Resolving to Affirmations

A new year, new resolutions, new you, new new new… As long as I can remember friends and family have set and discussed the things that they will change as the calendar rolled over from 12/31 to 1/1.  With the fresh start of the calendar, going all the way back to the ancient Babalonians who are credited with the “New Year’s Resolution”, promises are made to lose weight, to eat right, to smile more, to drink less, and on and on.  

As I personally roll into 2021 I’ve set a goal (resolution) of intentional personal growth.  I’m including my actions to reach this goal into my daily activities.  These actions include reading from positive growth focused books and listening to personal development podcasts or ted talks.  One additional daily action I’m adding to my list, and this is one I’ve considered and never stuck to in the past, affirmations.  

When I hear the words daily affirmations the first picture in my mind is SNL’s Stewart Smally looking in the mirror and saying “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it people like me.”  And although I don’t want that haircut and don’t even own a powder blue cardigan, the image isn’t far from the truth.

What is an affirmation, and just as important what it is not?  

  • It is a present tense statement speaking where you are going:  I am on time to events
  • It is not a reminder of what you are not good at:  I’m not late to meetings
  • It is not a wish, hope, or dream of what you might want:  I could invent a time machine

In order to add these affirmations to my daily routine, I first listed four areas that I want to grow in this year.  Then I took those areas and crafted a present tense statement for each telling myself that I’ve already accomplished the growth.  To make it convenient I recorded the statements in a voice memo on my phone.  Now each morning while brushing my teeth I press play on that voice memo and in about 60 seconds I tell my mind each morning how I want it to focus toward growth.

Although we’re halfway through January, what is your “new year’s resolution” or, as I prefer to call it, your action plan for growth in 2021?  


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Change Management Strategies

In the post Managing Through Change I asked what do you do when change occurs and I promised some strategies for managing change. This post will walk through those strategies.

To actively manage the change happening around you, you first need to know your role in the change. You may be any of these, or you may even be each of these at some point:

  • Decision Maker:  You have a lot of control over the process and perception of the change.
  • Team Leader:  You may have some control over the change, and you have control over the perception of the change.
  • Team Member:  You have little control over the change, but you have control over your morale in relation to the change.

The Decision Maker is responsible for making the decision to change, determining the purpose of the change, and developing the goal and plan for change. Many Decision Makers are high level personnel in the organization (whether a family, a company, or a team). The Decision Maker may be willing to hear input at a designated time and place, or depending on the change being implemented there may not be room for dissent in the decision to change.

The Team Leader is responsible to define the change and communicate it to the team. In this role, the Team Leader needs to listen carefully to the concerns of the team. They should be forward-thinking in the management of change, managing expectations and concerns. As goes the leader, so goes the team.  

Finally, the Team Member has little influence over the change but big influence on day-to-day morale. Team Members may want to feel some control, and may want some ownership. If a Team Member chooses not to be engaged in a positive way, their attitude and actions can have a negative effect on themselves and those around them.


Once you’ve identified your role, what can you do?

As a Decision Maker, you can share the reasons for the change as well as the process that went into making the decision to change. When possible, listen to concerns and input prior to making the decision.  

As a Team Leader be sure to pass information along efficiently and effectively. Be available to talk through the changes addressing questions and concerns. When you don’t know an answer, be honest with your team and be sure to address the question. Remember, it’s about working toward the same positive outcome together.

As a Team Member, pause before reacting, breathe, and know that change happens and you will get through it. Ask questions, share suggestions, but know that at the end of the day the change is definitely happening, and the sooner you can wrap your head around it the sooner you can move forward. Your attitude will spread, whether positive or negative, so decide to choose your attitude.  

Finally, no matter which role you’re playing, remember to ask the question I mentioned in the last post: “What does this change make possible?”


Photo by Jonatan Lewczuk on Unsplash

Managing Through Change

“The only constant is change.” -Heraclitus of Ephesus

2020 has been a world of ups and downs and a tidal wave of change.  However, if we consider prior years they had their own flavor of change… and to be fair next year will have its own.  Whether the change is positive or not, it is always a challenge. It could come in the form of a lost job or a new job; a change in season or of location; a new boss, a new friend, a new child, a loss of a family member; and on and on the list goes.  

