Thinking for a CHANGE 2007

Dec 19
If you haven't all ready, pretty soon you'll be hearing about New Year's Resolutions. I'm not a big fan of this annual hysteria unless the resolutions it generates are very specific AND have significant personal motivation behind them. (Can you tell I'm working on one for myself?) If you consider Marilyn Ferguson's idea, "Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside," as you decide on a resolution for 2008, I think you'll be on the right track. I'll keep you posted on how mine works out.

All the best for your Holidays and a joyous start for 2008! See you in a few weeks.

Dec 13
My grandson, Elroy, has taken to spending much of his day exploring worlds that don't exist and fighting monsters that he is confident he can conquer (with the aid of whatever is at hand). Thomas Moore, the Irish poet, said "True change takes place in the imagination." Perhaps that is how we can best bring change forth - by imagining our outcome, and then striding confidently towards it.

Dec 5
Boy, I love my iPod. I hook it up to a set of portable speakers and fill the hotel bathroom with music as I get ready. This morning I heard Cher singing a song from her latest album, Bittersweet. The song, "Greatest Song I Ever Heard," contains the line, "If you want to win you've got to play the game." It occurred to me that this was a great motivator for change. If there's a change and you're sitting on the're not going to win. Guaranteed!

Nov 29
Driving home from the airport yesterday, listening to Chapter a Day on Wisconsin's NPR station I heard this line from Anthony Doerr's book, Four Seasons in Rome. "You find your way through a place by getting lost." What a perfect description of life during change. Maybe a predictor of success could be your ability to tolerate being lost for a while.

P.S. I hope your Thanksgiving was as joy-filled as ours. I want you to know that when I thought of all the things I'm grateful for, all 6000 of you were at the top of my list!

Nov 14
Lately I've been talking about the need for Leaders to be optimists. Then I found this message from Carl Sandburg, the great American poet. "I am an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." Sometimes that's the only way you can deal with change. Take a step in a direction knowing you can course correct as you move along - with enthusiasm, that is!

Nov 7
Years ago I signed up for a text message service that sends a quote to my iPhone every evening. (Clever, how I slipped that iPhone reference in, isn't it?) Most of the quotes I delete but every once and a while there's one that's worth keeping and passing on. "Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well," said the Buddha. A case for Thinking for a Change if I've ever heard one.

Oct 31
Many people think negatively about change because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of the you name it. Listen to Helen Keller. "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure." She might have been blind, but she certainly had insights! Don't let fear hold you back.

Oct 24
A few Changes ago I quoted Susan Taylor on suffering. A Change reader wrote to caution me about being glib about people’s suffering. Whenever I need to think about the connections between suffering, attitudes, and the human condition, I go to Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning. He never fails to spark my thinking and certainly did so again. “When we are no longer able to change a situation…we are challenged to change ourselves.” (Please know that I always appreciate comments from you!)

Oct 17
I was talking to my friend, speaker, and author Max Jaffe about the right way to put toilet paper on a roll. Now, usually, Max and I are in synch but horror of horrors he admitted that he put his toilet paper roll on with the paper feeding off the bottom – this is just wrong! I explained that if and when I encountered a roll like that at his house, I’d be compelled to correct it. “Of course, Chris,” he said. “That’s because you’re all about change.”

Oct 10
I've always been a fan of Julia Child. Her Mastering the Art of French Cooking has been on my kitchen bookshelf for years. I was intrigued to learn that her husband, Paul, was her early mentor and coach. He suggested a philosophy of life. "Use all your senses, all the time. …Take pains with the work; do it carefully. Relish the details. Enjoy your hunger. And remember why you're there." That's worth a discussion over a fine glass of French wine. Red or white?

Oct 4
Wednesday, I spoke at the Women's Success Forum in Denver, Colorado. Along with 2,000 other women (and about two dozen men) I heard Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine say, "Suffering is living in that painful place and not doing anything about it." You can't imagine how quickly I wrote that down so I could share it with you. Talk about a case for change! My wish is that you're not suffering needlessly because, you know, you could change.

P.S. Thanks from the bottom my heart for all of you who donated to our Walk for the Cure this Saturday for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). So far readers of Thinking for a Change have donated $ 1,305.00. Our family asks for donations and walks every year so we can change this painful place for my grandson Quinn and the millions of others who deal with the daily reality of finger pokes to determine blood sugar levels, severely monitored diets, and shots or pumps to deliver the insulin their bodies can't produce. It's not too late to make a donation. Help us make this particular change real before Quinn goes to high school…Simply click on this link ( and at the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) website search for First Name: Chris and Team Name: Team Q. Then, click on Chris Clarke-Epstein to make your donation.

Sept 30
There are some changes that you can't do alone.

