Thinking for a CHANGE 2002

December 18
The countdown has begun - frantic activity seems inevitable - the holiday season is in full swing! STOP!

Take a deep breath and exhale. Think of how wonderful it would be if our best present this year could be peace. Why not start this gift giving early - practice giving peace to each person you interact with from now to the end of the year...Watch out, it may become a habit!

No matter what holiday you may be celebrating, please accept this wish for joy, health, and peace!

December 11
Okay, the end of the year is approaching way too fast and before you know it there will be front page articles about New Year resolutions. Listen to Jim Melton, "I like goal setting, but I like goal achieving better." So, instead of thinking about the goals you want to set for 2003, focus on the goals you're going to achieve in the next 12 months.

December 4
How happy are you? It's all up to you, you know! Gandhi understood. He said, "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." How happy are you going to be today - or - how happy could you be if you did a little changing?

November 27
This is the week that we in the Unites States celebrate Thanksgiving. Before the turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin pie, challenge yourself to stop, go to a quiet place, and quote Sister Wendy, art historian, out loud. "Underneath everything is going to be joy."

November 21
I got to watch the FISH video again a few weeks ago and was struck by the line "any job can be boring if you make it boring." You might want to quote it the next time you hear someone (or <gasp> yourself) use the B-word.

November 13
Don't you just love Anonymous? This quote, attributed to none other than Anonymous, must have started out as a cartoon caption. "A life? Cool! Where can I download one of those."
Go ahead - laugh out loud!

November 7
Values and Change Part Two--

On a recent "Inside the Actor's Studio," Harrison Ford said, "There is a discipline in believing." (Warning: You may have to read the following sentences several times before they make sense...I had too and I wrote it!)

Values in an organization exist because of a collective belief system. Belief in an organization is expressed by actions. Actions are determined by value-based decision making. Decisions about change initiatives that are not matched against an organization's values are undisciplined and doomed.
(A picture would have been easier.)

November 1
One of my favorite writers on change is William Bridges. He wrote, "People have to understand that the point of change is to preserve that which does not change." That simple statement gets right to the heart of change when done by people and organizations who have a strong sense of values. (See next week's message for part two about Values and Change.)

October 23
A lot of these messages have looked at our individual responses to- and challenges from- change. It's good to stop and remember that most of the time we're not going through a change alone. H.E. Luccick said, "No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it." Maybe it would be helpful to think of your next change as a fine piece of classical music and before you start playing it by yourself, check out who's tuned up and ready to start making music with you.

October 17
Do you ever have the feeling that this change stuff is just being done to death? Come on...let's pause for a little while, can't we? Lew Plate reminds us, "Whatever made you successful in the past, won't make you successful in the future." So, here's my attempt to balance these two seemingly contradictory thoughts. Resting is good and necessary - but resting on your laurels will get you into trouble.

October 9
According to David Brandon, CEO of Domino's Pizza, "Change is not a criticism of the past. It simply means that the future is going to be different." I couldn't agree more! So many people won't even consider a change because they fear that the mere mention of change reflects badly on past practices. How short-sighted and foolish. Bad ideas are abolished, good ideas are enhanced - changed even!

October 2
A few years ago I received a plastic travel mug as a gift from When I used it a few days ago, one of the quotes on it jumped out at me. Albert Einstein said, "If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." It's fall, time for many of us to start new projects. I'm hoping we all have one change in the works that, at this point, seems - well - absurd.

Sept 25
When was the last time you received a compliment? When was the last time you gave one? I agree with Mark Twain. "I can live two months on a good compliment." Words of encouragement are critical during times of change. If you're not getting your fair share, why not give some? You may be surprised how well the law of reciprocity will work!

Sept 18
When David Letterman returned to the air after the events of September 11, 2001, he said, "Pretending to be courageous is just as good as the real thing." However you find courage - do it. Change demands courage from us all.

Sept 11
On this day I remember the lines delivered by Martin Sheen as President Bartlet on The West Wing, "You'll do fine - people have phenomenal capacity."

Sept 4
Recently I've been seeing articles, and even a book, about re-framing -- looking at the same thing, situation, and/or issue with new eyes. Duke Ellington said, "A problem is a chance for you to do your best." What problem could you re-frame into an opportunity to shine?

