Thinking for a CHANGE 2012

December 19, 2012
If anyone asks, a copy ofResilience: The Science of Mastering Life's GreatestChallengesby Steven Southwick might be a wonderful gift for the holidays. Here's asneakpeek.

"Optimism is an essential component toresiliencybecause it lets you filter out negative thoughts that do not accurately reflect the situation."

How was yourscoreon thepessimismto optimism scale in 2012? What could you do to improve your grade?

December 12, 2012
In an interview with Kelly Weaver, founder of the Alexander Leigh Center for Autism and mother of Gillian, her daughter who was diagnosed with autism at 15 months, I read:

"This has certainly been challenging, but its never been hard."

How, I thought, could she say that and be telling the truth? I can only imagine the difficulties faced by families raising children with autism. But yet, in my own life, when I've done difficult things that I really believed in I would have said the same thing. Maybe change isn't the hard thing; it could be that not really caring, is.

December 6, 2012
Ever wonder if all this change is worth it? Are you surprised that even I do? Ran across a quote that goes a long way to answer that question. Frank A. Clark (no relation) said:

"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere."

I'm going to find my dog-eared copy of Robert Frost's Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening and compare these two thoughts before the holidays hit with full force. Who knows, they just might influence my choices for the rest of 2012.

November 28, 2012
I hope you've had a weekend that gave you the right measure of food, family, friends, and fun. I know I did. I did not, however, participate in the Black Fridayshopping frenzy. (I'm thinking the amazing deal Miriam got for me on the FringeDVDsdoesn't really count.) I am planning to use the 30% off Black Friday email coupon to purchase Anne Lamott's new book Help, Thanks, Wow. She is a wonderful writer, and her comment in a recent interview caught my attention.

"I am thankful for the self-acceptance that has come with age."

Maybe, contrary to conventional wisdom, change gets easier as you get older. I'll let you know what Lamott and I think after I read the book.

November 7, 2012
All the leaves are off the trees. Election Day included our first take-a-picture-of-the-snow-on-the-ground event. The furnace has needed to blow warm air every night for the last week. I'm wearing tights instead of stockings. I can't deny it any more-fall is becoming a memory, in Northern Wisconsin, winter is our current reality. Reminds me of the very first change quote I ever collected.

Change is inevitable; growth is optional!

I never did find the original source, but the thought is mighty. Mother Nature (unless you live in San Diego, where we know it's always 72 degrees and sunny) uses the change of seasons to remind us of the natural order of change in our lives while the quote challenges us to remember that we each need to own our responses to those changes. The arrival of winter is always my opportunity to reflect on this as I shiver.

October 31, 2012
My friend and colleague, Scott Friedman, CSP, sends out postcards for every holiday with a funny top ten list. Yesterday I got his 2012 Halloween card. Number 2 was, "Change is good, you go first."

Perfect. Lots of people ascribe to the let-Mikey-try-it approach to change management. At work and at home. Trust me, it doesn't work. If you want to change something, you need to be at the front of the line.

October 24, 2012
Tonight we gathered as an extended family to say good bye to my son's exchange instructor, Herman Beverdam, as he heads home to the Netherlands. Fortune cookies arrived with the bill and we had fun reading, sharing, and commenting. Quinn's caused us all to pause with puzzled looks on our faces. "The usefulness of a cup is in its emptiness," it read. Son Paul got "If you keep too busy learning the tricks of the trade, you may never learn the trade." I leave it to you to apply these words of possible wisdom to your own lives. The others didn't make the cut to save and take home.

Mine, however, was the best from a change perspective. "Progress always involves risk." If you're in the middle of a change that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, maybe you aren't risking enough. Worth thinking about it.

October 18, 2012
If your desk looks like mine, I'm really sorry. During this time of doing-more-with-less and work-smarter-not-harder, I don't think it's unusual to end the day slightly lessenthusiasticthan you started it. Possibly this quote from Emerson will give you food for thought and a more positive outlook at the end of tomorrow.

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin itserenelyand with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

Good old Emerson. He knew that change that starts with your attitude will carry over to your behavior as surely as the sun rises in the East. Print this one out and post it where you can see it for the day. That's what I'm going to do.

October 11, 2012
Hey, did you miss us yesterday? Miriam and I were meeting so she could teach me how to use Excel (often referred to in my office as the evil app) to create charts you could then use in a Word document. (Miriam says: It would be significantly easier if you did it entirely in Excel, Mom!) Along with my accountability partner, Lenora Billings-Harris, I'm working to CHANGE and monitor some of my business strategies. But Miriam and I got so wrapped up in the teaching and learning that the process of sending out this week's Thinking for a Change took a back seat. That's the trouble with change -- it takes attention and energy while the regular stuff still needs tending. Reminded me of my friend, Sam Silverstein, CSP's quip:

"People want to be accountable, they just don't always know what they're accountable for."

