Thinking for a CHANGE 2003

Good thoughts for ending the year. See you in 2004!

December 22
Recently I watched a reunion special for one of my favorite shows ever! - "Designing Women." It was full of clips from the cast's favorite episodes. One such episode recounted the birth of Charlene's baby, Olivia, while a 100 year old African American was dying. In the final scene the wonderful actress Beah Richards said, "I remember what my papa used to say. 'We ain't what we should be, we ain't what we're gonna be, but at least we ain't what we was.'"

December 17
One of the great philosophers of our time, Winnie the Pooh, said, "A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference." If you've been in a mall lately, maybe you'd like a T-shirt with this emblazoned on it.

December 10
Last Friday, I was able to sit in the audience to hear one of my favorite NSA speakers, Mike McKinley, CSP, CPAE*. During his presentation he said, "I like goosebumps!" (The exclamation point is mine - but it was in his voice.) I do, too! So should you! Especially at this time of year. No matter what, if any, holiday you celebrate - you should experience some goosebumps - from music, lights twinkling on a dark drive home, or a fresh snow fall. If you look for them, trust me, they'll come - the goosebumps that is!

* For translation of the alphabet soup, email us! <g>

December 3
WARNING: Breaking my own 4-line rule this week, but because it's a poem, it's well worth the scroll!

Think Different

Here's to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They're not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can't do is ignore them.
Because they change things.

They invent. They imagine. They heal.
They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones,
we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

--Apple Computer

Remember this ad? This poem would be a great start for a meeting where you wanted a creative outcome.

November 25
There is no holiday in the US with more shared traditions than Thanksgiving. There is turkey on most tables, football on most TVs, and groans on most lips from over-eating. Maybe the Irish can offer something to our tradition in their proverb, "Laughter is brightest where food is best." May you and your family have an abundance of good food and good laughter this week.

November 19
Many of you know that I'm fascinated by questions. I found this quote by the actress Ruby Dee in a recent Chicago Tribune. "The greatest gift is not being afraid to question." What if you made it a goal for the next two days to ask as many questions as you could? What might you learn? What would people think? Could this be easier than you first thought? Are you grinning?

November 12
All of us have the opportunity to help other people learn - often on a daily basis. William Butler Yeats had an interesting perspective on education. He said, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." The next time you face another person across a teachable moment, stop and ask yourself, "Am I getting ready to fill a bucket or light a match?" I'd go for the match every time!

November 5
I don't know about you, but I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S ALMOST THE HOLIDAY SEASON AGAIN! Our family is in the midst of planning what gatherings we're having - where and when. This weekend I read Twyla Tharp's new book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. (I loved it and recommend it highly.) In it she said, "There's a lot to be said for tradition, but there's a lot to be said for examining it, too." This would be the perfect time to examine your family's holiday traditions. Re-affirm and re-excite yourself about the traditions you want to keep and revise those that it's time to change. Come January 1st, you'll be glad you did.

October 29
Thirty-six years ago today I was working very hard to give birth to my son, Paul. (I realize you're all amazed that I had a baby at age six <g>.) In mid-February my daughter, Miriam, will have her first baby. It's making me think of cycles. With all our focus on change, we might miss seeing that some things aren't actually a change, but in fact are simply a turn of a life or business cycle. Business is down, we work to generate more business; business goes up, we ignore business generating activities; business is down... Think of some of the changes you're dealing with. Might they be part of a cycle instead of a distinct change? What might that mean for you and your behavior?

Aug 13
When I (actually when Miriam) send out these messages each week, we look forward to the messages you often send back. Quite a while ago, Marti Cargile, an HR Training Specialist for the City of Milwaukee, sent me a great quote from William Saroyan. "In the time of your life, that in the wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and the sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it all." Thanks Marti for a great quote with a meaningful message.

Aug 6
Okay, maybe the guys won't get this one, but the women will. Put on a bathing suit and gone out in public yet this summer? Listen to Ethel Barrett (who, I'm sure, said this to herself as she stood in front of a full-length mirror, in a bathing suit, on a really hot summer day). "We would worry less about what others think of us, if we realized how seldom they do."

July 31
Summer often affords families the opportunity to spend more time with each other. Bruce Barton said, "If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm." How are you gifting your family or the people around you with enthusiasm? If you're not - how about working on this as a next month's behavior change? (By the way - if you do - do it with enthusiasm!)

July 24
Had your summer vacation yet? How about re-visiting the place you grew up? Nelson Mandela said, "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." This summer make a date with yourself to spend an afternoon on a park bench - listing, pondering, and celebrating all the ways you've grown and changed in your life.

Sometimes I'm afraid that these messages might convey the thought that I believe all change is easily understood through the lines of a short weekly email. I hope not, because the words of A. France really express my underlying belief about change. "All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must give up one life to enter another."

