Archive for May, 2009

Ten years and going strong ..

I spent Memorial Day weekend in San Diego with family.  As someone who had not been, it’s a beautiful city.  I felt like I was in vacationland but I think Maine would be upset that I stole their state motto.  One day at lunch, we got on the subject of Lasik.  I didn’t even realize that this month was my ten-year anniversary of having gone under the knife 🙂

As someone who started wearing glasses in kindergarten, hard contacts in 8th grade, and who lobbied hard for PRK (whew, thankfully I didn’t win that battle), I will forever be happy with the expense.  Lasik wasn’t covered by insurance back then but that was no deterrent. All the possible side effects that MAY occur, nope, not a deterrent either.  Are you on the fence? Why?  Have you had Lasik? What’s been your experience? Me?  I have been 20/25 without a single challenge along the way.  Which reminds me, time to get my eyes checked!

May 31, 2009 at 4:40 pm 2 comments

Love and the workplace

Do you love your job? Do you like the people you work with? Do you try to leave your personal life at the door when you walk into the work? Do you truly care about your teammates or your team?

When you read these questions, did you think I was insane?  I am asking about feelings and work.  If you read many leadership books and talk to many bosses, there is NO room for any emotion when it comes to business and the workplace.

I completely and adamantly disagree.  How do you compartmentalize your life like that?  Is it working? Do you feel guilty that you missed your kid’s picnic or field trip, or spelling bee (or whatever)? Do you feel guilty when you’re on vacation or leave just a bit early for a parent-teacher conference or a basketball game?  Is this really the way to live?

Kouzes and Posner wrote a fantastic leadership book called The Leadership Challenge, which was followed up by Encourage the Heart (one among many fantastic book follow-ups). Both are awesome and should be organizational bibles if you ask me.  In essence, caring about your coworkers should not be taboo.

I know for me, it is the model I have followed since college and I refuse to stop. I have been mocked for this by upper management, told I was less responsible than my peers because my teams had fun while at work, and constantly told to stop being friendly with my team.  I might have lost out on opportunities for myself, but I was never in it for me anyway.

What kind of leader are you? What stand do you take professionally?  Don’t change who you are because others disagree, make fun, or are threatened. Just stay the course!

May 28, 2009 at 7:27 pm Leave a comment

Your global compass

I saw an interesting billboard on the way home from work today. It said “his global compass is equality” — Desmond Tutu.

What is your global compass? If someone asked you, would you be able to answer immediately or would you need to think about it?  Would you be able to describe it one word or would it be a phrase or a full conversation? Would you feel the need to qualify it?  Would it apply to all of your life, or just parts of it (i.e. personal vs. professional)?

My global compass is positivity. It is the one word that describes my global compass perfectly and has done so for many years now. I can only say I wish I had learned it sooner but since I am the architect of my life, it came along when it was time.

What is your global compass?

May 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment

Choices, choices

This is going to be a long one and a might get a tad ranty at times.  Just preparing you.

I am a little frustrated with the amount of choices that exist out there. Sometimes, I truly believe it is a good thing, especially when it comes to vegetables as I really like some and really dislike others. But mostly, I think there are way too many choices in the world today.  When it comes to fresh foods or place to live, choice is great. But when it comes to things like mascara (I find this absolutely friggin ridiculous and no, I don’t wear any but it’s still the dumbest invention that keeps getting reinvented in what seems like every ten minutes for fuller, plumper, thicker, longer lashes. Who cares!!!) or other inane crap like that, I just don’t get it. I really don’t.

My frustration isn’t about inane stuff like makeup (less is more people – or none is even better) or anything else material like that.  It is actually about education. I know, crazy huh.  I think education, or more accurately, learning is a fantastic thing. There are many ways to pursue this – the school of life, working, school, traveling.  Whatever your path, awesome.  My path, recently, has been school and I am enjoying it immensely.  I know, you are thinking, well then what’s the beef?

Well Clara Peller (I just crack myself up), the issue is about doctoral programs.  When I was finishing my MBA in 2005 and going through the hell that was writing a 100+ page thesis within 10 weeks, I learned that it wasn’t as daunting and scary as I thought, which meant that the dream of going farther was now a possibility.  I researched about thirty different doctoral programs – both traditional and online, near and far.  It was interesting to really do this because I did not do this when I picked IU for undergrad. After we moved from Greenwood to South Bend right before 6th grade and then to Harrisonburg, Virginia the following year, I knew I would end up at IU. I never visited campus, just applied, and assumed I would get in. Whew.

