Thinking for a CHANGE 2013

December 18, 2013
There is a sign I see every once and a while this time of the year. It says love is the reason for the season. I've always appreciated the sentiment behind it, but after reading Erica Jong's quote - even more

"Love is everything it's cracked up to be. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more."

What risk are you willing to take for love? This would be a great time to take it.

December 11, 2013
There is a sign I see every once and a while this time of the year. It says love is the reason for the season. I've always appreciated the sentiment behind it, but after reading Erica Jong's quote - even more.

"Love is everything it's cracked up to be. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more."

What risk are you willing to take for love? This would be a great time to take it.

December 4, 2013
It will feel like the official kick-off of the holiday season tonight. Our grandson Eli's school concert at the auditorium will find us looking proud as he and his classmates giggle and sing their hearts out. This means that I need to watch for the annual news story about Tony Lepore, the retired-comes-back-to-dance-while-directing-holiday-traffic cop in Rhode Island. Every year a media outlet showcases Tony's amazing traffic control done with disco and salsa moves. (Search for Providence, RI Traffic Cop Dancing on YouTube if you've never seen him.)

It reminds me that no matter what holiday you celebrate in December, a main message is JOY! In the midst of your own hustle and bustle, don't forget that.

November 20, 2013
Yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. This 272-word presentation continues to echo though the ages, reminding us that we are a nation born in change, grown in change, and, if we are to continue, sustained in change.

"It is for us, the living, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far nobly advanced."

Lincoln's charge still stands. It is for us to be active participants in this messy, frustrating, exciting process of the American Experiment.

November 13, 2013
Ninety-one year old Betty White is starring in a Sharper Image commercial this holiday season. In a recent interview where she admitted the irony of her choice given her general disinterest in all things electronic, she commented:

"As the world turns, women are much more diversified than years past." White continued, encouraging not only women, but also members of her own generation, "It's fascinating to find all the new things that are coming along, and you don't want to miss anything."

Her curiosity over something that isn't even in her interest sphere is a mark of a Change Master - they don't want to miss anything!

November 7, 2013
Some subjects are really difficult to talk about - especially if you haven't had personal experience dealing with them. Suicide comes to mind. An article by the Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian told of her mother's suicide when Melissa was 20. Here's the part that jumped off the page and gave me a valuable perspective.

"My 20s", she said, "were a mess. But the only way out is through, and sometimes the other side is so glorious you're grateful for whatever got you there. That's how I feel about that season of my life."

I will remember the phrase, "the only way out is through" for the rest of my life. I admire Melissa's willingness to share her unimaginable pain to teach the rest of us what's possible.

October 30, 2013
My friend, Jason Kotecki, sent out a Halloween issue of his eLetter earlier this week and it occurred to me that that today was a perfect day to share his message about being frightened. Since so many people are afraid of change, wouldn't it be a hoot if they realized that they should have been more afraid of not changing?

"Most of all, I am frightened by the prospect of waking up at the age of ninety, looking back on my life, and wondering, 'What if?' How many things have I missed out on because I was too afraid to try?

Other than on Halloween, nobody really likes to be afraid. But fear can be good, if it spurs you into action. My plan is to be ever vigilant about the story I'm living, by being mindful of how I spend my time, money, and attention"

October 23, 2013
Every once and a while I encounter a change quote I know I've shared in one of these messages before. Usually I grin and think how glad I am that someone besides me thinks it's meaningful. This time the quote said something so important, I decided I'd use it again. Who knows, you might have missed it the previous time. Albert Einstein said:

"The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking."

If arguably, the most brilliant man in recent memory was willing to change his thinking, who are we to remain rigid in ours?

October 16, 2013
I don't know anyone who hasn't been at least a little irritated with our representatives in Washington lately. It appears to me that both individually and collectively, they need to CHANGE the way they think and act. Maybe this observation from an article in a recent Huffington Post would be a good place to start pondering what that change could be.

"Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people they can morph and adapt into their most potent form."

I don't think our nation's capital is lacking in ideas; it's the thoughtful people part I'm concerned about. You?

October 9, 2013
There's been quite a bit of talk about happiness lately. Several surveys have been released, pundits have been commentating, and I've been reading like mad. In one of the more thought-provoking articles written by Al Kennedy in the BBC News Magazine I came across this.

