Empowerment, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday January 20

Taken from President Biden’s Facebook Page

Empowerment, Life, Rambles

Camping Lessons: Just the Facts Please

Four days and three nights away. Bliss. While at Huntington Beach we were not completely disconnected if we didn’t want to be. When you are camping it is very easy to step away from social media. There are so many other things to hold your attention and focus your energy. Stepping away was exactly what we did and it was rejuvenating. I find the current news and social media exhausting. The comment sections, even worse. Lately, I have spent my spare time taking pictures and editing what I take. I’m learning to use a new camera and striving to do more than simply point and shoot. It has been a journey of learning and patience. As I edited the images from our beach camping adventure I played with several effects tools in one of the programs I use. My husband commented on how easy it was to manipulate the image into something it was not. It really is, and I wasn’t even using the more powerful Photoshop. With just a few clicks in GRFX Studio I had completely manipulated the image. I took elements of truth and enhanced them with complete fiction. That’s kind of the way social media has been working and people fall for it because they don’t bother to question and they don’t bother to fact-check. Manipulated images, fake memes, and fake anecdotes circulate all over the Internet. So many never bother to question it because many times, they trust the source.

It all starts with a story…

It seems like we’ve been in a weather pattern for the last few weeks- beautiful days and afternoon thunderstorms. Some have even been quite severe. One day we took some time to walk on the beach with Mozart. I have to say, it is now one of my favorite beaches! Huntington Beach has an amazingly wide beach. Shells were washed up at the shoreline, and tons of starfish. If we saw one alive, we tried to give it a fighting chance and threw it back in the water. Mozey thought it was great fun to run at the water’s edge. There must have been a school of fish because off in the distance we saw multiple groups of dolphins. They would surface and jump. I was able to catch them on camera just as the storm blew in. Amazing lightning shot!

I like to go camping. I like to walk on the beach. I enjoy photographing our experiences. The dolphins were abundant. Catching a lightning shot would be exciting. This wasn’t it. Here’s the original.

Everything in the story was true except for the storm and lightning. That part was poorly added in the post-edit. It was somewhat plausible and the photo would probably get a decent number of likes from people who didn’t look for the editing.

An announcement that I have seen circulating, and makes its social media rounds each year, is that on August (choose your date) there will appear to be two moons as Mars will be its closest! Don’t miss it! Well, I didn’t…

I’m happy to report that Tiki is still hanging in there. We are maintaining and her heart medications are keeping her relatively stable. I’m still up if she stirs at night but we have found a rhythm that works. If we stagger when her last water pill dosage is given and I stay up until just after midnight for her last potty break we can make it through the night without difficulty. It’s made for some good sky views and last night did not disappoint. Mars has been moving closer to the moon so for Tiki’s midnight potty run, I decided to set up the camera. It did not disappoint. Mars was shining bright!

That would be a no. Tiki is doing well. We thought we would lose her back in May, but she has reached her 17th birthday. We celebrate our bonus time with my stubborn old girl. I do wake up every time she stirs. I do take her out around midnight in hopes that I will get at least 5 or 6 straight hours of sleep. Mars and the Moon really did look cool last night and I wish I had taken my camera. However, not this cool. The original picture was the side view from our campsite at Huntington Beach. You can see it here.

I love a good sky and on my bucket list is seeing the Auroras. I won’t spin a tale for either of these, but it wouldn’t be difficult. If there is a solar outburst you can see the Northern Lights in the Deep South. It’s rare. In the event that it happens again, I assure you my camera will be on record.

Original

Original

Manipulating images and spinning a tale is super easy, even when you aren’t that great at it. Studies show that a large percentage of the population can’t tell the difference. Even more probably could, but they don’t bother to question it. They trust the source. Sometimes it’s like a bad game of rumor. The message has been passed from a trusted source to a trusted source so many times that it doesn’t even resemble the original story, or it may be as simple as the original storyteller was genuinely mistaken and not trying to create a good lie. What is the saying? Every good fairytale is rooted in some element of plausible truth?

