Motivation in Full Swing

Last week, I got in four, thirty-minute walks! I didn’t know if I would make the fourth one with the extreme heat outside that made for a case of lazy-bones but a bit of irritation with my typically wonderful boyfriend gave me the added oomph to hit the trail and get my steps in. Though I was still irritated after the walk, it did give me a chance to get out of the house and reflect on what I was feeling and why. Plus, rather than stewing on the couch, I was able to stew while moving!

What I have found is that my mental health is greatly improved when I am consistently exercising. In the past, I have taken anti-depressants for my mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety. The last round was the worst. My face changed shape. I looked bloated and puffy. The most alarming though was that all of my emotions were muted. This was good for the depression and anxiety but not so much for all of the other things I was feeling. My life turned dull, I turned dull. I got off the medication and promised myself that I was never going back down that trail. Truly, I realize that there may come a time when I need to consider medication again BUT that will not be without first ensuring I am doing everything I can from an exercise, diet, counseling, and meditation stand-point.

When I got home, I was able to calmly and clearly tell him how I was feeling about his actions. He apologized. Today is a new day. I’ve let go of my irritation understanding that we all have off days and yesterday was one of his.

This morning, my motivation level was high. I got in a yoga session – thank you Yoga International for making at-home yoga feasible! Plus I went for a thirty-minute walk. A new route with some good hills. Now to pour that same motivation into getting some work done…

The Harsh Reality

It hit me like a ton of bricks – I am a middle-aged, overweight, out of shape woman. I have stopped writing, except SOPs and Work Instructions for work. I have stopped going for nature walks. These things help me to stay sane. They keep me shining and sparkling. Why have I stopped doing them?

The culprits are the usual – lack of time, lack of energy, have to do this, have to do that…

But what about me? What about my shine and sparkle?

I’ve been thinking about this for about a month and finally have put some action behind my thoughts. A couple of weeks ago, I realized that all of my fitness clothes were TOO SMALL – yikes, that is a wake-up call.  Another eye-opener? Walking 297 yards to the observation deck at Mt. Mitchell. Whoo! On the way down, I mentioned to my guy that I wanted some hiking poles to which he joked that I could put them on the wall beside my running shoes…

Thank goodness for the quick delivery of products from Amazon. My first pair of XL workout pants came in a couple of days. I pulled them on last week and completed 3 thirty-minute walks through my neighborhood. It was hot and sticky but I was out there, listening to my work-out playlist, and loving the feeling of my muscles working again. This morning, I took a deeper dive by ordering new (larger) sports bras and tops along with another pair of pants.

Other actions, checking out the offerings of my local YMCAs – my Y card has been pretty dusty…there are plenty of interesting classes including spin/cycle and yoga which are two that I’m most interested in.

As for writing, WordPress gave me a nice reminder by renewing my account for another year. Figured I had better heed the message and get back on here.

I’ve got three months before a boudoir photoshoot plus the rest of my life to live. I’m capturing my re-entry into the world of fitness here to keep myself accountable and motivated. Grab your workout gear and join me.

Kindness as Currency

By John R. Nocero, PhD, MBA, CCRP, GCP, CC, ACB & Katherine J. Pryor, MPM

There is no doubt about it, being a project manager is a tough gig! If you are a project manager or have ever thought about jumping into the field, you may have heard it described as being akin to the task of herding cats – feral cats at that. There are competing priorities amongst often disjointed teams that directly impact the budget and timelines; the project sponsor is often guilty of expanding the scope without increasing the budget or timelines; and there is the ever-present issue of project quality and risk mitigation. On top of all that, there are still people out there who do not understand the role of the project manager and foster uncertainty as to the important and positive influence a strong project manager can have on overall project outcomes.