I narrowed down the schools and applied to a few doctoral programs that I thought would be the best for me.  In January of 2006, I started my PhD program and even later that spring, attended a week-long colloquia.  I had made a poor choice and by the fall of that year, knew it and took a leave of absence to figure out where I went wrong.  As it turned out, it wasn’t me.  The school wasn’t challenging or rigorous enough for me and the instructors were lazy and uninvolved.  I know, I am a total dork; who complains about that stuff?!

During this time, I had become infatuated with positive psychology, reading and learning quite a bit. By the end of 2006, I was completely immersed in learning about engagement, strengths, positivity, appreciation, and feedback; just couldn’t read enough books, research, or articles.  I decided to find a doctoral program that would help push me toward this more for research and professional application (more so than my MBA program, which I tried to make more applicable especially with my thesis).  In the meantime, I found another master’s program on leadership that I really knew I would enjoy, applied, and started.  Halfway through this program, I learned of  MAPP, or Master of Applied Positive Psychology. I really wanted to get into that program too and be a part of their second cohort but I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted a third masters degree and the cost was more than I was comfortable with (mainly due to travel).  Interesting side note: Tom Rath and Yakiv Smirnoff are graduates, as well as two fellow coaching colleagues I think are amazing, Kathryn Britton and Senia Maymin.

I began exploring alternative doctoral programs again, as I firmly decided that I wasn’t going to go for a third masters no matter how much I wanted to learn about the topic academically.   I found a PhD program at Claremont University in California that was just starting a positive psychology program in the summer of 2007 but sadly, not a lot of desire to move to California, program was not quite exactly a fit nor did I want be a full-time doctoral student.  I could not find a hybrid program that would allow an adult learner to remain working but still be devoted academically. So I found the next best program I could find that would allow me the freedom to pursue the research topics I wanted while still being in a concentration that would be applicable long-term.

Again, you ask what’s the beef then? I started one PhD program and took five courses that despite my efforts and good grades were not allowable to the 2nd program. Doctoral programs don’t accept work from other doctoral programs it seems.  I started an EdD program this past fall and am three courses into it and have attended a residency already. The program is going well enough, no major complaints about the instructors, program, or rigor.

But Bellevue University, a school that is practically in my backyard and one that I recently joined as an instructor, has a PhD program that would be perfect for my long-term research and professional pursuits.  The press release about the program was in mid-July and I believe has five doctoral students in it so far, so it’s a fairly young program and not one I was aware of during my last program search.  Do I start over – again? Won’t there be continual educational evolution?  Will another ‘perfect’ choice show up a few years from now? Why is that some of the leaders in the industry seem to have found their research calling despite having started in one program a decade or two ago? I know I am not a researcher in the sense that they are, but organizations will be my laboratory so there is some equivalence.  Does the program matter in the long run? Is it more about the issues you are studying and less about the coursework?  Any thoughts or impressions from a neutral perspective??

May 19, 2009 at 7:41 pm 5 comments

How do you find love?

I know, I know, you don’t find love, it finds you. Blah blah blah.  I am sure there are about ten more cliches like that you could throw at me but let’s not and say we did.

Back to my original question. How do you find love?  It seems pretty easy when you are younger (ok, easier).  Either you meet the “one” in college, through friends, or friends of friends (either high school or college), through sibling’s friends, or maybe through work friends.

Then the late 30’s hit (or for some of you out there, the40’s, or 50’s, etc.). You are still single, or single again.  What do you do?  It seems like everyone I know (or everyone I notice) is married. Or gay, and in a relationship.  In both instances, lucky for you.  But back to me for a minute 🙂

So, really, how do you find love?  The online thing is ridiculous.  Blind dates and fix-ups seem to work less and less the older we get. And the bar scene – well, I am not interested in 50+ divorced guys, which seem to be the only single guys out there.  So, all right, not everyone is married, but everyone in my age range seems to be!!

And for those that read yesterday’s post, this isn’t a pity party but a true question!  Does the grocery thing work? How about the laundromat (not really interested in this option – didn’t care for it in college either)? Bookstores? Starbucks?  Business trips – you know, soul mate is your seat mate? Sorry, these are all the suggestions I have been told to try or be open to.

So far, no luck for me. However, the ever hopeful person I am just thinks it hasn’t been the right time yet.  Regardless, I still believe that my guy is out there right now wondering where I am.  Of course if you believe the psychic from last month, I will be married by the end of the year with two kids, a boy and a girl.