Before we started our learning adventure, Miriam and I could have remembered that we had two things to do last night: get Change out AND conquer the new world, for me, of Dashboard charts. Too bad I didn't think of Sam's insight sooner. If you will forgive mytardiness, celebrate my new skill, I can report both during my accountability call tomorrow morning.

October 3, 2012
Yesterday, October 2nd, was Gandhi's birthday. Among so many other things he is remember for is one of the most famous Change quotes ofall time. It seems only fitting to reprise it this week.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

No further comments needed.

September 26, 2012
Last night I was honored to represent the Board of Kids Voting Wisconsin/Marathon County at our local Community Foundation 25th Anniversary Celebration. They awarded significant grants to 25 non-profits in our community. We were one of the fortunate recipients. As a bonus, we were additionally gifted with a Concert and Conversation with the creatively talented Peter Buffett. (If he doesn't ring a bell, you might recognize his father, the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett.)

Sharing stories from his book, Life is What You Make It, Peter talked not so much of change but of the same and ordinary that has guided his extraordinary life. Sitting in the darkened Grand Theater I was reminded again that at the heart of successful change there is always a list of unchanging values. Peter acknowledged that those values were the greatest gifts he got from his billionaire father. When was the last time you reviewed your unchangeable values, where they came from, and how diligently you follow them? Trust me, it's a worthwhile assignment.

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM CHRIS; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

As you know from last week's message, our family team, as Quinn's QUaCkers, joins other committed people annually, for theJDRFWalk for a Cure, in honor of my grandson, Quinn, who was diagnosed at 22 months with Type 1 diabetes. This year we walk on October 6th at Piffner Park in Stevens Point, WI. We invite you to either join us in person or via a donation. Click here to go directly to the JDRF site where you can register or pledge your support. (If the hyperlink doesn't work, cut and paste this into your browser:http://walk.jdrf.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=walk.home). Once at the Walk Central Page, search for Quinn's QUaCKers or Chris Clarke-Epstein. Then choose to donate or register to walk.

Please know you have my eternal gratitude for reading and commenting on these messages over the last 12 years. Your choice to act instead of waiting to be part of this action means we canchangethe lives of so many!

September 19, 2012
Special Annual JDRF edition of Thinking for a Change

Caught the end of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this weekend. One of the final lines in the movie is one character asking another, "How much of human life is lost in waiting?" Ever thought of that? What portion of your life are you loosing while waiting for something to change? What might happen if you decided to initiate the change that would improve your life now?I believe that those changes are within our grasp and need your help to prove it.

Annually I break my Thinking for a Change-is-always-short promise for this appeal--a promise I break only for this critical need. As many of you know, my eldest grandson, Quinn (now 12), was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was 22 months old. It is my dream that a cure for this difficult disease that affects millions of children and adults will be found -soon. The work done by JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) is getting closer to making that happen. But research takes money. If I could do it by myself, I would, but this is a change that needs many willing to work for it.

Our family team, as Quinn's QUaCkers, joins other committed people, for theJDRFWalk for a Cure.This year we walk on October 6th at Piffner Park in Stevens Point, WI. We invite you to either join us in person or via a donation. Click here to go directly to the JDRF site where you can register or pledge your support. (If the hyperlink doesn't work, cut and paste this into your browser:http://walk.jdrf.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=walk.home). Once at the Walk Central Page, search for Quinn's QUaCKers or Chris Clarke-Epstein. Then choose to donate or register to walk.

Every week thousands people around the world read these messages about change and many of you have supported us in the past.This year especially times are tough for many and spending-your-money decisions are difficult, but think of how you'll feel when they announce a breakthrough for Type One Diabetes and you'll know it was because you cared AND acted.

Please know you have my eternal gratitude for reading and commenting on these messages over the last 12 years. Your choice to act instead of waiting to be part of this action means we canchangethe lives of so many!

September 13, 2012
July held the annual National Speakers Association (NSA) Convention. I became the student--notebook and pen in hand, listening andlearningwith my professional colleagues. Peter Sheahan, CSP captured my attention with comments like this:

"We need the courage and discipline to say NO to opportunities."

