Tag Archive for Engagement

Pathetic Dog, Lesson in Empathy

Our minds will look ahead when fear is left behind.


My ex-husband, Steve, and I share joint-custody of our 3 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Lucy.  Steve, technically, has full custody but I agree to watch her when he travels, which he happens to be doing this week.

photoAs you can see, Lucy is less than thrilled with this arrangement.  An otherwise happy and personable dog with Steve, she becomes this sullen  ”I don’t feel like doing anything but look pathetic” dog with me.

Also “substituting” this week is a young woman in my son’s 1st Grade classroom. Bless her heart, she’s getting some push back and other inappropriate behaviors from the students.

And finally, my daughter’s soccer coach is traveling with another team and therefore, there is a coach stepping in for training this week.  My daughter and almost everyone else on the team are not happy with this arrangement.


Change is hard.  

It’s hard for dogs, little kids, teenagers and adults.

How can you help?


I think you can help by talking about it.  (Communicate?  Really?  What a shocker!)

Talk about it!


  • Prepare the person for change;
  • Outline the parameters of the change and better yet, tell him/her all of the things that WON’T change;
  • Describe or define your expectations during the transition;
  • Check in early and often to make sure he/she is ok, behaving properly, and that he/she is knowledgeable, if not anticipating, what is yet to come;
  • Recognize his/her effort and/or the result of his/her actions;
  • Whether it is positive or negative, offer him/her feedback; and, more importantly
  • Solicit feedback regarding your own actions.

This obviously won’t work well with poor Lucy…I don’t know how to speak Dog. However, just as I would need to do with my kids, my colleagues, my employees or anyone who was going through a transition or change, I need to convince her that she will be ok.

Because when it comes right down to it, that’s what she’s afraid of!



Fear is why people resist change!


Eliminate the fear, and you’ll see a positive result.  

Best of luck to you…and let me know if you’re interested in dog sitting.



Teenagers, Boyfriends and Bathrooms


Bathrooms are for weeping.

I have a 16 year old daughter. If she knew I was writing this post today, she’d probably have an aneurism but perhaps ten years from now, she’ll read it and not have a fit.

I had the pleasure of spending five days with my friend, her daughter and my daughter in Minnesota for a Sweet 16 shopping trip and a Justin Timberlake concert. During this trip, I learned my daughter had a boyfriend.

I was crushed…not because I didn’t want her to have one but because I didn’t know about it.

Don’t get me wrong – I do not have the grand idea that my daughter shares everything with me, that she wants me to be a big part of her life, or even that she wants me to know an itsy-bitsy part of it. I have had too many looks of disdain, rolled eyes, turned heels and shut doors to know better than that. However, I still thought she would tell me when she was ready or interested in a boyfriend.

I was wrong.

I cried when I found out. Ok, that’s a lie. There is a distinct difference between crying and weeping. I wept. The kind of weeping one can only do in the bathroom of a hotel room, the kind where your heart leaks so quickly you fear it can’t be filled up again, the kind when you realize that any day, your daughter will walk into the room and you won’t recognize her.

It sucked, and for five days…ok, probably more…I stayed in that little hole of self-pity. But thankfully, my dear friend and mentor, Joel Casto, and my dear friend and business partner, Kandy Broderick, pulled me out.

I won’t bore you with the details of my conversations with them or my subsequent conversations with Carolyn but instead, I’ll offer these words of wisdom.  Do with them what you wish…

  • It’s healthy to check in with people we care about from time to time, but it is also ok if they don’t feel like sharing.  Sometimes, the right question may be, “do you feel like talking to me about this?”
  • We need to let feelings of resentment and offense slip away when they become barriers to communication.  If we don’t, the conversation becomes about our needs and not about the real issue.
  • Sometimes, we should politely “force” awkward conversations when behind the awkwardness lies true feelings.
  • If we share even the boring parts of our life’s journey with the people who are forever passengers on our ride, we are giving them the gift of context for the big, exciting or heartbreaking stops along the way.
  • A relationship is a “contract” of sorts. When that contract is breached, someone is likely to feel like a chump.  This is why it’s important to lay out the rules of that contract – the expectations, if you will – of what the relationship should be.  Then, when the contract is breached, the discussion can be about that, and not about how pissed off we are for feeling like a chump.
  • When in doubt, always put the positive of the situation in front of you, for it’s the positive that will pull you forward and it’s the positive that you’ll remember when looking back.

