What will matter?
By Michael Josephson

Ready of not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no days, no hours or minutes.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will all expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Your gender, skin color, and ethnicity will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, and sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel the lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories of those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, but whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

Are you smarter than a 2 year old?

I'm the lucky Grandmother of three delightful granddaughters. Yeah...I started young, and it's paying off now!
Not being the traditional Grandmother of yester-year, who rocked on the porch with hoards of grandchildren at her feet, I only occasionally get the delicious treat of spending whole days at a time with my grandchildren - and I love it! This past month I spent six magical days with Brielle, our 18-month-old little princess, who is the older daughter of my middle son. We had a blast!

She is, of course, one of the most beautiful, talented, intelligent and all-round wonderful little girls on the planet...that goes without saying. But, she's something else too; she's the embodiment of learning and growth. Each time I see her, even if there has been just weeks between her visits, she's learned a bundle of new skills. She blew right past crawling and went straight to walking. She's learned how to manipulate a spoon, dress her doll and can 'read' several books at a sitting.

It's amazing really, how she watches, mimics, and then masters an ability to do something she sees everyone around her doing. She's hungry to learn, eagerly tries anything you encourage her towards, and amazingly develops new abilities, literally every day.

BrielleOh, and she's always scanning faces. She looks intently at the people in her world; she studies their emotional reactions, she takes cues from those around her as to what comes next, and is always reaching out to connect with people in her world. She's a consummate networker too; it doesn't matter to Brielle whether you are even dressed or not, let alone dressed 'properly', regardless of your age or stage in life, she assumes you have something to teach her and she's ready for the adventure.

It's not surprising that she wants to push ahead. Every time she conquers her fear of something new and accomplishes the task, the whole family rewards her with a round of applause. After months of this immediate reward, she's even learned to clap for herself - just adorable.

Oh, to be like Brielle again! When did we stop scanning our worlds to see what else we could learn? What happened to us to make us so sure it's ok to operate on autopilot, at work, home and in our relationships?

When did we get so grown up?

One of my favorite quotes is, 'You don't empower people, you create environments that help them realize that they have power'.

All parents (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) have to do for the little ones in our lives is to create a safe, stimulating and loving environment and they will learn, grow and flourish. And, I wonder...could it be the same for your employees? Could it be that - especially when they're going through a tough transition, or you want them to adopt some new skill or behaviour - that all you really need to do is provide environments where growth and learning are encouraged, and create workplaces where accomplishments are applauded and rewarded? Could it be that simple?
When you need managers who know how to create empowering environments for their employees....call us.

Remember - You can change it - we can help!

August 2011

A Story For You

I've just been perusing the papers, and the economic news is dismal - heck, most of the news is down right depressing right now. So, I'm going to tell you a story on this bright and breezy summer day, in case you need a smile.
Picture Charlie Brown, the comic character. Can't you just see him, seated in his cartoon airplane with his scarf flapping in the wind? Do you know the story of the real Charlie Brown? Well, he was a World War II pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at KimboltonEngland, and his B-17 was called 'Ye Old Pub'. After a particularly bloody battle, when he should have been headed back to home base, he was lost. His compass was damaged and he and his crew were flying directly over an enemy airfield.
 Charlie Brown
A German pilot named Franz Steigler was ordered to shoot the B-17 down. When he got near Charlie's plane, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he 'had never seen a plane in such a bad state'. The tail and rear sections were severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded. The top gunner was smeared all over the top of the fuselage, the nose was smashed and there were bullet holes everywhere. Brown was struggling to control his damaged and bloodstained plane.

Despite having been given orders to destroy Brown, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked right at the terrified pilot.

Franz could see that Brown had no idea where he was going and Franz waved at Charlie to turn his plane 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane towards the North Sea and England. He then saluted Charlie Brown and turned away, back to Europe.
When Franz landed he told his C/O that the plane had been shot down over the sea, and never told the truth to anybody. Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew reported everything at their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.

Long after the war, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who had saved him and his crew. After nearly 40 years of searching, he finally found him. Franz had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions.

They met in the USA at a 379th Bomber Group reunion, together with 25 people who are alive now - all because Franz never fired his guns that day.

Now doesn't that renew your faith in mankind? What could you do today that might go down in someone's history as the luckiest day of their lives?

Enjoy the summer!

Remember, you can change it...we can help!

How's the Weather?