"Every analysis of what makes lucky and happy people lucky and happy demonstrates they adapt fast and well to new situations and people...they don't try to impose stillness on a universe which is in motion."

I realize the speed of change is often one of its most difficult aspects, but it is also one of its inherent qualities. Maybe jumping into the motion is more helpful than trying to stop it. Let's give it a try!.

October 2, 2013
My friend and master trainer, Ed Scannell, CSP, CPAE has adefinitionfor the word fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. I shared it with my mother last week and it struck a chord for her. Fear is such a big part of change failure. Jean-Louis Etienne, the first man to reach the North Pole solo overland, pulling his own sled for 63 days, agrees.

"Everything looks impossible for the people who never try anything."

What part does fear play in your life and approach to change? This would be a great week to think about things you've labeled as impossible from Ed's and Etienne's perspective.

September 26, 2013
Caught the end ofIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skullthis 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 myThinking 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 13), 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. Clickhereto 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: Once at the Walk Central Page, search for Quinn's QUaCKers (team name) or Chris Clarke-Epstein (name). 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 18, 2013
On September 20, 1973, I was glued to the television to see The Battle of the Sexes. Wimbledon and U.S. Open winning tennis champion Billie Jean King met Bobby Riggs on the court and trounced him. (Remember that in that same year a woman couldn't apply for a credit card without her husband's approval.) I think it is the only time I've ever watched a tennis match and even though it was 40 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. Billie Jean was keenly aware that her performance was going to change things.

"In the '70s we had to make it acceptable for people to accept girls and women as athletes. We had to make it okay for them to be active."

Hard to believe that one event could set so much change in motion. I never thought of myself as an athlete, but after this match I knew I could be one if I worked for it. If you have a daughter, niece, or granddaughter who doesn't know who Billie Jean King is, tell her the story. In fact, tell your son, nephew, or grandson, too.

September 11, 2013
I, like you, have known for some time that most change initiatives don't work. It's not getting better. The 2013 Towers Watson Change and Communication ROI Surveyon Change Management found that only two-thirds (68%) of senior managers say they are getting the message about the reasons behind major organizational decisions. And only half (53%) of middle managers and 40% of first-line supervisors say their management does a good job of explaining reasons behind a major decision.

Obviously effective communication is a critical part of change success. The next time you face change -- either personally or professionally -- make sure you spend enough time crafting the story that explains the reasons behind, steps toward, and rewards for this particular change. Maybe we can improve the percentages reported in next year's survey.

September 4, 2013
I'm certain you were as amazed as I was when you heard that Diana Nyad reached her goal of swimming non-stop from Cuba to Florida. Her first attempt of this long-distance swim was in 1978 at age 29. Thirty-five years later, at age 64, she reached her goal. Talk about persistence during change! After the swim, she shared three lessons to take from her accomplishment.

“One is, we should never ever give up," said a slightly dazed Diana Nyad, whose slurred remarks were received with a roar by the crowd. “Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team."

No matter the challenge you're facing, the challenge you're about to take up, or the everyday challenge of living life, these three lessons apply. Don't give up. Age really doesn't matter. You need a team. Thanks Diana. We all needed to be reminded!

August 28, 2013
In the past week, death has touched me three times. The cousin of my dear friend Gary finally came to the end of his long battle with cancer. Here in Wausau, people opened this morning's paper to read about the death of Dick Dudley, one of our community's finest corporate citizens. And just about every paper carried the news of acclaimed mystery writer Elmore Leonard's untimely death. Since death is an integral part of life, none of these events are exceptional -- except for the families and close friends who are dealing with grief -- but learning of the trio in quick succession caused me to stop and think.

"It is the most satisfying thing I can think of," wrote Leonard, "to write a scene and have it come out the way I want. Or be surprised and have it come out even better than I thought."

From what I know of these three men, they died surprised -- having lived lives that came out even better than they thought.

August 28, 2013
I'm thinking it would be fun to look at first-day-of-school pictures through the ages when we gather on Sunday, so here's your project. Can you find a picture or pictures of any of the gang who will gather on a first day of school? (In anticipation, I've found two of mine, have to scour digital records for the ones i know I have of several of the kids.)