I don’t know if you have children, nor do I know if you’ll struggle with what I have struggled with, but I do know this: fearing you don’t know your child is crippling!  It keeps you up at night, it makes you second guess nearly everything that occurs in your relationship, and it darkens even the most innocent of interactions.

The only way to eliminate the fear is to own it, admit it, and talk about it. 

Speak Outside of the Lines

It’s not what you tell them…it’s what they hear.

Red Auerbach


I had the pleasure of working with a client recently who had a workforce of about 900. My job was to train them all on various topics over the course of the four day window.

Easy peasy!  Load me up, fill the room – all I need is good coffee and few cookies or donuts.

However, when I arrived on site, I learned there were 19 different languages spoken in their workforce…actually, there were a bit more but some team members were fluent in multiple languages so 19 was the “common” language number.language

I’ve taught numerous courses in which I had to use an interpreter but none to this scale. My client’s original plan was to have me teach multiple courses to specific groups with one interpreter for each group. It was believed this would get the best bang for the buck and, at the very least, allow the majority of people to get trained. The plan was to tape my presentations and have interpreters meet with the remaining staff to “review” what I had said long after I had gone home.

This is how my client has always “worked through” its language barriers. The fact that work teams couldn’t attend training together and the fact that some team members would have to get trained “after the fact” were common “symptoms of circumstance.”

My client didn’t mind…many in its leadership said “it came with the territory.”

Hmmm, I didn’t like this territory!

I often color outside of the lines so I asked my client if I could deviate from our original contract and deliver something better.  Thankfully, I got the green light so I broke down the barrier as best as I could.

break it down

I transformed my compliance driven “lecture” courses into group discussions and story times.

Each class had between 60 and 140 people in them. I asked for volunteers who were fluent in multiple languages and also knew English. They became the “leads” of smaller groups.

I met with each of my “leads” and explained their roles as interpreters, facilitators, story tellers, etc. Each of them were willing to give this a try and, once they started talking to the others, a few more volunteers offered to help “lead” other groups.

I lectured a little, told my own stories, and then asked each of my “leads” to rephrase, tell a story of their own, ask questions, report back, etc. I then asked the leads questions to ask their groups (and report back to me accordingly) so I could ensure the content was being understood.

It was chaotic, incredibly loud, and ended up being more like a crazy communication game than a class. And it took time…lots of time.  I was slotted to train 8-10 hours per day for four days; instead, I ended up training 16-18 hours per day.

The result was fantastic!  

My client, who thought it would resort to simply checking off the boxes that the staff attended these mandatory courses, instead had an entire workforce talking, learning, and engaging with each other about some pretty serious subjects.

Lessons learned?


Quality communication is ALWAYS worth the time and effort. ALWAYS!

Asking for volunteers to help you with a sticky situation is better than trying to figure things out yourself.

Demonstrating that you care about engaging with your employees pays valuable returns.

Language barriers should never, ever be a barrier to development.



Lessons Learned from Family Night

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
John F. Kennedy


My 7 year old son is fascinated my marine life.  He constantly talks about being a marine “researcher” so he can learn all about the many animals in the sea and, of course, discover new ones so he can be famous.

Yesterday was an “Orca” day – he read books about Orcas, he was on the Internet learning about Orcas, and when it was time for family movie night, he searched Netflix for movies about Orcas.  (Thankfully, he’s more into documentaries than fiction so we didn’t get stuck watching “Free Willy.”)   

While I’ve been known to tune out of many “family movies,” last night was different as Orcas are fascinating creatures.  I quickly made the connection between their behaviors and human behaviors, and it didn’t take long before I made the connections to employee performance.


Orcas are social; they need their communities

Orcas live in pods and families stay together for lifetimes.  Research has shown that when these creatures of the sea are removed from their communities, they suffer.

I don’t think you should force ”group think” or group work onto your employees; we all know that many of our staff need to be alone to re-charge, to find their creativity, to problem-solve, etc. However, I do think there is quite a bit of value in encouraging a strong work “community.”

pod of orcas

  • Are you allowing the social network to flourish or are you stifling it?
  • Are you encouraging group work by providing a medium for it to occur or are there so many obstacles and negative influences that many of your staff feel it’s more efficient and beneficial to “do it alone”?
  • Are you communicating to your staff that “needing” their coworkers is a good thing or are you suggesting to them it’s a weakness?