In our office we've long referred to this as our bright, shinny object problem. You see, as someone who embraces change wholeheartedly, even I realize that you can't chase all the changes that capture your attention nor implement all the ideas that seem to generateexcitement. What you need to do is cultivate thediscernmentto evaluate and chose between ideas and changes that deserve your immediate attention and action and those that deserve a place on a back burner. Peter was right, that takes courage AND discipline.

September 5, 2012
Isn't it funny that you quickly come to believe that you know the actors who create the characters in the shows you love? I'm eager to see this season of Modern Family. I love the crazy, quirky members of the three intertwined branches of the blended Prichett/Dunphy/Tucker family. Eric Stonestreet plays Cameron Tucker the overweight, overwrought, often over-the-top partner of Mitchell Pritchett. In a profile I read recently, he talked about watching his mother as she battled cancer.

"It taught me," he said, "that life is precious and love the people in your life and do what you can do.

Today is my Birthday. (Yes, I talked to my mother and thanked her for the opportunity to celebrate this day.) I can't tell you how glorious it has been--receiving the emails, Facebook posts, voice mail serenades, cards in the mail, hugs from family members both virtually and in-person, and interesting work to do. Life is precious and I love the people in my life and that includes you!

August 29, 2012
In my part of the world, we're six days from the first day of school. When I was a child, I couldn't wait for that day to arrive. The sight of school supplies in store aisles still demands that I slow down and look. Which is why, when I read the profile of 73-year-old Ann E. Smith, this comment from her swim trainer, Derrick Milligan, caught my attention. Her determination, he said, has taught him a thing or two.

"There is no age attached to a student; that quest is without a number."

I couldn't agree more. This is a perfect time to learn something new and since the purpose of all learning is change...

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED NEWS ABOUT THINKING for a CHANGE; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

For any of you who live in the Wausau area, the YWCA is starting a series of five Personal Development Lunch and Learn sessions. I'm doing one on Oct 31st and my friend and valued colleague, Kathryn Jeffers is doing two - September 26th & October 10th. This series is well-designed, content-rich, and very affordable. You can attend as many or few as fit your schedule and budget. You can find the details and register here. I'm planning to attend a many as my schedule allows. It would be great to see you there.

August 22, 2012
At the recent NSA Convention, as is our custom, the current President gave each Board Member and Past President a gift. This year our President, Laura Stack, CSP (known around the world as The Productivity Pro), gave us each a very high tech, Global Atomic Radio Controlled clock. (Get the clever connection?) It came with 15-page instructional booklet which reads in part:The transmitted signal is picked up by the radio receiver in your clock and it is decoded with a split second precision, to synchronize to the accurate time in your time zone. Frank and I have worked for several hours over several days to set it up per the instructions. It keeps perfect Eastern Standard Time - my office and the clock are in the Central Time Zone.

I couldn't help remembering the saying:

Only a few clocks change on their own.

Now, knowing Laura and the quality she demands in herself as well as the things she buys, I'm certain we'll get this clock to change all by itself and be happy about it. (Especially after I call the Technical Support number I just found on page 15 of the instructions.) But, like all changes, there is work to be done no matter how convincing the promotional copy.

August 15, 2012
My friend, fellow book club reader, and dance instructorextraordinaire, Krista Reince, shared a quote with me a while ago. Robert Brault offered a definition of an optimist:

Anoptimistis someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha.

When you're dealing with a behavior change, it's inevitable that you're going to be bad at the new behavior in thebeginning. For heaven's sake, I know we understand that intellectually, but you have no idea how many people won't even try a new behavior because of a fear of failure, foolishness, or firing. Now, thanks to Krista, we've got another way to view a situation like this. Anytime you're ready to try on a new behavior, download "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys from iTunes, hit play, and cha-cha your way as you practice toward success.

August 8, 2012
Did you miss us? We missed you, and here we are back again after a series of adventures, family and friend connections, and time for reading - summer reading where the purpose is pure enjoyment. Backyard lounge chair, on a blanket near the water, or under an umbrella on the deck, your choice. Perfect forguilty-pleasurereading. You know, the books you're slightly embarrassed to love as much as you do. For me it's end-of-society-as-we-know-it books. Weather runamok, nuclear disaster, disease strain escaped from the lab - I love 'em! The thrill comes when, in the midst of this reading for fun, you stumble over a gem worthy of deeper thought. Here's what I found inExtinction Point - Book One: The Endby Paul Antony Jones:

Emily is setting out to join the othersurvivorsand reflects: "She was going to miss this little place. It had been her refuge from the outside world, leaving it behind was going to be painful not only because of her deep emotional investment but because, when she stepped outside that door for the final time, she was also stepping away from the last remnants of her old life and all the security that came with it."

