Monthly Archives: December 2011

Don’t Forget to Stretch

Flexibility. Resilience. These characteristics help us respond to adversity, unexpected trauma, and make for more nimble relationships. They also help buffer us from negativity at work.

For some, relational flexibility comes natural. For others, it takes intentional work. I’m in the later group.  If you’re like me, as you ease your way back into the work week, don’t forget to stretch. And, if you’re taking the rest of the week off to renew and refresh, use some of your time to increase your flexibility and resilience.

Read something you don’t normally read. Call (not text, email, or write on their wall) someone you don’t normally call. Break routine. Spend time stretching.



“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”


May you find it today and always.

Building Genuine Connections

How genuine are your connections:

  • with employees?
  • with customers?
  • with colleagues?
  • with patients?
  • with clients?

Genuine connections are sincere, authentic relationships that are built on trust and mutuality. As our world becomes increasingly mediated, where what is “real,” authentic and trustworthy is questionable, genuine connections become even more important than before.

What can you do to increase the genuineness of your connections? How would your business or professional practice look if you had even more genuine connections with customers? What would it take for you to expand your network of genuine connections?

Offer value.

Be sincere.

Don’t try to be all things to all people.

Express gratitude.

Keep Your Advice to Yourself (Unless it’s Really Good)

I’ve recently found myself the recipient of unsolicited advice. It sounded something like this: “You know, you really should be doing…”

Unsolicited advice is generally ineffective because it assumes that the recipient doesn’t know what’s best for her or himself. And that they do not have the capacity to find their own answers.

It also assumes that the advice giver’s experiences are both relevant to the receiver, and that the conditions in which the recipient is in are comparable to those of the giver.

So here’s a little advice (assuming that you reading to this point implies a degree of openness to advice):

If you are the type who likes to give unsolicited advice, regardless of your intentions, resist the urge. Listen to others. Ask more than you tell. Get curious about how they might solve a problem or what actions they might take. Ask the receiver, “Would you like advice or would you just like me to listen?” And for goodness sake, only offer advice if it’s relevant, useful, ethical, and good.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of advice, take it with a grain of salt. Everyone has advice and most of it is bad, irrelevant, and ego-centered. Consider the context in which the advice giver’s experiences took place. Are these relevant to your situation? If not, point that out. Redirect the conversation. AND remain open. Some advice is good. Sift the wheat from the chaff.

This whole episode of receiving advice made me rethink the T.S. Eliot quotation in my email signature: “And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place.”

The Gift of Frustration

We all get frustrated at work. Colleagues say insensitive things. Patients cancel appointments. Co-workers miss deadlines. There’s too much happening. There’s not enough happening. Too many meetings. Too little time.

Moments of frustration have, at there core, gifts and important insights about how we are at work. What makes us (and our team) tick. And what could make us even more effective together.

Are you accepting the gift of frustration? Or are you resisting it? How is this resistance impacting your performance?

Try using your next moment of frustration at work as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. Your leader. Your team.

What do you notice? What helps you get “unfrustrated?” How do these “unfrustrating” behaviors change your results?

When Inspiration Happens (or Doesn’t)

When inspiration strikes, will you be ready? Will your mind be quiet enough and will your heart be open enough to receive the wisdom that graces each one of us at some point?

How do you have to be to prepare yourself for the gift of inspiration?

Noticing, wondering, embracing, appreciating, and responding. These are phases being graced with inspiration.

Notice more. Embrace the gift of inspiration. Appreciate and express more gratitude for moments of inspiration.

Express gratitude for the moments when there is no inspiration. Respond to inspiration–that may include appreciating, planning, or acting on the creative connections with which you have been graced.

Create space, quiet space for inspiration to bubble up. Create a daily appreciative practice. Write things down. Don’t try to force it. Take a walk. A warm shower. A run. Watch your thoughts. Say nice things about people.

Thank you.

7 Strategies for Energizing Small Business Employees

I’m spending some time this week with a close friend who owns a successful wellness practice in metro Atlanta, GA: John’s Creek Wellness Center.

During my trip, I’ve realized that one of the challenges of being a small business owner is developing and energizing talented employees.

Limitations: Time, Money, and Expertise

Leaders of small businesses don’t have the luxury of in-house training and development consultants, coaches, and organizational development tools.

In Dr. Joe’s case, when he’s not seeing patients, coaching, or tending to the operations of his business, he’s staying current on cutting edge research on integrative wellness, and launching new programs like his Working to Wellness system, in order to better serve his clientele and the Greater Atlanta community.

All to say, for the small business owner, time, money, and expertise are barriers to boosting energy, engagement, and employee morale. The good news is that boosting employee energy doesn’t have to be costly.

7 Strategies for Energizing your Small Business

Here are 7 strategies for small business owners to help them energize their workplace:

1. Invest in your personal/professional development: Seek out a certified coach or a reputable consultant to support you in developing an energy-centered plan that fits your business context. You are the Chief Energy Officer of your small business, so equip yourself with the knowledge, tools, and enable yourself to start acting like one. When you are accountable for the energy and climate in your workplace, it will be recognized.

2. Make sure employees know what you and your business stand for. What are your mission, vision, and values? Don’t have any yet? What a great opportunity to involve your employees in defining what you stand for. What differentiates you from others in your industry, region, and market? Think global AND local. Your local flavor and/or service to your community may be an energizing element of your employee value proposition and you may not even know it.