May I suggest that you try the pod mentality?  Give your team a sense of community, communicate to them that they will succeed or otherwise TOGETHER, and provide the avenues they need to interact and be social as a team.


Orcas are smart because they LEARN

We all know the king of dolphins is an intelligent creature but I don’t know if many of us realize “how” the Orca became so smart.  It’s because they are masters at learning and improving. They observe, they communicate, they share information, they try new things, they study results, they adapt accordingly and try again…this is a continual process until they succeed at their objective.

What, if anything, are you doing to “smarten up” your team?

fishing orca

  • Are you allowing for sufficient “observation” or “analysis” throughout a project or activity?
  • Are you ensuring communication channels are open so resources can be fully utilized and knowledge sharing is possible?
  • Are you encouraging risk taking”
  • Are you forgiving of mistakes?
  • Are you capitalizing on the “lessons learned”?
  • Are you sharing with others what worked and what didn’t?

May I suggest you approach your work, your projects, etc. with an Orca’s mind?

Don’t want to trust an Orca?  Fine, trust the father of Quality Control, Dr. D. Edwards Deming.  His “Plan, Do, Study, Act” method has helped thousands develop better critical thinking skills and improve their work and, as luck would have it, is remarkably similar to what Orcas has been doing for years.


Orcas place the needs of another before their own.

I was fascinated to learn just how deep the sense of “helping” is with these animals. They take care of the sick, they encourage injured or disfigured members of the pod, they do more work themselves when others are not able, etc.  Indeed, there have been many reports of entire pods in peril because they refused to leave another behind!

I wish humans were as selfless but instead, we have a tendency to throw each other under the bus. I’m saddened by this and I think leaders have to take some accountability when this “selfish” culture exists.

  • How do you demonstrate “we’re in this together”?
  • How are you encouraging your staff to step in and help someone?
  • Are you weeding out the weak/writing them off or are you identifying ways to help develop their skills and competencies?
  • What does your team do when another is suffering?  Do they avoid the person, make their own assumptions, think “someone else will take care of it” or, worse, do they chastise and judge?

There comes a time with Orcas when the leader decides to cut the team’s losses. However, this is only after the pod has exhausted many other solutions. They demonstrate extreme selflessness, even at the risk of their own demise, to help a member of their community.  At no time is abandonment the first option.

I know “survival of the fittest” is real and necessary and that there is a often a fine line between “helping” and enabling.”  However, I also know there is no place for selfishness on high performing teams.

We must begin to place a priority on the needs of our colleagues in order to move the entire team forward.


I don’t know much about marine life, predators, extinction, etc. but thanks to my son’s obsession, I’m learning. I learned yesterday that Orcas live longer and “perform” better than most in the sea. I believe this is because they work on a team, they are continually learning and sharing information, and they appreciate the needs of others before their own.

Call me crazy, but perhaps we should too.



You’re Not That Great or Important

I got a call the other day…a desperate one at that…to help resolve a touchy employee relations problem. The problem at hand involved nearly twenty professionals.  I use the word “professionals” loosely as they demonstrated anything but professionalism. Name calling, back stabbing, hostility, aggressiveness…you name it, they offered it.


How does a team get this way?  

How does it get this bad?


Notwithstanding the manager’s failure to manage the problem months ago, I contemplated what I was seeing and hearing and quickly realized there were pretty simple reasons why this large group of people weren’t getting along.


I work with teams all the time, and have seen my share of dysfunction.  They all have things in common, and ego and selfishness are among them.



In my opinion, when it comes to Egos, we need to practice what that silly commercial encouraged us to do a long long time ago.  L’eggo!

eggo(Ok, technically, this was about processed frozen food but the point is still valid…let go of it or there will be trouble!)

There is no “I” in “TEAM”!

How many times do we have to hear that silly phrase to practice it? 

Of course we should take pride in our role, take accountability for our activities, and be pleased when we have done well.

Personal accomplishment and personal satisfaction play a critical role in how we engage at work.

But our ego?   Whether it’s inflated or deflated, we need to leave it at the door and get to work.