Not to beat you over the head, that's change exactly - leaving the old, familiar, and secure for the unknown. How did Emily do? How should I know; I'm waiting for Book Two to find out.

(BTW: IsporadicallyTweet the titles of the books I'm reading. Follow along @ChrisChange. I'll Tweet titles more often if I know you're interested.)

July 11, 2012
Reading a very brief article in More magazine I met cancer survivor, Barbara Hillary, 80. After she retired from nursing, Barbara took up winter sports - snowmobiling anddog sledding. When she heard that no African American woman had ever skied both the North and South Poles, she took up the challenge and succeeded. When asked what she does when things are tough, Barbara replied:

"Recheck your navigation and move your as*."

If your life isn't all you hope or want it to be, Barbara's advice could apply.Sort of like losing weight - nothing magic - eat less and move more.What would happen if you spent the rest of the summer doing some of both? Pull out the GPS and get to work.

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN NEWS ABOUT THINKING for a CHANGE; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

In the spirit of today's message, Thinking for a Change is taking a break. Next week is the NSA Annual Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is my annual planning time and the following two weeks find Miriam on a vacation adventure. We decided to take a few weeks off to check our navigation and plan to return ready to move as* on August 8th.We'll miss you, for sure.Hope you miss us a little.

June 27, 2012
This last weekend was family-filled for me. A movie with my daughter. Granddaughter's birthday with extended family. Tech support session with my mom. (Problem solved, thank you very much for asking.) Etiquette dinner with two of our grandsons. You get the picture. Frank and I are very aware that we are fortunate to have three generations of family to gather with a quick phone call. As we approach the Fourth of July, I'm recalling a line from an old AndyGriffith Show. Andy says to Barney:

"Time has a way of moving down the road, doesn't it."

This summer will melt away and unless you don't want to face the fall tallying up the things you didn't do - start planning them now and commit to actually doing them immediately after you make your plan. Facing the fall with memories rather than regrets, well, its a good thing.

June 20, 2012

It’s hot here in the north woods of Wisconsin, although tomorrow is scheduled to be back to non-air-conditioned normal again. If you haven’t already, I bet thoughts of vacation have crossed your mind. In that spirit, I read Rick Steves' travel column in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune. The caption under the accompanying picture read:

“When life gives you a camel, jump aboard! Timidity will get you nothing to write home about.”

Now, I’m thinking that neither you nor I are likely to encounter a camel this summer, however, I will bet that something could happen on our vacations that would end up deserving a metaphorical or an actual exclamation point if we jumped aboard. Make being open to that experience a goal for this summer. I can’t wait to hear about it.

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' OFFER OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

Want to see Chris in action? Check out the 15 minute video of Chris speaking at the 2011 Meeting Professional International - Wisconsin Chapter Education Day on the importance of getting a measurable Return on Attendance (ROA) from any learning event available here on YouTube. Feel free to leave a comment.

June 13, 2012
Several of my grandchildren are attending summer school. Now, in my day, (OMG I sound old) attending summer school meant you’d had trouble in a subject that required you to complete make-up work while all the other kids played. It certainly wasn’t seen as a fun opportunity. Glad to report, things have changed. Now summer school is promoted as one way to prevent the learning loss that summer brings. The kids are all excited about the fun stuff they get to do – the fact that they’ll be learning isn’t even on their radar. Reminds me of a line from the movie, Warhorse.

“You can’t win if you’re fighting with bayonets in a machine gun world.”

War metaphors are sometimes tough for me, but this one is apt for those of us who care about change. Even though it may be many years since you enjoyed a last day of school and the perceived freedom of summer stretching out in front of you, my guess is you’ve still had a vacation, ease-up thought cross your mind. How you keep and increase your skill set all year long is a great predictor of your success when you meet change. I just downloaded two books for my personal summer learning course. Maybe summer school would be a good idea for you, too?

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' OFFER OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

If you're part of planning a meeting in 2012-2013 and think that one of Chris' Change programs would be valuable for your participants, we'd like to offer your group the special Thinking for a Change subscriber discount. Click here and pick "Get her Thinking for a Change eLetter" in the "How did you hear about Chris?" field. We'll follow up, ASAP.