August 28
Okay - I watch lots of TV and thanks to cable I can see some of my favorite shows again and again! A recent rerun of LA Law offered this sage line, "If you're unhappy with your life and are unwilling to change it, that's your fault." Ouch! Although I don't recommend spending time on blame, maybe it's helpful, once and a while, to assess where we might need to admit that we are our own stumbling block.

August 21
Concerned about how fast things are changing? Listen to Jack Welch. "When the pace of change externally is greater than the pace of change internally, then you're in danger of looking at the beginning of the end." Maybe a better question is, are things changing fast enough?

August 14
I came across Chip Bell's formula for good customer service yesterday. "Life is complex; make service simple. Life is harried; make service calm. Life can be shallow; make service have resonance and depth. Life can be painful; make service joyful. Life is too fast; help me keep up. Life can be lonely; make service a valued connection." How are you doing?

August 7
The Chicago Tribune Magazine this Sunday profiled Paul Harvey. Listen to what he said, "One of my biggest challenges is to keep my intellectual arteries sufficiently pliable to adapt to and accept inevitable change." And now you know the rest of the story.

July 31
Most of us live in a place where a walk over the lunch hour is possible. So, how about a walk today? The exercise will do you (me, too!) good, but I'm assigning the walk for a different purpose. "To do things differently, we must learn to see things differently," said John Seely Brown. Take your walk and see the world around you differently. Walk until you see 5 new things. Pay yourself on the back - change will be easier when you get back to your desk.

July 24
Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, said, "If you think that you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room." Makes you understand that even small changes can make a big difference. By the way, if you don't understand the mosquito reference, come to Northern Wisconsin for a visit - you'll get it fast!

July 10
This week I'm off to the annual meeting of the National Speakers Association (NSA). This is the time of year, every year, that I become fully focused as a student. What happens during your year to focus you as a student? Working on your expertise is critical to the success of organizations as well as that of individuals. Now would be the perfect time to figure out what you need to learn, how you're going to learn it, and when you're going to start.

July 3
How do you feel about conflict? Many of us spend a lot of energy trying to avoid conflict both personally and professionally. Erik van Slyke said, "Conflict is present in all our important relationships." I believe he's right, so instead of trying to avoid conflict - we ought to work at getting better at dealing with it creatively.

June 26
Recently I was lucky enough to hear Christopher Reeve speak. Tucked inside his moving presentation was this, "When things are bad you really have to laugh." I wasn't certain you needed to hear this today, but I thought you might want to keep it for a day when you do.

June 19
Summer's here and we've all mentally celebrated the last day of school. Bad thing to celebrate for someone working these days. If you (or your organization) stops learning - you've started dying! John Holt said, "we learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way." What are you going to do this Summer so that you'll be smarter when Fall rolls around?

June 12
I'm one of those people who watches TV and feels comfortable admitting it. (If you want to compare favorites, let me know.) The other day I was watching a Cosby Show re-run. Bill, in the role of Hilton Lucas, a man forced into early retirement from the airline industry, said, "There is nothing good or bad until you think it so." Interesting statement when applied to change - worth thinking about today.
See, there is value when you turn on the TV.

June 5
In a speech the other day, I quoted Mary Pickford. The blank stares from the audience led me to understand that even though I'M NOT OLD ENOUGH TO ACTUALLY KNOW WHO SHE WAS, I did hear stories from my parents that many people in today's audiences didn't. So, I decided that I'll only quote her here - where I can't see your faces. "You may have a fresh start any moment you choose." Wise woman. What fresh start could you choose?

May 29
One year ago I started sending these emails. Talk about change! In the past 12 months we've gone through 4 seasons, a loss of innocence, 365 sunrises, more reasons to cry and more reasons to laugh than can be counted, failures of institutions, and triumphs of the human spirit. In short, we've experienced life.
Learning the lesson that change is a basic requirement for life isn't easy. In fact, many of us need our entire life to figure this simple truth out. Maybe this year has helped us understand change-as-a-part-of-life once and for all. Now we can focus on becoming a change master.

May 15
Every week this email reminds us all of the importance of change in our lives. But listen to Ellen Glasglow. "All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward." Stop and take stock of the changes around you. Make sure you focus your energy on the changes that are growth focused.