July 10
Many of you know that I have a passionate interest in questions. Awhile ago I found this quote from Naguib Mahfouz, "You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions." (I'm sure he meant to include women as well.) How about you? When it comes to the current changes in your organization, do people think you're clever or wise?

July 2
I've always wished that people would say that I reminded them of Katharine Hepburn. She once said of herself, "I'm a madly irritating person...anything definite is irritating - and stimulating." Change is exactly like that - irritating and stimulating at the same time. With Miss Hepburn gone, I guess it's up to us to take up the slack.

June 25
Are you sick of change? It's okay if you are - as long as you understand the words of Guiseppe Tomasidi Lampedusa, "If we want everything to remain as it is, it will be necessary for everything to change." Need I say more?

June 18
Many of you have probably seen the wonderful training video FISH. There's a line in it I love. "The moment you try to imitate us, you're stuck." Apply that to change - when you or your organization tries to change by imitating someone else you're going to get stuck. Great change demands that we apply lessons learned AND take risks in new directions. Things will happen, but you won't be stuck!

June 11
Pia Nilsson, former head coach of the Swedish National Golf Teams and Annika Sorenstam's coach, reported that Annika told her something shortly before the now famous Colonial Golf Classic. "Pia, isn't the worst thing that can happen that I can learn something?" What a great question to ask when faced with any change! Think of a change you've dealt with recently. What did you learn? If you can't think of anything right away - think again. I'm sure there was some learning in there somewhere.

June 4
Ever wish you'd invented one of those how-did-we-ever-live-without-it products? Like Post-it Notes, scented magic markers, or duct tape? Carl Zwanzig said, "Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side and it holds the universe together." Seems to me duct tape is like change, too. There is a light side and a dark side to all changes and without change, the universe would certainly fall apart. (Believe me, the longer you think about this - the more profound it becomes. <G>)

May 28
In the US, Memorial Day weekend (which was this last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) marks the unofficial beginning of summer. Ever get a song in your head that you can't turn off? Well, since Saturday afternoon I've been mentally singing, "Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer." Acted lazy on Monday by sitting outside most of the day reading a very long novel, and felt some guilt for not being productive. Until, that is, I remembered a Chinese proverb that said, "Be not afraid of growing slowly - just be afraid of standing still." I wasn't lazy - just growing slowly and maybe summer is the perfect time for that behavior. What slow growing are you going to do this summer?

May 21
How about thinking about change as fun? Impossible, you say! My buddy, Scott Friedman, said, "When people laugh together, you touch them on a gut level where they are open to change." I agree. As you think and plan your next change, either professionally or personally, why not make sure that you have built laughter and fun into your change initiative.

May 14
This is the 100th time I've written one of these messages about change. Seems amazing that one topic - change - can sustain a weekly dialogue for so long, but it does. In order to move into the future with excitement, change is not only helpful, it's mandatory. Dr. Richard Deems said, "It is our basic instinct to make change work." I would add that most of us have been socialized to do the opposite - to resist change. Why not work this week to make your first reaction to any change positive. See if you can bring your basic instinct to change alive!

May 7
Last week I was sitting in an audience in Santa Fe, New Mexico, listening to Erik Wahl. He quoted Jack Welch who said, "When the rate of change outside your company exceeds the rate of change inside your company - the end is near." That made me sit up and think! Here's your assignment for today: Instead of feeling anxious because of all the changes you face, think about how anxious you should be feeling because of the changes you're not making!

April 30
Oftentimes spring is when we look at our physical selves and consciously make changes in order to view our bodies in a more favorable light. But what about what our brains are saying to us every day? Listen to the way Madeleine Costigan re-framed her perspective. "I have a lot of excitement in my life. I used to call it tension, but I feel much better now that I call it excitement." When's the last time you re-framed what you tell yourself?

April 23
Today we could really believe that spring will actually come to Central Wisconsin. Are you like me? Spring always makes me want to try something new. Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us why we have learning urges. "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." What are you going to learn and grow from this spring?

April 16
Our work is such a big part of life and we meet so many people who seem to be unhappy doing their job. I realize that even thinking about changing a job or profession is frightening, but it seems to me even more frightening to face life - day after day - doing work that doesn't bring you joy. I guess Julia Child agrees with me. "A passionate interest in what you do is the secret of enjoying life - whether it is helping old people or children, or making cheese, or growing earthworms." When's the last time you thought about the connection between your passion and your work?

April 9
It's easy to fool yourself into believing that you can avoid change. Albert Erisman put that idea to rest when he said, "Inertia and resistance to change decides things." Look around you. What decisions or changes have been made without your input because you made the choice to not participate?

April 2
Is the world different than you'd like it to be? How about your community? Everything in good shape there? Things in good order at work? It's easy to live your life waiting for others to fix things. Gandhi suggests another way to look at it. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Think the world should be more peaceful? You be peaceful. Want more culture in your community? You do art. Not getting enough helpful feedback at work? Start giving feedback. In my book, Gandhi is a pretty credible source of advice.