I believe selfishness destroys a team’s success.

Psychologists claim that selfishness is really a result of “fear” – we are afraid if we do something for others, we’ll lose control of things happening to ourselves. We are afraid that if we give time to others, we won’t have enough for ourselves.  We are afraid that if we offer our minds, our hearts, our thoughts, etc., they’ll be rejected, scorned, abused, etc.

I don’t know about that fear thing…I supposed there is truth in it.

Regardless, this is fact:

There are too many people taking care of their own needs first, often in total disregard to the needs of others.

It’s childish, sometimes spiteful, and incredibly inefficient. It does more damage than good and it needs to stop. Whether it’s giving of our time, our talent, our information, or otherwise, we must do it.

We must give to others, share with others, or simply help others. We don’t need special skills or expertise; we need only to open our minds to the thought that someone else’s needs are more important than our own.


I love Patrick Lencioni’s book, “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” – if you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to do so. Mr. Lencioni points out that above all else, team members need to trust each other.  Indeed, trust is critical. However, equally significant is this:

Trust cannot be obtained if my ego is in the way.
Trust cannot be found when I’m only looking out for me, myself and I.


SCARF – it’s comforting

You can’t build a great house on a weak foundation.

My mother, Carol Strider


I had the pleasure of teaching a class the other day on leadership and employee engagement. My primary objective of this particular course was to help participants identify some pragmatic ideas to not only engage an otherwise “positive” workforce but to re-engage employees who have, for a variety of reasons, become dis-engaged.

I offered up research findings and trends, I discussed assessments and the inferences we can draw from them, and I facilitated discussions about the participants’ own engagement and the fluctuations to such over the years.

But in addition to all of that, I focused on what I consider to be basic “needs” in the workplace…the things that can either “make or break” an employee’s willingness to be engaged at work.


Years ago, I stumbled across Dr. David Rock‘s website.  After reading one of his academic reports titled “SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others,” I realized that the items referenced in the model were basic employment needs.  At the time, I had about 18 years as a Human Resources Professional and I could not identify one “dis-engagement,” “sabotage” or “hostile” situation in which the employee DID NOT have one of these basic needs being threatened.

I’ve been an advocate for ensuring these needs are met ever since.


I challenge supervisors to think of the below items as “requirements” for a positive work foundation.  

They need a positive sense of: 


• The employee needs to consider himself “important” to the organization and he should understand his importance in relationship to others.  This doesn’t always come naturally so the supervisor should actively communicate it.
• When changes to an employee’s “status” occur, the supervisor should clearly communicate them and, whenever possible, “transfer” the employee’s importance on the next thing.  (For instance, “your work was instrumental in completing project X and so I am re-adjusting your priorities to allow for work on project Y so it can be finalized in the same manner.)
• When someone is ridiculed or a victim of condescending tones (from supervisor, peers or customers), his status is threatened and therefore, the supervisor should model positive/encouraging/forgiving communications or otherwise actively correct negative behavior.


• While certainty cannot be guaranteed, the supervisor should help decrease the threat “uncertainty” almost always provides.  The supervisor can do this by clearly communicating roles, expectations, consequences, etc.
• The Supervisor who is comfortable talking about future plans and, likewise, about potential changes to those plans, all the while with a positive attitude and confidence, will find that his employees will start to find a bit more “comfort” with ambiguity.


• Employees like to have power over things that affect them…don’t we all?  That being said, if an employee is allowed to make decisions about his work (perhaps not the “when it’s due” or the “standard at which it’s done” but instead, the “how it’s done” or “when I do it”), he will perceive less “threat” to his need for autonomy.
• A Supervisor who clearly communicates expectations about behavior and performance, and identifies consequences for positive/negative performance gives the employee a sense of “control” over these things.


• While employees enjoy having a sense of individuality, they almost always crave a sense of belonging.  Therefore, the supervisor who encourages teamwork or teamplay is also encouraging a healthy work community.
• The supervisor who communicates the goals of employee in relationship to the goals of the team or organization helps to increase the employee’s sense of belonging.