But back to my question. How did you find love? Tell me the story of your love connection. Give me some more rays of sunshine 🙂

May 19, 2009 at 12:30 am 1 comment

Pity party

Over the weekend, someone I know said I was throwing myself a pity party. The fact that she was completely drunk, slurring her words, and could barely maintain a still position on her couch, I found this accusation rather interesting.

In the past couple of years, I have felt a considerable shift in my perspective to contentedness, positivity, and joy in my life. Sure, I have had my down moments and challenges but have felt that they have tested me and given me the opportunity to show I am made of more substance and courage than I would have thought ten years ago.  Plus, life is not going to be a bed of roses all the time.  I am not a total Pollyanna!  I guess because I shared that I recently had surgery on my back and it’s still not possible to sit back or sleep on my back qualifies as a pity party??  Or that I am working, in essence, four jobs (they are all inter-related) and each has been fantastic in terms of meeting people, business building, and opportunity qualifies as a pity party?? Hmm, I think I don’t know what this phrase means.

Then I wondered, what exactly does it mean to have a pity party? So, I did what most of us do these days, I Googled it and found that the urban dictionary (love that this exists) indicates a pity party is:

1) A way of experiencing grief, in which you spend your time feeling sorry for yourself and whining endlessly about how crappy your life is

2) A party you throw yourself after something bad has happened to you

Wow! That is not how I view myself at all.  I don’t think my life is crappy at all; I am rather happy with how my life is going.  There is very little I would change and things that I want to change I am actively working on.  If anything, I have never been more happy with the direction and path my life has been taking in the past four years and since I have been the architect of the journey, it is all the more satisfying.

What I really think is this person has a bit of transference going on in which she is the one who is actually miserable, unhappy with herself, her bum of a husband (her words, not mind), and is still telling her “I was fired” sob story six months later.  Maybe being in her company put me in a pity party mood (per definition #2) having to sit there listening to her same ole, same ole story, as if the track on the CD was on indefinite repeat. Hmm, guess will have to be careful who and how I spend my time in the future to avoid that kind of party.

May 18, 2009 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

Getting rid of the sludge in life

I think there comes a point in every person’s life when you realize you are carrying around dead weight.   It may be in the form of material things, or a job, or even activities.  But sometimes, it can be a person.  When you start avoiding that thing or that person, it’s time to ask yourself why, listen, and then act by removing the noose.

I really didn’t want to do something yesterday but I did it anyway.  I probably shouldn’t have because deep down I was dreading it, which puts me in a weird mood.  Then when I got there, it was the same crap, different day.  Arrgghhh.  I said things I was thinking and feeling but still, should not have said out loud.  I tend to do this in the presence of negative and depressing people who bring me down and all I want to do is flee when my attempts at shaking them out of their foul mood goes repeatedly astray.  This is why I avoid such people. Ahh, why I don’t listen to myself!  Arrghhh.

Lesson 1 – avoid depressing, negative people who are always negative and depressing, day in and day out.

Lesson 2 – listen to inner voice when it tells you to just say no!!

May 17, 2009 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

So many ideas, so little time

I have noticed, for the past few years, that I have a ton of new ideas all the time. I can’t keep up with them at all either. If I were to try to implement them all, I would never sleep, let alone get anything done!  Some of these ideas are mundane, for things around the house. Some are related to my dissertation topic and other research-related things for my doctorate.  Sometimes, it is for new products, services, and other things I would like to see in the world today that don’t seem to exist. I also have a ton of ideas relative to speaking gigs (been working with a speaker’s bureau for about a year now).  And lastly, I have a ton of ideas for books. I write quite a bit and I think the only thing left to do now is either shop around for a publisher or publish myself (there are many self-publishing outlets today, it is amazing).

Sometimes, I wonder if I am like the character in Phenomenon and I have some sort of brain tumor that is activating my brain. But I truly know that I have always been one for a lot of ideas but either didn’t feel the confidence to take action or didn’t know what to do with them.  Do does this kind of thing happen to you? What are you doing with your ideas?  Well me, I have been taking them on the road, writing about them, or incorporating them into research. More to come!

May 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm 2 comments

Can you feel that?

I rarely health-related issues, but this is one that warrants sharing.  For many years, I had a marble-sized lump in the middle of my back, right on my spine. It never hurt, it never changed, it never grew.  I would be aware of it and wonder when I first noticed it, but overall, it was nothing. Or so doctor’s repeatedly told me.

