Archive for the ‘Back to work Blues’ Category

Positivity at Work

October 28, 2013

NOTE: This was originally posted on my Big Cheese Coaching blog:

I’ve been swimming blissfully in the study and application of positivity for quite some time and lately have ramped it up a notch. I have always been hugely interested in and engaged with the science of positivity. I think it’s part of my innate DNA — but also very much a learned skill too.


Recently, I’ve joined a group of global participants in an eight week  learning opportunity: a master class on positivity lead by the Barbara Fredrickson, the pre-eminent expert on the science of positive emotions and author of Positivity and Love 2.0.  This has been an amazing experience (and we’re not yet done).

I’ve also had the opportunity to bring the topic of positivity to several workshops and presentations lately (talking to staff at Sick Kids Hospital, UoT, Administrative Professionals Conference, Red Mountain Resort) and have more on the horizon.  It’s been tremendous fun and the participants seem to have really enjoyed the sessions. Check out the recent testimonials.

I just wrote an article for the Globe and Mail on the positivity advantage  (as part of my “Brain Works” series). It’s been getting a ton of buzz. You can read it here.

I’m learning so much  (from my studies and ‘living it’). Here are just a few tidbits.

1) Positivity matters: It is not just a ‘nice to have’. It is truly an essential ingredient to your success and well-being. There’s over 20 years of hard scientific evidence that links positive emotions with better health, improved brain and cognitive function, greater personal efficacy, a heightened ability to connect and a spark plug to boost your mojo (and much more….but hey, that’s plenty to convince me).

2) It’s in us already – we just need to tap into it with new habits: Positivity isn’t dependent on circumstances. Positive emotions can reside side by side with a range of emotions – even the not-so-positive. We just need to be intentional and learn easy yet authentic ways to tap into our positivity reservoir.

3) We need a steady and diversified diet of positivity: Good nutrition tells us to get a steady and ample diet of fruits and vegetables (and other essential food groups). Likewise, for well-being, we need a steady, ample diet of positive “moments”. Most people go with less than the recommended allotment. It’s not as hard as one may think to get your ‘dose’.  It can be just a thought away – or an intention to be present to moments that might offer you joy, gratitude, inspiration and more.

4) Positivity comes in moments: It’s not about getting to a permanent state. Positivity comes in moments and are fleeting. Still, if we get enough (a minimum of 3 positive thoughts to one negative) we will benefit from all the rewards.

Curious? Want more? Here’s how to tap into this further:

1) Read my latest Globe and Mail article for some high-level ideas and tips.

2) Get ready for Ease, my upcoming book soon to be released. It includes a lot of strategies on how to hone the positivity advantage.

3) Invite me to speak to your people (conference, employees, etc.) Have a look what others have said about my sessions.

4) Engage in coaching – this is my sweet spot and I’d love to help you hone your positivity advantage!

More to come but lots to dive into RIGHT NOW!

Enjoy and may you live with Ease and Well-being.


Labour Day: How Are You Celebrating Work …..?

September 3, 2012

Happy Labour Day! Are you working? Thinking abour work? Or taking a last day off before the onslaught of work and the busy season ahead? Or maybe a bit of all of the above?

Labour Day’s origin’s go way back in Canada to 1872. Traditionally it was a day to advocate for and/or celebrate workers’ rights. Back then, there was great effort to campaign for worker’s rights to have a 9 hour day. 

Hmmm. Times have changed. Labour Day is now a chance for one of the last hurrahs’ of summer. And 9 hour work days?? What are those? Increasingly most people are experiencing the blur of work and life lines. The dividers we once knew no longer exist. We check our emails on our smart phones while on the dock at the cottage? Tuck in a few hours of work on Sunday (or holiday Monday) before the ‘official’ work week begins.

While traditional paradigms of work-life balance have changed, we still need to take a stand for our own ‘sense of balance’ and in that I mean balancing our energy, mojo and time for stuff inside and outside of work. 

For myself – my approach tends to be a blend. I often do a bit of work on ‘days off’ and squeeze in ‘life time’ on ‘days on’. But according to Dr. Greg Wells, a scientist and ‘extreme human physiologist’, we need to pay attention to recovery more so than the ongoing ‘balance’.

I heard Wells speak at the Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology. Wells who works with Olympians and elite athletes skyped from London just as the Olympics were about to start. He was reporting for the CTV news network.  

Wells said one of the things Olympians and high performance athletes do really well that contributes to their high performance is they know how to recover well. In their training they stress themselves continuously to reach new heights. But most importantly, they know how to recover better, faster and for more sustaining performance.  

