Archive for January, 2007

Employee Engagement: How to Keep the Keepers?

January 30, 2007

I wrote an article for the January 29th issue of Canadian HR ReporterIs HR prepared to keep the keepers“.  In researching the article, I spoke with a number of fantastic people who had lots to say about the issue of employee engagement, managing talent, coaching for inspired leadership and much more. But alas, when you write for a publication, there’s that word count issue. Some stuff gets in – but lots doesn’t. 

I’ll be teasing out a variety of themes related to the whole topic of engaging high performers in the next few posts. It’s a rich topic and one that can’t be covered in a single article or post.

Let me start by highlighting one quote (more…)

Pursuit of Happyness – at Work

January 25, 2007

I’m so glad that Will Smith is nominated for best actor for his role in “Pursuit of Happyness“. I loved that movie – not just for its cinematic appeal (I do love movies!) but because of the story it portrays. Based on the real life of Chris Gardner, the movie (and book) is about a man who had every reason to fail – yet succeeded beyond belief.

 The real Chris Gardner had no university degree; no connections; and eventually at one point ended up homeless, with a failed marriage (his wife left him) and all alone to raise and provide for his young son.

Despite those odds, Chris Gardner (as portrayed by Smith) went on to create a tremendously successful life with a career that lead to a multi-dollar business in the financial brokerage business.

What was his secret? Who knows for sure but what seems clear to me is that this man had something very powerful:  A vision for “possibility” and a better future — with passion; a strong belief in himself – of his worth and abilities; and an unstoppable, tenacious ‘make-it-happen’ attitude playing out consistently in his actions no matter what the obstacles. He worked hard, no doubt. But he made it happen!

Wow!!!!  Who wouldn’t admire that?

How many of us with our wealth of special qualities, strengths, experience and goals — often let our dreams go unrequited – and our passion unfulfilled…maybe even eventually forgotten?  

The defining difference between the “Chris Gardners” of the world (and many of you/we are in that camp) is all about ‘will’ (not as in Smith:); belief (in self and a possibility); and commitment (to be all we can and do what we can consistently to actualize our dreams).  You don’t have to strive to be a millionaire.  Any dream will do. 

In Gardner’s website he says his mother, Bettye Jean, was an early inspiration for him. He grew up with hardship – but with loads of love from his mom. She’d say that despite where he came from he could do whatever he set his sights on and achieve his goals. He believed her and felt he’d have to find a career he could be passionate about and one that would allow him to be “world-class at something.”

Sigh. Gotta love that. 

Now over to you: 

  • If you truly believed in yourself and recognized all your gifts, strengths, wealth of experience — what would be possible?
  • What would you be willing to work for and to give it your all?
  • What are you passionate about? If you don’t have the ‘whole’ answer – just tidbits of what gets you going and engages your interest?
  • What would get you out of bed on Monday mornings and say: “Thank Goodness it’s Monday morning! I can’t wait to get to work?”
  • How much stock do you put in to your doubts and what others say to feed those doubts?
  • If you could temporarily quiet some of those doubts what would that other side of yourself say (the knowing and self trusting side)?

 What does “Happyness” at work and in life look like to you?

Five Things You May Not Have Known About Me. Now Your Turn…

January 21, 2007

I just came across a fabulous game of tag that is showing up on quite a few professional blogs this week. It’s  simply an invitation to list 5 things about yourself that others may not have known about you. It’s quite fun and I discovered it on Kim George’s blog – Kim, is a hugely talented and respected coach, consultant and book author — and after reading her post, I now know that she is also a major fan of guitarists, trees and a few other things. 

It’s really a nice thing to learn about people outside of their purely professional ‘identities’. Likewise, people who bring more authenticity to their work and personal lives ( e.g. in this case, share more of themselves) tend to have more fulfilling relationships and experiences.

So before I list my five, I want to first put this into the work-life context. Employee engagement is a huge challenge these days — so it’s worth recognizing that what often engages people at work is the people and relationship factor. People want to be known, understood and appreciated for who they are not just the specific work skills they have. 