March 26
On a recent CBS Sunday Morning show, the 70-year-old 1st violinist of the Baghdad Symphony Orchestra said, "Music is everything that war isn't." Why not join me, once a day, in listening to music and thinking of all those - soldiers and civilians alike - who would love to hear some music.

March 19
My grandson, Quinn, and I went to the bookstore recently and bought a new book, "Frank, the Monster Who Wanted to Dance." Picking a book with an almost-three-year-old is a commitment because when they like a book you hear, "Read it again!" over and over. This is a good book. The story is funny, the pictures perfectly drawn, and the rhyme scheme clever. There is a bonus half way through - a line I love. "He danced like his shoe size instead of his age." How about you? When was the last time you danced - or lived - that way?

March 12
The next time you find yourself whining over all the change you have to deal with and longing for the good old days when the pace was slower, remember that Heraclitus, who lived from approximately 535 BC to 475 BC, said, "There is nothing permanent except change."

March 5
Last week Mr. Rogers died and I cried. If you've been a child, had a child, or watched PBS since the 60s you knew Mr. Rogers. I remember one day, being bored, sitting in a motel room flipping channels, and pausing because of Mr. Rogers' voice. It was his voice that caught my attention after so many years - that voice I heard talking to my children as they grew up. A voice I could trust to say the things that I wanted Paul and Miriam to hear because it carried important messages. I watched the whole half hour that day and felt better because I had.

Ellen Goodman wrote about Mr. Rogers on Sunday. In her column she told of Fred Rogers' relationship with this grandfather. Listen to what his grandfather told him when they were together. "You made this a special day, just because you were here and you are you. I like you just the way you are." Sound familiar? One grandfather's legacy for his grandson became a legacy for millions.

None of us has an audience of millions. All of us have an audience of one, or two, or ten. What would happen if you picked five people in your life and paraphrased Mr. Rogers' grandfather to them when you were together. Every time. Without fail. "My day was better because you were a part of it," to a coworker. "You are special to me and the world," to your significant other. To a child in your neighborhood, "I'm so glad you life on my block - it makes me grin to see you." Every time. Without fail.

This weekly message is about change because change is necessary for life and growth. There are, however, some things that once begun, shouldn't change. Messages like those of Mr. Rogers are one of the things that once started, shouldn't change. Mr. Rogers will live on in the 900 episodes of his Neighborhood that will play and play and play. I'll look for them when I'm in a lonely motel room and on a tough day in the office, but I feel the need to do more - to create a living neighborhood that I carry with me and show to others. I'm going to join Mr. Rogers' grandfather, Mr. Rogers, and all the others who believe that one person speaking from the heart can make a difference. I hope you'll join us. Every time. Without fail.

February 26
Lately, I've been doing work with clients about branding and came across this quote from Watts Wacker. "A brand is a promise, and in the end, you have to keep your promises." Is there a behavior you need to change so that your actions support your brand?

February 19
Sunday I left for Washington DC. Mother Nature had different plans. Thanks to the Blizzard of 2003 (as the NY media named it), I spent 2 days in a hotel room overlooking Times Square in New York City. Watching one of the busiest streets in the US empty reminded me that everything and anything is subject to change. What a great lesson in remembering that control is an illusion. On my flight home - 48 hours later than expected - it occurred to me that paying attention is a better choice than pretending to be in charge.

February 12
This is a grey time of year in the midwest - makes you feel old. My friend Rita Emmett sent me an anonymous quote, "We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." I'm going to block out some time for play this week - how about you?

February 5
One twelfth of 2003 is now gone. Feels like a blink of an eye, doesn't it? How has the year been for you so far? Grandma Moses reminds us that "Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be." What do you want 2003 to be? What are you doing to make it what you want? Don't let another month slip by.

January 29
Encountered any conflict lately? Rip Torn said he got some good advice from Gary Shandling. "Don't get mad, get funny." Practicing that behavior, said Rip, changed his life. Might be worth some consideration this year - before your next conflict that is.

January 22
My husband, Frank, loves jazz. I have to admit it's not my favorite form of music, but I'm fascinated by jazz musicians. The amount of teamwork necessary to play good jazz is amazing! Ella Fitzgerald said, "Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong." I don't think teams go wrong when they work together with respect and creativity either!

January 15
Just in case finishing the unfinished is one of your New Year's Resolutions, you might interested in what Lady Stella Reading had to say. "The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone." I'm trying to keep this in mind as I work on that stack of stuff on my desk!

January 8
Some things don't need any comment.

This is not the age of information.
This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

David Whyte

January 2
A new year looms ahead like an empty piece of paper. Who knows what will happen next? Some people find that frightening; others exhilarating. Listen to Gilda Radner, "Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity."

May 2003 be filled with your own version of delicious ambiguity.

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