• When an employee feels he or someone else is being treated “unfairly,” he may respond with frustration, hostility or similar behaviors.  This begets other negative behaviors, and so a cycle is formed.  That being said, the supervisor who actively checks his/her behavior for fairness and works to ensure the “perception” of fairness is probable, will see a positive result in his employee’s behavior.
• The supervisor who considers and then communicates (to proper extent) all of the circumstances (totality of the circumstances) can decrease the “perceived threat” to the employee’s sense of fairness.
• The supervisor who realizes that equality is not always fair, and makes changes to his/her decisions and actions accordingly, will notice that his employees’ perceptions of fairness will stabilize.
 So there you have it…scarfs are pretty comforting.





Dr. Rock is a pretty smart guy…he spent a lot of time in school and, I’m sure, the library and he knows A LOT about our brains.  Read his stuff…you’ll get tons out of it.

I’m a pretty smart gal…I have spent a bit of time in school and “The Library” was my favorite bar when I attended college in Munich.  I’ve been in Human Resources for nearly 20 years.  That being said, I know a lot about human behavior and trust me, if your employee’s SCARF is threatened, you’ll be a long way from engaging them in their work.

Bundle up…and good luck!  



The Frontier Project (in the 2nd largest state)

Wanted: Curiosity and Imagination


I don’t need an excuse to get out of Alaska in November but if I did, I’d scream down to Cyprus, Texas to be a part of something meaningful, The Frontier Project.


I was fortunate enough to attend the first “project” held in Omaha earlier this spring.  I came back and told my colleagues that my eyes were open, my mind was re-energized, and my imagination had been kicked back into gear.

Since that time, I have taken a hard look at what services I offer my clients, and where my paradigms in thinking have been.  I’ve tipped some sacred cows, and I’ve quit spending resources on creatures of comfort that in reality, are no longer relevant in today’s business arena.

I’ve done a lot of research so I am better prepared to consult with my clients regarding solutions that are beneficial not just one or two years in the future, but five+ years into the future.

And, more importantly, I’ve kept in contact with the intelligent, kind, helpful and damn funny people I met.  Indeed, my growing “posse” has helped me significantly since last spring.


Talent Anarchy, specifically Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt, facilitated this two day event with one main objective…to get the audience to think about the future of Human Resources.


This wasn’t a conference!

Nor was it “training.”

But trust me, I learned more about myself and about operational Human Resources than I have in years.


Jason and Joe facilitated a thoughtful, well orchestrated discussion.

They helped forty or so Human Resources professionals, consultants, vendors and business leaders put their minds to work and their heads together to talk.

Yes, talk…

Go figure…get smart people opening up about their ideas, their fears, their concerns, their insights, etc. and

BAM, you’ve got something powerful!


I wrote a post on my way home from Omaha, The Frontier Project…A Reflection.  This post should give you a bit more information about how I felt after I left. Perhaps reading it will inspire you to attend the upcoming event in Texas?


For now, know this…if you are an Human Resources or business professional and are curious about…


…what the future workforce looks like,

…what recruitment of the future workforce looks like,

…what managing your future workforce looks like,

…what engaging your future workforce looks like, etc.,

I strongly suggest you become a part of The Frontier Project.


All you need is your mind. Oh, and a strong “give a damn factor” because that’s what spurs the discussion!



Diversity for Dinner

Sometimes, “different” is what you need.

My mom, Carol Strider


My daughter, Carolyn, invited just shy of ten friends over for dinner last week, about half were young adults I had never met.

As with any dinner in my house, everyone needs to pitch in and help; not only does this make quick work of everything, it gives me the opportunity to interact with the people I am about ready to feed.

I found myself choosing a favorite; he was a young man – the tallest and the gangliest of the bunch. He was a bit awkward, appeared nearly nervous when I asked him to help me with something on the stove, and rarely made eye contact. During dinner, he ate the most and engaged the most with my six year old son. After dinner and throughout the evening, he exhibited both bashful and humorous behaviors, appearing to be confident in some areas and downright overwhelmed in others.

Anyway, I liked him immediately and the next day, talked with Carolyn about him.  It was then that I learned that out of all of the young adults here that evening, he was the one who, in Carolyn’s opinion, had it “the roughest.” Carolyn told me he has a rough family life, rough time at school/grades, rough time with money, etc.  I asked Carolyn how this young man came to be a part of her circle.  While she couldn’t pinpoint any particular moment, she did offer this nugget of wisdom when she said,

“He’s different, mom, really different from anyone else.  But you know, it works for me, and I like him in our group.”

