Finding Peace of Mind

The hard decision has been made and some final goodbyes have been completed. With the help of a totally wonderful vet, both Bailey and Elliot are comfortable for the time being. But we know that the time we have left with them is very short indeed. Some peace of mind was given to me by our vet when she pointed out that I have been able to give Elliot over four more years than his previous owners were willing to give him. For the last four plus years, she noted that he’s been loved, cuddled, cared for, and wanted more than he ever knew before we rescued him. Bailey also came to us from a bad situation but with the help of both Jessie and Jake, she learned that she was loved again. Peace of mind for Bailey and Elliot will come the moment they reach that very special place where all dogs go. Peace of mind for me will be a bit slower in coming but the knowledge that I was blessed with two more extraordinary pups will help.
The words of kindness and support to our most recent posting have also been very helpful. That gives me the hope that the evil we hear, see, and read about virtually all the time is not an accurate reflection of the truly kind and caring hearts which abound in our world. Strangers are so willing to offer a kind word, a show of support, a path to peace of mind… To my way of thinking, the world is populated with far more good and kindhearted people than it is with evildoers. We just need to shift our focus and attention to those positive role models. They’re all around us, both in human and canine form. Thanks to all of you who shared your kindness. It is very much appreciated.

Making Hard Decisions

How many times have we heard someone – anyone – say that life is not fair? It’s not and I’m not sure it was ever intended to be. Otherwise, we’d never have to face those situations where we have to make difficult and sometimes heart wrenching decisions.
My son and I have had to face a very difficult situation involving one of our pups. With great sadness, we’ve reached the appropriate decision and both of us know that the hole in our hearts won’t ever heal completely. But we know that we love and are loved by one of the best pups ever. What we didn’t expect to deal with is the impact of her cancer on one of our other pups. He’s been at a complete loss with her illness – so much so that those who know this pup best realize that he’ll never survive her passing. It has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. But I now accept that it will be the best decision I can make to have the second pup go home at the same time our first pup starts her journey. He’ll be her protector while she’ll be the reassurance he’ll need to make the journey safely. At the end of their trip, they’ll be greeted by the Dobie I lost to cancer when she was just about 4 years old and they will finally come to that place where they’ll be healed completely, able to play in the sun, chase butterflies, and for the one pup – he’ll never have to be afraid ever again. The hole in my heart will never heal completely and the anxiety and second guessing my son and I have gone through in making this decision has taken its toll.
Making difficult decisions is not easy and sometimes, it’s not fair. But it’s a measure of our faith, and our reliance upon one another that sees us through and helps us grow in knowledge, strength of character, faith, and confidence. Godspeed, Bailey and Elliot. Give Jess a kiss from us. We’ll see you again.

Life Lessons = Karma?

 
Many times we hear of someone receiving a life lesson and folks nod knowingly and murmur something about karma. From what I’ve gathered, karma is another way of talking about how things all seem to balance out, one way or the other.
In trying to understand why I get an occasional figurative smack to the back of my head – one as recently as Monday evening, I took a look at some things I learned when I first entered the military, affectionately known as the three truths in life. Trust me, the subtle filter is in place!
“Time will tell.” This is usually stated when someone questions whether a decision is the right one or not. Time will let us know whether we’ve made the right decision or whether we need to make an adjustment. A modified dose of karma?
“Some things in life will always smell, no matter what we do.” That science experiment in the office fridge, the dirty diaper filled just moments after the old diaper has been removed, the ‘green air’ emitted by our dog just as guests arrive for a formal dinner… You get the picture. Not sure any of these qualify as karma but it is one of life’s truths that some things really do stink. Feel free to make your own decision on this.
“Water will seek its own level.” I think that no matter what I do, things are going to even out at some point in time. And for me, this is where the concept of karma comes in. Water has a way of moving mountains and making its own way – just look at the Grand Canyon, for example. No matter what we do, water makes its way around and through the structures we might place in its path, often to our detriment. Karma? Probably.
So what has this got to do with problem solving? Sometimes, problems come about because we ignore the three truths in life and try to impose our own will, often to our detriment. Sometimes, we simply have to accept things for what they are and work as best we can with them. Taking that approach can be far less stressful than having to clean up the impact of karma and the life lesson we just had dumped into our lap.
Oh, and my most recent life lesson? Trying to rush the rehab on my left wrist. I thought I was finally ready to lift something that weighed about ten pounds. I was but my wrist wasn’t. I’m repainting the kitchen in a few weeks. Karma!

My, oh my!

