Archive for June, 2010


Stress is a serious issue, and chronic stress can have damaging effects on your physical health.  In an extended challenging economy, many people are dealing with long term stress in the work place and the demands of home.

The body doesn’t distinguish between psychological stress and physical threats. Our biology interprets it all as a “fight or flight” situation.    It doesn’t know that instead of a saber-toothed tiger chasing you, your car blew a tire on the way to pick up your child at daycare. Our body goes into “red alert” mode whenever it thinks it’s under attack.

Most people know that stress can lead to high blood pressure or stroke. But did you know that it suppresses your immune system? Stress can lead to sleep problems, infertility, diabetes, weight gain, and accelerated aging. That’s right. You get fat and wrinkled faster! Take that for motivation to manage your stress!

Sometimes major life changes are needed to tackle stress. But you can take daily steps to manage your stress level. Most of these tips take just a few minutes. Paying attention is the key. You are not invulnerable, and you deserve to live a better, less stressful life.

Listen to your favorite music. Music is a great stress-reliever. Listen in the car or at home at a time that you get to choose the music.

Hug someone. Hug your spouse, your significant other, your kid, or your pet. Physical contact makes us happier and reduces stress.

Breathe deeply and stretch for a few minutes. Making yourself take several deep breaths at your desk will relax you.

Take a parking lot minute. If you drive to work, take one minute before you go into the building to just sit quietly. Close your eyes and empty your mind. Take a few deep breaths and you’ll feel relaxed and ready to go.

Take mini breaks. This is especially important for those of you who work through lunch and power through the whole day without taking a breath. Stand up and walk around just for a few minutes. Have a “parking lot minute” at your desk. Give yourself time to recharge.

Remember to laugh. Kids laugh all the time. As adults we laugh a whole lot less. What a shame. It feels good to laugh! Watch short funny videos on YouTube, watch a funny movie at home, subscribe to a joke of the day, find humor in small things.

Have manageable to-do lists. It’s stressful to look at a daily to-do list that’s impossible to get done. Prioritize your list and make sure you have a list you can actually get done in a day.

Eat healthy. You knew this had to be on the list. Limit the refined sugar and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Have berries at breakfast. Eat fresh leafy vegetables at lunch and dinner.  Start by committing to do just one thing, like eliminating an afternoon sugar snack.

Get some movement. Walk, get outside. Movement makes your body and mind feel better.

Maintain a calm sleeping environment. Make your bedroom a serene place. Take out the TV and leave your cell phone in another room. Get to bed early enough or get up late enough so you’re getting enough sleep. Fatigue leads to more stress.

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Category : Stress Management | Blog

Yesterday I was involved in the two-hour live telecast of the Portland Rose Festival’s Grand Floral Parade. It’s the second largest all-floral parade in the country, and the biggest event in Portland, Oregon.  Live television broadcasts and athletic contests both give us the opportunity to know in a very short window how well you’ve prepared. You either win the game, or you don’t. The broadcast either goes well, or it doesn’t.

It’s a lot like life, and a lot like managing any project.  Here’s a checklist for any project.

  1. Understand the steps you need to take for success. Assign timelines to each of those steps.
  2. Imagine the worst possible scenario and plan for that. What is your “showstopper?” Plan for the worst and hope for the best.
  3. Make sure you have the right mix of people on the project with all required skills.
  4. Assess your own strengths and weaknesses with honesty. Put people in place with strength in your weak areas.
  5. Communicate to other team members in detail.
  6. You must have back-up plans. It is not enough to have just a Plan B. You have to have a Plan C and preferably a Plan D too.
  7. Always do a “pre-flight check.”  Make sure everything is working and that people know their roles.
  8. Avoid complacency.  Arrogance causes blindness; blindness to your competitors, or new problems that must be addressed.
  9. Believe in your project. If you don’t love it, who will?

Remember to take notes during the project on what’s working and what isn’t. Bring team members together afterward to discuss what can be done better next time. Several small improvements can make a significant difference in your product, your service, your life!

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Category : Leadership | Blog

Yesterday I spoke at the Oregon Employer Council Speaker Showcase. About 60 meeting planners from government and various industries were there. I always like to ask people what specific challenges they’re facing in their industries. Many of the conversations I had centered around the difficulty of operating in downsized environments. State agencies already know that more cuts are coming, so they’re very focused on how to face the next challenge of even more reduced staffing. The fact that the needs don’t go away is very challenging. There was a real hunger for gaining expertise on how to make the right priority decisions and how to choose what gets done first.

I spent some time talking to someone who represents the energy industry, primarily electric and natural gas. His challenge was totally different. In that industry, he’s grappling with widely divergent ages and knowledge within the work force. The oldest boomers are at the tail end of their careers, and their supervisors are now the tech-savvy 25 year-olds. Now that’s a challenge. Just communicating between those two groups is a leap. The young boss wants to text. The older worker wants face time. Or, to the amazement of the 25 year-old, talk on the phone.

Take a look around in your environment today and ask yourself this: what one single improvement would make the biggest difference in your business?

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Category : Uncategorized | Blog