As many of you know, my oldest grandson, Quinn, was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes when he was 22 months old. That means, in everyday terms, that he has to keep track of everything he eats, test his blood sugars 4 to 5 times a day, and rather than the five insulin shots a day he used to get - thanks to medical advances - he now gets his insulin after each meal from the computerized pump attached to his stomach and which he wears in a pouch around his waist. More advances could mean a cure and then he would be like any kid who eats when he's hungry, sneaks a bag of chips once and awhile, and gets to lick the frosting bowl when his Ahma frosts a cake.

This is the change I dream about every day.

It can happen, it will happen, if we can raise enough money for the exciting research that's going on right now. Our family is Walking for the Cure Saturday October 6th in Stevens Point, WI and we need your help. A donation to Team Q will help us ensure the search for a cure continues and succeeds. Simply click on this link ( and at the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) website search for First Name: Chris and Team Name: Team Q. Then, click on Chris Clarke-Epstein to make your donation.

Over, 5,000 people read my messages each week. Just think what could happen if half of you decided to pledge $10.00 for this worthwhile cause! Please help our family, along with all the other families of children with Juvenile Diabetes, to find a cure.

Thank you - from Chris, who is grateful from the bottom of her heart that you're willing to change.

Sept 26
Mark Twain said that those who don't read have no advantage over those who can't read. Alvin Toffler brought the thought into the present with his words of wisdom. "The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." How about you? What do you need to learn? Unlearn? And relearn?

Sept 12
At the end of an Annie's Mailbox column, I found this quote from President Woodrow Wilson. "I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow." Next time you're working on a challenging change, consider the brain power you could borrow and go get it. Remember, it's an order from a Commander-in-Chief.

Sept 5
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that my daughter, Miriam (who manages the Thinking for a Change process), is a scrapbooker. Sometimes she lets me tag along when she goes on a scrapbooking adventure. During a recent trip to a store in Rhinelander, I found a stamp with the following quote. "Change is to give up what we are, to become what we could be." You can bet I bought the stamp, put it in a prominent place on my desk, and intend to use it often!

Aug 29
It's easy to convince ourselves that change is more of an issue for us now, in the 21st Century. However, every once and a while we get reminded that change always has, and always will be, a part of life. Sometime before he died in 1832, the German playwright and poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, said, "We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden." True then, true now!

Aug 22
My friend Kathy Dempsey sent me this quote about Albert Einstein. "Einstein was the first person who said it: everything has changed now, except our way of thinking. And we've got to find ways to change our way of thinking." Who am I to argue with Einstein? What have you done lately to change your way of thinking about your job, your family and friends, or your life? Maybe this weekend would be a good time to start a thinking-changing routine.

Aug 15
Facing some tough stuff? What if you really believed in the Bumper Sticker by Anonymous. "Permission to be afraid is denied." Then what would you do?

Aug 2
If you're just about ready to embark on a change, remember what Martin Luther King, Jr. said. "Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase." Sometimes we forget that most change has a significant element of faith in it.

July 25
Came across a Japanese Proverb: "Be not afraid to go slowly; be only afraid of standing still." That encourages me to remember baby steps count when it comes to change. I hope it encourages you, too.

July 18
Not all changes work out perfectly. That's when you need a perspective neatly expressed by Corrie Ten Boom. "When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer." The next time you're in the dark, stop for a minute and think about who's on the train with you that you trust. Maybe it's time for you to connect with them.

July 11
My husband, Frank, is a great reader. One of the things that makes our marriage work is the fact that we both climb into bed, book in hand, and with our own bedside lights so the first one too tired to read can sleep while the other can finish their chapter. Frank likes to read westerns and I believe he's read all that Louis L'Amour has written. Imagine my delight when I found this quote from the prolific Mr. L'Amour. "You can't learn anything from the experience you're not having." Why not make the balance of this year one of new experiences. Think of all you could learn!

June 27
If you like to laugh and enjoy the Southeastern part of the United States, then you'll LOVE Roy Blount Jr's new book, Long Time Leaving. (I plan on getting it on CD to hear it in the author's voice and with that terrific Georgia accent.) Wishing for the South of his youth, Blount writes, "I just wish the South would let me decide what it should change and what it shouldn't." How many of us would love to tell our bosses, our organizations, and our families what they should change and what they shouldn't? How many of them would like to tell us? In the cold light of day, we know it doesn't work that way...but it is nice to think of it as possible.

June 20
Interviewed about his newest album, Memory Almost Full, Paul McCartney said, "Look back at the past, but don't live in it and don't expect it to happen again. It's very much a changing world, and you have to leave room for new stuff." This sentence packs both meaning and hope for a person or a group facing change. If you don't get the meaning part - think boy/girl relationships in high school. If you get the meaning but not the hope - remember carbon paper. If you're still not sure, buy/download the album and listen to "The End of the End."