One common fear that comes alongside change is that things will “never be the same again.” It would be a mistake to dismiss that fear too readily, what you do with the fear and the change can be valuable. Change comes at the beginning of a new path, and your optimism or pessimism is a matter of perspective. 

So in this disrupted comfort zone, where change feels like it’s “being done to you,” what do you do? 

    1. You can focus on what was and create a negative environment, imagining yourself pushed around by the change, and pining for the lost good old days. 
    2. Or you can choose to actively manage the change. As a manager or leader in an organization or family choosing to manage the change, you will gain respect from the team you lead and create unity toward the new direction the path will take you all together.  

In my next post I’ll provide some strategies for managing change. I anticipate it will be one of the many great resources you find as you choose to move forward toward growth.  I have read many perspectives this year where great companies are sharing what they do to help people through the changes that 2020 has brought. In one email I read today, Michael Hyatt (of the Michael Hyatt company) asked the question “What does this make possible?”  

I pose that question to myself and to you:  What changes have been created in your life and in your work this year, and what do those changes make possible?


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Guest Post Book Review: The Alchemist

After a summer break from writing (or at least from writing here) I’m jumping back in with a guest post at Infinite Distractions, a book review site about all things reading.  Check out the post for my thoughts on and lessons from The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, a parable of finding and following your personal legend.

Book Review at Infinite Distractions

Photo of camel caravan by Sergey Pesterev from StockSnap

Pulling Together with Nemo

Pixar has a way of sneaking little life lessons into some of the easy to overlook moments in their movies. For example, the primary lessons in Finding Nemo are amazing, all about learning who you truly are (and can be) through a personal growth journey. 

In case you’ve never seen this movie, it’s a story of a father, Marlin, who is very protective of his son… so protective that his son rebels and takes risks. His son, Nemo, gets caught by a fisherman and taken across the ocean to a dentist office’s fish tank. Marlin goes on an epic adventure and must learn to accept the help of others, including an adorably forgetful fish named Dory to find his lost son.  

While watching this movie last week (possibly for the 15th time), one scene stuck out to me more than it had in any previous viewing. It’s toward the end of the movie (spoiler alert – unless you already know that every Disney movie ends with happiness) when all seems right again, when Marlin has found Nemo and they are back in the ocean hugging and celebrating. In this moment of joy, there is one more challenge to face. Dory gets caught in a fisherman’s net with thousands of other fish. Nemo, being small and able to fit through the net, wants to swim in to help, but Marlin doesn’t want to let Nemo go. 

Marlin decides to let go, giving Nemo a chance to lead. It was difficult for him, as it would be for anyone, because he couldn’t be sure of the result (would Nemo’s idea work?!) and the risk was high (he could lose his son, again!).

Nemo has to call on his newfound self confidence. He knew that he had the experience to overcome the net. Instead of being fearful, he directed all the fish to swim down, against the net.  He had seen it done before, and knew if it worked then it would work now. Even with his mentor, his leader, his boss (his dad) displaying doubt.

It was also a shining example of teamwork. Nemo directed the thousands of fish to swim down, pulling the net downward and overcoming the power of the fishermen. The whole team (the fish) listening to clear direction and pulling together instead of floundering in fear proved to be stronger than the obstacle they faced.


This week, remember these lessons and find a way to apply them on your team’s current project or when facing a regular obstacle:

  1. As the leader, you don’t have to be the one to lead. Listen to the ideas your team brings to the table and give them the chance to try something out that may be new to you and the group.
  2. Believe. In yourself, in your team, and that the goal is achievable. Act as if you will succeed.
  3. Clear guidance allows the team to pull together, and when everyone rows together, pulls together, or swims in the same direction there is strength and power.

Have you applied one of these lessons in your life or work? How did it go? 

What other compelling lessons have you learned from Pixar movies? Please share in the comments! 


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Guest Post Book Review: Pound the Stone

This week I’m guest posting at Infinite Distractions, a book review site about all things reading.  Check out the post for my thoughts on and lessons from Pound the Stone by Joshua Medcalf, a personal growth parable about developing grit.

Book Review at Infinite Distractions

Book Review:  The Go-Getter

I love to read personal growth books. I enjoy perusing the section in the library or bookstore where the shelves are filled with books by John Maxwell, Napoleon Hill, and Zig Ziglar.  Last week I picked up and re-read one of my ‘go to’ books for motivation, The Go-Getter (A Story That Tells You How to Be One) by Peter B. Kyne.  