3. Express gratitude to your employees for the value that they add to your business. Say thank you and let people know that their good work matters. This is the cheapest, easiest, and one of the most effective ways of building positive energy. When expressing appreciation be timely, be specific, and be sincere.

4. Create space to celebrate successes–big and small. If you don’t have regular staff meetings, try implementing them. Use these meetings to celebrate a good week, month, or quarter. Also, use meetings to gather input from your employees about what’s working and what could be even more effective.

5. Enable employees to “Wow” customers, clients, or patients. Give employees the tools, equipment, and flexibility to create an extraordinary experience for your clientele. Provide training sessions to close skills gaps that are meaningful to employees and that align with your business objectives. You may be able to offer a training seminar on your own, or trying connecting with local universities and/or independent consultants to tailor energizing programs for you and your staff.

6. Create space for reflection and renewal. A well designed off-site retreat that allows employees to discuss task related issues (e.g., strategic priorities for the next quarter) and relationship related matters (e.g., how are we working as a team? How do we want to be with each other as a team? How are people experiencing the quality of communication in the business? What would make working relationships even more effective?).

7. Personalize your relationship with employees and Dream Big with them. What makes your employees tick? What do they “want to be when they grow up?” How might you help them achieve their dreams while also growing your business?

Many thanks to my friends at John’s Creek Wellness Center for sharing their experiences with me, helping me boost my physical wellbeing, and providing me with an inside look at the challenges and possibilities of creating a high-energy small business.

Positive Energy in Organizational Transactions

Organizational transactions (i.e., mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures) require a great deal of energy. The work and working relationships that must be managed during transactions are anything but “business as usual.”

A recent Towers Watson report on “Using the Power of Managers in an M&A” presents compelling data that there is much OD practitioners can do to leverage the power of managers during transactions.

How one leverages the positive energy of managers, however, is both a matter of “what” and, perhaps more importantly, “when” positive work with managers is done.

Towers’ research defines three critical phases of transaction: Secure, Stabilize, and Sustain.

The figure above illustrates the degree of involvement that OD consultants might play across the phases of securing, stabilizing, and sustaining.

Use this figure to determine what type of management engagement/development activities you might plan to implement during the Secure phase (red), the Stabilize phase (yellow), and the Sustain phase (green).

What do you notice about the degree of involvement? Is this consistent with your practice and experiences in M&A activities? How might have the energy for change been boosted had you followed this model?

How to Maximize your New Year’s Resolution (NYR)

Resolution (n): a firm decision to do or not to do something. Oxford American Dictionary.

“Oh, geez–Here comes 2012. What do I want to do more of? Less of? What should I start doing? What should I stop doing?”

Many people struggle with making a NYR and commit to do things on December 31st or January 1st out of guilt or obligation to the process of making an NYR.

While the scenario described above is fine for those who want to attempt to make positive change in their work life of personal life, it is not the best approach for maximizing a NYR.

Here’s a better approach for getting the most out of a NYR:

1. Start exploring your desired results for the year ahead now. Don’t wait.

2. Don’t explore alone. Find a trusted partner to help you reflect on your resolution (e.g., a best friend, your boss, your spouse, a professional coach, or a spiritual guide).

3. Consider the following questions:

  • What will you and those around you gain from this commitment?
  • Are the results you seek realistic and achieveable?
  • With what personal strength or core value is this commitment aligned?
  • What might you need to stop doing or do less of to make time for this new thing?
  • How will you know when you’ve been successful in integrating your resolution into your life?

4. Resolve to do something that you really want to commit to, not  something that you think you should do. “Shouldy” commitments lead to “shouldy” results.

5. Hold yourself accountable for your results. How will you measure your success? What support or specific tools do you need to help you on this journey? What are the consequences for not following through on this commitment?

6. Resolutions: They’re not just for New Year’s Eve anymore. While the end of the year makes perfect sense for resolutions, when you’ve integrated and/or succeeded throughout the year, move the flag up the mountain. Resolve again. And again.

7. If your serious about your commitment, then get the support you need to enable your success. Support might include a coach or community to help you measure your progress.  Support could also come in the form of a a cool tool or App. This is a great App to support people committing to better physical wellbeing.

Personal growth isn’t easy; that’s why so many people stop evolving or simply give up. Resolutions and commitments are your responsibility and yours alone. Best of luck on your journey; and here’s to thriving in 2012!

Thriving: 10 Strategies for Increasing it at Work

Extraordinary results demand vitality and learning. The highest performing organizations are starting to direct attention toward factors and strategies that enable THRIVING at work.

Gretchen Spreitzer is Chair of Management and Organizations in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Her work on THRIVING has been very useful to my OD practice and coaching. Here’s how it works:

Vitality is measured in terms of feeling alive, energized, full of spirit. Learning is measured by continuous growth and a sense of personal development.


Thriving is significantly correlated with:

  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Lower burnout and fatigue
  • Higher individual performance
  • Higher organizational commitment
  • AND, better physical health


1. Learn to lead and manage vitality and energy.

2. Enable deeper self-awareness among high-potentials using coaching.

3. Create learning and growth opportunities in daily interactions and meetings.

4. Ask co-workers and employees what energizes them. Do more of this.

5. Ask co-workers and employees what drains them. Do less of this.

6. Develop a learning plan for yourself and with others and implement them.

7. Share a new insight, awareness, or resource with your team.

8. Have conversations about the current energy levels on your team.

9. Learn more about when employees feel that they are their “best self” at work?

10. Work with a positive change expert to measure and boost thriving on your team.