June 6, 2012
When you’re open and paying attention, life offers incredible opportunities. One of mine was a chance encounter with a noted science fiction writer. During a massive American Booksellers Association trade show, I happened down an unusually empty aisle where I noticed an older, distinctive looking, white-haired man standing by himself. “Excuse me,” I said as I approached with hand extended. “Are you by chance, Ray Bradbury?” “Yes,” he replied grasping my hand in his, “Nice to meet you.” For the next 15 minutes or so we talked about writing, life, and the state of book selling in America – just the two of us. I kept waiting for someone to swoop down and whisk him away to do whatever it is that writers who are legends do when they attend ABA. This morning I heard that Mr. Bradbury died at the age of 91. Of all the quotes I could share in his memory, here’s my favorite.

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”

This afternoon I took a book, found the sunny spot on the deck, and spent an hour reading for pleasure. In the next few days, find some time, a book and please join me honoring Bradbury’s memory. It would be a crime if we don’t.

May 30, 2012
My daughter, and Thinking for a Change editor, Miriam, called me this morning to share a quote she ran across during her morning internet grazing. She discovered it on a friend’s Facebook feed so neither of us personally know the source, Katherine Winter-Boger, but we both thought her comment was worth passing along.

“…When making changes to one’s life, why does it take so long or happen so fast?”

Summer is a perfect time to ponder the fickleness of time passing. Waiting for the last day of school – endless. Days on a vacation – blink of an eye. We can all agree, can’t we, that the actual time involved is the same, it is our perception that creates the distortion. Without being fully present in the midst of any life event, we run the risk of missing the essence of the event itself. So, this summer don’t fall into the trap of allowing time to distort around you. Adopt a Zen approach for Summer 2012 and just be. Excuse me, I’m going to sit on the deck and think about this for a little while longer.

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' OFFER OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

If you're part of planning a meeting in 2012-2013 and think that one of Chris' Change programs would be valuable for your participants, we'd like to offer your group the special Thinking for a Change subscriber discount. Click here and pick "Get her Thinking for a Change eLetter" in the "How did you hear about Chris?" field. We'll follow up, ASAP.

May 23, 2012
Bonnie Raitt is one mean musician. By mean, I mean a big-voiced, award-winning, and at-the-top-of-her-game-for-a-long-time singer. Her newest album, Slipstream, is getting rave reviews. In a recent interview she might have given us some insight into her long career. Raitt said,

“Who would have thought that rest was a sacred act? A therapist I love said, ‘Only go as fast as the slowest part of you can go.’”

As we face the weekend that in the states traditionally marks the beginning of the summer season and many of us begin to madly plan our vacations, Raitt’s words about the sacredness of rest in our lives are important to ponder. As you plan your 2012 family adventures, only plan to go as fast as your slowest part. Bonnie Raitt and I will be proud of you.

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' QUESTION OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

Hey, my friends. I’m working on a book proposal on leaders and change that, when accepted, will require a bunch of interviews. At this time I need to have a few conversations with leaders who really love what they do and freely express glee in the workplace. (My definition of leader is not necessarily title related. I do think the individuals I’ll be talking need to directly influence and supervise others.) I’m betting that you know some leaders like that and could connect me to them. If you have someone in mind, please email me and I’ll take it from there. There will be similar requests in the future on a long list of leadership behaviors. I’ll keep you posted.

May 16, 2012
I bet you don’t know that you know who the Ephron sisters are. Among other things, they’ve written, directed, and produced movies such as You’ve Got Mail, Michael, Sleepless in Seattle, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Hanging Up. Nora and Delia Ephron are talented and very funny women. I heard Delia on a CBS Sunday Morning interview say,

“We all have the imagination to change our lives.”

Often we believe that imagination is the arena of people who work in the creative professions. Au contraire. I’m with Delia. We all…not some, but all of us, have the seeds of new beginnings within our grasp. When’s the last time you let your imagination run free?

May 9, 2012
Flora Lichtman, multimedia editor for NPR’s Science Friday and co-author of Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us, was talking about getting people who annoy us to change when she said:

“It’s hard to get people to change their behavior; as a stranger. I haven’t had much success, even with my close friends.”

Now I like Flora and admire her work, but come on. This was a surprise? We’re always over-estimating our ability to change other people and underestimating our ability (dare I say need) to change ourselves. The next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re plotting a change plan for someone else--stop, take a deep breath, and seriously consider how YOU could change and improve the situati

May 2, 2012
I like the TV show, Bones, although it is a little gross at times and the main character, Temperance Brennan’s behavior is often extreme to the point of unbelievable, but still I record and watch it fairly faithfully. Imagine my delight when I heard Dr. Brennan say this to her FBI partner, Booth,

“Just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.”