Fact-Checking doesn’t take long. It’s OK to question information. A few things to start:

– Consider the source
– Is it satire?
– If it seems a little over the top, it probably is. Investigate.
– Read beyond the headline. The headline is the bait and sometimes the story isn’t nearly as sensational.
– Check the author. Are they even real? Have they won the awards their bio says? You can find out in just a few clicks of your keyboard.
– What’s the support? Does the documentation actually support the claim being made? Go to the source and find out!
– Check the date! Some false stories aren’t completely wrong, just not current news.
– What about bias? What’s the agenda?
– Check the fact-checkers: FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, the Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact.com. F
– Do other sites report the same thing? Read various news sources and put the real story together.

Empowerment, Life, Motivation, Rambles, Self Improvement, Self Reflection

Sometimes You Need a Personal Reboot

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Step away. Stop thinking about it. Do something else…or even do nothing.

Recharge.

Reboot.

We walked away from the chaos for the weekend and had an amazing personal reboot while camping at Table Rock State Park in South Carolina. It was a new place for us, and new camping experience as it was our first with a camper. (For the record, I am not so sure tent camping isn’t easier. However, I will say the camper amenities are rather nice to have.)

For some, camping is not a relaxing experience. For us, it works. It’s therapeutic. The outdoor air is refreshing, nature all around, and if you’re in the right spot the views can be amazing. The entire camping experience is about meeting basic needs and enjoying time away. There is no pressing work, professional nor home, to be done. It’s not true to say there are no distractions. There are, but the distractions while camping are different.

In order to have a hot meal, there have to be good coals to cook on. Start a fire. Tend the fire. Assemble the meal. Monitor until cooked. Clean up so no unwanted foragers are attracted to your site while you sleep. Repeat.

It’s basic and it’s freeing. There’s no thought of work. We periodically check in with home to make sure all is well. Otherwise, we take care of our camping needs, hike, and enjoy the great outdoors. There’s a good bit of time spent doing nothing. My favorite time is after dinner, staring at the fire, listening to the sounds of the night, and reading my current book…or just staring at the flames. This camping trip we took two of the dogs for a hike, came back to the campsite, and took an exceptional nap. Why when there was so much nature to see?!?!? Because we could.

We took the time for a personal reboot.

Burnout is real and keeping balance requires a dedicated effort. Sometimes you have to disconnect and walk away. Not only is it OK, but it should also be encouraged.

When this pandemic experience began no one knew what to expect. In my household, we believed work would slow and worried about what that might mean. Instead, the workload increased. We became very busy and had to make a dedicated effort to maintain downtime and connect with each other.

According to a recent LinkedIn article from Bloomberg many are using busyness as a coping mechanism.

Not healthy.

Recharging has to be intentional. Taking the time will actually increase your productivity.

You can’t be innovative if you’re not creative, and you can’t be creative if you’re stressed, exhausted, distracted, or sleep-deprived.

You know that feeling when you see your phone battery reach the point of the blinking red light with 15% or less battery remaining? You know when that happens it is time to plug in and recharge. That small percentage will not last long so you act. Most of us have a sense of urgency about not letting our phones reach that stage. Have that same sense of urgency for yourself.

Resting allows you to achieve your goals and prevent burnout. Take some time to do something you enjoy. Take some time to do nothing. It’s OK.

Career, Education, Empowerment, Learning and Development, Self Improvement

Coachability

If you’re not coachable, how can you be a good coach? When you think you can’t learn something from someone or an event, you won’t and that’s a dangerous place to be.

Coachability means employees have an awareness of those around them and how they impact them positively or negatively. Coachable employees are also willing to relinquish control to improve their work performance and accept feedback without becoming ruffled, angry, or dejected.
study.com

According to Forbes.com coachable people share five different traits.