Recovery is actually a strategy in itself. You don’t have to be an Olympian to incorporate this into your life. We all can benefit from learning to recover better and faster from stress and demands of our work (and life). This will not only improve our capacity for greater performance in work and life but we’ll boost our mojo and wellbeing. 

 Try the 1,3,2 Principle: Most of us will agree that the demands of work and life these days make it difficult to achieve a ‘balance’ each day/week/month so instead make sure you build in ample ‘recovery time’. Wells talked about using the 1.3,2 principle. This is about building in time to completely unplug from work.

1 hour (minimum) of total recovery a day

3 full days (minimum) of recovery a month…preferably continuous, not separate

2 weeks (minimum) of full recovery a year….preferably continuous, not separate

 Recovery activities may look different to each of us. The key is to completely unplug from work AND be intentional in creating a meaningful recovery strategy to build into your days/month and year so that you truly do refresh, rest and rebuild your resevoir of energy.

So on this Labour Day weekend, as you face the oncoming ‘busy season’, take a moment and ask yourself what your recovery and resilience strategies will be? And how can you put the 1,3,2 principle into action as you dive into the new season?

Here’s to resilience, energy and mojo in your work life in the coming season!


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Is September the New January? 5 Questions to Get Your Seasonal Mojo in Gear

August 27, 2012

New beginnings, fresh starts, emails tinging and phones-a-ringing (more than usual). Can you feel it? The hustle bustle of September is looming.

I sometimes wonder if September is the new January. People are recalibrating goals, making plans and gearing up. It feels like a new year. It is for kids going back to school but for adults – well, maybe September represents a new year in the ‘school of work and life’ ?  

I confess, as much as I am looking forward to the fall season, I am also holding on tight — real tight — to the last bits of summer. I’m always a bit sad to see summer end. So I have to self manage that duality — feeling excited yet sad at the same time. So the question I ask myself each year at this time is: How do I get into the right frame of mind as I stand on the cusp of summer’s end and fall’s beginning? This is all about balancing my ‘seasonal mojo’!

How about you? Where-ever you are – here are some guiding questions to help you get your seasonal mojo into gear as fall approaches.

5 Questions to Get Your ‘Seasonal Mojo” into Gear:

1) What are you looking forward to this fall? Write it all down – the professional stuff, the personal stuff and anything that’s pulling you positively towards the new season, large or small. For myself, I’m starting new projects, working with new clients and have a new website in the works (coming soon!). I’ve got a book in progress — and more. Personally, I can’t wait for Toronto’s International Film Festival, new theatre subscriptions — and the gorgeous autumn leaves.  My list goes on but those are just a few examples.

Now your turn. Go on…get it down in writing. See what comes up.

2) Where Are You With Your Goals? Got any? Need to recalibrate? Goals are essential for fulfillment and professional and personal wellbeing. Without goals, our ‘mojo’ can wilt. So as you look to the new season, make sure your goals are fresh, right-sized and meaningful to you for the season ahead. Consider both the professional goals and personal goals and write them out, tell others. Goals that are declared in writing and/or shared with others are more likely to be activated than those that we simply keep to ourselves in our thoughts. 

If you are feeling a bit stuck in this area, get in touch. I am doing a lot of new work in this area. Not just short-term seasonal goals but also the BHAG kinds (big, hairy, audacious goals) that set the vision for a new life chapter. I can help!

3) What do you need to clean up before the season starts?  I just called my tech saviour and booked an appointment to tune up my computer before the hustle bustle of fall. I need my computer to be in tip-top shape because we are going to be busy! How about you? What do you need to get cleaned up and ready for fall?

4) What were your favorites moments/experiences of Summer 2012?  Being  in  the moment is so important but so is carrying over those memorable experiences. Research within the field of positive psychology has proven the act of ‘savoring’ can greatly boost your wellbeing over time. So take some time to think about, write about and talk about those joyful moments of summer 2012. Name and claim them in celebration. It will be good for you!

5) Good to the last bit? How will you enjoy the last weeks/days of summer? As you look ahead to fall, don’t forget to make plans to enjoy the last bits. What will you do in the days/weeks ahead?

To TGIM Work + Life in All Our Seasons!



Wellbeing: My Word for 2012…..And You Can Have It Too.