Let’s face it—more often than not, change is difficult and even thinking about tackling a change is often enough to stop an individual or organization before they begin. We try to tell ourselves that this time the change will be smooth, easy, and over before we know it. Maybe it would be better if we acknowledged right from the get-go that most likely, it will be bumpy, tough, and take longer than we ever imagined and none of those things mean we shouldn’t do it.

April 25, 2012
Although I can usually identify an Andy Warhol work of art and I certainly have pondered his amazing prediction of 15 minutes of fame for everyone, I didn’t know he’d weighed in on change until I discovered this quote.

“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

An interesting juxtaposition since most of us think change takes our control away and Warhol appears to be saying that we need to take control and act. When I work with people going through organizational change, one of the first things we do is to identify issues they control and can influence in order to create plausible action plans. The challenge? Letting go of things they have no control over--the list that often consumes their attention. Could that confusion of attention be clouding your approach/attitude toward change? Listen to Warhol and don’t sit passively waiting for time to fix things.

April 18, 2012
Since last week’s Thinking for a Change was much longer than usual, it seems only fair to make this week’s short. At a recent Weight Watcher’s meeting, our leader, Cindy, gave us mock fortune cookie fortunes. Mine read:

“If nothing changes; nothing changes.”

Bet you can figure out the implications of those five words all by yourself!

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' OFFER OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

If you're part of planning a meeting in 2012-2013 and think that one of Chris' Change programs would be valuable for your participants, we'd like to offer your group the special Thinking for a Change subscriber discount. Click here and pick "Get her Thinking for a Change eLetter" in the "How did you hear about Chris?" field. We'll follow up, ASAP.

April 12, 2012
So, we couldn’t continue to call this message, Thinking for a Change, if we didn’t change things once and a while. So here’s a different-than-usual message. It’s a bit longer than most week’s messages, it comes with instructions, and will challenge you to think differently for a while. Print this email out (It’s worth the potential tree sacrifice, trust me.) and take it to a place where you can talk out loud without disturbing someone else. What you’ll have in your hands is a poem by Philip Levine, the Poet Laureate of the United States. This, like all poems, is meant to be spoken not just read, so read it out loud to yourself. Don’t be surprised if you’re moved to read it to someone else; great poems often have that effect.

The Mercy

The ship that took my mother to Ellis Island
eighty-three years ago was named "The Mercy."
She remembers trying to eat a banana
without first peeling it and seeing her first orange
in the hands of a young Scot, a seaman
who gave her a bite and wiped her mouth for her
with a red bandana and taught her the word,
"orange," saying it patiently over and over.
A long autumn voyage, the days darkening
with the black waters calming as night came on,
then nothing as far as her eyes could see and space
without limit rushing off to the corners
of creation. She prayed in Russian and Yiddish
to find her family in New York, prayers
unheard or misunderstood or perhaps ignored
by all the powers that swept the waves of darkness
before she woke, that kept "The Mercy" afloat
while smallpox raged among the passengers
and crew until the dead were buried at sea
with strange prayers in a tongue she could not fathom.
"The Mercy," I read on the yellowing pages of a book
I located in a windowless room of the library
on 42nd street, sat thirty-one days
offshore in quarantine before the passengers
disembarked. There a story ends. Other ships
arrived, "Tancred" out of Glasgow, "The Neptune"
registered as Danish, "Umberto IV,"
the list goes on for pages, November gives
way to winter, the sea pounds the alien shore.
Italian miners from Piemonte dig
under towns in western Pennsylvania
only to rediscover the same nightmare
they left at home. A nine-year-old girl travels
all night by train with one suitcase and an orange.
She learns that mercy is something you can eat
again and again while the juice spills over
your chin, you can wipe it away with the back
of your hands and you can never get enough.

April 4, 2012
March 11th was the one year anniversary of the disastrous and tragic earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. The CBS Sunday Morning that recounted the event featured a man who designed and made dolls in the images of children who perished. He sends the dolls to the still grieving parents with this explanation.

“After the harsh winter comes spring. You don’t suffer the winter forever. Spring will arrive. Wait for that day with this doll.”

I can’t imagine what those parents have experienced, but I know many of us experience a change that feels like an endless winter. If you’re in that place right now or know someone who is, remember – Spring will arrive. Find something meaningful and tangible to hold on to while you wait for that day.

March 28, 2012
Has something happened to you recently that prompted an all-out, nose-running, pants-peeing laugh? When I was struck yesterday -- occasioned by finding my long-lost Bluetooth headset in the toe of a boot, don’t ask -- I remembered an Anne Wilson Schaef observation:

I realize humor isn’t for everyone. It’s only for people who want to have fun, enjoy life, and feel alive.

