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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Failure Focus

There is a trend among parents and educators to lavish praise on children for every little thing. Everybody wins! The winning team gets trophies but the losing team does too. Just showing up is often all that is required to get a certificate or ribbon. No one wants to leave any child behind or make them feel left out.

The only problem is when everybody wins, everybody loses.

Arguably, we learn more from failure than we do from success. Failure creates the opportunity to acknowledge and learn from mistakes – allowing time for reassessment and figuring out what went wrong.

Without failure, a dangerous sense of entitlement and an unrealistic worldview is created. People feel they deserve to win whether or not they put in the effort, if just showing up is good enough then why do more? And it’s not fair for those who do put in the extra effort to be lumped in with those who do just enough to get by. By rewarding everyone, we penalize those who truly excel.

A world where everybody wins would be nice but it’s not reality, not even close. You don’t get every job you apply for. The person you love doesn’t always love you back. And, many of us never earn what we feel we are worth. That’s not failure, that’s life. If you aren’t prepared to deal with the failures, roadblocks and obstacles then you really aren’t prepared for this life.

Failure teaches resilience. It teaches us to get back up and try again. You don’t learn the hard lessons when you move from success to success. You learn them when you go from success to failure and then back to success. Learning how to fail elegantly (without name-calling or whining) and smartly (learning what you can from the experience) ensures that a single defeat won’t become a final defeat.

Finally, knowing the agony of defeat, makes the sweet taste of success that much sweeter!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Little Goes a Long Way

If I told you I was writing a post about establishing routines, you’d probably yawn and keep surfing the net. But, what if I told you I was posting about how you could add more fun and spontaneity to your life? Maybe that would pique your interest.

Well, I’m writing about both.

Establishing a few little routines can save your precious time … thus giving you more time to do the stuff you want to do (not just what you have to do).

I’m not talking about long-drawn out boring routines. I’m talking about little things you can do to stop wasting time looking for lost items and frantically rushing from place to place.

1. Put It In Its Place. Things like keys, cell phones, eye glasses, purses and wallets should have a logical place to go. I have a little stand with a drawer that stands next to my front door. Two things go there: the dog’s leash and my keys. As soon as I walk through the door, that’s where the keys go. Think simple, think logical.

2. Take 10. At the end of the day, take five minutes to plan for the next day. Figure out what you are going to wear, put the water and the coffee in the coffee maker, if you take your lunch, make it the night before.

3. Make a 5 minute sweep. Go through your house for five minutes and just straighten up. Put items back where they belong. Set a timer and make it a family event. Make it a fun game, see how much you can put away.

4. Take My Mom’s Advice. She said, if you don’t make a mess, there is no mess to clean up. Put clothes in the hamper when you take them off. Wash that pot as soon as you are finished using it. My Mom’s Advice plus a daily five minute sweep will keep you house pretty neat!

When you aren’t looking for lost keys, when you aren’t rushing so quickly through the morning that you start your day in a huff, when you aren’t spending hours cleaning and straightening, you’ll find you have more time and less stress.

Now go and have some fun!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Doctor, Doctor!

We talk a lot about self-care as it relates to balance, setting boundaries and taking time for self. Of course, all of that is not just important but essential, but self-care is also about taking care of yourself physically. You can eat right, you can exercise, but you still need to go to the doctor … regularly.

A lot of us only think of the doctor or the dentist when there is a problem. Acute pain means it’s time to see a doctor. Strange fluids emanating from some orifice, call the doctor. Yet, regular office visits are essential.

An annual visit with blood work can reveal high cholesterol, high levels of blood sugar. Discussing symptoms and concerns with your doctor before they reach a crisis level can possibly prevent a crisis from occurring.

But we don’t need just an annual check-up. Ladies, we also need to visit the OB/GYN annually. And, if you are over 40 or have a family history of breast cancer, we need to make sure to schedule an annual mammogram.

Men, I’m not letting you off the hook because as unpleasant as it may be, you need to make your prostate health a priority and that means an annual prostate check-up if you are over 50 or earlier if you have a family history.

Likewise, cleaning at the dentist every six months can detect cavities, gum disease and other problems before they become emergencies.

Scheduling all of these appointments can be a pain especially if you are juggling them around your work schedule. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Start Early: Aim for the first appointment of the day. You can get in and out before the doctor has time to get backed up. Many dentist’s offices are open as early as 7:00, so you might be able to get in and out and not even be late for work!

Ask for Late Appointments: Some dentists and doctors have late days where they are in as late as 6:00 or 7:00, see if you can schedule an appointment then. Of course, if weekends are better, ask for those as well.

Spread Them Out: Don’t try to schedule all your appointments for around the same time. Spread them out throughout the year. Do this and missing some time from work won’t be as big a deal.

