Thinking for a CHANGE 2005

As you read through this issue you will find a few links to nowhere. If this is the kind of thing that drives you nuts, e-mail Chris and she will try to find the missing resource for you.

December 28
Bonnie Prudden offered a thought that seems to me to be perfect for end-of-the-year pondering. "You can't turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again." Exactly! Every January 1st we get a clean slate, another opportunity for doing things differently. Don't pass up this chance to do your future differently than your past.

May 2006 be filled with changes you initiate, dreams you realize, and people you love.

Want more insights about change? Check out Chris' new blog

December 21
No matter what holiday you observe, this is the time of the year that just about everyone has a reason to celebrate. Hamilton Wright Mabi said, "Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love." I'm not a person who looks for conspiracy theories, but this one works for me. How about joining me in plotting ways to be cheerful, saying thanks, and spreading joy from now till the end of the year. Just don't tell anyone you're doing it. Let them try to figure out what's going on. Who knows, we could start something!

Happiest of Holidays from me and the people I love to you and the people you love.

Check out Chris' 2005 success with her Grandkids: She actually got all three of them to wear the Swedish Horse pajamas she found and then got them to sit together long enough for this picture!

December 14
Okay, it's the season of more commercials and catalogs than you could imagine and it's easy to get cynical and Scrooge-like. Please resist, especially around children. If you're unhappy with the way your children (or the children you love and influence) are acting during this holiday season, reflect on what Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much." What are you doing to expose the children in your life the real meaning of the season you celebrate? Maybe this would be a good time to review your holiday plans and add some unexpected activities for yourself with those kids you love that will emphasize the real lessons you'd like them to learn before this year ends.

December 7
Ann Young from Sentry sent me a line from the Bon Jovi song, Have a Nice Day. "Don't ask the past to last; it's about to change." I think I'll take a trip to the iTunes store. A line like that needs to be in my iPod. Thanks, Ann.

November 30
The month of December seems to remind many of us of all the things we were going to change in the year that is now almost gone. Martin Luther King, Jr. has some great advice, "You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." Even in the 12th month of the year there is time to take some first steps. I know it's tempting to wait until January - resist!

November 23
Can you believe it's Thanksgiving already! Before you pop the turkey and the green bean casserole in the oven, you might want to think of a comment in a column by Mary Schmich. "Life is mostly habit. So now's the time to figure out which habits you want to cultivate to carry you through the rest of it." If you're brave, it could be a great conversation starter when the family's all gathered.

November 16
Do you ever watch Clean Sweep? It is a show on TLC where couples are assisted by a decorator, carpenter, and professional organizer to get their very, very messy houses in order. In a recent episode, the organizer quoted Joseph Campbell, "We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." I believe Campbell is reminding us that if you want to grow, you're going to have to change. It's a package deal.

Want more insights about change? Check out Chris' new blog

November 11
A former client used to introduce me as "a consultant who had a real job." Back in my corporate days I remember how adverse most organizations were (and are) to boat-rocking behavior. The problem is that without a little rocking of the boat, nothing changes. G.K. Chesterton said, "I believe in getting in hot water, it keeps you clean." I like that perspective. I think its helpful during times of change.

November 2
Every culture has proverbs, words to think about and live by. Here's a Chinese proverb that is a favorite of mine. "The person who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones." If there's a mountain that is casting a shadow in your life, look for a small stone you could carry to a new position. See, when you initiate it, change just sounds like a good idea.

October 26
This week we heard of the death of Rosa Parks whose 1955 refusal to give up a seat in the front of a city bus to a white man changed the United States forever. For years the story was told that she refused to move because she was tired. She, however, refuted that motivation, saying she refused because she was tired of having to move to the back of the bus! Over the years she continued to charm those she meet with her quiet, serene humility. A few months ago I reminded you of a famous Margaret Mead quote, "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Rosa Parks made me remember this quote in a vivid way. Never underestimate the power you have to make change!

October 19
Are you a leader? It has been my observation that leaders don't realize how deeply they influence others in their organization and that often they need to change their attitudes. Dwight Eisenhower, when he was a General in the US Army, said, "Optimism and pessimism are infectious and they spread more rapidly from the head downward than in any other direction." Now that I think about it, it applies to individuals as well as leaders. Does your optimism level need a change?