What if we brought more of our ‘whole’ selves to our work? What conversation starters would “Five things you didn’t know about me” start in  your work life? What if you brought this to a team level? — e.g. share five things you didn’t know about our department. As a leader, how might sharing a little more of your ‘whole’ self build trust and rapport with others? What perspective are you holding about what is ‘appropriate’ to share at work and how is that serving you?

The possibilities are huge. Got any ideas? Would love to hear them.

But before I forget, here are my five:

  1. When I was just out of university I took a job as a counsellor with a traveling summer camp (Westcoast Connection) and one of the campers was Aimee Fisher (known as the “Long Island Lolita). (more…)

Tips to make the Big-ness of Monday just a little lighter

January 14, 2007

How was your weekend? Too short? Too fast? Not enough time off? Or just right? Mine was great – and it’s not quite over just yet.  I intend to enjoy it right to the end.

But I am taking a moment to write this post on Sunday afternoon because typically that might be the time that those “Sunday blues” start to set in……you start to feel a little disappointment that the weekend is over already; and a bit of anxiety perhaps about the week to come. 

Well, to ease into this Monday here are a few tips to make that perceived ‘heavy lifting” of Mondays seem just a little bit lighter. Please read on…. (more…)

TGIF Already!? Well, thankfully Monday is only 3 days away!:)

January 12, 2007

tgif-cat.gifI hope you realize that I named this blog TGIM Work Life (i.e. Thank G-d it’s Monday) with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek attitude.

As you know I am very passionate and serious about the proposition of loving your work — or at least embracing work as an opportunity to add meaningfully to your life experience. But make no mistake about it….I very much also look forward to my weekends and time off work. And yes, like most people, I am often pulled through the week by the lure of Fridays. I guess you can say that I do hold a TGIF attitude on Fridays. I’d be disingenuous (a liar in plain English) if I claimed otherwise.

But here’s the thing: There is a huge risk associated with having an over-zealous and exclusive TGIF (thank G-d it’s Friday) perspective. If you consistently look at your work week as a race to the finish line, here’s what happens:

  • You race real hard Monday through Thursday trying to just make it to the end of the week…
  • Friday arrives. Still working but relieved — and exhausted….
  • Saturday arrives….(phew…day off….errands…some fun….but it’s fleeting)
  • Sunday arrives… start to get the heavy feeling sometimes referred to as the “Sunday Blues” or “Back to Work Monday Blues”….oh that heavy lifting feeling of the BIGness of Monday.
  • Back to work on Monday and race to the finish line all over again.

In essence — you miss  your life!  With barely a day or so to truly claim as your ‘own’ (plus some evening time…if you can still ‘stand’ after a gruelling day at work:)

Doesn’t sound very fulfilling to me.  That’s why I believe in working towards a TGIM worklife — with all the attitudes and aptitudes to go with it. I want to get the most out of my life experience and since my work takes up a good part of that – well, it’s up to me to do my best to make that happen.

And of course, you can’t do this alone. Employers have to be contributing partners in creating meaningful and engaging work environments.  The environment and fit has to be there too. More about that in future posts.

So before you start your weekend, think about this: Enjoy it to the fullest but be mindful of how you are thinking about returning back to work on Monday. Do you really want to be dreading four of the five work days in your coming week? Do you want to race through it?  Most importantly, do you really want to miss your life? 

Would love to hear from you on what you do to cope with Sunday blues…write, email….as always, your participation in this conversation is most welcome.



Monday Morning Message: Pay Attention!

January 8, 2007

Hey – welcome to a brand new week and for many, the first day back at work. Thought I’d start a tradition of Monday morning messages – with a quote or question or tidbit to inspire. Here’s the first of a series:

 “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.

Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour.

Keep your behaviours positive because your behaviours become your habits.

Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.

Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”


So…what are you thinking?

Finding Flow: Intense work but without the struggle.

January 7, 2007

There’s so much reported angst in today’s workplaces. People are working hard, running hard and balancing increasing loads on their work-life plate. But does hard or ‘intense’ work have to equate with struggle? Absatively not! Before we get too far ahead in this blogging journey I wanted to set one thing straight: A TGIM work-life is not about making work easy per se – but it is about having more ‘ease’ in doing your work….ease as in ‘the wind is at your back…..working with you and not against you.” Most people — particularly leaders (of all levels), high performers and high potentials – want to be challenged, tested, stretched so that they learn, grow and shine at work! That’s part of what makes work meaningful for many people.

