Defining success and making decisions

How do you define success?

For most of us the definition changes depending on the circumstances.  Success for a bicycle ride or Sunday dinner is defined differently than success at work, or when people outside our immediate family are involved.

When I am resistant to changing my mind about something, it’s often related to how I view success for the situation.  For example, I might view success about a car trip as getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible.  However, Jeff might define it as enjoying the view and changing colors on a lovely fall day. At work I might assign a higher priority to customer happiness and engagement than profits.  The finance team may have another definition…

Just Say No. Yes You Can!

Wooden word I can not on blackboardAs I think about my year ahead, the concept of saying NO keeps coming back to me. I have a propensity to want to do lots of things–pretty much everything that comes my way!

I thought it was just me, but over the years I have discovered it’s a natural tendency for the majority of humans.

I vividly remember a colleague telling me that was the best management idea I ever shared with him. Warren Buffet helped me take this concept to the next level…

Merry New Year!

Merry New Year!

I was reminded about the benefits of doing things differently when I said this in a meeting yesterday and got a happy laugh from my colleagues. As many of you know, I am a big fan of trying new things or working to see life in a different way. I think it helps us stay happier, healthier and more productive.

There’s also going too far with the differences. As a marketing geek I realize that I need to include language, graphics, or processes that people are familiar with to engage them–otherwise they might just pass by like I do when the box for my favorite cereal changes color.

We human beings need a handle to hold on to, especially in today’s world of too much info and things coming at us each day…

Letting go

I try not to let artificial boundaries define my life too much. Yes, I pay my bills on the first of the month, and make sure my corporate to-do list is complete on Friday–but I long ago stopped making New Year’s resolutions.

For a while I had a word for the year: one word to help me move toward a more expansive life. Then I stopped that practice and just focused on being in the moment and connecting with my heart to create my goals for the week, day, moment. Who decided that January 1 is the best time to redefine our lives?

However this year I find myself thinking about the upcoming changeover to writing 2018 in place of 2017.  Perhaps it’s because I am in job-finding mode and know that activity should pick up on January 2, or perhaps it’s because the last 18 months have had more challenges than usual, and I am looking for a fresh start. Or perhaps I am just desperate for a topic for Over the Hump.

Whatever the reason, nowadays I find myself using a phrase that guides my actions much of the time. That phrase is “letting go.”

In my opinion, one of the biggest benefits of growing older is that I don’t sweat the small stuff nearly as much. In the last few years I have really stopped worrying about things that don’t matter–traffic that’s making me late, whacky clerks, or whether I have been watching too much TV.

In the last few months I have also started letting go of more important things–wondering what my next corporate job will be, concern that my aging parents are getting quality care, questioning if colleagues like my work or friends like my Christmas cookies.

These questions and concerns still cross my mind, often. The difference that they do not stay long.  Ruminating on this stuff does not help it progress or solve itself. Plus it just wastes my mental and physical energy, and annoys people around me when those thoughts escape the dark depths of my mind.

So I have found myself saying, “letting go” a lot. And it helps. I believe that life works for the most part, and it’s more pleasant to relax into the flow than worry. So I let go (of the concern, not the action when appropriate).

I’ll report in at the the end of 2018 and let you know how it goes. Or maybe sooner if I choose not to let January 1 define my life too much. What about you? What practices help you relax into the flow of life?  Please comment below.

My best wishes for an amazing day and week. See you next Wednesday!

The Precious Gift that Love Brings

A heartfelt reminder from Kermit the Frog

Kermit Christmas“I don’t know if you believe in Christmas

Or if you have presents underneath the Christmas tree

But if you believe Love

That will be more than enough

For you to come and celebrate with me

For I have held the precious gift that Love brings

Even though I never saw a Christmas star

I know there is a light

I have felt it burn inside

And I have seen it shining from afar…”


Hear the whole song with Kermit and John Denver on YouTube

This holiday season I plan to reach out my hand to someone new.  How about you, what does this song inspire in you?

My best wishes for a peaceful, loving holiday season.

my signature 3


Vague language–when is it important?

Is this needlessly vague?

A colleague asked me this question recently as we worked to hone the language of a data sheet.  I love his question because it goes right to the core of a communication strategy I am always working on in my writing, especially for corporate writing, such as data sheets, white papers, and customer messages.

When communicating with customers, and especially prospective customers, there are times when being vague is essential. In today’s world of too much information (TMI) most people are as skittish as a deer when deciding to read the whole thing, looking for a way to disqualify any communication so they can delete it from their inbox. This means that each and every detail gives them cause.

However, when writing a data sheet or other document that readers are coming to once they are engaged with the company, product, or offering they want details to prove to themselves they are in the right place–especially in the high-tech world I work in.

So, I am always focused on ensuring the “right” amount of detail for the timing, audience, and purpose of the message. It’s one of the things that makes marketing really interesting and fun, and hard as hell.

That’s why I am grateful to my colleague for summarizing it so well. I now have a purposeful question to ask when evaluating content.

Does this question resonate with you? Even if you don’t work in marketing, it’s still a valid question.  Would you use the same language with your boss as with a peer or customer?  Your child as with your spouse?

What questions do you ask yourself to ensure that messages are appropriately crafted and targeted? That your audience won’t bolt of through the woods? Please share by leaving a comment below!

My best wishes for an amazing day and week. See you next Wednesday!

Acceptance and Forgiveness

“Believing someone will change won’t make it so.

If you’re going to invest in a belief, invest in the belief that acceptance heals. The only change you control is your own, and that’s found through acceptance, too.”