October 12
Okay, here's another side of change. You jumped on the bandwagon, embraced the change with grace and flair and then...a better change came along! Rats!

I love technology and couldn't wait to get an iPod, but I did. Waited through the first ones with battery problems and limited memory. Waited till the photo ones were released so I could carry music AND the grandkid's pictures. I've been happy with my purchase for what, all of 6 months? Today Apple announced the release of their NEW iPod which will carry videos (video as in TV shows and movies). If you miss LOST tonight, tomorrow you'll be able to download the episode from the iTunes music store. I want to change and it will only cost me another $299.00.

That's the thing about change - it doesn't end. It just continues. Sometimes it's unexpected and hard. Sometimes it's planned and easy. Sometimes it's fast and fun. Sometimes it's fast and heart breaking. You can pick any of the previous descriptors and mix and match them to accurately describe a change you've been through. Add envy and expensive and I'll apply it to my change feelings about iPods today.

October 5
If you've ever needed a rationale for change, listen to Peter Drucker. "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all." What's an efficiently done but no longer needed thing you've been doing? Got enough courage to follow Drucker's advice and change?

September 28
I find quotes for this eletter everywhere, including books about knitting! Look what I found in At Knit's End. "Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent," says Marilyn Von Savant. Change is like that too. The fact that a change doesn't work right off the bat isn't proof that it is a bad change. If you give up, you'll never know if it was good or not.

September 22
I know this eletter is about change, but it occurs to me that where there is change there is also a perception of conflict. Doug Floyd reminds us, "You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note." Good reminder. When we fear conflict we may be cheating ourselves out of the potential for beautiful music.

September 14
How are you feeling these days? What about right now? Walt Whitman urged us to be happy. "Happiness...not in another place, but this place, not for another hour, but his hour." Try it - happy for the next hour. Who knows, it might just change something!

September 7
This is a hard week to write about change. We have certainly seen change in its most difficult manifestation. I didn't really want to write this week's issue and had almost decided to give myself a week off, when I read the following comments in yesterday's USA Today. Mary Salassi, 66 of Metairie, LA told a reporter, "I'm not going to worry about it. You can't go back and look at what happened. You have to go forward...My life's upside down, but I will come back." Faced with change we can't even imagine, Mary is willing to look ahead and come back. Can we do any less?

Some of you may know that I have a close personal relationship with the City of New Orleans going back over 30 years. I wrote my first book while temporarily living in the French Quarter. For a little more about that, please read Dads and Magic, an excerpt from Simple Encounters,

August 31
Before she died of ovarian cancer, Gilda Radner said, "Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment, and making the most of it without knowing what's going to happen." She learned this lesson the hard way. Why don't we learn it from her?

August 23
Don't you love hanging out in the greeting card section of a store? You might predict that I like to giggle at the funny lines and read the quotes for possibilities for this eletter. So imagine my delight in finding a whole line of cards with quotes from Maya Angelou. "If you don't like something - change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." I like a woman who is straight to the point!

August 17
Ran across a Swedish Proverb the other day and since I'm of Swedish descent it caught my attention. "Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow." It occurred to me that more people practice the latter half of the proverb than the first. Why not make it a goal to change that? For the next week share joy - on purpose - as often as possible! See if it changes anything for others or for you!

August 10
In a recent Sunday column, Anna Quindlen explored the conversations around appointments to the Supreme Court. In the middle of her thought-provoking, even-handed essay, she wrote about those who have been appointed to the Court in the past, "Frequently they grow and change, in part, because that is what significant people do throughout their lives..." I aspire to be a significant person, how about you?

August 3
Being the one who instigates, or expresses excitement about a big change is often tough when others don't view the change in the same way. Mary Wollstonecraft said, "Those who are bold enough to advance before the age they live in must learn to brave censure." Boy, bold and brave in the same sentence. This change stuff takes courage.

July 27
Have you read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince yet? What's taking you so long? Near the end, Dumbledore is talking to Harry about fear and it made me think of the part of change that causes fear. "There is nothing to be feared from a body, Harry, any more than there is anything to be feared from the darkness...It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more." Allow me to paraphrase, "It is the unknown we fear when we look upon change, nothing more." Everyone needs a Dumbledore once and a while.