Then out of the blue, about a week and a half ago, the lump started hurting. Nothing too horrible, but noticeable nonetheless. A few days later, I noticed that the pain was becoming more constant with each day and it seemed to be getting bigger.  Of course, one tends to believe these things but then you wonder if you are just deceiving yourself; like when residents read about diseases and believe they have all of them. It did not help that I had the same kind of lump and pain on the right side of my neck – well below my lymph nodes.  Well, 3 days of this was enough, so I called my primary care doctor.

He did not see the two issues as being related (still trying to figure out how I feel about that). Then he says that he believes that the lump on my back is a lipoma, which are the most common non-cancerous tumors there are. Yippee! But because it is growing, is painful and located in a spot that he is not comfortable with (close to spine), he wants me to go see a surgeon for a second opinion/consultation.

In the two days between these two appointments, I have investigated all of my symptoms (ya gotta love the internet) and believe there to be a few possibilities, but like the lipoma one the best.  Two days later, I go to see the surgeon and in that time, the lump has more than doubled in size and has become a constant source of pain and discomfort. No more sleeping on my back, leaning back in chairs, or wearing a bra (though I do and hate it -except this past weekend). He looks at it, pokes and prods it in order to declare that he “believes” it is a benign tumor but he will do pathology on it to make sure. He has not declared my disease or named my specific lump, nor do I care to ask. In the meantime, he thinks that it was wise that my primary doc sent me to him because of its placement and growth. Then proceeds to ask how soon we can schedule the surgery while subsequently sharing details of the surgery, the very long incision, the many stitches and how I will have to come back to have them taken out.  Ye gads – sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

In the three days since that appointment, the lump is now quadruple the size it was originally and the pain is almost intolerable at times.  I cannot reach my arms, stretch my back in any way, graze the lump in any way or I will cry out in pain.  It is  now beyond just being a painful lump but something that seems to be stretching out into other nerves.  Arrgghh.  Any chair I sit, I must sit on the edge for fear of leaning back.  The darn thing is so big now, that if I hunch over, say at a desk, you can actually see the lump through a shirt.  I look like a dork driving because I am not sitting back against the seatback.

But alas, surgery has come and gone.  I can only hope that recovery brings less pain and never one of these things again. Oh wait, that thing in my neck .. can you feel that?

May 6, 2009 at 12:35 pm Leave a comment

Movin’ on up …

In some ways, focusing on customer service is a no-brainer. But some companies think they have revolutionized the idea. Whereas others, still have absolutely no concept of this.  As an example, I moved to Omaha without knowing anyone or even the area. I selected an apartment based on the amenities I needed and to be near a particular organization. However, the leasing agent assumed I was referring to the company’s location nearest to the complex and I, not having a clue, didn’t realize there was more than one company location in Omaha.  It really didn’t bother me once we realized the error upon move-in day, as most things in Omaha are not very far (at least not in my opinion).

My first year in the apartment was, for the most part, great.  I had some incredibly jerky neighbors below me (I am on the 3rd floor) who seemed to sleep during the day and up all night long – partying, playing loud music, shouting on their balcony (right under my bedroom window), and always slamming doors. Not good for a working stiff – at least not during the week. The leasing agent and I had challenges over this but she always did what she could to assist and eventually, for many other violations, they moved out.  Blissful became my home.

Second year-I thought of renting or buying a house, except I still could not decide where I wanted to put roots. I really like quite a few areas in Omaha, Bellevue and Lincoln.  I couldn’t decide and didn’t find anything in time, so I signed a lease for another year thinking that I would find the right place eventually.  During this time, new leasing management took over and in one short month, I have been accused of failing to pay rent, threatened with eviction, and told that I was violating Omaha law by having a propane tank on my balcony based on a visual outside scan. When I called, from India, about the rent situation and left a message, I received NO return message indicating “oops, we did get your payment after all, sorry”. NOTHING.  Interestingly, I had paid rent early that month due to my trip to India and even more interestingly, I do not own a propane tank. In all of my years on this planet, I have NEVER owned a propane tank, let alone a grill. I doubt I will receive a callback or apology for that accusation either.

Is it me or is the customer experience lacking? I am a paying customer who chooses to live here (albeit I won’t be when the lease ends this September).  The operative word in that sentence – chooses.  There are websites dedicated to sharing reviews of apartment communities and leasing companies/apartment managers. Do apartment complexes really think that renters are trapped with no options? I have many options and again, I will be making a choice this September to be elsewhere. Coincidentally, I heard a fantastic saying today “we believe in customer care, not service.  You service a car.”   I think that says it all.

May 5, 2009 at 8:11 am Leave a comment

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