  • Humility
  • Willingness to action
  • Purity of purpose
  • Willingness to surrender control
  • Faith

Coachable people recognize they still have something to learn and they can’t always learn it on their own. They are willing to make changes and are more interested in personal growth for the sake of growth rather than pure financial or power gain. A driving force for the success of a coachable person is the willingness to accept being coached, even if they can’t immediately see results. They accept that change and self-improvement is a journey and have faith that the time and effort will be worth it.

According to a Huffington Post article by Laura Di Franco, What it Means to be Coachable, coachability is a key element of success in health, happiness, and attitude. We’ve all experienced those who feel they have nothing to gain from a workshop or they’ve been doing something so long that checking for a new way isn’t worth the time. The negativity is frustrating. It can also be contagious.

Being coachable doesn’t mean you have surrendered and don’t have an opinion of your own. It means you have the awareness, perseverance and determination to seek out someone to help you be better.

Huffpost:What it Means to be Coachable

Self improvement is hugely satisfying and can have both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits. By being coachable one can improve their own coaching. Coachability is not just for those starting out, it is a trait to be embraced at all levels of an organization. Everyone has something they can teach you, and everyone has something they can learn from someone else.

Career, Empowerment, Life, Quotes, Self Improvement

The Atmosphere Around Us

We respond to the atmosphere around us. Just as a smile can be infectious, negativity breeds negativity.

Words to think about.

My favorite quote, and words to live by, is by Charles Swindoll.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

A favorite teacher had it written on her board. In fact, she is probably the reason that I love quotes and seek out tidbits of wisdom from them each day. To a teenage girl struggling through life, these words were profound. This quote became a call to action and a driving force for my direction. I couldn’t control the situation, but I could control my response and my pursuit for something better in life. When in the classroom, I kept this quote posted above my whiteboard in hopes that it would reach some other struggling teen.

You never know what some are going through if they don’t say. It’s important to remember this as it will help with how we react in negative situations. We respond to the atmosphere around us and that response is a choice. You can choose to respond negatively, positively, or make a conscious choice to not respond at all. Making that choice is not always easy. Sometimes our instinct is to be reactive. That’s when it is important to stop, wait, and make a choice. You can continue the negativity, embrace the positive, or change what you are surrounded by.

Every day we are faced with both positive and negative moments. Sometimes work is stressful. It is easy to join in the lamentations of the frustration. Does it help?

Workplace negativity is an increasing problem. Follow social media, read the opinions and editorials you find on LinkedIn or other business related sites. Increasing work demands and an overextended workforce, changing office policy, open work-space policies, and any number of other frustrations are written about on a daily basis. Not all frustrations are actually work related. The demands of life and increasing personal stress increase the negativity brought to work. So that negative comment or perceived slight may actually have nothing to do with you personally. Joining in the negative, feeds the negative.

Again, you can continue the negativity, embrace the positive, or change what you are surrounded by. What if you change the narrative? What if your positive attitude overpowered the negative atmosphere? What if you tried it to see? You don’t have to be super up-beat or over the top. Smile more and avoid participating in negative conversation. Smiling is proven to be beneficial to both self and others- even when you don’t feel like it. It won’t fix everything, but it’s a great step in the right direction and in the chaos it is something we can control when the negative threatens to take everyone down.

Smiling or fake smiling not an option for you? Try to find the positive. Point it out and express hope for improvement. The situation really sucks and there is no positive? You don’t have to participate in negative conversation. You don’t have to listen to the gripe session or participate in it. It’s as simple as polite acknowledgement of frustration and excusing yourself to do something else.

To keep it in social media terms, don’t feed the trolls. (Even better, don’t be one.)

It’s not easy to avoid getting sucked into the negative, but it is a choice.

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.