July 21
Seen the movie, Six Days, Seven Nights? It's a great light, romantic comedy. I re-watched it last week and was struck by a line from Harrison Ford's character, Quinn. He said, in response to a question about coming to this breathtakingly beautiful vacation spot looking for something, "It's an island, babe. If you didn't bring it here, you won't find it here." Seems like it applies to so much else - life, work, relationships, change. If you don't bring it along with you - you won't find it. Worth thinking about today, don't you think?

July 13
Putting a program together last week, I remembered a Margaret Mead quote. "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." What needs to be changed in your world and who will be thoughtful with you?

July 6
Today, when I was supposed to be working on the stack of stuff on my desk, I was instead reading Sara Paretsky's new V.I. Warshawski mystery, Fire Sale. Set in Chicago, my birthplace, her books are terrific. I love her characters, her social commentary, and her well-plotted stories. At the end of this one, V.I.'s friend and doctor, Lotty shares something she learned from her Jewish grandfather. "I did learn from my zeyde that you must live in hope, the hope that your work can make a difference in the world. Yours does, Victoria." Allow me to tell you that in the midst of change, you too must live in hope, especially the hope that your work makes a difference in the world - because it does.

Speaking of hope, nothing feels more like hope than a baby and this week we added a new baby to our family. Please help us welcome Josephine to the world. Coming next week, a link to pictures of Josie with her proud older brother, Quinn.

June 30
Going on a vacation this summer? Pay attention to Ray Goodman's comment, "Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination." Maybe you could print it out and paste it on your dashboard or on your plane ticket jacket. It could make all the difference in the memories you keep from the summer of 2005!

June 23
Last week I wrote about the butterfly that my mom and I found in the parking lot. For some reason it has lingered in my mind - actually I want to know what happened to it. It looked so fragile paused in the middle of a country store parking lot with trucks pulling in and out. I bet it didn't last long. Charles Darwin probably wouldn't agree with my pessimistic view. He said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptive to change." What are your survival chances these days?

June 16
Today my mother and I had lunch out in the country. As we walked to the car we noticed a butterfly sunning itself on the gravel in the parking lot. It reminded me of the anonymous quote I've had in my notebook for a while, "If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies." Maybe the next time you feel cranky about a change you could look for the butterfly that I'm certain lurks just out of sight.

June 8
As we rush into the summer season and the family gatherings it almost always heralds, you might want think about this observation from Ingrid Bergman. "Happiness is good health and bad memory." Maybe forgetting some things would allow you to change your attitude and have a happy gathering. Just an idea.

June 1
Did you have a great Memorial Day weekend? Sometimes people think, because I am such a champion of change, I must not be into traditions. If you had seen me attack the brats and potato salad this weekend you would have let that opinion go quickly. I'm with John Foster Dulles who said, "A capacity to change is indispensable. Equally indispensable is the capacity to hold fast to what is good." In my opinion, wisdom is knowing which is the right action.

May 25
We gathered as a family for dinner at the newly opened Change's Garden and wouldn't you know that I got the fortune cookie that read, "Change is happening in your life, so go with the flow." Grandboy Quinn said, "That's a good one, Ahma." This change stuff follows me everywhere!

To all of you who made a contribution to the JDRF walk, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can still contribute at Look for a walker in Wisconsin by searching under the last name of Clarke. I'll report our totals in two weeks, 'cause we're still getting donations, but I can report that we all made it for the whole 3 miles. WOW!

May 16
I have joined the millions of other iPod owners. I'm still working on loading it with my favorite music - I'll keep you posted on functionality. The cool factor alone is worth the price! Makes me want to remind you of an Apple ad from a while back. "The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

Because I believe this with my whole heart, my family and I will be joining 3000 others in Neenah, Wisconsin, this Saturday for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Walk to Cure Diabetes. We believe we can help raise enough money to fund the research to find the cure for juvenile diabetes and enable my grandboy, Quinn, to live his life free of blood sugar tests, doctor appointments, and his new blue-so-it-must-be-Spiderman insulin pump. If you're in the neighborhood - join us!

May 11
In Anne Lamott's wonderful new book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, she says, "I know that with writing, you start where you are, and you flail around for a while, and if you keep doing it, every day you get closer to something good." True of writing and true of most behavior change. The challenge is to keep going when you're in the flailing stage, remembering that you're making progress toward something good!