June 13
The last edition of CBS Sunday Morning had a story about the cafes of Paris. It seems that they are disappearing. The profiled cafe owner who is struggling to stay in business said, "Everything around us is changing so we have to hold on to this tradition." I've only had the opportunity for one afternoon in which to enjoy a glass of wine and people watching from a movie-set perfect cafe in Paris, but I've certainly dreamed of returning to do it again. Sometimes change isn't the answer; I hope he does hold on!

May 30
A client asked me to craft a presentation on Leadership entitled "This Is Where the Leadership Really Begins" based on a line from his favorite John Wayne film, The Cowboys. I watched the movie twice looking for insights for my program. The line with significance for me was Wil Anderson's (Wayne's character) comment to the boys he lead on the cattle drive. "Every man wants his children to be better than he are." Specific, encouraging praise is a good leader's stock-in-trade. When was the last time you delivered that kind of praise to a child, a peer, or someone who calls you their leader? What are you waiting for? Change!

May 23
Memorial Day 2007

I especially look forward to Wednesday mornings. My husband, Frank, comes home from his walk with the day's edition of the USA Today. I immediately grab the Life section because Craig Wilson's column, The Final Word, is in it. I read it first with great pleasure. Today was no exception. He closed his column by writing, "Which is what this upcoming [Memorial Day] weekend is all about: remembering those who don't happen to be here anymore but most certainly are not gone." Wilson believes we keep people important to us alive by remembering them and their actions. I believe that, too. So in the midst of picnics, family, and food this weekend - find a quiet minute, remember someone of significance, and share their story. Both the recalling and the retelling will do you good.

Have a beautiful Memorial Day weekend!

May 17
Walking through the Minneapolis Airport, I noticed a restaurant sign for the first time. "All work and no play kinda misses the point." As we approach the summer season, I'd like to remind you to schedule some play. Next week, when I'm back in Minneapolis, I'll take a picture of it, post it on my blog so you can print it and hang it in an obvious place, just in case you need a visual reminder.

May 10
Wednesday I attended the 15th Annual Wausau YWCA Women of Vision Award lunch. The novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard spoke - telling of her early efforts as a novelist after the unexpected death of her young husband. When life creates that kind of a hole in you she said, "it doesn't give you permission to live a small or timid life." Those are inspiring words from someone who has the right to say them. They remind us all that if we've been small or timid in our lives, it's time to CHANGE!

May 2
My middle grandchild, Elroy, (No, it's not an old family name - yes, he was named after the little boy on the Jetsons!) is in love with Thomas the Tank Engine. We pay attention to all things train-ish. He loves the movie, The Polar Express. I like the part where the Conductor says, "The thing about doesn't matter where they're going. What matters is deciding to get on." Change is like that. There will be many times in your life when a change comes along that you're not certain about. It makes sense to evaluate your ability to affect the change. If you can't, maybe you should listen to the Conductor and decide how much running you want to do in order to finally jump on.

April 25
ast week I pre-ordered two copies of the 7th Harry Potter book due out this July. (In case you wondered, one is for me and one for my daughter - the person who makes sure you get this message every week, Miriam.) Our local bookstore, Jankes, will open at 11:00 pm the night they are released and start selling the books at midnight. I can't wait! In the 2nd book of the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Albus Dumbledore said, "It is not our abilities that tell us what we truly is our choices." He is so wise. If we all thought about our choices - big and small - for the next week, I bet we'd all be making some changes.

April 18
Sunday marked the 60th anniversary of the day when the grandson of a slave, son of a sharecropper, Jackie Robinson, played baseball wearing a Brooklyn Dodger's uniform. Some thought it would end the game, some thought it was about time, and some remained indifferent to the whole thing. Everyone agreed it was a change. Here we are - 6 decades later. When a change is introduced, some will think it is the worst thing imaginable, some will think it's terrific, and some will try to believe it's nothing they need to think about. We each get the opportunity to choose which reaction is ours. Jackie, himself, challenges us with this. "Life is not a spectator sport. If you're going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you're wasting your life." A challenge that is as meaningful today as it was when first issued years ago.

April 11
Vanessa Redgrave was asked to share her feelings about reviews the week before she was scheduled to open the Broadway version of Joan Didion's award-winning book, The Year of Magical Thinking. "You can't," she said, "be striving to please - you must be striving to get to the heart of the matter." What are you striving toward these days? Are you focused on the heart of things?

April 4
Are you hooked on NPR like I am? I'm always thrilled when I'm in the car during All Things Considered. Right before the March Madness Final Four weekend, they interviewed legendary basketball coach, John Wooden. When asked about his game behavior, he explained that he mostly sat in a chair. He said to his team, "Don't look over at me - I prepared you during the week to do your job." What a great statement from a leader who's done his job right. Could you say the same thing?