January 9, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot about wellbeing lately.  Guided by my year-end/new year reflection questions (“12 Questions To Complete The Year And Start Anew“), my attention’s really been focused on question #9: “In what ways will you take care of your ‘mojo’ – resilience, energy, inspiration and sense of wellbeing?”.  So much so that I think “Wellbeing” is my theme word for 2012 – personally and professionally.  Maybe time to update the bio? 🙂

Wellbeing. It packs a lot of punch doesn’t it? At first glance it might seem like it’s all about health (wellness) – and to a great extent it is — but it’s so much more too.  Emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, financial wellbeing…….personal wellbeing, professional wellbeing, organizational and community wellbeing…..the list goes on and so much goes into each facet.

This word gives me a visceral hit. It feels so authentic and envelops so much that I’m passionate about both personally and professionally.  Ironically, it’s not a new concept to me. It’s been there all the time. In my work as a coach (Big Cheese Coaching) I help people navigate their work and life in a way that fosters more meaning, joy, success and fulfillment. I specialize in emotional intelligence for leaders (of all levels) and pay great attention to the skills (personal, professional) we need — in pursuit of our various work/life goals — to be our best, to be happy and to create environments and relationships that foster ‘TGIM’ (thank goodness it’s Monday) attitudes and aptitudes for all. Isn’t that all about personal, professional and organizational wellbeing? 

And concurrently for the last 9+ years, I have a professional relationship (providing communications advice and service) with an organization that is all about financial wellbeing – setting standards for financial planning.  Who can argue that one’s financial life can have an enormous impact on one’s personal wellbeing? 

And yes, the fitness side of things…with a degree in fitness from Mcgill (my first career with a continued lifelong interest) I was heavily involved in promoting fitness and wellbeing for nearly 10 years. 

So nothing has changed – yet everything has changed. Because sometimes a word, theme or phrase has the power to remind us of what is important and what we stand for.  Naming and claiming a word can illuminate what’s already there but perhaps needs to be brought more into focus. Or at least it can serve as an anchor or central theme to encompass disparate pieces that have more value when you look at the ‘whole’ vs. just the parts. 

So yes, “Wellbeing” does that for me and it’s my word for 2012. It’s in my focus for my own life and for my clients who come to me to be better leaders and/or to have more success and fulfilment in various contexts of their work and life.

Of course I realize I’m not alone in loving this word.  I’m in good company. It’s everywhere these days. The health and wellness world have a piece of it; the financial industry; and even economists are incorporating wellbeing into measures of what makes for a strong, healthy economy.  And one of my favorite sources of ideas and inspiration: the field of positive psychology. In fact, the guru of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, frames his latest book “Flourish” as a ‘visionary new understanding of happiness and wellbeing’ (great book and brilliant guy). And of course, wellbeing is a central theme to the EQi (emotional intelligence assessments).

I welcome the ‘crowds’ (there’s room for all) and am staking my place on “planet wellbeing”.  Care to join in?

If you are wanting to create more joy, optimism, success, energy, peace of mind (and the list goes on) in your work and life this year — professionally and personally — then I invite you to hop on board the Wellbeing train too. Not sure how to get there? I can help!  

Wellbeing.  It’s my word and now you can have it too. You’ve got my word.

Now let’s get to work — and create success and wellbeing in 2012 with a TGIM work + life!


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If You Attended the IFCA Conference…

October 18, 2010

On Monday, I presented the opening keynote presentation at the IFCA Conference A group of about a 100 communications professionals who work in the financial and insurance industry in North America gathered in Montreal for their annual conference. The topic of my presentation was “TGIM Work-Life” (sound familiar?).  It was a great group and I had a superb time exchanging ideas about ‘what it is to love your work’ and strategies for a TGIM work-life!

I promised I’d put together a package of past posts that reflect further on the ideas I presented. 

Here they are – enjoy! (and no worries if you were not at the conference, they are relevant for anyone interested in creating more success and fulfillment at work and life).

BY THE WAY…I also just discovered a cool new feature available now on this blog (thanks to WordPress!). If you send a comment on any of my posts, you will have the option of subscribing to this blog and receiving all future posts by email. Cool, eh? 🙂

The Perils of TGIF  

Tips to Make the Bigness of Monday Just a Little Lighter

 The Lizard Who Wouldn’t Eat (strengths)

Thank Gd it’s Monday

 Happiness is Contagious

 Bring Thanks to a Thankless Culture

 Ramp up the People Part of Your Leadership

 Finding Flow: Intense Work but Without the Struggle

Coaches Don’t Always Demand More Push-Ups (About Tribute Communities)

Are Smart Goals Dumb?

 To a TGIMworklife every day of the week!