Change, Empowerment, Life, Quotes, Rambles, Self Improvement

Change Resistance

Dear WordPress,

I know that I do not update my website and ramblings as often as I should. I know that my website deserves more of my attention. I also appreciate how you strive to stay up to date and make website maintenance, navigation, and posting easier. Sincerely, it is appreciated.  This block system, while idiot proof, is not an enjoyable experience for me.  I notice Gutenberg has two stars on your plugins page while the classic editor has a 5 star rating and millions of active users. I’m not alone in my resistance to this change.

Change is inevitable, and one day I will have to adopt the block system.  Today is not that day.  

Sincerely, 

Me

We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

Charles R. Swindoll

A few thoughts…Open your mind. Open your heart. Open your eyes. You never know what others are going through. Your project, your idea, while great- it’s probably not the only thing they have to focus on. Negativity breeds negativity and being positive is a choice.  Adapting to change, also a choice.  Sometimes, like using WordPress block editing, we need to ease in to it.  I know that I will probably love it when I decide to utilize it.  Right now, I’m not ready to learn something new.  I am resisting the change that has been coming for more than a year.  As I open my mind to it’s possibilities, I found a plugin that keeps me comfortable while I learn something new.
 
It is human nature to stick with what is familiar and continue with the status quo.  If the status quo is making you miserable, it’s time for change.  That change either needs to be an attitude change, or a situational change.  Either way, something needs adjustment.  Why go through life with such negativity? It’s not healthy.
 
According to Forbes.com 61% of employees are burned out.  That leads to disengagement, decreased productivity, and even profit loss.  That’s just the negative for the company.  What about the health of employees?  Burn out is real.  Sinking to it is a choice. If you are unhappy, find-something-else! Don’t just trudge into work everyday spreading negativity and drama.  Start asking yourself some questions.
  • Why did you accept this position?
  • What is keeping you here?
  • What are my goals?
  • Does this position help me pursue or achieve my goals?

Use the answers to these questions to make a decision. Change your attitude and stay, or go.  The negativity is not good for you and not good for your company. 

Changing your circumstances is hard. It’s work. You don’t feel like it. It takes effort.  Mel Robbins offers a solution that makes it simple.  Take a listen…

 

Career, Empowerment, Learning and Development, Life, Motivation, Self Improvement

What motivates?

Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough. – Og Mandino

Motivation is your general willingness to do something. It can be intrinsic or extrinsic, but WHAT compels you to action?  Simply wanting something is not enough. One has to be motivated to walk the path to pursue goals.

Reaching the next level in one’s career or getting in better physical shape sound worthwhile, but they are much harder to turn into reality in the absence of meaningful goals. – Psychology Today

Motivation changes over time. Two major factors influencing this is maturity and stage of life.  What seems important in our younger years is less important as we mature.  What drives our career at the beginning is not what drives our career as we advance.  Relationship status and parental status can drastically change one’s goals over time.  Money isn’t always the driving force of our decisions.

Forbes.com outlined nine factors that motivate employees. Below are my thoughts on their nine listed factors.

