Category Archives: Community


This week’s email featured an essay from Harvard Business Review by Umair Haque on leadership called “How and Why to be a Leader (not a Wannabe).  I enjoyed reading it, especially because Haque touched on the subject of love and … Continue reading


Here’s to Those That Matter!

I’ve had some time to think this past week and have a lot swirling in my head.  I’m not feeling particularly inspired to write however, perhaps because a head cold is clouding my brain.

So for today, I’ll just post this reminder to turn off that internal (or external) voice of judgment that might be telling you who or what you should be or do or say, and instead to just be true to yourself — and ever grateful for those who matter in your life.


How Matters


Someone posted this cartoon on Facebook recently and it made me laugh. And groan. Because we’ve all been there. Victims of meetings that got called because someone didn’t know how else to move a project forward or solve a problem.

I saw a statistic recently that said there are 11 million meetings in the U.S. every day. Who know if that’s accurate or how it was calculated… but  most professionals report spending 50% of their time in meetings and say that half of that time is wasted. Yikes! That’s a lot of lost time and money. There are a lot of bad meetings out there. Meetings with no preparation. Meetings without agendas. Meetings that don’t respect the time of the participants and don’t have a clear purpose. Meetings where half the people in the room (or more!) are distracted by their electronic devices or sit passively watching bad Powerpoint slides.

Some weeks I feel like I spend all my time in meetings, and it’s enough to make me really appreciate the good ones.  As meeting participants we need to get better at demanding more from our meeting organizers.  We need to start asking:

  • Why am I being invited to this meeting?
  • What are the objectives of the meeting?
  • Will we be getting an agenda in advance?
  • What preparation is expected of me?

And for those of us who organize meetings, we need to commit the time to preparing for the meeting, to creating thoughtful agendas with clear desired outcomes, shortening our meetings and actively seeking ways to engage the participants. We need to invite people to our meetings in a way that says “Come, you are welcome!” and makes them eager to participate. We need to actively manage our meetings to ensure that the desired outcomes are met and make sure the appropriate follow-up occurs.

I saved a quote called “How Matters” recently that applies well to organizing meetings, but don’t know who wrote it (if you do, please let me know in the comments).

How matters.
Who you invite matters.
And how you invite them.
How you come together matters.
What you talk about and how you talk about it matters.
Where and how you start matters,
As does where you go next,
And how and where you end.
How matters.
Perhaps more than we think.

What do you do to maximize your “how” of running meetings?  Please leave your comments below…


An Invitation to Re-examine ‘Busy’


I read a thought-provoking post on the subject of busyness recently that got me reflecting about this subject a bit.

Everyone seems to be “busy” lately. In fact, it seems to have become the “go to” answer to the perennial question “how are you?”  “Busy,” we say, to anyone that will listen. We’re really, really, busy — crazy busy in fact. We’ve got lists, demands, obligations, expectations and we’re never done with them. We’re important because we’re busy. And we’re needed. We’re so busy that we’re stressed and tired and never have enough hours in the day to get everything done.

I don’t know that many of us have thought about the impact of this one word on ourselves and on others. In addition to projecting self-importance, “busy” accomplishes a number of things. “Busy” sets up a wall between people that’s hard to get past. When someone tells you they are “busy” it sends the message not so subtly “don’t ask me for anything” or “don’t make any demands on me.”  “Busy” keeps friends and colleagues at arm’s length and says “I really can’t be here for you right now.”  It minimizes the opportunity for connection. “Busy” is also a bit dismissive and vague. How different would it be to say,”I’m great and I’m working on some really interesting projects right now.”  That’s a conversation starter — whereas “busy” tends to block further inquiry.

To be sure, every one of us has times when we’re trying to finish a project or meet a critical deadline and we’re legitimately flat out. But you know what?  With all of the busyness, each and every one of us finds the time for what is most important in our lives.

I have a lot of projects and priorities. I have lists of my own that I will never finish. But I don’t want to be that person that’s too busy to take the time to really connect or to pause for the things that matter.

I invite you to join me in consciously letting go of “busy” as a lifestyle choice.


A Failure to Communicate

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

– George Bernard Shaw

For some cosmic coincidence, communication issues have been the dominant theme at work recently.  It’s been a good reminder that communication is not necessary what is said, but what is actually heard.   I’ve noticed a few common categories of communication challenges lately:

  • Things that should have been said but weren’t — a complete failure to tell someone who should have known about something.  They forgot… they didn’t realize… they assumed someone knew.  But for whatever reason, they didn’t speak up.
  • Things that were unknowingly said to the wrong person and never communicated to the right person — In these cases, the communication about the issue occurred, but never reached the most appropriate recipient, who remained completely ignorant about the issue.
  • Things that were actually said but not fully heard by the recipient, or not said firmly enough to make an impression — in these situations the information was shared, but the communication wasn’t completely effective.

The details aren’t important, but the end result in all of these cases was the same. Someone who thought they should have known about something didn’t.  And in each case, that “someone” thought they had been wronged or aggrieved — and perhaps disrespected — in the failure to communicate.

I think there are lessons on both sides —

1. Make sure your message has actually reached the right recipient.  If you’re not sure, seek confirmation.  “Is there anyone else that needs to know about this?” or “I just wanted to make sure you got my email…”

2. Make sure you’re being clear.  Sometimes when we’re in uncomfortable message territory or fearful of conflict we may “soften” our messages, and the result is that we aren’t clear about what we’re saying.  When in doubt, check for understanding with the recipient! “I just want to make sure that you understand that you need to be at work by 9 am everyday unless you’ve let me know in advance…”

3. Assume good intent.  You didn’t know about something that you should have known about?  Perhaps there’s a logical explanation for what happened.   Don’t assume that you have the full story until you’ve taken the time to talk it through.  Be curious not judgmental.

We’re all in the communication business.  I’m always struck by how two people can see or hear the same thing and have completely different impressions of what has just happened.  That’s because we all filter our day-to-day experiences through different lenses.   Don’t let your filters create communication illusions!


The Gift of Curiosity in the New Year

It’s that time.  Everyone’s starting to look back, look forward, and make resolutions to do things differently in the coming year.

What if you tried something different this year?  Instead of trying to DO things differently, what if you decided to BE differently in the coming year.

What is you cultivated your inner curiosity?  What might that look like?

Maybe your morning walk would take you to the end of a street that you’ve never explored. Maybe you’d explore a new parcel of open space in a neighboring town or a different part of the state.

Maybe you’d engage someone in your community or in your neighborhood in a different way.  What if you took the time to have coffee with that local developer you’re at odds with politically?   What if you knocked on the door of a new neighbor’s house and got to know them?  What new doors might open for you?

Maybe you’d take the time to introduce a child to the natural world – letting their unconstrained wonder for wild things rub off on you.   Or take a class and learn something new for yourself…

Maybe you’d talk less and listen more, really trying to appreciate someone else’s perspective on a situation that you thought you understood already.   And maybe you’d ask more questions – why, what if, how come – instead of being so sure of the answers.

Or maybe you’d take a new adventure to somewhere you’ve always been curious about?

How can you be more insatiably curious in (and about!) 2013?