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Showing posts from 2012

The Flamingo Project

My relationship with words is my voice. The safe place where no one judges me. Where I don't judge me. I know I smiled too much to keep it down. I know my smile kept me silent because I was afraid and when I could no longer smile, I cried and cried and cried for months. I retreated. I am still retreating. I find ways to hide. To stay inside. Where I don't have to smile to make others comfortable.
My first book about "How to be a Pink Flamingo in a Brown Duck Pond" is near completion. The writing process is now concluded with some details yet to be finalized. The book is about leadership, and how to stand up and stand out when it matters most. It is a comeback story about how to live in one's true colors in a world that would rather we just blend in, fade to white and disappear.

This is the book that I hope CEOs read and take to heart. I hope it is the book that all employers read, including government, and make employee experience a priority.  I hope it is the …

The Virtues of a Rock and a Rolling Stone

Ponder the virtues of a rock. It is an inanimate, non living thing that seems to just sit there. Not so, says the rock. Rocks erode, crack, crumble and wash away. They become mountains, and then filter streams. Rocks are the sands upon which we walk. Rock causes quakes. They destroy and they protect. There is no such thing as a good rock or a bad rock; a rock does not decide. It just is. And we accept that and respect its power.
People are made of flesh, bones, hearts and souls. Our existence is both fragile and powerful. Unlike the rock, we can take some control over our change. We can decide what we want to change to and from. We can decide what we want to accept or not. We can decide what to put into our mouths. When to exercise. What to read. What to think. Who to like and who to ignore. We have the power to walk away from a bad situation, and the power to stay.
As the saying goes, the rolling stone gathers no moss.  No responsibility.  And that is where the analogy ends between …

My smile is sans botox

My dad always told me that you can say anything to anybody if you are smiling. I took that advice to heart. A smile is a powerful thing. When you smile, people usually smile back. Smiling and laughter are good for what ails you. And when the going gets tough, the tough smile back. 
Work and life does not have to be a struggle, but it is sometimes. People invest a majority of their lives in working, so wouldn`t it be great if we liked work, and if we all got along. 
Years ago, when I was a young planning zealot who believed in the joy of the balanced scorecard and the power of connecting people to purpose, senior managers would sit back with their arms folded across their chest, glaring at me. Actually they were quite often gritting their teeth, hunkering down in defiance.  And their faces showed it - lines so deep they could be river systems.
I remember times when I would walk into the building, push the elevator button and tell myself to smile. I would smile all day, through thick a…

So, what are you doing with yourself lately?

Time passes. Change happens.  And here I am, in the 9th year of the fourth decade of my life, and I am thinking, what's next.  As a natural born planner and horizon lover, I can't help but wonder what's next. What there is left to do.  It occurs to me that life is a collection of small steps and experiences, challenges, changes, small moments that we forget about and big moments that never quite leave you. Part of moving forward is charting the path of the past, and learning from the journey.
I have chosen 16 years as my time marker.  16 years ago, I began my professional career; 16 years ago, my oldest daughter was nine years old, and my youngest was seven.  16 years ago, I was married for 15 years. 16 years ago, I was 33, lucky 33. 
So here is a list of what I have been up to for the past 16 years.  gone to work every day with a goal to make a differenceworked for 4 CEOs directlyconsulted for 7 CEOsreported to 4 vice presidents been in management for 9 yearswritten well ov…

You are not the boss of me.

Lately I have been pondering the number 50 and what this number means in the lifetime of a woman. I had an Epiphany:  women age in retrospectively and introspectively.  Big words that mean the more we live and understand our context and ourselves, the closer we become to understanding our potential.
Women tend to be thinkers, nurturers, relationship builders and connectors.  We can and do multitask.  We are intuitive, intelligent and insightful. Women tend to be downplayed in society and have since the beginning of time. We have always had to fight for the right to be equal, to be considered, to be at the table. The Women's movement helped in some way, but probably put us back in other ways, because it forced a definition of what it means to be a woman.
I remember when I studied "Women in Politics" in university under Judy Rebick, the former President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. The class was dominated by women, and 4 men.  When she asked us …