Unfortunately, many project managers are perceived as edgy and hurried people unwilling to listen. Other complaints have been that project managers will not heed their functional lead’s advice or take direction well, and are basically not kind or pleasant people to be around. This perception is especially strong with internal team members where many team members avoid interaction with the project manager. Does it have to be so? My answer is no. Jill Lublin, international speaker and author of The Profit of Kindness agrees. In her book, she discusses that kindness is a type of currency that can be successfully used in business relationships to foster better relationships thereby increasing a company’s bottom line.

It is possible to be an effective project manager AND a pleasant person with who people enjoy working. In fact, kindness is a critical trait for a strong project manager to possess. At the end of the day, effective project management is about relationships – relationships with internal teams, sponsors, any external vendors, and all other players who may present during the project life cycle. In order to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships, one must be somewhat likeable and being kind to those around us is a way to be perceived as likeable. The old saying, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” certainly rings true in the project management realm.

Relationships with internal team members are often the most strained because it is from those internal teams that the project manager must make the magic happen. Internal teams often feel overwrought and underappreciated therefore are most likely to protest requirements and timelines. Taking time to develop mutually beneficial working relationships with internal team members yields positive project results. A relatively painless first step for project managers is to slow down and listen to what is being said by the internal team(s). From these types of interactions, there is likely beneficial insight that helps identify potential risks; provides solutions to tricky problems; or introduces time-saving options.  If none any of those, at least it was a show of respect from the project manager to internal team member(s). Everyone appreciates being heard.

Overall, it costs nothing for a project manager to be kind but the returns for relationship development with internal team members are priceless.

References

Lublin, Jill (2017). The Profit of Kindness: How to Influence Others, Establish Trust, and Build Lasting Business Relationships. The Career Press, Inc. Wayne, NJ. USA

Weinstein, Bob (2017). https://www.projectmanagement.com/blog-post/27360/How-to-Use-Kindness-as-a-Business-Tool Retrieved 20 Aug 2017

 

Rock-Solid Silence

By John R. Nocero, PhD, MBA, CCRP, GCP, CC, ACB & Katherine J. Pryor, MPM

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a formidable global figure in entertainment and culture. His 6”5” frame and chiseled good looks non-withstanding, he has the knack of continually reinventing himself: troubled youth to college football player to WWE wrestler to today’s leading man at the box office with the Midas touch, a megawatt smile, and seemingly down-to-earth nature. He has 91.9 million followers on Instagram alone; the Hollywood Reporter recently tweeted that “Dwayne @TheRock Johnson regains No. 1 on Top Actors social media ranking” (THR, 2017).

The man knows how to continuously leads the pack. How does he do it?

There are multiple business articles dedicated to understanding “The Rock’s” ability to influence culture and create opportunities. In a 2014 Fortune magazine article, he gives six pieces of his best advice finishing with his often-quoted line “be the hardest worker in the room.” Recently, on Quora, another perspective has been explored by looking at what the author calls “The Rock’s most powerful line” in movies which he contends is SILENCE!? (Goke, 2017). Wait, what?

Goke (2014) discusses that prior to “The Rock” throwing down in a big scene, his character stops with his one-liners, looks directly at his opponents, then lays down the law. It is known he means business when crickets can be heard. Everyone knows something big is about to go down. Now, whether or not, Dwayne Johnson uses this technique is unknown; however, he’s said that he tends to “have a lot of…ideas about the character” when he is working on film or television projects (Roberts, 2014).

Therefore, it can be surmised that Dwayne Johnson puts stock in this particular technique to influence situations.

Silence is a far cry from the norm in our over-stimulated, over-headlined, over-extroverted current reality with shameless self-promotion techniques, screaming for everyone to look at you. Is building presence through silence a tactic that can be used to build influence in the world of clinical research and regulatory compliance? We say yes. By using silence, you are going against the norm; therefore, you gain a certain level of power and show an inner strength by approaching situations differently (Goke, 2017). People will take notice.