  1. Trust: Employees desire trust in their workplace and managers. Clearly communicated expectations are essential.  Feedback must be direct and valuable.  Trust and consistency go together.  If an employee never knows what to expect from a manager, trust will be hard to establish.
  2. Being relevant: Employees want to feel like they matter and they have the opportunity to remain relevant in their jobs.  They desire opportunities for continuous improvement, opportunities for professional growth in their roles.  Employees also want to utilize their strengths.
  3. Proving others wrong: This one is rather odd.  It is better explained as having a drive to achieve and exceed expectations.  “Never underestimate an employee’s need to perform until you have properly evaluated and tested their abilities and potential.” (Forbes.com) Managers should embrace innovation in their team by being open-minded and willing to listen.  While specific ideas may not be 100% on point, those ideas can lead to greater discussions and progress.
  4. Career advancement: Employees need opportunities to grown in their jobs and advance.  There is no joy in just spinning your wheels.  If they can’t advance in their current role, the motivated employee will find a place where they can.
  5. No regrets: The journey for personal success is made up of failures, successes, and changes.  Having enough perspective to value all three is an important motivator.  We learn from our failures as they are opportunities to grow and succeed.  Success and change also provide opportunities for growth, but our failures are hard lessons learned.
  6. Stable future: Change is inevitable.  However, constantly feeling like your time is limited or feeling that your job is always on the block–very much a de-motivator.  On more than one occasion I have heard “good employees don’t get let go” and that is just not true.  Due to decreased funding and reduction in force I’ve seen good teachers lose their jobs because they didn’t coach.  I’ve seen employees let go because they were the most recent hire and someone had to be released due to budget cuts.  If a company is always in the news for their cuts, potential candidates are hesitant to accept a position. Candidates who will accept the position expect more in compensation and they will always have an exit strategy ready.  With an exit strategy in place, that means they are a greater risk for accepting a better offer if it comes along.  They’re the one’s who are always looking.
  7. Self indulgence:  It would be unrealistic to not include personal goals.  Personal goals are a driving force.  However, perspective is required to balance short and long-term benefits, or repercussions.
  8. Impact: Employees want to leave their mark, they want to make an impact.  Want to deflate an employee?  Ask for their opinion, and then tell them what will happen not even taking their thoughts into consideration.  Please, don’t bother asking if it doesn’t matter. That’s insulting.
  9. Happiness: Self-esteem and self-satisfaction are fueled by happiness.  It’s important to enjoy what you do. Happiness isn’t just a smile. Happiness radiates.

It is not possible to motivate someone who refuses to be motivated.  While motivating factors can be intrinsic or extrinsic, motivation is non-existent if one rejects it.

I recently heard a story referencing 3M’s approach to motivation.  With significant expense a study was conducted that resulted in 900 pages pertaining to employee motivation.  Deciding that was too long, the study was repeatedly condensed from 900 pages until it reached one page, then one paragraph, and finally one sentence. “Employees respect what management inspects, not what they expect.”  In other words, hold employees accountable.  This is not to be confused with micromanagement. Ask how things are going, follow-up, give feedback.

A few responses I’ve heard when asking people what motivates them:

  • At first it was monetary. Now, it’s doing a job that’s meaningful, making a difference, and doing something that I enjoy. I’m making a level of money that I’m comfortable with.  I’m not going to sacrifice everything else just to make more money.  It helps that I believe in the mission and goals of the company I work with.  For the most part, employees are aligned with the mission statement. 
  • Appreciation
  • I work for my family first. The paycheck is the prime motivator, because that’s how we keep food on the table and gas in the tanks.
  • I chose my profession so I could make a difference in someone’s life. 
  • Having the ability to be creative.
  • Freedom to do what I want is my motivator. Setting my own hours and being my own boss.
  • I want to leave my mark and when I walk away know that something I’ve done was a positive for the company.

While money is necessary it isn’t the primary motivating factor for employees. Most will leave a job if they can find a better work environment that pays just as well.  Many will even take a pay cut in order to have a better work environment or a job that aligns with their personal goals and direction.  A recruiter recently told me that potential employees were more interested in PTO benefits than increased pay. Personal time and personal satisfaction are increasingly important in motivating employees in the workplace. A toxic work environment will push employees to be on the lookout for something better. In today’s job market, employers can’t ignore the desires of a changing workforce. Flexibility and adaptability are important if they wish to motivate attract and retain quality candidates.

 

 

Empowerment, Life, Quotes, Self Reflection

Happiness is…

Happiness is a choice found within. If one cannot be happy with self then happiness cannot be. No one can force you to be happy. Can someone or something make you happy? Only if you allow it. This does not mean that circumstances can’t beat you down. Negativity can work its way in and consume you. However, choosing to focus on the positive is a step to choosing happiness.