I won’t bore you with my full conversation with Carolyn but know that it was a discussion about some fantastic things including but not limited to judgment, compassion, assumptions, perspective and diversity.


yin and yangReflecting upon our conversation, I thought back to some of my “favorite” staff, my “most appreciated” colleagues, and my “most enjoyable” customers/clients.

For the most part, they were and still are very different from me.

But like the perfect puzzle piece, they have fit nicely into my own idiosyncrasies, habits and styles.


My friend, Joe Gerstandt, suggests that we should not simply “accept” people who are different but instead, we should “seek out” diversity in our friendships, work relationships, etc.

Joe is right, and I urge you to validate this by thinking of your own “successful” relationships.  I bet they were the yin to your yang, the negative to your positive, the peanut butter to your chocolate, etc.  Perhaps they weren’t polar opposites but I’m willing to bet they “completed you” in a way that others more similar to you could not.


I won’t preach Diversity to you today…Joe does a fantastic job and I could never fill his shoes. Alas, therein lies the beauty – I don’t need to.  Joe is in my posse, he’s totally unlike me, and he brings to the table something I cannot.

(By the way, you may like this video from Joe; it’s about 7.5 minutes long and totally worth watching!)


Instead of preaching today, I will challenge you to do two things:

1) Identify someone in your life (personal, professional or otherwise) who is different than you, and for some reason or another, is not someone with whom you have cultivated a good relationship.

2) Feed that relationship so you can add that person to your circle, to your posse, or to your network.


You, like Carolyn, may find that your new relationship “works” for you.

Good luck.



I read something the other day that inspired me to contact an old friend. Jason Seiden’s post, “Childhood Friends“, suggested that old friends, ones we met when we were children, are the ones most likely to accept you the way you are – they are the ones you don’t need to impress.

Jason’s post made me think about who I go to for support, who I rely upon for insight and advice, who I am willing to be “vulnerable” with, etc. I read the post, and within twenty minutes, knew I needed to reach out and contact my old friend.  Our friendship, which was damaged by hurt feelings and offense, had been terribly missed.  After reading Jason’s post, I quickly realized that getting our friendship back was more important than holding on to my pride. I contacted my friend, apologized for my silence and resentment, and asked to rebuild a cherished friendship that had been damaged. (Thank you, Jason, for helping me get there.)


In addition to encouraging me to reach out to my friend, Jason’s post got me thinking about the rest of my relationships.  Jason writes that his friend Barry told him

adult friends accept you as long as the relationship is worth more in value than it costs in aggravation.”


When I first read that, I thought,

“Wow, that’s cynical!     Certainly we humans are better than that!”


But alas, I haven’t been better than that, and Barry’s statement rings true for me.


Value AddedI did an inventory of my relationships.  I thought of my current friends, ones who have faded out of my life, ones who are missed, ones who are not.

I thought of my working relationships with staff, with clients, with leaders. Shoot, I even thought of my family and damn if these relationships didn’t fit that cynical statement as well.


I have done my fair share of “tolerating” or simply “getting along” with others. I have cut ties with people who no longer added what I considered “value” to the relationship. Lord knows I have judged and discounted others as much, if not a lot more, than I have accepted and praised them.

For those relationships that are damaged and/or severed, it appears my own shortcomings led to their demise.

  • Pride
  • Jealousy
  • Selfishness
  • Ego
  • Lack of Patience
  • Lack of Empathy or Compassion
  • Lack of Tolerance

If a relationship didn’t add enough value to compensate for the shortcomings listed above, I was willing, and often did, let it go sour or simply let it go.


That makes me sound like quite the bitch, doesn’t it?


I feel torn…half of me wants to change that immediately!  I should be an open, generous, and non-judgmental person.  I should give more than I take.  I should expect less and be grateful more often.  I should care less about my own needs and more about theirs.


The problem is, the other half of me honestly says, “Drama?  Ain’t nobody got time for that!”  Lately, I have adopted the mentality, “If they don’t make me feel good, screw ‘em!” Shoot, half of the stuff I read about fulfillment and happiness tells me to eliminate those in my life who bring me down or dull my sparkle! (Ok, that last one I got from Pinterest but you get my point!)