Silence creates room to listen. This is important but often taken for granted; many people think hearing is the same as listening. When we truly listen, we gain an understanding of their position which provides an advantage in situations such as audits or negotiations. If we listen to understand, then we can determine the best direction in which to proceed, whether it is to walk away or dig in further based on our own bottom line. In police movies and television shows, often detectives will throw out a guess to a suspect then grow silent. Silence makes suspect uncomfortable and the beans start spilling. The detective used silence to her advantage and learned more than she knew walking into the situation. Auditors can use this same technique to gain valuable insight that may lead to a deeper understanding of policies and procedures that will enhance the audit results.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a man who uses the power of silence to gain an advantage and assert influence, as we have seen from his use of this tactic in his blockbuster movies. We, mortal beings, can take the lessons of silence into our daily lives to gain power by going against the norm and creating a space to listen. See if talking a little less and listening a little provides you with an advantage as you go about your week.

References

Goke, Niklas (2017). How do I develop a strong presence and personality? https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-develop-a-strong-presence-and-personality/answer/Niklas-G%C3%B6ke?utm_source=Nik%27s+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e1cbc017f4-Nik%27s+Newsletter+32nd+Edition+12-8-17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3b16c08180-e1cbc017f4-255584597 retrieved 15 Aug 2017

Roberts, Daniel (2014) Fortune. The Rock’s best advice for success. https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/fortune/2014/10/30/the-rocks-best-advice-for-success/%3fsource=dam#ampshare=http://fortune.com/2014/10/30/the-rocks-best-advice-for-success/ Retrieved 17 Aug 2017

The Hollywood Reporter (2017). Thr.cm/T60G8S retrieved 15 Aug 2017

 

 

Wildflower Lane

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend a creative writing workshop called “Writing to the Senses” which was jointly hosted by Authoring Action, Winston-Salem Writers, SECCA, and the Arts Council of Winston-Salem. We each got to pick out a piece of artwork from one of the Art-o-mat machines currently on display at SECCA (if you’re local, go check it out!). It was serendipitous that I found an artist who paints coffee and tea cups for Art-o-mat!
The experience was at once exhilarating and humbling. My writing style has always been fairly brief and has gotten more so as the years have gone on especially since the majority of my writing is done in the business world where brevity and clarity are key. Descriptors are not as important as saving busy professionals time by simply getting to the point – at least that is what I have been told.
What I took away from the night: excitement from learning something new and having my thinking challenged; a determination to expand on my use of imagery, to learn to paint the pictures I see in my head with words on the page; and a little piece of writing that I’m proud of as it is where I am now with my writing which to me is a huge thing because I AM WRITING.
Below is finished piece with scant editing from laying down my pen on Thursday when the bell rang. Time will tell if it is finished as is or will grow, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is only a start, the words will continue to roll around in my head and grow into a more robust piece of writing.

Wildflower Lane

Traveling leisurely down the dirt road on my bicycle, I smile thinking back on the jagged path that has led me here. It started with a hot cup of tea, pen in hand, and a simple idea. I knew I would find success if I quenched my own thirst for fulfillment and brought my scattered thoughts about love, loss, and life to the page. My hope was to enrich others through a book about finding contentment in who we are now – all the messy stuff that life throws our way and our all-too-human reaction to the absurdity of life. It all started with the idea that we are perfect and lovable in our vast imperfection.
I continued in the direction of my rustic goat farm where I will contentedly swing with my love on the front porch. Later that night, we look in the direction of the sunset, talking about the flowers we will plant in the Spring. Peace settles over us as the stars begin to twinkle. We have built our dreams on the backs of goals. Goals that required toil and sacrifice which is now gone with the wind as we peacefully sit together while the crickets sing their lullaby. On Wildflower Lane, we have found ourselves and will not be lost again.

Real Talk

I literally hate my job! This has been a common reframe and theme from me over the years – just ask any of my family and friends how many times they have heard me say it! One time, when I was still married, I apparently sat up in the middle of the night and yelled “I HATE MY FUCKING JOB” after which I laid back down being none the wiser of my outburst though my then-husband was understandably a little rattled.