If you find any and can scan and send them, or let me know and I'll pick them up and scan them, I'd like to put them in a slide show we can all enjoy, reflect, and laugh over.

Chris who realizes she has much more important things to focus on, but darn this is fun!

August 21, 2013
Sometimes change is downright personal. It's not something we have to or need to do for work, our family, or an organization we care about. It's something we have to do because WE have to do it. In my experience, this change is the hardest. There is no place to hide, no one to blame, no one else to fault. It's just you and the change and a growing litany of self-doubt. Here's what Philip Lopate wrote in a recent
NY Times Book Section essay:

"We are dependent to an uncomfortable extent on the world's judgment, perhaps hoping that by some fluke the world will rate us higher than we rate ourselves."

If this is where you find yourself, make working on your self-talk the first action step toward your change. My prediction is, until you get your internal dialogue changed, you won't see much progress toward your goal.

August 14, 2013
Researchers say that there isn't a connection between the phases of the moon and odd behavior, but the way things have been happening around me it feels like it might be. There are a lot of sayings that we hold as true but aren't. Try this one: time makes change easier. Andy Warhol had a slightly different opinion.

"They always say time changes things but you actually have to change them yourself."

I agree with him. It's action, not time that helps the process of change. A significantly different approach to taking control during times of change. It's not a full moon, things are weird around me, and rather than waiting for time to fix stuff, I'm going to take some action.

August 7, 2013
Did you ever hear something that was at once brilliant and simple? At the 2013 PCMA Conference in Denver, CO, I heard Mike Walsh say:

"The only way you can prepare for the future is to participate in it."

He said it. I wrote it down, said duh! to myself, and have been thinking about it ever since. If you think change is a big part of your future or your organization's future, maybe this would be a great time to get really active in your personal and business life. Trust me, the quality of your future will depend on it.

July 31, 2013
The problem with summer, for many of us, is that it simply flies by. In case you hadn't noticed, today is the LAST DAY of JULY! Okay, print this email out. While it's printing take a deep breath. Walk outside if you can and read Raymond Carver's poem, At Least, out loud. (Really, poetry is supposed to be read out loud.)

I hate to seem greedy--I have so much

to be thankful for already.

But I want to get up early one more morning, at least,

And go to my place with some coffee and wait.

Just wait, to see what's going to happen.

Trust me, just do it. Then let me know what happens.

July 24, 2013
People send me change quotes all the time. I love getting them. Some are repeats. Some are brand new. My favorites are often the ones that I used to quote often and have somehow mentally misplaced. My friend and accountability partner, Lenora Billings-Harris, sent me one of those right as June turned into July. Sydney Harris (no relation to Lenora) said:

"Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.”

Now if that's not the truth, I don't know what is!

July 17, 2013

Do you have writers or personalities you admire even though you don't know a lot about them? Dorothy Parker falls into that category for me. (I do have a book of her complete works on my bookshelf. Maybe this will force me to actually read it.) Mostly I know her from clever, witty quotes. Here's the one I encountered recently.

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.

This seems to be a perfect thought to ponder during the summer, especially if you have a child in your house who is suffering from it's-summertime-and-there's-nothing-to-do syndrome. Help them, and yourself, get curious about something. I promise, as soon as you do - no more boredom at any age.

July 10, 2013
We're back. Did you miss us? Miriam and Elroy are all moved in with my mom. The old house is empty, the storage locker is almost full, and the change chaos is winding down. This hasn't been an easy transition for any of the participants; big changes seldom are. And so I was greatly amused by Jim Davis' Garfield strip last week.

Jon: Sometimes things just don't go right for me.

Garfield: There's a word for

Seasons change. Weather changes. Hair changes color, texture, or quantity. Life floods us with examples of the inevitability of change and we still think it doesn't apply to us. I've hung the comic strip where I can see it easily, just in case I forget.

June 19, 2013
Long time readers know that my daughter, Miriam, is in charge of editing and sending Thinking for a Change out each week. Newer readers - now you do. Recently we've (she and I) been doing more change than thinking about it. You see, Miriam and her 9 year old son, Elroy, are moving in with my almost 91 year old mother. (Sorry GG. I should have asked permission before mentioning your age.)