As the great Albus Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

We love to spend as much time as possible outdoors. It’s a disconnect from the chaos and a chance to see what we see. What I love about hiking and paddling is you are out for the experience, however it may come. Being quiet and going along your way, you never know what you will encounter, or if you will encounter anything more than solitude. It could be a baby deer curled in the grass, a dolphin wondering why you are in his water, or rattle snake hoping you don’t notice he’s there. It is amazing what you will see if you simply keep your eyes open and watch. We spend too much time searching for entertainment, being busy, or distracted. Seeing and experiencing the world around us is a valuable way to disconnect from work and stress.

It’s amazing what you see when you’re not looking for anything. If we stop looking for happiness in all of our distractions, maybe we could find happiness within our self- then our home and the world we live in.

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.

Career, Empowerment, Life, Rambles, Self Improvement, Self Reflection

Work Life Balance (Part 2)

What is work life balance? It doesn’t matter what you do, work can take over if you allow it.  For that matter, so can life. Work-life balance requires life management.

Work-life balance defined:

The balance that an individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life.

“The balance that an individual needs.” That statement indicates that it is different for everyone. Stage of life, married or single, children or not will all play into what a person needs regarding balance. Personality, work style, job type, and personal ability are also factors. A little research will provide a plethora of resources for achieving balance and what it actually is.  Three things remain consistent.

  1.  Work life balance is not equitable time between the two.
  2. Work life balance changes…and sometimes frequently.
  3. Work life balance is not a one size fits all approach.

When work disrupts life or life disrupts work, it is time for reflection and change. Time to evaluate the two and discover management changes necessary.

Think about your work day. What is your scheduled arrival and departure? How much time is spent commuting? How much time is actually spent working? If you just thought “all of it” stop lying to yourself.  Did you check your phone? Your personal email? Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? Did you chat with a co-worker around the water cooler? No, we aren’t counting that as networking, not for this. Review your day for the things not work related. Now, if you still got the job done was the balance of work and life disrupted? Probably not.  Those things external to actual work keep us sane. Taking a the occasional brain break is beneficial. When the job doesn’t get done, there’s imbalance.

When you left work, did you take work home? When at home, did you stop thinking of work? Were you able to do what YOU wanted to do?  What if what you wanted to do was work? Does that count as imbalance?  Remember, balance is based on personal need and it is different for everyone. If your life outside of work suffers because all you can think about and do is work, life and work need better management.

Establishing your personal balance is essential to success in both areas. It is extremely important to your health, both mental and physical, to find your balance. If you are unable to step away from work and recharge, you will burn out. Stress will consume life. Taking time to relax and detach from work can make you more productive. Increased productivity and efficiency, in turn, leads to less work after hours.

When balanced, work and life have a nice symbiotic relationship. Work provides the necessary resources for life needs and life enjoyment allows you to recharge for work. Let’s not pretend life is always easy and if all is balanced then all is right with the world. Not the case. It’s easy to say work needs to be during work and life takes place when the work day ends.  However, it unfortunately doesn’t always work that way.  Sometimes the paths will cross and creative management is the only solution.

Balance is just one piece of the puzzle. Sometimes life throws lemons and what you really need is a lime. There are so many ways to helps us achieve balance. Increasingly workplace management is coming on board with creative solutions. More on that another time.

 

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace. 

Empowerment, Life, Quotes, Self Improvement, Self Reflection

Do vs. Say

“Well done is better than well said.” Benjamin Franklin.

No truer words. Positive action is better than talking a good game. It is important to back up your words with a job well done. In the teaching years a poster graced my walls stating, “If you don’t have time to do it right, you better have time to do it over.”  The lesson: Focus on your work. Get the job done. Pay attention to details.

This is not to say that mistakes will not be made. If mistakes happen, fix it. There probably is an excuse for the mistake or shortcoming. It doesn’t matter. Fix it.  Always having an excuse and always having a story doesn’t get the job done. There are things that all of us are good at. Telling others how talented we are, how reliable we are, how ready we are isn’t as beneficial as demonstrating it.

When you no longer care about the quality of your work, it’s time to find different work.