March 28
Those of us who live in snow country get excited at the approach of spring. (I suppose those who live in milder climes do, too.) Ling Po suggests that, "He who neglects to drink of the spring of experience is likely to die of thirst in the desert of ignorance." This is a perfect time to change something. Winter is over! Take a walk. Send your winter clothes to the cleaners. Wear a bright color. Put a bunch of daffodils on your desk, or better yet, someone else's desk. Don't find yourself thirsty this summer!

March 21
My mother, June Blomberg (who would be unhappy if I revealed her age here), is a big fan of Alexandra Stoddard and shared this quote. "What we do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all of our tomorrows." I agree 100%. The best part is, once you accept this basic concept, when you change what you do today you will change what happens tomorrow. Cool!

March 14
A recent USA Today article about the relationships being built between Iraqi brigades and U.S. Advisors revealed that our soldiers are being urged to read a 1917 article written by T.E. Lawrence. (You'd probably recognize him as Lawrence of Arabia.) In this article Lawrence said, "Do not try to do too much with your own hands, better the Arabs do it tolerably than you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not win it for them." It occurred to me that this is a good model for all leaders. When we try to fix things for those who follow us, we block our follower's ability to learn and grow. This is a time that the leader's often have to change first!

March 7
A reader, Barbara Murray from the Financial Training Department at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote me recently about her long tenure in her job - 21 years. In her musings about being in a job she loves for an extended period she said, "your emails are a constant reminder that while you might not physically change your job - your mental outlook needs to remain on the move!" Quite frankly, I've always believed that opening your mind to change was the real point of all this change talk. Thanks, Barbara for seeing it through the same lens that I do.

February 28
Have you read books by Seth Godin? I find his view of the world fascinating and I've never been disappointed by any of his books. He was quoted in an article I read recently. "To succeed today, you have to do more than just be a little better at what you did yesterday. Why should we expect that the world will change in our favor?" Why, indeed?

February 22
My friend, Max Jaffe, called me from Houston and said, "Chris, it's Thursday and I haven't gotten my change message!" "Hey," I said back. "Just thought I'd toss a little change your way." My guess is you wouldn't buy that any more than Max did. I was bad and didn't get my message to Miriam in time for her to send it out to you, so I'll try to make up by sharing a really good one.

We don't get too many unsubscribe messages to this eLetter. People seem to enjoy its content and especially its brevity. But a few weeks ago we got a please-remove-from-this-list email. The email went like this. "Thank you...she no longer works for us...because she couldn't change..." I wonder how many people miss the connection between the ability to change and survival. Please don't let it be you!

February 14
Cards, flowers, candy - all Valentine's Day staples. Jackie Robinson reminds us that "A life isn't significant except for its impact on others." What if, to celebrate this year's day of love and connection, you worked on significance rather than surface. I bet you could write a more meaningful verse than Hallmark.

January 31
One of you sent me a note recounting an experience during a session on change. A participant signaled the speaker with a raised hand in order to ask a question. The presenter responded with, "Can you hold that question until later?" Okay, just think about it for a minute...

P.S. If you are part of an organization who has managed a big cultural change well and would be willing to talk to a client of mine about best practices, please email me back with your contact information. We'll both be grateful.

January 24
Keith Sawyer was explaining creativity when he said, "There are a lot more people who have the capacity than take the action of change. Maybe genius has an element of change in it." Any sentence that has the words change and genius in it catches my attention! How would you measure your capacity for change? My guess is that your capacity far exceeds your action. What if more change propelled you to genius status?

January 17
It must have been this time of the year when Anthony J. D'Angelo said, "The greatest gift you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention." After a holiday season where you've been focusing on the needs, wants, and demands of others, why not spend sometime on what YOU need to make this year you're best ever!

January 10
Frank and I watched Garrison Keillor's Great Performances special on PBS. It was a lovely way to spend New Year's Eve. (Of course, the bottle of Champagne didn't hurt either.) In a round about way it reminded me of Keillor's thoughts about funerals. "People say such nice things at funerals that it makes me sad to realize I'm going to miss mine by just a few days." Wouldn't it be lovely if we all resolved to say the nice things before the funeral so no one would miss them?

January 3
Going through the mail which had accumulated on my desk, I found a flyer announcing the closing of a knitting store in Eau Claire, WI called Threade Bear. The owner started her message with a quote from a friend of hers. "Sometimes to attain a dream, you have to give up another." Seems an appropriate thought to ponder this first week in January. If you have a change you're working on, have you decided what you're willing to give up in order to make space for your new possibility? It might be an action, a belief, or an attitude. Say goodbye so that you can say hello.

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