I have watched Miriam with awe as she has made a life-changing decision and undertaken all it involves with grace and good humor. Reminds me of a quote from Marsha Clement.

"Intelligence is the ability to change."

I've got one smart daughter!

June 10, 2013
I like slogans and mantras that help focus attention and remind me of a concept or an idea. There is one I've been using recently with groups as we work through change concepts. It goes like this:

We're trying something new...we're going to be bad at it...we're going to do it anyway...then we'll get better. (Change the "we're" to "I'm" if you're working through a change solo. The concept works either way.)

The reason this mantra is critical to change success is human nature. Most of us try something new, are bad at it, then quit. It's only by sticking with a new skill in order to develop some proficiency that we can master the change. I'm going to have wristbands made with my change mantra on them. I'll let you know when they're ready.

June 6, 2013
Friends are the best - before, during, and after change. My friend, Rick Jakle, CSP, and member of the Sherman Hospital Board ofDirectors, has been in the middle of the project that just ended in Sherman's successful merger with the Advocate Health Care system. You know, if you've been part of a merger that the project hasn't ended, the real change work is just beginning. Rick sent me this:

Change is scary, even if it promises a better life.

I know the entire focus of this merger is a better life for Sherman, its employees, its community, and most of all its patients. AND I know in the midst of all the excitement and celebration, the future feels a little scary for them all. If you find yourself in Elgin, IL, stop by, see their amazing campus, and wish them well.

May 29, 2013
Anyone or anything driving you crazy? Seems to me there's a lot of that going around these days. Miriam shared with me a quote from Peace Pilgrim that applies.

"There's only one person you can change and that's yourself. After you have changed yourself, you might be able to inspire others to look for change."

I know you don't want to hear this because it's so much easier to think it's the other person or situation that needs to change, but, truthfully, this isn't a surprise. Get to work on yourself. Peace Pilgrim and I will be.

May 23, 2013
Those of you who have been reading these messages for a while know that most often I approach change from a very positive perspective. Over the last two weeks, I've encountered changes that my friends have been dealing with that, from just about any perspective, suck big time. Imaging the grin on my face when I read a new change quote in Bruce Turkel's most recent essay.

"Unless, of course, you prefer the wisdom of W.C. Fields," Bruce wrote, "'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.'”

A changeattitudeI can live with this week. Don't worry, I'll be back on track next week!

May 15, 2013
Running up to the vacation season prompts me to remember a bit of wisdom from my friends Jason and Kim Kotecki. (Notice how fortunate I am to associate with such thoughtful andpositivepeople. Check out their website at

"The REAL key to happiness (and so-called work life balance) is not figuring out how to work less, but doing more work that matters."

What if you looked at your schedule for the summer months to see if there was something you (maybe with your family and/or friends) could do as a volunteer for a cause you believe in? If you volunteered this summer, by fall it would be a habit. Bonus: According to Jason and Kim, you'll feel more balanced. Cool!

May 9, 2013
If you don't like where you find yourself today, maybe this line from an old Genworthcommercialwill give you something to ponder.

"No matter where you want to go, one step at a time is the only way to get there."

What's the one step you can and will take today?

May 1, 2013
Have you ever had one of those moments when your understanding of something big just flipped?Usuallyit's because you see or hear something that, in that moment, strikes you in a new way. Try absorbing a line from a recent eLetter, my friend and speaking colleague, Chip Lutz wrote,

"Everything changed because I changed. That's how life works, isn't it?"

Most of us, when faced with a difficult situation, expect something or someone else to change. What if the first thing you went to work on was changing yourself? I agree with Chip - that's how life works.

April 17, 2013
Mandy Patinkin has a distinctive singing voice, considerable acting talents, and interesting take on life. In a recent interview he was asked to reflect on hisdefinitionof that very thing.

"Life is," he said,"an endless, on-going rehearsal."

Since change demands we try new things and trying something new guarantees being bad in thebeginning, rehearsal is a good way to approach both change and life. Thanks, Mandy.

April 11, 2013
Especially in our personal life, it's our habits we'd like to change. Oh, if it were easy to stop cleaning our plates, defining luck as the parking place closest to the door, or jumping to a conclusion before checking the facts. Mark Twain recognized the power thathabitshave over us all when he said,

"A habit cannot be tossed out the window, it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time."