I haven’t had the same job for all of these years and have had a couple that I actually liked. I also will say, that there are aspects of each of my jobs that I enjoy. For the most part, though, I am continuously dissatisfied with my work. Why is that and how do I keep landing myself in pit (job) of despair? Is there truly no escape from the misery?

pit of despair

I believe that there is a light and through a few things I’m doing now, to include writing this blog, I am going to get to it. At forty-something, I’m figuring out what I want to be when I grow-up. When I was little and more than a little feisty, I said that I wanted to be the President of the United States when I grew up – not headed in that direction anymore but definitely figuring a few previously unresolved things out.

First off, I love to write. I have stories and narratives playing in my head regularly. (I have checked, it’s okay and not something that is worrisome to my mental health care friends!) Whenever I have been in a position where I have had the opportunity to write – reports, business proposals, grants, newsletters etc. I have been ecstatic. I even get excited about writing complex emails where I need to explain difficult concepts. This all being said, I know that writing must be part of my career happily ever after.

Secondly, I love connecting with people and helping people connect with others. I have always loved the idea of building bridges. In one job, I had been working with struggling parents to get the resources they needed in order to better navigate the tricky parenting terrain – this made me feel useful and that I was making a positive impact on individuals and society.

Thirdly, providing support and helping people become the best version of themselves brings me a lot of satisfaction and joy. Even in my current (dreaded) position, I look for opportunities to teach or train others. I believe in the old adage about teaching a man to fish. Not only will he never run out of fish but he will also develop a feeling of being capable which is priceless and transcends one situation to impact many.

It has taken me a long time to figure out that these things I love and feel energized by are also my gifts that I have to share with the world. We are each unique in how we are put together from our looks to our thoughts to our unique talents and gifts; that is because the world needs each of us. It has taken quite a bit of soul-searching and positive re-enforcement from family and friends but now I am starting to understand the value of my unique combination of talents.

To that end, I’m developing a business plan that will combine what I have to offer and put me in a position to love the work I am doing. Stay tuned as there will be more to come!

Charlottesville

Truly, I did not think that the topic of my first “real” blog post would be about racism and violence but with the events this weekend in Charlottesville, VA that topic is weighing heavy on my heart and mind. These are my thoughts, feelings, and observations.

Many of my friends, acquaintances, and I are asking the question “how, in 2017, is this still happening?” Quite frankly, it’s still happening because we have yet to deal with the root causes and the institutionalized racism that keeps us where we are with people growing angrier and more disenfranchised. This latest incident in Charlottesville has yet to spark the level of outrage and action we should expect to see from our president. There are reports of counter-protesters having been beaten yards from the police station with no police involvement to stop the event.

My son is bi-racial. About a year ago there was another event that caused me to actually be grateful that he looks more like me (white) than his dad (black). The thought was unsolicited and passed through my mind in a flash. It shocked me a little bit but I didn’t try to justify it or think something different. I own that I had that thought and use it as fuel to action. No parent should have to fear for their child’s safety because of the color of their skin though it happens daily. A high school friend of mine recently stepped in to help a friends of her sons’ who is black. He had been stopped by the local police and the situation was escalating. This was a “good” kid who is in high school, plays sports, and is in general not a trouble-maker. My friend was fearful for the kid’s safety and said it was one of the most frightening situations she has encountered.

As a parent, I want my son to be able to go places and experience a multitude of things without the fear of being harassed or watched more closely because of the color of his skin. And he can do that. He is a skinny, tan kid with unruly curls and a happy smile. Parents of other races and religions want the same damn thing for their children and why should they not have it??

The Alt-Right, the KKK, and white supremacists who identify with other groups all seek to maintain this sense of control and power. We outnumber them – we have to ensure that we do not let their scare tactics and violence deter us from action and we must act. Silence is no longer acceptable as it shows consent. I will not consent to these people taking away my country.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela

TEACH AND LIVE LOVE – HATE WILL NOT WIN