have wanted to melt away for years. Five pounds? Are you kidding me? I could lose that in one month…if…I had the discipline. There is nothing stopping me from achieving this small goal. Diane inspired me. I found myself saying, “If Diane could lose 79 pounds, I could certainly lose 5.”

Consider all the people who have inspired you and who continue to inspire you in your life. Then ask yourself, “How can I inspire others?” And ask a much bigger question, “How can I inspire myself?”