Next time you approach changing a habit, rather than believing you can do it in a blink and being frustrated by its stop and start nature, remember it will take persistance and support. Also remember, you can change!

April 3, 2013
The weather in Northern Wisconsin has been less than spring-like. (In case you think I'mexaggerating, as I write this at 8:35 on the morning of April 3rd, it is 14 degrees!) The snow is not melting. The plants are not growing. The winter coats are not finding their way into the closets. I've stopped posting pictures onFacebookbecause I knew I'd start getting comments from my friends in Florida, Arizona, and Louisiana asking me why I don't move. I've been remembering a comment by Majora Carter.

"You don't have to move out of your community to live in a better one."

This, as you may have figured out, is a non-change Change message. Although I may grumble about the weather here this time of year, the majority of the time, I love living in Wausau. My family, my friends, many causes I care about are here. The home Frank and I have created for the last 25 years makes me happy. I could go on, but you get the picture. Here's the lesson. Before you think a wholesale change will solve your temporarydissatisfaction, pause and think of the whole picture. Maybe change isn't what you really need.

March 27, 2013
My friend and student of photography, Dick Francis, agreed to take (okay, maybe "got roped into" would be more accurate) pictures of me when I presented at the 21st Annual ADAMConferenceinMiami, FL earlier this month. He complained that it was difficult to shoot good pictures of me because my mouth was wide open talking all the time. (Stop laughing!) My rejoinder ("Don't worry, Dick. Those are exactly the action shots I was looking for.") was echoed in the profile of professional photographer, Bette Marshall, I read in the South Florida SunSentinel.

"A technically perfect photo with no life in it is not a good photograph, but an image with life in it can rise above technical imperfections."

I'm thinking the concept applies to change, too. Trying to squelch or ignore the emotions that accompany change won't get you where you want to go any more than a photograph without life will represent the moment you're trying to capture. I love the pictures Dick took.

March 20, 2013
Conflict, any one? If you're dealing with change, I'm betting there's conflict on your plate, too. Amy Dickinson of the next generation advice column fame, Ask Amy, said, in response to a recent letter:

"Sometimes you can influence or mediate between people to broker a sort of peace, but essentially (andunfortunately) the relationship is really controlled and maintained by the opposing parties."

It's tempting to think that if you're the champion of a change that you're responsible for every group to end up being totally happy about the process. To be a true Master of Change you need to learn when to hold participants responsible for their own attitudes and behaviors as the change unfolds. It's not easy, but it is true.

March 14, 2013
I spent a day last week with a group of leaders who were pondering the level of employee engagement in their organization. The topic of their employee's desire for assistance with work-life balance came up...frequently. Both the need and the expectation that the organization should, in any way, be responsible for personal life balance, perplexed the leaders. If only they had read the latest eLetter from my friends, Jason and Kim Kotecki.

"The REAL key to happiness (and so-called work life balance) is not figuring out how to work less, but doing more work that matters."

Helping their employees understand that they and their organization are doing things that matter, is their responsibility. Communicate meaning and engagement follows.

March 6, 2013
The Huffington Post, with funding from the Fetzer Institute, held an essay contest about the role of Empathy in Life. Jackie Joyner-Kersee serves on Feizer's Advisory Board and wrote an essayintroducingthe project and its winners. In her essay, she quotes Hal Saunders.

"Dialogue is a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn..."

As I read Hal's comment, itoccurredto me that trust-building dialogue is often a keyingredientof successful change that is overlooked. Businesses and the people who lead them are so eager to get to the doing of change that they miss the need for the being together before change that dialogue creates. If you want your change to happen quickly, you'll need to be deliberate at its beginning, and that's the truth!

February 27, 2013
So, did you miss us last week? Wish I could come up with some elaborate explanation (especially one that would indicate someone else's responsibility for the lapse) but I can't. It was me and only me. A change in my normal routine pulled me up short when, in the middle of the night, I gasped to myself, "darn, I forgot to write a change message for Miriam." This example of a simple and common occurrence brings us to the heart of change resistance - doing something new mandates rearranging all the old.