Use Reminders: When we change the time (springing forward or falling back), I know it’s time to schedule my doctor’s appointment. When it’s around my birthday (September), I schedule my annual check-up. OB/GYN and mammogram are scheduled around Mother’s Day.

Despite our recent health care debates, we still have some of the best health care in the world, so if you can, take advantage of it. Good health is essential to good self-care.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Tomorrow I will be 42.

I love my birthday and I celebrate it every year. I never go to work on my birthday and starting September 1st, I count it down. All of my friends know exactly how many shopping days are left until my favorite day of the year. At work the other day, a co-worker said, “You know, most women don’t make a big deal about their birthdays and they NEVER let people know how old they are.”

Well, I will be the happy exception. My mom was just three years older than me when she died of complications from diabetes. I watched her over the last few years of her life go from a vibrant, exciting woman to a woman who had lost her sight, needed dialysis several times a week and was often too weak to get out of bed. I was 15 when she passed.

So, yes, I celebrate my birthday because it’s another year above ground. I celebrate my birthday because I am blessed with health and surrounded by good and loving friends and family. In fact, I'll take it one step further. I celebrate every day that I am blessed to see a sunrise, a sunset or stars in the sky. I celebrate when I take a walk outside or dance around like a crazy person to a favorite song. Heck, I celebrate when I write this blog because writing is something I truly love to do.

My birthday is a cause for celebration and as long as I’m blessed with a birthday, I will celebrate it. However, I will celebrate the other 364 days of the year as well because I try to recognize on a daily basis the multitude of blessings that so many of us take for granted.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A.A. - Acknowledge and Appreciate

I used to have a boss and whenever she walked over to my desk, I’d cringe. Her desk-side visits meant one thing, I’d done something wrong. Her philosophy was when you got it right, you were just doing what you were supposed to do. She felt commendations and praise were too ‘touchy-feely’. Those efforts didn’t require desk-side visitation.

The morale of our team suffered because we never heard anything good from our manager and the overwhelming majority of the work we did was good. A little acknowledgement would have gone a long way.

Too many times, we fail to give credit where credit is due or even show a little appreciation to those closest around us. It doesn’t feel important. In my old boss’s view, criticism was a better motivator than praise. She was wrong. But she isn’t alone in her preference for criticism. People who receive excellent customer service tell, on average, three other people. If they receive poor service, however, they recount that experience to at least 11 people.

Think about how good you feel when you get an honest compliment or when someone values your hard work. Now, take that feeling and pay it forward.

Here are some ways to acknowledge and appreciate those around you.
  • Don’t keep quiet! Let people know about a job well done.
  • Remember birthdays. It’s a little thing but it shows that you cared enough to remember.
  • Smile.
  • Celebrate successes. Good grades, a promotion at work, losing a few pounds, all of these things take a lot of effort. Acknowledge the hard work.
  • Compliment honestly.
Acknowledgement and appreciation help us focus on the positive and the good that is always going on around us!

Monday, September 13, 2010


With aspirin, Tylenol and penicillin out there, it might be a bit of a stretch to say that “laughter is the best medicine.” But a good laugh is good for you.

Laughter has been proven to reduce levels of stressful hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine; while increasing the feel-good endorphins. It also boosts the production of disease-fighting antibodies and T-cells that can boost your immune system.

Like meditation and deep breathing, laughter is another great way to relax and release some tension. Laughter can also help to dull pain.

How to Laugh More
  1. Tune into comedies on TV and in Movies
  2. Surround yourself with funny friends
  3. Spend some time playing with kids (they always do or say something funny)
  4. Do soemthing you enjoy, something that puts a smile on your face
  5. Get away for a weekend, a day or even an afternoon
  6. Learn to the humor in small mundane frustrations whenever possible

People who laugh more tend to be more positive, more optimistic and more fun to be around. Laughter also helps you change your perspective and realize that things aren’t always as bad as they seem. Life is a little more bearable when you laugh.

A dose of laughter might not cure the common cold but it can help cure a bad day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Karyn's Coming Back

I don’t talk a lot about my life because that isn’t the focus of this blog. This has been a difficult year. Coaching is a very part-time endeavor for me and I lost my day job on September 11, 2009. For the first time since high school, I didn’t have a job which sent me into an emotional, financial and physical tailspin.

I did what I could taking action every day contacting temp agencies and head hunters, scouring job boards, networking, trying to drum up freelance writing assignments, and looking for paying coaching clients.

I also reached out to my support system, close friends and several family members, to help me stay focused and get me through the more difficult days. I also started volunteering which helped immensely. It got me out of the house and out of my funk. It got the focus off of me and allowed me to do what I love (training) while helping others. Ironically, I volunteered for a job readiness training program. I was helping others find work!

Despite these positive efforts, this had still been an exceedingly difficult year, the hardest of my adult life. I would love to be the perfect coach and tell you that I didn’t cry a lot and that I never worried or threw myself a few big ole pity parties but I’d be lying.