I got to people watch last week and I don’t think I’m going to surprise anyone by the following observation –

At first glance, there appears to be an increase in instances where coarseness and rudeness direct our everyday interactions with one another.   I watched a number of people in the airport push their way around the person in front of them.  Rather than wait for an opening in the oncoming crowd, these folks decided their journey was so important that they needed to rudely push their way past the obstacle they had determined was in their way.   I’ve seen the same behavior when driving.  I admit my temper almost got the best of me the other week when someone blasted past me on the interstate, driving on the shoulder and kicking up all kinds of gravel and debris. I now have a stone chip in my windshield that needs to be repaired.  Whoever it was got to squeeze in between the car ahead of me and my car.  I suppose he achieved his goal, whatever it was.

Being the eternal optimist that I am and believing that people are not generally rude or coarse for no reason,  I know that stories about people behaving badly get more air time and social media time than stories where everyday people are treating one another with kindness and respect.  The observation of people pushing past others in a mad rush to get out of the airport is offset by the more frequent observation of people taking their time, stopping to help someone obviously struggling with too much luggage, young children, and an airport that apparently has absorbed the entire population of the state of California squeezed into one terminal between Gates A6 and A17.  We need to continue to be kind.  It sets a wonderful example for others, especially our children.  I’ve faced rudeness and coarseness before.  For right now I’m going to continue to follow the philosophy of refusing to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed individual.  Helps keep my stress levels under control.

Persistence

With no subtle filter in place, so far this month has been the “May from Hell.” One of my pups had surgery in late April to address a year old spider bite which had never fully healed. Thank goodness for that because during the surgery the vet discovered a completely encapsulated mass. Had the bite healed properly, we would have discovered this mass probably too late to effectively address it. Now comes the hellish part.
An infection unrelated to the surgery accomplished the removal process of the sutures by literally blowing out the incision just two days before the sutures were to be removed.
Both she and I are blessed that her vet team was/is determined to get her through this. Tests, cultures, exams, etc. have all been done and no satisfactory answer for the source or cause of the infection has been found. Thankfully, her vets won’t give up until my pup is healed and restored to good health. Gotta love persistence.
Wouldn’t it be great if our leaders and managers were just as persistent in finding practical and realistic solutions to the problems facing them? Instead of going for the easy fix, wasting time, money, and human resources, leaders and managers need to buckle down and do the hard work. What is the correct source of the problem? Exactly what is the problem? How can we find the best solutions to resolving this problem? (HINT: It’s not about imposing a solution to address the symptoms – it’s about getting the best people together to correctly identify the problem and work out possible resolutions.) How do we communicate the issue to our organization factually and accurately? Persistence, that’s how. Long hard work that’s firm in its dedication to solving the problem.

Our First Step

A heartfelt thank you to all who have read and shared the recent posts.   Now let’s take our first concrete step toward achieving our goal.

The grass roots movement starts with everyone who has read and shared the posts, talked about them with friends, or have family and friends who are passionate about making this movement a reality joining a meeting near them.  This meeting can be in person, over the phone, via Skype, or whatever means you have to get folks to come together in small groups. This movement already has people who can lead such meetings so please step up!  The focus of the meeting will be to brainstorm and develop 3 – 5 priorities you would like us to focus on.   Notes should be taken of all the ideas on the priorities and the listing forwarded to me.  If at all possible, let’s get our contributions together by the the end of July.

If someone thinks of something they want to see on the list but forgot to mention it in a meeting, send it directly to me.  If you have questions about how to get a meeting organized and creating an agenda, please contact me.  I am a resource for you   The email address is vcswish@gmail.com and direct inquiries are always welcome.

If you reside in the Phoenix, Arizona area, I will be happy to host however many meetings we can to give folks a chance to contribute to the grand list of priorities.  With the help of some very good friends we will compile a master list of all suggestions.  That list will be published in an upcoming post. Your comments on that list will help develop the final list of priorities.

We have to do this.  Our children are depending on us.

A Paradigm Shift

In a recent chat, Jay Block (author of the bestselling, “5 Steps to Rapid Employment”) made the observation that a near record number of job openings had been reported in March.  The problem is finding qualified individuals to fill those positions.  He noted that companies and colleges need to take a more collaborative approach to insure that a skilled workforce is available to fill positions as they open.  Job coaches have to know exactly what skills are needed so they can do a better job of coaching and advising their clients in identifying and mastering the skill sets needed.  That’s where the new paradigm shift needs to come in.  In my assessment, communities, companies, and colleges need to enter into effective partnerships. Companies can use the colleges to help insure that individuals are taught the necessary skills to be productive employees.  Colleges can use the companies as sources of information on what skills are needed, and to help their students land well paying jobs.  Communities need to support such collaborations because as companies relocate, communities need to be able to provide quality neighborhoods, public schools, and community services.