Worked for me that day and I thought a reminder might be good for you, too.

March 21, 2012
Has the weather been unusual in your area? In Northern Wisconsin, we've gone from winter to summer in the blink of an eye. (Although, I'm quick to echo a line in our local paper's editorial about an 80 degree day in March: "We're waiting for Winter to drop her other shoe.") We've all got spring fever, not to mention allergy related stuffy noses. Reminded me of an Emily Dickenson couplet.

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.

Spring does encourage a bit of madness, doesn't it? Brightly colored clothes. Splashing in a puddle. Heading out for an after-dinner stroll. None would score high on the madness scale, but all feel different than typical winter behavior. I'm going to make sure I change my behavior to include a little madness daily until summer arrives for good. How about you?

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If you're part of planning a meeting in 2012 and think that one of Chris' Change programs would be valuable for your participants, we'd like to offer your group the special Thinking for a Change subscriber discount. Click here and pick "Get her Thinking for a Change eLetter" in the "How did you hear about Chris?" field. We'll follow up, ASAP.

March 15, 2012
If you've been reading Thinking for a Change for the last several issues, you know that we're changing our office set up. The Great Downsizing of 2012, we're calling it. Tomorrow is the first day of our rummage sale; tonight I had to clear a path to my desk and computer to write this edition. Brought to mind one of my own quotes.

"Change often seems bewildering at the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and perfectly understandable when you look back."

Between now and April 1st, I'm okay with a chaotic reality, but I'm hoping the perfectly understandable parts come quickly. After all, I'm the one who said it!

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Lots of my speaking friends write books - most of them are terrific - and once and a while there is one that tells a story that when read, will transform the reader's world view. My friend, Chad Hymas' new book, Doing What Must Be Done: Even Limitations Can Be Used to Make Life Better!, is one of those. Check it out on Amazon.com or ask your local bookstore to order you a copy. You and your family will be graced by Chad's story and philosophy.

March 7, 2012
I've been thinking recently about the connection between change and action. Actually I'm wondering if you can claim to be good at change if you're not good at the action that ultimately makes the change happen. (You could substitute follow through for action if that strikes a closer chord.) All this thinking led me to George Clooney...not a bad place to end...and something I heard him say during an interview.

"Knowing about something doesn't change it. Shining a light doesn't make it go away."

Conclusion - change and action are inseparable. Change without purposeful action is just chaos. Action without well thought-out change is just busy-work. Two sides of a coin. I know which one I need to focus on. How about you?

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' OFFER OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

Want to see Chris in action? Check out the 15 minute video of Chris speaking at the 2011 Meeting Professional International - Wisconsin Chapter Education Day on the importance of getting a measurable Return on Attendance (ROA) from any learning event available here on YouTube. If you haven't seen Chris for a while, check out her 50 pound weight loss. Feel free to leave a comment.

February 29, 2012
Another insight from the great office move of 2012. Decided to approach moving two bulletin boards as an opportunity for a personal archaeological dig. As I unearthed items beneath the top layer, I found several quotations I'd collected over the years, pinned up, and forgot under the clippings, grandchildren's drawings, and classic newspaper cartoons. I'm sharing them here without my reactions believing you can supply your own commentary.

The origin of the word bizarre is to be brave. -Webster's Dictionary

"We can communicate an idea around the world in 70 seconds, but sometimes it takes years for an idea to get through a quarter inch of human skull." - Charles F. Kettering

"Don't cheat yourself out of a moment." - Rita Foster

"Do your work as if it will last 100 years and live your life as if it will be over today." - Mother Ann

"If you get up in the morning excited about your day and go to bed at night proud of what you did - you're probably doing the right job. If your answer to this statement is no - several times a month - it's a signal." - Unknown

February 22, 2012
From the February 6th cover story "The Power of (shyness)" in TIME Magazine to Susan Cain's new book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, not to mention the Oscar nomination of the silent film, The Artist, it appears that introverts are coming into their own. I, of course, have known the value of developing, valuing, and learning from relationships with introverts for years. (The of course comes from the fact that Miriam, my daughter and Thinking for a Change editor, is a quiet-seeking, individually-acting, reflective-thinking introvert and I LOVE her!) She has taught me much about the rich potential for contemplation over chatter and I, the extrovert, have benefited greatly. So, it was with interest that I read this statement from Michel Hazanavicius, director of The Artist,

Maybe silence is the answer to too much communication.

In this day of too many emails, tweets, and Facebook updates resulting in less meaningful communication, maybe TIME, Cain, and Hazanavicius are on to something. I'm going to create a few minutes of quiet and think about it. You?

