Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

In about 5 minutes, the proverbial ball will drop in the center of Times Square to mark the beginning of a new year -- 2011. May the coming year gift to you good health, richer relationships, new problems to solve / opportunities to make this world a better place, meaningful life lessons, new challenges, simple pleasures, hard work, accomplishments of which to be proud and more. I look forward to chatting with you as we tackle the new year together . . . 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . . 6 . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . Happy New Year!

Countdown to the new year!

Talk about procrastination . . . ten minutes until the new year, and I still owe you 2 more blogs. So this will be short and sweet, albeit most sincere. I hope that for every valley you have visited in 2010, you visited two mountain tops and that even the most dire situations of the past year provided you with new insights and hope.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Picture a suspension bridge as a metaphor for the bridges we cross as we practice the language of leadership. A bridge from our inner dialogue to the spoken word; a bridge from the spoken word to the actions they inspire; a bridge from our actions to the bottom-line results we ultimately influence.

The pylons represent stability, essential when the winds of adversity are blowing against us. These winds represent change – change in terms of frequency, velocity, complexity, and sometimes predictability. Without a stable foundation, the structure could collapse.

The suspension cables symbolize the importance of flexibility supported by the common threads ultimately anchored by a stable foundation. Without flexibility to offset stability, the structure could break.

The deck is the solid platform on which we suspend judgment and practice the language of leadership – the means to the end – recognizing, of course, that in an environment of continuous improvement, there is no end – simply another bridge. Without a solid platform from which to speak, the structure could lack purpose.

The side spans symbolize the first and last steps toward a particular goal. The journey requires courage to begin, commitment and trust to persevere, and endurance to finish.

Without these characteristics, the structure could stand idle and lose integrity.

The center span signifies improvement and progress from point A to point B. Without continuous improvement, our competition will leave us in the wake of yesterday.

At first glance, the bridge may appear linear; however, it actually has great breadth and depth and width which, when combined, create a multi-dimensional system. A multi-dimensional system translates into one of diversity and inclusion; creates many avenues to tap into talent, lets silence speak, and is rich with teachable moments. Without a multi-dimensional system, an organization lacks the power of collaboration.

A bridge, itself, embodies synergy whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts . . . a bridge to the leadership language of a new day.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Brrrrrr . . . .

I love this time of year . . . the feel of snow in the air, off-set by the warmth of a wood-burning fireplace; the sounds of holiday music; the sights of seasonal landscapes; tasty delicacies reserved for this time of year; the aroma of fresh pine and apple cinnamon spice; the opportunity to search for the “perfect” gift for family and friends.

My holiday spirit was boldly interrupted one morning recently. The outside temperature was 18 degrees – with a wind chill factor that blew the reading into the single digits.

The inside temperature? Sixty-seven. As visions of sugar plums danced in my head, my heat pump had settled in for a long winter’s nap . . . at least, if I didn’t do something quickly.

By the time calls for fuel delivery and service repair were acted upon, another night had passed and the inside temperature had dropped another 20 degrees.

Was my rude awakening a reminder to subscribe to routine maintenance, or was it a brief window into the world of those who may suffer in silence from a house that lacks sufficient insulation and/or struggles with rising heating costs? Most likely . . . both.

When our body is exposed to temperature extremes, especially for extended periods of time, our emotional thermometer can register: frustration, anger, impatience, rigidity . . .

Add the burden of payment-on-demand, and stress likely increases, and it is as if our emotions are hand-cuffed to the rising and falling mercury.

Holiday RX:

As much as I lament my Appalachian Power bill, I used this episode to motivate me to support APCO’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor heating program. Adding a few dollars to my payment due, will add a few paid kilowatts for someone less fortunate than I. I invite you to have your furnace checked routinely and to consider adding to someone’s holiday warmth.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seven Down; Five to Go

On January 15, 2010, I introduced “Thinking Out Loud” online – a blog to establish an HR Alliance with you through a monthly article on a pertinent people perspective. While my monthly agenda has waivered, my pledge to produce a total of twelve articles during 2010 stands strong. That being the case, I owe you five messages and have less than a month to deliver. Best I begin now!

I realize I am but a mere hitch-hiker on the electronic super highway where others may tweet and text frequently throughout their day. Yet, one must walk before they can run, so I will not apologize for my online baby steps. The 2010 decision to blog was not about quantity. For me, it was more about trying something new, exercising my love of writing and learning where it might take me; having fun; exploring the creative cavities of my mind in search of a new perspective . . .

I expanded my business services this year to include “ghost-writing” and have been engaged by several clients to write on their behalf – to tell “their story” via an award application; to promote "their strengths and talents" via a project proposal; to articulate "their intentions" via a business document. Hopefully, 2011 will provide additional opportunities, incentives and motivation to write, thus I have coined 2011 “The Year of the Pen.”

And, now for today’s blog . . . oops, out of space . . . eight down; four to go.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

God is great; God is good.

She's 10 years old and attends a fourth grade special education program at a local elementary school. Her sight impaired from a brain tumor, she wears a pair of thick glasses to help compensate for the blindness in one eye and the 45% vision remaining in the other.

With the help of her single mother of two, nearly half her size, she is working diligently to lose weight and is elated over her recent 30 pound success. The prospect of a hot dog to celebrate from a sidewalk sale, in which her mother is participating, is met with great expectation.

Before her ravenous appetite is satisfied from a gourmet luncheon of a hot dog (complete with cheese, ketchup, chili and onions), low fat potato chips, and a diet soft drink, she bows her head. "God is great; God is good, and we thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed. Give us, Lord, our daily bread."

Slow? I don't think so. Trouble seeing things clearly. I think not.

She has surely received a "special education" and qualifies in every sense of the word as "gifted." We would all do well to learn from her reverence; her remembrance; and her unbashed sense of gratitude. She certainly gave me pause to remember all that for which I am grateful and too often neglect to give thanks.

You are right, Savannah . . "God is great; God is good." May He richly bless you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Handshakes; Less Heartaches

In my last blog, I wrote about the qualities of teamwork, collaboration and communication and how significant these qualities are in determining outcomes. The more effective the teamwork, collaborative process and communication style, the more positive the outcomes.

A phenomenon known as the Apollo Syndrome also illustrates the value of teamwork, collaboration and communication.

Several astronauts with top NASA credentials and high intellect gathered to address a highly complex issue.

Likewise, a group of individuals from NASA gathered who were indeed very smart, yet lacked the qualifications and expertise of the aforementioned astronauts. They were challenged to address a similar highly complex issue.

Interestingly, the second group was more successful in discovering the best options for resolving the problem. Their success was attributed to their effectiveness in teamwork, collaboration and communication, contrary to the first team who worked more independent of each other, yet below their collective capability.

When looking for ways to foster handshakes and eliminate arm wrestling, companies are invited to contact HR Alliance to learn more about our offerings. Among those services we provide are: experiential team building programs, serving as an external consultant to facilitate collaborative initiatives, and training on the subject of effective communication.

Congratulations to those organizations that recognize the power of a handshake and the opportunities for win-win results.