This weather we're having is crazy, isn't it? It seems like the whole world is being caught in tornados, hurricanes and floods of Biblical proportion. Here in Ontario, we've gone from freezing our petudies to flipping burgers on the Bar-B-Q overnight. Like they say, if you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes.  
The change in weather has brought with it changes in people's attitudes too. People that just a week ago were snarly and half-depressed are now gardening and riding bikes. So, why the sudden transformation? Aren't we all still the same people? Why has the change in our environment spawned such a dramatic uptick in enthusiasm?
There's lots of research to suggest that environments have a huge impact on human behaviour. The green movement is a classic example of these principles; we impact our environments by how we behave, but our environments can impact what we believe, how we feel and ultimately what we do. Researchers found that simply moving chocolate from 'within arms reach' to six feet away decreased consumption by 50% and moving the tasty treat off the premises nearly extinguished the consumption all together. Serving your dinner on a 10-inch plate versus a 12-inch plate - will power aside - will decrease the amount you consume by a whopping 30%!
We know that factors like negativity and family chaos profoundly impact a child's development and today's parents take great care to ensure their little bundles get just the right amoTornadount of stimuli and positive reward.
So, how about employees? Could environmental factors affect how a change effort is implemented? Could something as simple as where someone sits, whom they report to, or the proximity of the water cooler effect whether they accept an IT implementation or not?
I think it does, and in a big way. Just last week I was told by a mid manager that, she wasn't going to 'play nice' with the new leadership in her company because she'd been asking for a parking spot closer to the front entrance for two years, and because they 'don't care about my safety', she feels no need to get on board with the new leaders.
I think there are three contextual factors that have a profound impact on how people accept and integrate change in their lives. The first is our physical environment; the people, temperature, mood, ergonomics, culture and colors that surround us, all influence how we feel about our world and our readiness to disrupt it. Something as simple as poor lighting, or a faulty desk chair, can contribute to people tuning out any new ideas coming their way.
Another important influence on our readiness for change is our current circumstanceOur circumstance is made up our age and life stage, status, perceived opportunities, positional longevity, recent events, past change successes and failures and what we stand to loose when things change. The first 90 days of an executive's tenure are the most critical because his circumstances are unique in the honeymoon phase; he and his direct reports will view his demeanor and choices differently, and may allow and forgive in those first 90 days, in ways they won't later on.
The last and most significant of the factors is our personal selves; it's our mental, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual health. Our personal well being impacts how much change we will tolerate; change looks a lot more doable when we're on top of our game, then if we're in the middle of an illness or are just going off on maternity leave. 
Savvy leaders need to be aware of, and capitalize on the factors governing people's readiness for disruption. To ignore these critical contextual factors when attempting to move a population through a transition is just foolish, so don't take chances. We have assessments that will help you determine the Change Readiness of your team or department.

Remember, you can change it...we can help!

What Are You Afraid Of?

On March 11th an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude rocked the Tokyo area, followed by a tsunami of Biblical proportions, and just this past week 'super tornados' (966 in the Month of April to be exact) rained down destruction on southern US neighborhoods resulting in catastrophic damage. In Canada gas prices have soared to over $1.35, and just a few days ago, US Special Forces found and killed Osama Bin Laden!

What in the world is going on? Change is going on, and it's reverberating around the globe at lightening speed. The recent tumble of middle east dictators, a phenomenon that most political pundits would never have predicted, is another graphic example of how life as we know it can change on a dime, leaving the populace to wonder... what's next? The classic reaction to unexpected events is fear, and, like those caught in natural and economic disasters, the fear of change also has a business face.  


During a change initiative, fear can be seen on faces at all levels of the organization.

For leaders fear can mask as:
  • Risk aversion
  • Intense focus on short term resultsTornado
  • Self-imposed isolation
  • Sleepless nights 
 For middle managers fear camouflages as:
  • Doing only what is expressly required by leadership
  • Driving crisis upward to leadership                   
  • Privately - overly critical of peers and leaders
  • Reluctance to "speak truth to power"
 At the lower levels of the organization fear produces:
  • Diminished engagement and productivity
  • An overly active rumor mill designed to create meaning and context
  • Increased absenteeism and turnover; voluntary and involuntary
  • Defensiveness and resistance around performance evaluation
When have you seen these faces in your organization? Maybe you see one of them in the mirror every morning. It's a challenge to stay centered at work when all around you seems to be in flux. It takes courage, and a healthy dose of hutzpah, to move forward when the way forward seems to be shifting beneath your feet. Calm in the face of a storm requires calm in one's heart of hearts. How would outcomes for you and your team or company be different if fear wasn't playing such a large role? How can you find your center and be a change catalyst in the middle of it all?

Remember, you can change it...we can help!