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' OFFER OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

Did you know that Chris has written a Workplace Reading Group book on effective meetings? Follow this link to check out I Can't Take Your Call Right Now, I'm in a Meeting: How to Make Time Invested in Meetings Pay Off. While you're there, take a look around Change101.com. There's lots of fun stuff to investigate and buy.

February 15, 2012
Frank, my husband, and I are in the middle of a significant rearrange of our working space. (Don't ask - it's a VERY long story.) This traumatic process - change, you might say - got me to compare and contrast two great quotes from a strange pairing: Winnie the Pooh and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again? (Winnie the Pooh)

Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in. (Napoleon Bonaparte)

If you'd been observing me you'd see me exhibiting both of these behavior patterns - immobilized and acting paralyzed and frenzied - slipping from one to the other without much identifiable rhyme or reason. Got me to thinking that many people experiencing change do the same thing to the confusion of those around them. In the future, when I observe that paradoxical behavior in others, I'm going to be more understanding. I hope you will, too.

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' OFFER OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

If you're part of planning a meeting in 2012 and think that one of Chris' Change programs would be valuable for your participants, we'd like to offer your group the special Thinking for a Change subscriber discount. Click here to read about some of Chris' programs, and then contact Stel for more information. Be sure to include that you are a Change subscriber!

February 8, 2012
This week I got the news that two of my colleagues experienced the death of their mothers. As a member of the Baby Boom generation, I'm certain I'll be sending sympathy cards, more often than I anticipated. Death is like that - a life condition we all want to believe won't impact us - the ultimate change we'll all have to face. Like so many changes, perspective is all. George Bernard Shaw offers one worth pondering.

Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.

I remember when my father died and my mother and I wondered if people would misconstrue our ability to laugh together as a lack of grief at is passing. It didn't take us long to realize our laughter, especially when it was triggered becuase of our memories of great family times with Dad, was the greatest way we could honor his life. Death, like all changes, comes with a mix of emotions attached. Ignoring the full range of emotions that come with a change stunts our ability to grasp the valuable life lessons attached to the changes. So, to my friends who are dealing with the grief of losing their mothers, I wish you both the ability to both cry and laugh with loving family and friends. Healing follows the combination.

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' OFFER OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

Want to see Chris in action? Check out the 15 minute video of Chris speaking at the 2011 Meeting Professional International - Wisconsin Chapter Education Day on the importance of getting a measurable Return on Attendance (ROA) from any learning event available here on YouTube. If you haven't seen Chris for a while, check out her 50 pound weight loss. Feel free to leave a comment.

January 25, 2012
It seems as though Employee Engagement will continue to be a hot topic in 2012. In preparation for a program on Friday, I was reviewing Employee Engagement: Tools for Analysis, Practice, and Competitive Advantage by Macey, Schneider, Barbera, and Young and ran across this view on the importance of feedback.

Groups of workers without knowledge of results tend to show a persistently lower level of performance than workers on the same task who continuously know how well they are doing.

Okay, not an earth shaking insight (I know how smart you all are!) but my work tells me it is a fact often ignored. We all want and need to know what we’re doing well, what we need to improve, and how our work is valued and viewed. I believe this applies to all situations where humans interact – work groups, volunteers teams, civic and faith organizations, and families. Where could you deliver some feedback and make a difference?

KEEP READING IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN CHRIS' OFFER OF THE WEEK; IF NOT, YOU'RE DONE!

Speaking of feedback, thanks to all of you who responded to my query about our new "Chris’ products and services" feature in these Change messages. I learned a lot from your comments.

Did you know that Chris has written a Workplace Reading Group book on Feedback? Follow this link and check out Silence Isn’t Golden: How to Unleash the Real Power of Feedback. While you’re there, look around. Fun stuff to investigate and buy!

January 18, 2012
Earlier today, Miriam, my daughter and Thinking for a Change editor/sender, asked me for any resources I might have about workplace tribes. I immediately went to Seth Godin's book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Paging through it, I discovered a quote I had highlighted when I read it the first time.

“Whatever the status quo is, changing it gives you the opportunity to be remarkable.”

Good then; even better today, at the beginning of a new year. I have some status quo behavior that I can change that will move me to a more remarkable place. How about you? Changing a status quo even feels more inspiring than working on a resolution!

Know how we pride ourselves on Change being a quick message? Well, this week we're a bit longer, because we've added a post script.

Chris Clarke-Epstein, CSP 2013 | Info@CHANGE101.com | (414) 719-0905 | Contact Us