May 8
Change is all about doing something. Consider this Anonymous quote. "If nothing touches the bamboo tree, it does not make a sound." Maybe we should all look around to see if their is a piece of bamboo that could make a lovely sound if only someone - maybe even you - would touch it.

May 1
Every once in a while I have the Bette Davis Eyes song run through my head. It always reminds me of her quote, "Life becomes a bore only if you lose your appetite for the future." How do you view the future? These days it's easy to be pessimistic. Don't fall into that trap, you don't want to be bored!

April 24
"In order to burnout, a person needs to have been on fire at one time," said Ayala Pines. Ouch! How many of us claim burnout when we were never actually on fire? Maybe the change you need to explore is how to bring more fire into your work and life. Nurtured correctly, fires can burn for a long time without going out!

April 17
I've been thinking and writing about questions a lot recently and discovered this quote by Ursula LeGuin. She said, "The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself." Asking questions of others is one kind of challenge, asking questions of yourself is a bigger challenge. What question do you need to ask yourself?

April 10
Let's not fool ourselves- change isn't easy. Seneca said, "It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." Some change requires a little daring and some change requires lots of daring. Either way - make certain you don't confuse daring and difficulty.

April 2
April always signals spring for me - and spring requires kite flying if you're really going to celebrate it right. Lauren Bacall said, "Imagination is the highest kite we can fly." How about letting your imagination fly this week?

March 27
If you're lucky, this spring will find you near a creek running full with snow and ice melt off. I love that sound. It reminds me of the words of Heraclitus, "Everything flows, nothing stays still." How often in our lives do we wish that things would stay still? What a foolish and impossible thing to wish for.

March 20
These weekly messages extoll the virtues of change but let's not forget that old German proverb, "To change and change for the better are two different things." Take a look at the changes you're considering through the lens of this bit of wisdom.

March 13
Did you know that the average sale is made on the 7th contact and the average sales person quits after the 5th contact? "Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all," remarked Herbert Meyer. Don't live your life 2 contacts short of success!

March 6
Is life a little too much lately? Irene Peter said, "Today if you're not confused, you are not thinking clearly." Comforting, isn't it?

February 27
Where I live in Northern Wisconsin this is the tough part of winter. It feels as though we'll never see green grass, feel a warm breeze or walk outside without hats, gloves, and boots again. These are the days I remember Eleanor Roosevelt's advice, "Do one thing you think you cannot do." When you do that, it's easier to believe in spring.

February 20
We all know that a journey starts with a single step, but sometimes that first step is really hard. Listen to Diana Rankin, "Instead of thinking about where you are, think about where you want to be." What if you just skipped the first step and just started with the second step?

February 13
Ever announce that you're going on a diet and notice that your significant other brings home ice cream the next day? Paul Hawkins said, "Everything is one thing can change by itself." Remember any time you change, the people around you are affected. Don't be surprised when they react.

February 6
Paging through one of the millions of catalogs I get I found the perfect tee shirt. It said, "Change is good. You go first." I'm thinking of placing a bulk order - do you want me to add you to the list?

January 29
One of my favorite writers, Annie Dillard, said "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." Stop what you're doing for a moment and review the last 24 hours. If they were your last 24 hours on this earth would you be happy about what they contained? Think you might need to change a few things?

January 23
"The world will not change unless we do," observed Jim Wallis. Sometimes there's not much more that needs to be said.

The first month of a new year can be pretty grim as you grit your teeth to keep your resolutions, deal with less than perfect weather, or try not to beat yourself up for good intentions lost. Lets keep things in perspective. Lynn Povich reminds us that, "Change is often rejuvenating, invigorating, fun...and necessary." Having fun?

January 8
Change takes courage. The writer Raymond Lindquist said, "Courage is the power to let go of the familiar." Maybe change, by its very nature, is courage. I've been thinking about that - maybe you should, too.

January 2
The New Year and change are almost synonymous. Someone once said, "Change is easy. It happens in an instant. Sustaining change is what's hard." I wish I could remember who said that so I could give them credit for a very smart observation. Maybe it will remind you, like it does me, that what I need to focus on isn't the things I need to change - I already know those things. What I need to focus on is how to sustain the changes I want to start during this New Year.

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