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My husband and I were recently hiking on Mt. Hood in Oregon. Even in the middle of July a lot of snow remained at Timberline Lodge where our hike began. We carefully made our way across numerous snowfields, delighting in the occasional wildflower peeking out in the grassy spots. It was a warm day with a cloudless sky. We’d been hiking about an hour and a half when we came to a sizable ravine.  It was a steep way down on the trail, then we’d have to cross a wide swath of snow that hugged the side of the ravine, then trudge back up the other side. It looked like a long way back up the hill. We gazed at it. “That looks really steep,” said my husband.  I was ready to wimp out, already thinking about the post-hike late lunch at the Ram’s Head bar. Instead, we both said together, “Let’s go for it.”   And we began the descent.

We found the way down was easy. The snowfield, after traversing dozens, wasn’t that difficult. We laughed as we held hands to keep our footing. Minutes later we’d climbed all the way back up to the other side. We stopped to look back. The ravine again looked steep and foreboding. We agreed that the steepness was simply an illusion. Just like a lot of things we face. “Things are easier than we think,” commented my husband Steve.

That’s the way our goals are. When we see them in a distance they can appear daunting. We pause to begin because we’re not sure we can do it. Or that we want to do it. Is the view from the other side worth it? We have to learn now things. We have to risk. But as soon as we begin, it gets easier. It’s always the moment of standing on the precipice that is most frightening.

Just get going. Right Now.

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Category : Goal setting and achievement | Blog

Road trip rush

Competing effectively today is like driving on the L.A. freeway system. This occurred to me when I recently took a business trip to Southern California where I had meetings with  NBC in both Burbank and Los Angeles. I’d rented a car but passed on renting a GPS system.  I reasoned that I know the freeway system well enough where I was scheduled to meet.

Then I had an unexpected event that required a trip to Altadena via a route I didn’t know as well. Armed with my iPhone, which I call with great admiration “the magic phone,” I quickly mapped out my route.

In Los Angeles you have to pay high attention at all times when driving.  The freeway system there is a beautiful, efficient means of transport. The gleaming concrete stretches across hundreds of square miles like a rushing river of metal. Cars whiz by at 70 or 75 MPH (no one, it seems obeys the speed limit there) weaving in and out of ramps, exits, and six-lane changes. If you blink you’ve missed the way. Or have a very bad accident.

Life is like a freeway

This is where my realization came in. I had my course plotted out. I was following it dutifully.  I maneuvered the quick lane changes with aplomb, crossing four lanes of traffic in a very short distance to make the next freeway change, shortly followed by more hair raising lane changes, all with cars speeding on every side.

What a powerful metaphor for business and life today! All those other cars are like your competitors. You’re all going full speed ahead. If you don’t pay attention, your competitor will rush right past you in seconds. One mistake and you’ve taken the wrong road. You waste time getting back on track while you competitor has gained ground on you. Sometime a change of route is intended.  The road is closed and you have to find a new way. The winnings go to the one who found the best solution first.

High awareness is required of us every single day. The ability to think quickly and to change quickly is vital.  This is our own built-in GPS system. Plot a course. Then go fast. Go far.

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Category : Leadership | Blog

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

Busyness has become a way of life. We rush around at work. We juggle family demands at home. We’re frazzled! We’re overstressed because we’re not getting the right things done.

I know first hand how this can happen.  I was a good multitasker.  I think I was the queen of multitasking, a pro. I was so good at it that I was practicing my Spanish with the night janitors… because I was still hunkered down in the office when they arrived. I thought this was a brilliant idea. I may as well maximize my late hours time by brushing up on my rusty Spanish!

The moment I realized I had to change came when the night janitor scolded me. He actually wagged his finger at me and said, “You should be home with your family. They must miss you.”

Talk about a whack on the side of the head. Hymie the janitor, wherever you are, thank you! Those words made me realize I had to get better control of my time to get more balance in my life.  I had a husband and teenager who hardly ever saw me. I didn’t like that, and neither did they.

Now every day I ask, what’s important? What are the things that only I should do… as opposed to someone else. What can be left undone? What fulfills me, what gives me joy?

These are all choices we have to make every day. Right Now. That’s why I call my company Right Now Communications. We only have the right now. Seize it and make it yours!

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Category : Life and Work Balance | Blog