I did all of those things … a lot. I also stopped doing a lot of self-care. I snapped back into an old habit of emotional eating. My workouts became haphazard as my insomnia kicked in. I was depressed. I was upset. I was frustrated and it took its toll.

Fortunately, after almost 10 months, I found work. I started at the end of June. However, I quickly realized that having a job that I enjoyed (and a decent paycheck) was just the beginning. There was (and is) definitely a light at the end of this long tunnel but right now it’s still pretty far away.

I have nine months of extra debt to dig myself out of. And, right now, I’m emotionally exhausted. It is just about all I can do to keep my blogs and newsletter up and running. Being a Google Girl, I looked up remedies for emotional exhaustion and I didn’t like what I found. Everything reinforced the importance of ‘self-care’ – eating right, sleeping, moderate exercise and making time for relaxation. I couldn't find a quick and easy fix and that is what I was wanted!

So a couple of weeks ago, I got tired of being tired. I made my self-care a priority again. I started drinking my water, getting my fruits and vegetables in and making a good nights sleep a priority. I started back to daily exercise and even added in some time in the morning for prayer and mediation.

Here it is two weeks later and I have to tell you, I am feeling better. I am sleeping better. I'm looking better. And I’m not as tired as I was. I am writing this to tell you that self-care really does make a difference! It works!

I’m not out of the woods yet. I do find myself worrying some time and other times I feel completely overwhelmed, but those times are becoming fewer and further between. Slowly, but surely, I’m beginning to feel like I can do this. I’m feeling like myself again and that feels good.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Closer Together and Further Apart

It’s the 21st century. I use a Blackberry. I have an MP3 player and a gajillion cable channels, so I’d say I’m pretty current with the times. Lately, I’ve even started getting all my news through Google reader. Who needs a paper paper, when I can get my favorite sections of the paper delivered to my PC?

I get the top stories, local news and political sections. It’s really helped me keep abreast of current events. However, I have become practically addicted to reading the comments people leave regarding a story.

It’s fascinating to see how people’s minds work when they are posting anonymously, hidden behind a computer screen and a protective ‘screen name.’ No matter what they topic … crime, the school board, unemployment, even weather, it devolves quickly into political name calling and race-baiting.

A commentator at the paper recently posted a challenge to the usual posters. He asked them to say something nice about the opposition. In other words, he wanted pro-life people to say something nice about the pro-choice side and vice versa. Those on the left could have come up with a comment for the people on the right side of the aisle.

Do you know most couldn’t do it? And some just outright said they wouldn’t do it. I tend to be in the middle of most issues and even when I skew one way or the other, I can’t imagine going so far to one side that I couldn’t see anything at all good on the other side.

I think its easy for people to vilify ‘the other side.’ It’s easy to call them crazy or stupid or misguided if you stop seeing them as people. If you can say something nice about them it humanizes them and makes it harder to spew unadulterated mean-spiritedness and condescension.

I would have hoped a decade ago that the Internet would have helped us connect. Sites like Facebook that reunites friends and family help show us how small the world really is. Yet, the commenters on my local newspaper show us how wide the divide between us truly is and how much further we have to go.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Backburner

In three weeks (September 22nd to be exact), there will be just 100 days left in 2010. If you set goals for yourself this year, it’s time to get cracking. Labor Day is around the corner that means the unofficial end of summer. Basically, it’s time to get back to work!

If you are like a lot of people, you started with great goals and wonderful intentions, but a little something called life got in your way. You got busy. You got frazzled. You started putting out fires. You spooned even more on your already full plate. In the process, your goals got pushed aside. They got pushed back … all the way back.

And when we don’t see them, it’s like they don’t exist. Yet they do exist, even if it’s just as a nagging feeling that you should be doing something about them, they are there. Goals don’t shout, they whisper quietly and in the loudness of life, it’s easy to drown them out.

So, I want you to go up in your mind’s attic, find those goals and dust them off. Next, I want you to put them in front of you. Put them somewhere where you can see them: in your planner, in your Blackberry, on your iPod, on your refrigerator, place them where you can see them and for the remainder of the year, I want you to review them daily (weekly at the very least) and ask yourself what you can do today (and everyday) to reach that goal?

If you want to lose a few pounds,
Can you fit in a walk today?
Can you pack a healthy lunch or make a good choice when you go out to eat?
Can you make sure you drink your water or eat your veggies?

If you want to save money,
Can you bypass Starbucks and save that five dollars?
Can you take a moment and fill out that direct deposit form, so that money is going directly into your savings?
Can you make sure your checkbook is balanced?

You get the point. Get in the habit of asking yourself, every morning, what can you do during that day that will move you closer to your goals. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but little things done consistently can lead to big results!