Soul for Sale

I tried to run and hide. I tried to justify it.  All those years of working my way up the corporate ladder, I told myself, was making a difference. I was building a life for my family, I told myself.
I was building a future.  A some day kind of place where everything would be  . . . easier, more satisfying, justified.
I cut myself thin. I learned to function on 3 hours of sleep. (Seriously. It works like this:  Sleep for 3 hours / night for 3 days and live on adrenalin, and on the fourth day, prepare to crash.)
I told myself someday . . . somebody will appreciate all this. Someday my boss will appreciate me for such dedication. My profession will love to have me at dinners and speaking engagements.
My fashion sense and Beardsley prints were so beautiful and elegant. (I drifted into a Rod Stewart moment, I am back.)
I worked hard to build what I thought was an image, but which turned out to be an amour. My perfectly situationed suits and shoes would make Kim Kardashian proud.
I told my…

4 inch heels in a field of dirt

Last year, my family surprised me with a Mother's Day photo shoot in a field. It was kind of like the beginning of Jesus Christ Superstar, the movie. We hauled an old gold couch that my daughter found at the University, a gold chair, some wall paper, lamps, pillows and cups out to a field just east of Regina. Sara was the artistic director, and Riley Stewart, the photographer.
I love the result, and in fact, I have incorporated the couch, fields and endless sky into the branding of my new company, Lynear Thinking.
But this was more than a photo shoot for me. It was the last time my entire family was together, as my daughters both left home the following summer. It was also the beginning of a new era for our family separated by distance. This open field, blue sky, muddy field photo shoot presented a metaphor for change. It was all about looking to the future, while honoring the past.
The photo shoot also came at a point of eminent change in the lives of all of us.

It was the last …

Les réalisations profondes de 2011

Whether you believe in Karma, God, or the Universe, there are voices that we must listen to and lessons to be learned in this journey of time. 
In 2011, I made a difficult decision to leave my job after finally realizing that I could no longer sustain the situation.  My leaving was not premeditated or planned, nor was it intentional or engineered. It was my decision, however, and it was difficult.
The situation had been eroding for some time, but I told myself it would get better. I even set a time frame: "In 6 months, this will be a bad dream, and things will be better".
I am an extrovert, but this situation sent me inward. It made me afraid and untrusting. I disconnected from friends, family and many activities that I had enjoyed. I stopped going out in public for about four months, while I tried to understand what had happened and how to reconcile the situation. I was devastated by the situation, fearful and speechless. 
As in any type of divorce, we agreed to part with …

Learning to Dance Again

I recently met a flamingo who has temporarily lost the will to dance. I found her afraid and lost, wandering and frustrated, trapped inside a cage of self -doubt and questioning.

She had been a successful flamingo. Her resume of accomplishments well documented and well supported.  She was a leader who led with compassion. She could create a vision and plans to get there.

She built her resume managing, maneuvering and navigating the ponds of the ruling duck-tators. She had become adept at managing the most caustic of environments, and in fact, flourishing and stepping up to the plate when her duck counterparts scattered for the weeds at the first sign of trouble.

The fact is, she is not alone. The burden of this stress weighs heavily upon many of us. We put all of our energy into making the business successful, to the death. In the throws of war, we don't realize that we are literally being consumed - eaten alive - by the situation.

Flamingos are not weak beings.  We do not scatt…

Flamingos, Mice and Freedom

People say I am crazy.  I left a six figure senior level corporate job last June after a series of events that created a bad environment for my employees, and me.  It was the first time in my life that I had ever left a job without another job in the waiting.  There were good reasons, and faced with that situation again, I would not change a thing.  I learned something of great value from that experience, as horrible as it was.  I always say that values are those things for which you would stand in front of a moving train.  I found my values, and the moving train. As a result, I have clarity about the kind of people who I want to work with and for, and the kind of leader and employer that I will be.  I came face to face with the decision between money and self-respect, and I chose self-respect. I also learned that I am strong enough to stand up for my values, that I am resilient and that I can learn to dance again in the face of adversity. With that knowledge, I know that I can do anyt…

Bullying 101 - What you need to know

A person in a position of authority and trust breaks the rules and crosses the boundary.  She is afraid of what might happen if she stays and what might happen if she flees.  She feels trapped. It's fight or flight. She looks for a way out, but the door is closed. She must fight. Regardless of the outcome of this situation, the damage is done. No apology or any amount of money can make the memory of this horrible moment pass. Only time. 

Bullying and harassment is a well documented concern.  We see it in schools and we in the workplace.  With all this attention, you would think we would be seeing some progress. But not so, according to sources. 

Public Safety Canada

Bullying is characterized by acts of intentional harm, repeated over-time, in a relationship where an imbalance of power exists. It includes physical actions (punching, kicking, biting), verbal actions (threats, name calling, insults, racial or sexual comments), and social exclusion1 (spreading rumours, ignoring, gossipin…