5 tips to be a successful leader

When I was working my way up through the business world, I had very few bosses I emulated. It appeared to me that to “make it” to the top, you had to work 100 hours a week and expect your employees to do the same. You had to be somewhat cut-throat and keenly competitive with others at your level within the organization. And it didn’t appear that empathy had anything to do with business.

I know a lot of that still goes on but was encouraged to read an article today in The Washington Post by Aaron Gregg and Thomas Heath about three executives from the DC area who were rated “the highest” by their employees. These are bosses you can look up for who they are – as well as for what they accomplish.

What’s cool is that these principles apply whether you’re running a small, medium, or large company. And they apply if you aren’t running a company at all! They’re simply great life ideas. Continue reading

Are you participating, or visiting?

I’m traveling this week spending time with family at a quiet beach on the “forgotten coast” of Florida. My work consists of chatting, eating, kayaking, biking, walking, writing, and reading. It’s bliss :).

Poet Mary Oliver

Here’s a quick reminder from poet Mary Oliver about how important it is to participate, truly participate, in your life. Thanks to Jonathan Fields at The Good Life Project for posting this earlier this week. Continue reading

Eyerolls and sighs

I’m a big believer in following a high energy path with anything you’re working on. If you don’t feel energy at the center of your body when you think about next steps in what you’re doing, it may be time for a change.

Eye rolls and sighs are your body’s clue that you’re on a low energy path. Sometimes these are obvious – oh, my! But sometimes only you can see and hear them like maybe when:

  • Someone is going on a little too long with a story.
  • Your boss asks you to do something you don’t like to do.
  • You’re around someone who is so awkwardly organized you feel time draining away.
  • You’re in class and a professor goes off on a topic you know nothing about.
  • You’re running errands and get stuck in traffic.

Eye rolls are a sign that you’re trying to physically move away from a low-energy suck – and your eyes want to lead the escape! And big sighs are a desperate measure to get oxygen to your brain to keep you awake. Take both as a powerful sign that it’s time to focus and re-engage with what you’re doing. Or stop doing it.

I know. Making a change isn’t easy. So sometimes, you have to take what you have and just make it a little better. And then learn to stay away from that energy suck in the future!

How can you make a change in the examples above?

You don’t want to be rude and eye roll and sigh at a story that goes on too long. So can you listen harder? Find details in the story that you might not know? And next time this person comes along with a story, step away before it starts so you don’t feel trapped?

And when your boss has you doing you work you don’t like – does your boss think you like this kind of work and maybe you need to have a discussion? Or are you in the wrong job? If you’re not fully engaged with your work, you’re probably not doing a great job and you’re probably not happy which can leak out to other parts of your life.

When you’re around someone who is wasting your time, you can help them get organized to make things smoother. Or you can practice empathy and really feel for them as a person. And then you can avoid working with them in the future by being busy with work that fully engages you.

When you’ve lost the thread in a class, you can either drop out and try again later. Or make yourself focus. If the topic doesn’t engage you, study the people around you. Or ponder how the professor presents the material. If you were teaching this class, how would you teach it differently?

If your energy sinks when you get stuck in traffic, rather than fight it, use your time to engage. Listen to audio books or podcasts while you wait. Or study the colors around you. The weather outside. The details of your car’s dash. Or compose a song or short poem in your head about this traffic! When you don’t have control over your time, you have a wonderful opportunity to take a deep breath and relax into a few minutes of forced time to ponder.

And here’s one final thought. You can keep doing eye rolls and sighs. But do you really want to be that person? Do you want to sit next to that person? Do you want to be married to that person? Probably not. So why be that person? Wouldn’t it be more fun to head off in a high energy direction?

I’m headed off to Florida tomorrow to spend a week with family. I feel a bubble of happy, high energy building :). I hope you’re up to something awesome this weekend!

Last weekend, I was hiking with a friend at Wolfneck Park in Freeport, ME. We saw several Osprey nests along the coast. Check out this shot from my fun zoom camera! Isn’t she a beauty? And what an organized nest :).

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Finding joy in caregiving

One of the cool things about bringing programs to our library is that I get to choose the topics and speakers, and I get to attend! I have learned so much over the last two years about squirrels, birds, writing, songwriting, democracy, art, travel, and much more.

Last week I had a new author in, John Eric Baugher, to talk about his book Contemplative Caregiving: Finding Healing, Compassion, and Spiritual Growth Through End-of-Life Care. Here are seven things I learned from John’s 25+ years of working in hospice that every end-of-life caregiver should know.

And honestly, I’m posting these today because they’re great advice for all of us no matter what we’re tasked with. Continue reading

The importance of being playful

We had Christopher Phillips in as a speaker at the library this week. Chris is the author of Socrates Cafe and Democracy Cafe which we used to model some of our programs at the library. Chris is an interesting, engaging, fun guy so we asked him back to talk about his latest book, A Child at Heart: Unlocking Your Creativity, Curiosity, and Reason at Every Age and Stage of Life

Here are some of my favorite take-aways from Chris’s talk: Continue reading

What do you do?

For those of us who have a number of jobs, it’s tricky answering the simple question, “What do you do?” People like clarity and telling someone “what you do” helps them understand who you are and how you fit within the community. If you hesitate answering, you see them smile and take a step away. People who can’t say what they do are suspicious!

But what if you’re retired? Then you end up explaining “what you used to do.”

What if you don’t have a job? How do you define yourself then?

And what if you do volunteer work. Is that “what you do?”

And how about when the job you have doesn’t define you in any way? “Well, this is what I do but I don’t really like it.” Continue reading

Health is Happiness

Each spring, I learn something new listening to the Food Revolution Summit. One of my favorite take-aways from last week’s Summit was about “lifestyle medicine” which is all about being healthy (and productive!) with help from lifestyle changes versus being healthy from taking meds.

One lifestyle change you can make is to eat more plant-based food and fewer animal products. If you think about the entire history of mankind, it’s only recently that we’ve had the money, refrigeration, and resources to eat meat up to three times a day v. just on special occasions! And it’s only been recently that we hear about diabetes starting earlier in life. About more heart disease. About more cancer.

So why not fight back and take a baby step to change one meal a day to be plant-based? Continue reading