Sure – there are a lot of work-life issues that contribute to wear and tear on us and that sense of ‘struggle’. I’ll be dealing with them – you can count on that. But for today, I want to focus on just one question: What does hard work look like without struggle? (more…)

Joy at work? Why not!

January 2, 2007

warehouse-seasons-greetings-w-border.jpgI designed this card for my clients and friends this holiday season. Thought I’d share it with this community given this blog is all about ‘TGIM’ attitudes, aptitudes and altitudes. Click on it for full size.

Here’s to a fresh New Year – why not go for joy at work this year?!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions for Work this Year?

January 2, 2007

I’m not crazy about New Year’s Resolutions in themselves because they are often quick, fleeting statements of hope and wishful thinking — often much backing them up. But I am, however, all for hope, dreams and goals — as long as they are substantiated with firm commitments, planning, actions and whatever else it takes to make them a reality. That’s the difference between meaningful goals and ‘wishful thinking’.

One of my goals this year is to create a compelling forum for TGIM conversation, learning, interaction (hence this blog). This goal is attached to many more of my intentions related to both my work and life in the year ahead.

What about you? What are you wanting from your work-life this year? Have you declared any new goals? How seriously do  you take those goals? Planned for them? Need any support?

Here’s an article I wrote that you may find useful. It will walk you through some exercises related to creating meaningful New Year’s goals, to planning, celebrating and making them happen.

Click here for the article and enjoy!

Back to Work Blues? Beat them with a TGIM Mindset!

January 2, 2007


Going back to work after a holiday can be stressful. Even for people who love their work, the BIGness of starting over can be overwhelming after time off – especially extended breaks like Xmas/New Years. But it happens on weekends too. Ever hear of those Sunday Blues?

 Here are just a few questions and thought-starters to consider to help you get you and your team back into a TGIM mindset after the break.

 1) Are you a dive in or a dip in kind of person? If the former, think about activities that will energize and engage you (and your team) quickly and get you back into high gear. If you are more of an ‘ease into work’ mode, then be mindful of how you schedule those first few hours back. Do you really want to book a high-powered meeting for 8:30 am on the first day back? Would you book that same meeting on a Friday at 4pm before a long weekend?

2) What about your colleagues? If you manage people, be mindful of them as well (it’s not just about you:). Be sensitive and if there’s flexibility in scheduling meetings, be considerate. 

3) What are you thinking? Be mindful of your thoughts because they control how you feel. Back to work blues are often the result of some underlying anxiety. Be clear and aware of what is concerning you so that you can either simply recognize it (which in itself can alleviate a little by being aware); challenge it (sometimes our fears and worries are unfounded); or deal with it. When unchecked (dwelling beneath the surface) our worries can magnify and wreck havoc with our moods.

4) What do you like about  your work and what are you grateful for?  Having a more empowered mindset is a not a condition – it’s a choice. You would be surprised how getting clear and present to the positive side of your work can make a difference. Write down a gratitude list with at least three things you are grateful for and appreciate in your work life (and I challenge you to write more than three….think about your colleagues, the environment, clients, perks, benefits, learning opps, etc.).

Martin Seligma, PH.D., author of Authentic Happiness and founder of the new positive psychology movement says gratitude is one of the key strengths prevalent in people who tend to feel more fulfilled and positive about their work and lives. But remember that gratitude is not a condition. It’s a way of thinking – and you can develop gratitude habits. By intentionally focusing on what you are grateful for, you can significantly shift your mindset and how you feel to a much more positive experience. See more at the Authentic Happiness website .

5) Does back to work mean all work and no fun? It seems all the good times get scheduled before the holiday break with lunches, parties, etc. How about saving some for January? What about a New Year’s team building lunch or exercise? Or is there someone who you’ve been wanting to network with – how about booking a lunch or after work get-together. The key is to build in some work-related activities that you (and/or your team) will look forward to.

6) What else? These are just a few ideas. I’d love to share more ideas with the  TGIM Work-Life community so please do share your strategies, experience….because…..well….Monday is just around the corner. 

 For More See “Thank God…It’s Monday” (Globe and Mail article).

 To Your TGIM Work-life!