This partnership cannot be in name only, just because it looks good in a press release.  The partnership has to be an active, collaborative one. Communities that fail to support such partnerships will lose out on having companies relocate to their area, thereby losing out on the revenue income as a result of new people moving into the community.  Colleges will lose out on the chance to increase enrollments, and companies will lose out on having qualified workers readily available.

Now the challenge is to find community leaders, business leaders, and leaders within higher education willing to let go of the past and implement effective new approaches.

My Goodness!

Recently, I watched a news conference and witnessed something I never thought I would see in a chief executive – an exquisite non-verbal temper tantrum worthy of a two year old.  Now you know that seeing such behavior got me to thinking.  Are we aware of the non-verbal messages we send?

Any leadership or management class will teach us about the importance of attending to the non-verbal cues in any communication.  The various communication theories tell us that the majority of our interpersonal communication is non-verbal.  Are we cognizant of the non-verbal messages we send?  When a colleague is speaking do we glance at our watch, perhaps more than once?  What message did we just send?  When we are involved in conflict management, do we listen to opposing opinions with arms crossed?  If we make eye contact are we doing so in an aggressive manner, daring the individual to continue to publicly disagree with us?  Do we get aggressive in our stances, invade the other individual’s personal space?  Do we engage in non-verbal tantrums to let people know we are displeased?  Are we aware of what we are doing?

Here is a key point.  I do not know about you but I want my colleagues to disagree with me.  Their viewpoints and perspectives are critical to keeping me focused on our goal – resolve the problem in the best possible manner.  I am not diminished because someone has the temerity to disagree with me or point out where my approach might need some improvement.  I think we all improve our decision making when our staffs and colleagues provide honest assessments of those decisions.  I work hard to create a work environment where people provide constructive criticism.  The end result makes us all look good – an effective, realistic resolution to a difficult problem.

Change

For the past week I’ve made it a point to spend a few minutes watching the night sky,  marveling at the vision of the crescent moon in line with Venus and Jupiter.  We’ve just experienced the summer solstice and the axis tilt has occurred without incident.  We’ll experience another change with the winter solstice.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could plan all our changes within our organizations and have them go as smoothly as the changing constellations in the night sky and the axis tilt with each solstice?

Change in any setting can be stressful.  As leaders, we have a responsibility for insuring that changes are implemented as needed and done so in such a way that our staffs continue to know that they are vital members of the organization.  Any time a change is implemented without first informing the staff, we ask for problems.  The biggest problem will be addressing the perception that our people’s contributions to the organization are no longer valued and they, as individuals, have no further value.

Effective leaders will empower their staff members to encourage them to take a vested interest in the successful implementation of change.  They can be trusted sources of information on potential problems and possible resolutions.  Leaders can be effective role models by showing their staffs that they know some changes are necessary and some changes are implemented to try out new ideas and stimulate creativity.  For whatever reason change is implemented, quality leaders will need to take the time to reassure their staff and properly convey that each individual is valued.  That approach will go a long way toward insuring a successful change.

Change or Chaos?

Implementing change, even in the best of times, can be problematic and frustrating. If you want a real life example, did you see Tiger Woods’ less than stellar performance at this year’s Phoenix Open?  It raised a question in my mind – why would one of the best golfers in history seek out advice from recent swing coaches who, in my assessment, apparently rely heavily upon reading books and observing others?  Isn’t that like going to an elephant trainer to learn how to ride a horse?  Obviously Tiger has chaos, not change.

As the leader of your organization, do you want to do something better than Tiger?  Successful implementation of change means involving key players in the development of your implementation plan.  Would it surprise you to learn that your key players may not be the people you think of first?  Your key players are those folks who know their jobs better than anyone else in your organization and can talk easily to you about those jobs.  They constantly seek out opportunities to improve their skills, expand their knowledge, and share that with the team.   They have an inherent desire to excel and to give the organization their best every day. Identify those folks, engage them in a dialog (you ask questions and then actively listen to their responses) and task them with developing a realistic plan to implement the changes needed.  I think you’ll be pleased with how smoothly that whole process goes.

Oh, and a note to Tiger – drop the swing coaches and go talk to  the legends in golf like Arnie, Jack, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Gary Player and others who have proven their greatness. You’ll gain more from a session or two with these stellar players than from all the folks you’ve hired recently.