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Happiness Coaching Seeps into the Workplace

February 7, 2010

There’s an article in the Wall Street Journal that has been picked up by many other papers, including Globe and Mail  careers called “Happiness coaching seeps into the workplace”. It’s worth a read.

The article talks about how the positive psychology movement is making its way into the workplace culture. It identifies positive habits such as: expressing gratitude (say ‘thank you’ please:), being more present, recognizing success in effort and process vs. only outcome — and much, much more. 

I must say as a coach who specializes in ‘engagement’ – this article is very validating. Truthfully, I’ve always thought of myself as a ‘fulfillment coach’ — albeit I work on many different leadership (and life) coaching agendas, it always starts with one’s inner game and what makes them tick (core values, strengths, etc.). My marketing materials refer more to this as ‘engagement’ — a more acceptable term  in corporate circles. But these past few years, the word ‘happiness’ is gaining credibility and seen as an important facet to success, individually and organizationally. Some nations have even declared a Happiness Index as being integral to the country’s prosperity and success.

How’s your MOJO?  Turns out, Marshall Goldsmith (renouned exec coach) has just launched a book called “Mojo” which is described as emphasizing the ‘positive spirit toward what we are doing now starting from the inside.”

I’ve been referring to Mojo for years (ask my clients!). This  reference to “Mojo” is not of the Austin Powers variety – but more related to one’s mood, emotional state, sense of connectedness, etc. 

Inner Game focus:  The article talks about the new inner game focus — but it’s not new. Perhaps more ‘newly noticed’. This term was coined by Timothy Galway and is a very common approach used by anyone professionally trained in coaching (including yours truly). That said, when an article from the WSJ says it’s the latest greatest — well who am I to argue? I say bring it on….or rather, bring ‘more of it on’.

WEBINAR: Beat the Workplace Blahs: Last year, I presented a webinar that focused very much on all these inner game, positive psych strategies. I called it:  Beat the Workplace Blahs . You can still listen to it – you just have to quickly register online.  It’s full of tips and thoughts that are referred to in the WSJ article.

Hope you enjoy.

Till then, here’s to your TGIM worklife from the inside-out!


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Soup’s On! …for Employee Engagement

February 4, 2010

Who doesn’t like a good bowl of steaming, home-made soup? Especially during the cold winter months – soup can really warm up the soul.

(My own home-made beet borscht!)

Well  – turns out soup can also warm up the ‘soul’ of a company according to internationally acclaimed Diamond + Schmitt Architects. Featured in the Toronto Star, this company has “soup day” every Thursday in the third floor kitchen of their office. But this isn’t soup to order: each week a different employee dons the chef’s hat and is responsible for brewing up the batch – from scratch.

Selected as one of Canada’s best-managed companies, Diamond refers to this initiative “a culinary project on workplace convergence.” And according to Jack Diamond, head of the firm, “..activities like this create a sense of community at a time of day the staff might otherwise be stepping out to a cafe or stressfully hunched over their desk with a sandwich.”

 Now that’s a recipe for collegiality and inspiration!

Is there something about builders? They seem to get it. Another builder who gets it is Tribute Communities – they earned an International Coach Federation Prism award for their Engagement at Work initiative. Disclaimer: I was involved in coaching and leading that project. 

Soup is one (great!) idea. There are so many more. One of my clients in the financial services industry was out last week with her co-workers building a house with Habitat.

So how about you? What are your experiences with activities that are meant to rally the troupes and build more ‘community’ at work? What’s working? What’s missing that may offer an opportunity to address?

I was interviewed for an article on this topic that was published in the Canadian HR Reporter. You can read it here.

In the meantime, to soup and other strategies to foster that TGIM work-life!


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Goals Inspire; Intentions Actualize

January 1, 2010

Welcome to 2010! It’s still fresh and early on the first day of a whole new year. What kind of year will you create? This is a great time of year to set some new goals, intentions and make plans for what you want to create in the months and year ahead.

Resolutions are so passe. Too focused on fixing things. They rarely last. Goals, however, if framed right, can inspire, motivate and  energize you.  They are especially helpful if you have a bit of the back to work blues this January. Goals add meaning, focus and purpose to your life and work. They don’t have to be big. They can come in all shapes or sizes.

E.g. learn a new skill; advance an area of knowledge or competency; or fulfill a long-held dream of ___ (whatever that may mean to you).

Declaring goals is good. Declaring and committing to intentions to support these goals is even better.  Intentions are declarations of commitments of what you will do and how you will be to actualize your goals.  If goals are the engine that inspire, then think of  intentions as the  gas that propels and gets that engine working.