This is a parable book, teaching the lesson of motivation through the story of William Peck. Peck, a war veteran, returned to his background as a lumber salesman by seeking employment with the Ricks Lumber Company. He set a goal and reached it through his persistence and hard work. Despite the dated language — the book was first published in 1920 — it’s a quick read with the strong core lesson of earning your place through doing what it takes to finish the task. 

I’d like to explore wise words from the owner of the Ricks Lumber Company when it comes to evaluating your staff:

Has he acquired the courage to tackle the job? That’s more important than the experience you focus on.

Will he possess force and initiative when he has to make quick decisions far from expert advice?

First, when you are promoting someone, do you know they have what it takes to do the job?  Not just in skillset or experience, but also in leadership skills including confidence, courage, and initiative. Can this person make good decisions on many areas of their role, including the decision of when to escalate?

However, belief that someone has these capabilities isn’t enough. You will never be sure without the person being tested and allowed to prove themself. In the book, Cappy Ricks does this with the blue vase test.  Without giving away the story (although the title of the book gives a hint about how this will work out for the main character) the test is a near impossible challeng. Peck is given the task of purchasing a blue vase for Cappy with only a vague description of the vase as well as a general location of the store.  Although Peck is frustrated by the hurdles and wants to quit along the way, his go getter personality will not let him accept that something is impossible and instead he determines that it shall be done.   

Once tested, the next step is reward. When your team members prove themselves, don’t hold back the recognition, bonus, or incentive.  Remember that you get nothing for nothing. And if you give a super star nothing, you will get nothing in return. That superstar will continue to be a go-getter, they will just stop working for you.

When you look at yourself and your actions, or your team and their actions, do you see any go-getters? You have full control of becoming one yourself if you decide “it shall be done.


Photo by 五玄土 ORIENTO on Unsplash

Behind the Scenes Magic

In my last post, I mentioned the ways employees can sometimes give off the wrong impression of your organization, even though they may not realize they’re doing it. I mentioned that part of what makes Disney magical is that you don’t see ‘behind the scenes,’ and I promised to tell you some of the ways to make that happen in your own organization.

Humans have complaints. You can’t stop all of them. But one of the main keys to is to make sure employees know the right people, place, and time to make their complaints, and that you support them in using those avenues.

  • The right people:  Start by ensuring employees know who to voice opinions to, and that they understand the escalation process, whether that’s their own managers, HR, an ‘ask a question’ email address, or a locked suggestion box. Then, ensure employees know their ideas / opinions / complaints have actually been heard. It’s not always about taking action right away, but about ensuring they know you’ve listened. If their suggestions, surveys, emails, or complaints are met with silence or generic ‘corporate speak,’ you’re teaching them that they shouldn’t bother asking. But the complaint doesn’t go away — they just become frustrated enough that they talk to someone else, maybe at a location or time that’s bad for the company. 
  • The right place:  Next provide a location for employees to be ‘offstage’ and allow them to use it, such as a breakroom or lounge that is only accessible to employees and not to customers / guests. One genius thing in place that makes the Disney World experience magical is that the whole park is set up as the ‘on stage,’ area, and there are tunnels and back doors that guests can’t enter which are ‘off stage.’ Employees have a place to turn off the show where guests cannot see. In a corporate setting this may not seem necessary, but what does your receptionist discuss in your lobby or your staff discuss in the lunchroom – and who else may be there when they’re talking about it?  
  • The right time:  Do you make time for your employees to come to you? If you always seem busy, running from one place to another, and don’t have designated office hours or pre-set meeting times to check in with employees, or for them to come to you with suggestions / complaints, they may perceive that there’s never a ‘right time,’ and their complaints will bubble over when it’s less appropriate.

Finally, the keystone that will make sure all of the other structures work is you. You have to actually listen and take appropriate action. When your employees are talking, whether to you or to their peers, do you hear their questions and concerns? Do you sort through and solve what is solvable? Do they know you are listening?


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What did that employee just say?

Playing with my daughter at the library, I overheard a conversation between two of the staff members who stood at a nearby counter. As my daughter happily loaded her toy shopping basket with plastic fruit, the employees were discussing ‘unfair changes’ to the time off policy, and the way overtime and scheduling had negatively impacted their pay. Though I tried to keep my mind on running the plastic fruit through a play cash register, I found myself caught up in their very public, very casual conversation about these internal organization issues. The tone was not rude, only frustrated. Their conversation was not wrong, but it was happening in an inappropriate location, with bad timing, and the wrong audience. 