Things that make you go hmmm…


Reciprocity reciprocity


It’s obvious that a good friendship needs to be reciprocal, and it’s also obvious that I need to give a little to get a little.

I need to give a fair amount of value, joy or happiness to my friends, and they need to do the same to me. Both of us should be willing to tolerate a fair amount of drama from each other. Both of us should understand there may be a fair amount of offense, both given and received. Both of us should accommodate a bit of aggravation from time to time. Moreover, both of us should be prepared, if not pleased when we are challenged by the other.  It’s good for us…all of it.


Reciprocity is fair, and doesn’t make me sound like such a bitch, so I like it.


What do you think?



Decisions, Decisions

I went into the store the other day to get a battery and in my quest to find them, I stumbled across Halloween Candy.

Halloween Candy…tons of it…in late August!  Good grief.

I love candy corn as much as the next gal but for me, it’s always too early for Halloween. Where I live, Halloween is cold, dark, and snowy and serves as foreshadowing of the six or more months to come.

Seeing all the Halloween Candy made me realize it was time to get Andrew, my six year old son, a costume, and I needed to do it fast.  He is trick or treating soon in “Trick or Treat in the Heat” and he doesn’t want to do it sans costume. So, as any good mother would, I grabbed my kid and proceeded to visit all the possible costume places in our little city.

After four stores and a few hundred “I changed my mind” moments, I found myself frustrated with my little guy.

Just choose one!” escaped my pursed lips more than once.

But alas, he could not because knowing what one wants to be for Halloween when you’re six is difficult, and no amount of pressure from your mom is going to make it any easier.


When I found myself too close to simply buying the next thing that fit him, I changed my approach.

I took him for a snack and asked him a few questions.

It’s amazing how much clearer our minds can be over Frozen Yogurt from the best shoppe in town.photo

“What do you like about Boba Fett?”

“Other than carrying a sword, what makes a Pirate cool?”

“Why are skeletons scary?”

“If you were a Ninja, who would you be protecting and why?”

“Is Hockey your favorite sport because you like skating or because you get to hit things with a stick?”

“Is Robin Batman’s best friend or an employee?”

“Do you think Dracula ever bites his lip?”

“How come no one gets to know that Superman is really Clark Kent but everyone knows that Ironman is Tony Stark?”

“What is it that makes a Power Ranger ‘powerful’?”

Andrew had lots of good answers to my questions and, as I am a trained investigator and damn fine interviewer, I followed up with some questions that brought him full circle…what his interests were, who he believed was exciting and fun, who he related to, who was “different” or “special,” etc.

By the time we finished our FroYo, without any further pressure from me, Andrew had narrowed down his costume choices to two: Iron Man and a Power Ranger, provided we could find the red one.




The rest of our shopping trip was a joy.  Because Andrew had made a decision, he could stay focused in the sea of all other costumes.  Knowing what he wanted eliminated the distractions over accessories that had nothing to do with his costume.  And, as an added bonus, he was excited that there was no risk that someone else (mainly me) would choose for him.

Imagine that…

Focus…leads to
Excitement…which helps with


While telling a friend about the day’s events, it occurred to me that what I did with Andrew was not unlike what I do (or should do) as a Human Resources Professional, Mentor, Coach, Advisor and Leader.

Simply put, I should help others explore.


It is not my job to make decisions for others, nor is it appropriate for me to get frustrated and irritated when they are unable to do so on their own.

It is not my job to persuade or otherwise trick people into making a decision that I want nor is it my job to assume ownership of the decisions they ultimately make.


Rather, it is my job to help others explore the possibilities.

I should

  • identify and allow for different perspectives to be considered;
  • point out the benefits and the risks of their decisions;
  • help them consider the consequences; and
  • facilitate thoughtful discussion about the issues.


Of course I have opinions and I’d like to think I have the right expertise.

I hope I have the wisdom to share both effectively when others need me to.

But in the end, it is their decision to make.

In the end, it is their life, job or project that is to be affected.

In the end, it is about them, not about me.


So that’s my story…


Is it poignant?  Doubtful.

Could it be eye opening?  Perhaps.

Was it a strong reminder about what I should be doing?  Certainly.



I don’t particularly like
Power Rangers,
but it is not about me.



Andrew loves them and,
for a few hours,
he’ll get to be the red one,
and that is just fine with me.