May 4
At a recent conference I heard Wisconsin's Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton say, "The status quo is more dangerous than a leap into the unknown." If you work for an organization that's not up to its eyeballs in change - watch out! If you're not pushing yourself to incorporate change into both the big and small things in your life - watch out! Admit it - if you had to pick, jumping would be better than being stuck.

April 27
Why is it that you find a quality TV show, get hooked on it, and then the network threatens to not renew it for the next season? Joan of Arcadia is like that for me. (Sounds like the Change Guru is grumbling about change with those sentences!) In a recent episode, a priest said to Joan's mother. "Confession only works if it's accompanied by change." Raised as a Lutheran, his kind of confession is a mystery to me, but his statement rings true. There's not much sense in saying, "I'm sorry," unless you intend to behave differently.

April 20
Watching CNN's coverage of the 10th anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing, I heard one of the survivors say, "Nothing we do can change the past, but everything we do can change the future." What a wonderful affirmation learned at a tremendous price. I hope reading it means as much to you as hearing it did for me.

April 13
H. Jackson Brown said, "Never underestimate your power to change yourself; never overestimate your power to change others." Am I the only person who believes that most people have this concept backwards? Organizations seem to fall into believing the opposite, too. Figuring out what someone else should change is so very easy. Rationalizing my behavior because of my upbringing, station in life, mediocre opportunities, (add your own favorite excuse here), is easy, too. I'm going to post Brown's opinion in a prominent place and remind myself of its wisdom often.

April 7
My kids grew up with a mother who danced behind the grocery cart as we walked the aisles of Sentry Foods. (Of course, I grew up with a mother whose best friends called themselves The Dancing Grandmothers. This kind of behavior does run from generation to generation.) So it's no wonder that I enjoy this quote from Agnes DeMille, "The truest expression of a people is in its dance and music." Think about that while you load your iPOD or as you recall the last time you danced just for the joy of it.

March 30
Watching TV, a line of music in a Nissan commercial caught my attention. "Stay as you are and you won't make a difference." Since most of us want our lives to count for something, seems like we're going to have to change in order to make an impact.

March 23
Marilynn Mobley, VP Client Advocacy, SecureWorks, Inc., and my friend, said in a recent email exchange, "I concluded that if I exert any energy building something to fall back on, I'll reduce the amount of energy I have to build something to leap forward to." (I only wish you knew Marilynn so you could hear this said in her distinctive Southern accent!) Marilynn is one smart woman. You can't go backward and forward at the same time. Isn't it interesting that we fall back and leap forward? Thanks, Marilynn, for giving us something good to ponder before our next leaps.

March 16
How are things going? Well? Poorly? Doesn't matter much according to Roger Babson. "Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final." Comforting, isn't it?

March 10
I'm certain many of you have seen the famous FISH video. There is a line in it that I think of often. (Actually I wish every one would think of it daily.) It's in the part of the video that deals with Choosing Your Attitude and goes like this. "Being happy. It's a simple choice." Most people miss this point and believe that happiness happens because of an external event. The truth is that all attitudes, like happiness, are a choice. What are you choosing today?

March 2
Are you a creative person? If you think you're not creative because you can't carry a tune or draw a straight line without a ruler, you've misunderstood creativity. Here's another way to think of it. "Creativity is the capacity to initiate change," said Michael Kirton, Ph.D, Try the question again. Are you a creative person?

February 23
Those of you who have attended one of my writing classes will remember me saying, "Talking about writing isn't writing." In the last four days I've learned to add another line, "Reading about writing isn't writing." I've got a lot of writing to avoid so I've read three books about writing during those four days. But - and it's a big but - the book I was reading 10 minutes ago had this line, "Sometimes you need to unlearn what you know because what you know is keeping you from discovery and creativity." It's from The Lie That Tells a Truth by John Dufresne. See, there was a purpose for all that reading. You needed to hear this interesting approach to change. Rather than learning in order to change, maybe you need to unlearn in order to change. Think about it for a while. I bet it grows on you.

February 16
I've been working on a handout for a program and decided to put this quote in it. Jack Welch said, "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." It occurred to me that you might want to think about the pace of change in your department. Maybe, however fast it seems, it might not be fast enough. Just a thought.