The mantra I share with groups dealing with change is "you're doing something're going to be bad at it anyway...and you'll get better." Since last week I've been saying that to myself and see, I'm better already.

February 14, 2013
Ah, Valentine's Day. Cynics call it a manufactured holiday. Lovers enjoy the opportunity to be mushy without apologies. (Unless, of course, they hang around with cynics!) No matter your opinion of February 14th, this quote from Antoine De Saint-Exupery gives us all something to think about.

"Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.

What would happen if a team of people facing a change shifted their gaze from an internal view of their present reality to a shared external view of an exciting future state? I don't know about you, but I'd LOVE it.

February 6, 2013
I've been making an effort to get back into the habit of reading fiction. Like so many things you do for a long time and then drop, a return makes you think, "Why did I stop this?" On the plane last night I finished Steve Martin's An Object of Beauty. (Yes, that Steve Martin.) A thoughtprovoking,well-written read. I highly recommend it. Then, with the luxury of some stolen time this morning, I opened my Kindle app and found City of Darkness by Kim Wright and dove in, read to page 27 and remembered why reading fiction is important. Set in 1888, Leanna, the main character, at age 20 has just inherited a large estate.

Leanna sank back against the couch. "I feel so strange--part excited and part frightened to the core. When I give in to the fear, the joy comes rushing in but when I try to feel joyous that little tickle of fear is there to distract me. I wonder what it is."

"Freedom," murmured her brother.

What a perfect expression of the mix of feelings that cascade when any of us face a change that is going to pull us out of our comfort zone. I couldn't have said it better myself!

January 23, 2013
Two things: last night at 9:30 pm my niece, Peyton Kathryn Blomberg, was born. Allow me to publicly welcome all6 lbs12 ozs of her and congratulate her parents, Karl and Megan, and grandparents, Ken and Lynda.

Second. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiled Liv Mueller, a Milwaukee musician, who said,

"There's nothing like setting a goal and accomplishing it. The road to achieve that goal is never straight. It has twists and turns, and at times you feel like you can't pull it off. When you finally accomplish that goal, you feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth that really can't be beat."

If you re-read Mueller's statement inserting wanting to be a successful parent for the words setting a goal, you'll see why these two things felt connected to me. Read it again, substituting a specific change or goal you're working toward and I bet her comment will be meaningful to you, too. I'm going to share it with Megan and Karl as soon as they let me get my hands on that bundle of joy.

January 23, 2013
In 2002 Ann Landers died. Many of us had to then find a different newspaper that carried her sister's column. Dear Abby allowed us to consume our daily advice on how to fix relationships, heal family disputes, and wonder how other people's lives could be so messed up that they'd be driven to write a stranger seeking a solution. Last week, Pauline Friedman Phillips, better known as Dear Abby left us, too. In a USA Today article, Sabrina L. Schaeffer described the change philosophy that kept Abby's columns readable for years.

"Cultural norms will inevitably evolve, but she always reminded us that change is never unadulterated good nor an unmitigated disaster.”

RIP Abby and thanks for years of good, practical, and insightful advice. The world is a better place because you wrote in it.

January 16, 2013

A few issues ago, I asked you to consider choosing a word to focus on for 2013. Did you? What about a focus on your general attitude? What if you decided to be happy during the next 12 months? I'm not suggesting that you'd look to have a year where nothing happened to causelegitimateunhappiness, I'm suggesting that no matter what happened, you'd set happy as your default position. Christine Carter has found research that supports my concept.

"Happiness," she reports, "is like a skill to be learned and practiced, not a character trait."

Sincegazingat a newborn is a great way to learn or practice happy you need to know that my friend, Marilynn Semonick just became a grandmother for the first time. I'm certain she'd share a picture of Reid any time you need some help to get back to happy.

January 9, 2013
This year, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announce their Oscar nominees on January 10th, I'll actually have seen several of the movies and their stars. Last Sunday, it was The Hobbit. In an interview, Martin Freeman who plays Bilbo Baggins was asked about the goal he has for his work.

"I ask myself, did I give it my best shot? I'm very aware of the concept of selling oneself short, adding to the mediocrity of the world."

This is a great question for 2013. Did I give it (no matter what it is) my best shot? Set your sights high and if you miss, just re-calibrate and go back to work.

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