I regaled my sister with the story (I suspect other library patrons may have gone home to tell someone about it as well), and she told me of a time she’d overheard craft store employees complaining about their supervisor while she was at the counter to pay for her purchases. She thought it was off-putting, to say the least, to hear employees complain about how rude another employee has been; at worst, it can ruin the customer’s experience, possibly causing them not to come back to that business.

I got to wondering: do you know what your employees talk about when you’re not listening? Do you know where they are talking? Do you know what impression they’re giving to customers or guests about your organization?

If you’ve ever been to Orlando, Florida, you’ve probably visited a theme park or two. Let’s contrast the most well known ones:

Universal Studios is a land of adventure filled with dinosaurs, superheros, and (my favorite part) The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, on a recent trip, the two employees right outside of Hogwarts were discussing an upcoming vacation to Pittsburgh and how long of a drive it would be. It should have been about brooms or floo powder! Later, one employee was complaining to another in the Gringott’s locker room about a new employee who wasn’t doing his job right. I love Universal and I’ll surely be back, but those moments took me out of the magic, and all I could think was, ‘well, that’s why it’s not Disney.’ 

Now if you’ve been to Disney World, you know about the “magic of Disney.” Anyone who works for the park is always ‘on stage’ when they are in front of guests or even in a place where they may possibly be seen or overheard by guests. Always. You’ll never see a princess with a hair out of place, and you’ll also never hear a person who sweeps trash complain about their job. You’ll never hear a cashier talking about how breaks are too short. The employees are trained to always be ‘on,’ and they’re given a number of support structures that help them do it.

What makes the difference? How do you ensure your employees aren’t sharing their worst days with the wrong people or in front of the customers?

In next week’s post I’ll talk about some of those difference makers that can impact your organization.



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Am I even qualified for this job?

At one point in my career, the company I was working for needed an HR Manager. Though I hadn’t ever worked in HR as a job title, I had years of varied corporate experience that touched on key HR tasks and was confident in my ability to learn. I was offered the position and accepted the opportunity to transition into the role. I had a learning curve ahead of me without any formal training, and it didn’t take long for some of my coworkers to search my background and begin to gossip that I didn’t have the qualifications. From what they saw on my LinkedIn profile, they thought I was ‘just’ an Executive Assistant. 

With this kind of negativity, there are two options: 

  1. I could let them tear me down and find myself questioning whether I truly was qualified;


  1. I could stand tall knowing I earned the position and continue to prove my qualifications daily.

The second option is difficult. It takes time and energy to prove yourself day after day. So how do you get there? It took three key factors for me to find my way in the role:


There are only two things you can control:  your attitude and your actions. When someone decides to rain on your parade do you choose to get mad and stop the parade, or continue to play in the rain? In case the cliches here aren’t clear, I’ll unbury the advice and tell you straight out that you are in control of whether you get mad, get even, or ignore the negative that other people try to put in your life.  


In the book “Mindset,” author Carole Dwick discusses the fixed versus flexible mindset.  Someone who has a fixed mindset believes people cannot grow or change, people cannot change careers or do something new that they haven’t been “trained for.” But people with a flexible mindset see opportunity for improvement, growth, and change. If you keep your mindset flexible, you will believe that you and everyone around you can be more than their past.


The Operations Manager at the company paid me the compliment that he believed I could be dropped into any job and I’d find a way to figure it out. All the attitude and mindset you bring to the situation is magnified by those who support you. Having someone tell me that I was good enough and smart enough (and ‘gosh darn it, people like me’) helped me stand taller and stronger and be even better in my role.

Everything beyond these three factors was just a matter of putting my heart and mind into learning the job. Anyone can take courses, join peer groups, and take every opportunity to learn. But only someone with the right attitude, a flexible mindset, and a good support system will find a way to be happy in a role that may not have seemed like a fit on paper.

When someone tries to tell you, through their words or actions, that you are “just a ___,” don’t allow them to dictate your self worth or your belief. You are in control of your thoughts, your actions, your attitude, and who you surround yourself with.


Photo by Nicole Smith on Unsplash