February 9
Sam Horn reminded me of an old Peanuts cartoon with this dialogue between Charlie Brown and Lucy. Charlie Brown, "I wonder if anyone ever really changes?" Lucy, "I changed a lot this year." Charlie Brown, "I meant for the better." Good reminder that change isn't automatically good, real best friends are those that tell the truth, and laughter should be mandatory every day!

February 2
This weekend I will be in Burbank for the NSA (National Speakers Association) Winter Workshop. My mastermind group, The Seven Sisters, will meet for 2 days after the workshop. At our last meeting one of my sisters, Valerie Cade Lee said, "Will you still get it when others don't get you?" This is an important question when you are the agent of a change. At the beginning, your enthusiasm can carry you through the groans of others, but as time goes by it can become tougher to sustain your efforts. Unless, of course, you can, as Valerie asks, remember why you're doing what you're doing. See why I like to hang around with the Sisters.

January 26
Someone sent me an email with a quote from Chuck Martin. (If it was you, thanks - it's a good quote!) "It's time to look in the rear-view mirror - not just to see whether others are coming up behind you, but to look at how far you have come." Don't let January - the month of changing - end without giving yourself credit for the changes you've already accomplished. If no one else is proud of you, I am.

January 19
Last weekend I attended the funeral of a dear friend, Nancy McKinley. She found out she had pancreatic cancer and died within three weeks. Nancy died too young and too fast. I couldn't help but think of a favorite Norman Cousins' observation. "The worst thing isn't death - it is what dies inside of you while you're still living." Her services were a true celebration of a life very well lived. Nancy McKinley never let anything die inside of her and will remain an inspiration to me - and I hope to you also.

January 12
This past week I had the opportunity to study with Christopher Vogler, author of The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, in Cancun. (Tough sounding learning experience, right?) He said, "When you're scared of change, it is helpful to have a mentor to assist you through the change." What a wonderful suggestion. Who could be your change mentor? Are you brave enough to ask for help?

January 5
A little longer than usual - back to normal next week. Interesting news at the end.

Last year I made a resolution and kept it all year. My behavior change was to actually use my Palm Pilot rather than just carrying it around. As well as I can remember, this is the first resolution I've actually kept for an entire year. As the end of 2004 approached, I've been thinking about why this resolution worked; why this time I actually changed my behavior.

What I've realized, upon reflection, is that there has been enormous satisfaction in the discipline of doing. Every time I went to write down a date and time for a meeting or a phone call and I stopped myself from reaching for a scrap of paper and grabbed my Palm instead, I felt good that I was carrying through on my commitment. It seems that the combination of commitment and follow-through over time is rewarding when it comes to personal behavior change. Now, that might be a blinding flash of the obvious to you, and I'll admit that I've always know it intellectually, but this was the year I learned it in my gut. Change has always had much more to do with gut than brain.

So, I'm going to do it again. Here are my two resolutions. I'm going to eat smaller bites of food and finish one thing before I start another. Not earth shattering, but important. I want another 12 months of continuing to feel the satisfaction from the discipline of doing. How about you? Going to join me in a personal or professional behavior change? We can keep each other honest for the next 12 months and all feel good about our ability to take action for a change.

P.S. I'm going to keep the Palm Pilot up, too. See, it's become a habit, but that's another message.

New for 2005. Oprah has a Book Club and now Chris has one, too.

Participants in Chris' programs often ask her for suggestions on books to read. It doesn't take a ton of bricks to fall on her head before she figures out that there's an idea in there. "Why not start a monthly book club," she asks herself. "Good idea," she replies. (Don't ask, there are lots of these internal conversations in Chris' head.) And so, ta-da, Reading for a Change was born! visit

Each month there will be two reading selections: one non-fiction/business title and one - people do not learn by non-fiction alone - fiction title. When the books are first posted, there will be a short commentary at the website about why you might want tot read them and at the end of the month there will be a few discussion questions posted.

If you read a book and want to send Chris a comment, please do. We'll post your comments in the Reading for a Change section of Chris' website. If you want to start a Workplace Reading Group, check out the article linked at the bottom of the Reading Club page. If you have a suggestion for a book, please send it to Chris, along with your reasons for suggesting it.

Chris Clarke-Epstein, CSP 2013 | | (414) 719-0905 | Contact Us