~ Holiday Mathis

This saying further defines another spiritual saying I learned years ago, “Acceptance bypasses the need for forgiveness”.

To me, the idea of acceptance means dropping judgement. It’s different than forgiving, which says that the thing forgiven is wrong. This idea has helped me drop my negative self-talk and relax into the flow of life–where I am more peaceful and joyful.

And, as I talked about in my post on re-potting schefflera’s, letting go of criticizing ourselves is a powerful place to start. What better place to start then self-acceptance. Then it can radiate out to others even more powerfully.

My best wishes for an amazing afternoon and week. See you next Wednesday!

The Irony of Assumption

Finding the courage to ask rather than assume

You are not that smart.

Actually, I believe most of us are smarter than we give ourselves credit for*. However there’s one area where we are not that smart–knowing what others are thinking and seeking. Yet many of us assume all the time.

One of the main areas where I assume this is when I am in a hurry to finish a conversation so the work can begin.  I realized this writing the blog post on Making Time for Communication. I also saw that when I gloss over communication it’s because I believe that my knowing the answer(s) without asking is a quick path to moving ahead.

I do this especially when I am trying to help others, or get work done together. How ironic is that?

I think I started this practice as work so I would be perceived as knowledgable and accomplished. Then it spilled over into my personal life too.

Here are a few practices I find useful as I let go of this habit:

  • Reminding myself that the other person truly wants a meaningful conversation too (most of the time), so it’s really okay with everyone to make the time.
  • Ask questions rather than make statements. Make the questions open ended. Here’s an example, ask “When would you like this report submitted?” in place of “Is this report due on Monday?”
  • Having the courage to go back to a topic or admit that I rushed things. When I first did this I just assumed I would have to overcome the other person’s objections to continuing the discussion–but that has yet to happen.
  • Getting past my fear that an open ended question might lead to a request I am not prepared or want to deliver.

What do you think? Is my sense of irony overblown here? What practices do you use to leave assumption behind and ensure a full discussion?

My best wishes for an amazing day, and week! See you next Wednesday.



*More on this topic in the future!

Make time for this important activity

Especially when you are super busy

Make time for communication.

I heard this as part of a larger conversation last week at a SAMI meeting, and it really hit home so I have been pondering it since.

Engaging with one another thoughtfully and fully is one of the most satisfying parts of life. It’s also a key to avoiding conflicts–one of the most frustrating, time wasting, damaging parts of life. How many times in our lives have we said, “Oh, I thought you meant this. You really meant that!” How much time, energy, and perhaps angst could have been avoided if we took time to communicate fully, openly and honestly.

Here are a few ideas for enhancing our practice of making time for communication:

  • Work to find the highest level question. Rather than “Would you like cake or ice cream?”, ask “Would you like dessert?”  In place of “How many minutes should this presentation be?”, ask “What are the key learning points? If you could wave a magic wand, what would be the very best outcome?”
  • Let go of fears around asking for clarification. As many of us are bustling around, creating a lovely, large meal tomorrow on Thanksgiving, perhaps ask, “When you say the turkey will be ready at 3, do you mean carved and on the table, or coming out the oven?”, or “When you say you want to watch a little football, is that 1 hour, or 6?”
  • Take time to really hear your friends and family, especially those who are different than you, or those who push your buttons. Sometimes when I listen to the person underneath the words, I discover them on another level that helps me to connect in a new way, and let go of the things that bother me. Maybe even say, “Hello Magnificent!”

As I write this, I realize that I started out thinking this practice is about respecting others by hearing them more deeply, but I have transitioned to understanding that it’s also about respecting myself enough to want a meaningful conversation, knowing that I am worthy of making the time. I feel more relaxed about the crowded kitchen tomorrow!

Like most things I write about here, you all know this stuff and my role is to hopefully provide a gentle reminder. I’d love to hear if this resonates with you and what you do differently in the coming days.

My best wishes for an amazing day, and Thanksgiving holiday. May you be blessed with wonderful family and friends, and life enhancing conversations. See you next Wednesday!


Finding good in others

Last week as I wrote about looking in the mirror and exclaiming this lovely, true sentiment to ourselves, I realized it’s a great way to see the magnificence in others–especially those folks who make us cranky.

A long time ago I was venting to a friend about a family member who I found hard to be around.  He was raised with every advantage and education, yet was demanding, opinionated, and closed-minded. Even a mildly different opinion was not tolerated in conversation.

I had spent a couple of evenings around the dinner table listening to him during a family visit and was now venting to my friend.  She replied, “Lisa, it sounds like he wants your approval.”  WHAT??!!

How could this person who had so much advantage in his life, had lived more than me in many ways, want my good opinion?  But, after pondering a bit I knew she was right. She advised me to just find one thing I liked about him. Then tell him.

What a challenge. But I did it, and was glad.  Evenings around the dinner table were still boring, but I was not nearly as cranky with him, or cranky that I was stuck in the situation.

And, I realized that everyone has something to like. When each of us looks to find something to like in everyone else, we are more joyful.  It doesn’t really matter if it affects the other person.

Writing last Wednesday I realized that one of the best ways to find something to like about another person is to say “Hello Magnificent!” to them.  I practiced it this over the last week and found it really useful, and fun. At this point I am still saying it to myself, but soon I will say it out loud.  Won’t that be fun!

It’s a great reminder that we humans have so much more in common than the differences that we let separate us. Magnificence is all around us. It just takes a moment to recognize it.

My best wishes for an amazing day, and week. See you next Wednesday!