E.g. If a goal is to advance a particular skill, then the intention might be to enrol in a course, practice x times a week, get a mentor, etc.  Intentions can be concrete actions. They can also be a way of ‘being’.  For instance “I will be tenacious and relentless in my efforts to advance this skill.”

My goals: I’ve got a whole bunch of goals for 2010, particularly for my business, Big Cheese Coaching and my new practice area, called “UNretiredLife“. And I’ve got goals for other areas in my work and life as well.

For each of those goals, I have plans, strategies and ideas. And intentions (aka commitments) for what I need to do and be to actualize this. Let me share just a few:

1) I intend to be more in touch with my community of readers, clients, network and others. That means writing posts more regularly, sending out newsletters, more meaningful networking, etc. This is all connected to a variety of broader goals related to advancing my work.

2) I intend to be mindful of my perfectionism gremlin that sometimes gets in my way of my sharing news and updates more regularly. This is related to the first intention. You see, I never have nothing to say. Often it’s a matter of too much to say. Often, I get stuck when I feel I haven’t gotten it down ‘just right’. So I’m committing to letting go of that and sharing when I have something meaningful to offer.  It’s a bit of a “Just do it” intention.

3) I intend to practice more patience with myself and monitor my pace. Ahh, that pace thing. Yes, this intention is connected to my goals related to fulfillment, peace and effectiveness. I (like others) often fall into that ‘human doing’ trap and the frenzy of ‘rush’. I have so much enthusiasm and passion for all that I want to do – and often want to take on too much. It’s frustrating when I can’t get to it all (sound familiar?)!  In the long term, this doesn’t serve me well. Nor does it serve my clients if I lose my energy, resilience, etc.  So part of this will be a continual check-in on my energy, my commitments (reality check with what I set out to do with what’s ‘do-able’), etc.

Ohhh, there are more.  But this post isn’t meant to be all about me. It’s meant to inspire some reflection for yourself.  Hopefully, my sharing has you thinking of some of your own goals and the intentions you need to commit to in order to actualize those goals.


What goals do you have for 2010?

What intentions do you need to declare to ensure you follow through?

What do you need to do (actions, behaviours) and who do you need to be in all your ‘doing’ to honour these goals in the most meaningful and fulfilling manner?

If you need some more inspiration, here are a few other related past posts that may be useful:

Bored at Work – Time for a New Goal

Fresh Start to the New Year (a primer on setting meaningful goals and developing a plan to follow)

Thank G-d it’s Monday (Globe and Mail article inspired by this blog)

Before I sign off, it should be noted that as I re-read this post before I hit ‘publish’ I am noticing how ‘unperfect’ it is. I can write more; say it better; etc, etc.  But in light of my new intention….I’m going to ‘just do it’ (hit the publish button:)

Happy New Year — here’s to your TGIM work-life!


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Go Ahead and Laugh…

June 19, 2009

When was the last time you had a big belly laugh? You know the kind that gets you practically crying and aching in your belly, cheeks, etc. Ahhh, those are fun.


(from Flickr – by Yanming)

Well, if you haven’t had one in a while, no worries, there’s help! No I’m not about to tell a joke – instead, I want to share a link to a fabulous person who can make you laugh.

A friend of mine – Wendy Woods of Watershed Training Solutions — is  a Laughter Yoga specialist (amongst other training talents). She is so good, she was recently profiled on Entertainment Tonightyou can see the video on her site.

If your team, company or any group of people can use a chuckle, give her a call.  Get her to come in on a Monday morning….now that will bolster the TGIM spirit!! 🙂

Give it a try. It’s good for you!


Webinar: 900+ registered for my “Beat the Work-life Blahs”

February 13, 2009

Further to my post on February 3rd, I just found out that more than 900 people have registered for my Webinar: Beat the Work-life Blahs, hosted by CICA on February 19th at 12:30 est.

Wow. That’s a lot of people. This year the ‘blahs’ have kicked in with a lot more ‘kick’ wouldn’t you say?

Some words of encouragement: only 5 weeks till spring which usually lightens the spirits a bit. But if you can’t wait (and why should you!?) — then check out the webinar.  I’ll offer a lot more tips/strategies to put some spring in your step well ahead of spring:)

If you can’t make it, I think there may be a recording that I may be able to post afterwards. I will look into that.

In the meantime, to a TGIM work-life and for those of us in Ontario – happy family day (for Monday)!