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Returning to Work

Here comes the next big dilemma. For both employers and employees.

August is the last month of summer vacation. Some schools restart before Labor Day. Others start after. There are many issues to consider – from both sides. A lot of that has been covered by other articles. I’d like to look at it from the psychological point of view:

Recently the Governor of Virginia made returning to the office mandatory. After that, more than 300 of his state government employees resigned.

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Recharging

June 2022 is over. Now we have officially had 2 ½ years of tough times. 

Even though we are starting to come out of the pandemic, there are still struggles – health and safety (several angles), uncertainty, political, not enough time. Employers have difficulty hiring, gaining commitment, and keeping qualified people as well as getting new business. Employees’ lives are complicated with more choice, telework decisions, child care, finances, etc.

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Trumpet and Flag Day

June 14th is Flag Day in the United States. 

                Do you know that? I would suspect that a lot of people don’t.

Flag Day comes just about two weeks after Memorial Day. Both have real significance for us.

Memorial Day is for honoring those military members that gave their life for our country.

Flag Day was created to observe the anniversary of the 1777 approval of the design of the first American Flag. Since then, the flag has evolved, but the colors remain and have the same meaning:

Red: Hardiness and Valor

White: Purity and Innocence

Blue: Vigilance, Perseverance, and Justice

                I’ve played trumpet since 5th grade. Played in the Coast Guard Academy’s marching band when we did formal (parade) reviews. I’ve played TAPS at some 50 different funerals or memorial services. Some of these were even for “burials at sea”. Ask me and I will tell you the story about one of them that’s quite remarkable.

The toughest two were for my Mom and Dad. I couldn’t speak or do any part of the eulogy,    but I could play TAPS – outside the church, down the steps, and facing away from the entrance.

This year (as well as the two before it), I participated in a new Memorial Day tradition where trumpeters/buglers, all across America, play TAPS at 3:00 p.m. sharp.

The first year, I just sat on the front steps and played for the neighbors J.   Bear with the photo; it’s tough to do a selfie while appearing to play the trumpet. These last two years I played in front of our County’s Government Center (facing a four lane divided highway) with 100 U.S. flags behind me. 

                So, back to Flag Day and the flag.  What do you do when an American flag passes by at a parade or military event?  What do you do when an official ceremony includes the Star Spangled Banner?  I hope it’s that you put your hand over your heart and give thanks to our country. As troubled and divided as we are now, we are still a beacon of hope that draws people from all over the globe to make incredible sacrifices under dangerous conditions to get and live here. 

                So, yes Flag Day. But for me it’s a reminder of my military background, service, and mindset.  The flag means something. It deserves reverence. I hope this blog serves as a stimulus to think about your relationship with our flag. Doesn’t have to be showy. Just whatever is sincere and meaningful to you.

                What do I do on Flag Day? I add this to my daily gratefulness prayer – giving thanks that I was/am privileged to have been born here and grow up with the freedoms, rights, and protections that we enjoy – due to the vision and sacrifices of those who came before us.

That fuels me to continue their work. I urge you to do the same.

                Thanks for listening.

Customer Delight from a Client Bill of Rights

We believe each Client has the right to:

  1. A sense of TRUE VALUE.  We will always have your “best interests at heart,” and deliver the best result(s) possible.
  2. Open, honest, and CLEAR COMMUNICATIONS.  We will always pay attention to what you tell us, ask probing questions to learn more, tell you what we think/feel and not what you want to hear, ensure a sense of urgency and attention to detail in all we do, respond promptly to any questions you may have, and provide you with regular status updates about your projects.
  3. MUTUAL TRUST.  We will always preserve your privacy, respect your confidentiality, and promise not to disclose Client information or results without your approval.  We will always keep our commitments.
  4. PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR.  We will treat you and your employees with courtesy, respect, fairness, integrity, and ethical and professional behavior.
  5. Seasoned, experienced, and PASSIONATE PROFESSIONALS.  We promise you    no novice coaches, no junior consultants, and no neophyte trainers.  We will always provide you with seasoned professionals who are extremely experienced, possess proven expertise, and have demonstrated proficiency in their field.
  6. “WIN-WIN” SOLUTIONS, not excuses.  We will always collaborate with you to find logical “win-win” solutions to accomplish your needs.
  7. DEVELOP THE CAPACITY to do the work yourself.  We promise to not “hang around.”  We will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to move forward without us.
  8. BEST PRACTICES.  We assure you that we will stay current with the industry’s and/or topic’s body of knowledge and best practices, so that we do not provide you with outdated or obsolete information or skills.
  9. QUALITY and CREATIVITY.  We will instill quality and creativity in all we provide, ensuring your requirements are met with creativity, vision, innovation, ingenuity, and resourcefulness.  Furthermore, we promise that participants in our workshops will always be engaged, feel challenged, and never be bored or apathetic.
  10. CLIENT DELIGHT!  We will always strive to exceed our clients’ expectations, and not be satisfied merely meeting them.  You—the Client—are our focus. We know that without you, we would cease to be.

March Madness and Excellence

This is an exciting time of year. Spring has finally arrived with better weather, flowers, trees, etc.

We get outside more than we’ve been. AND … March Madness.

Most of it happens in March, but it always ends in April. Nevertheless, I feel it’s when we see the most drama and thrilling basketball all year. Tons of nail biters and overtime games. 

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Celebrating the Women in Our Lives

Today, March 1st, begins the celebration of Women’s History Month.  No doubt there will be a lot of press on the women who made history in our country, across the world, and over the span of time.

BUT …  I’d like to use this month (and forum) to acknowledge the women who have made a difference

in my life.  In my coaching, I ask folks:

“What one thing did you learn most from ….. ?”

With that in mind, here’s mine:

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Love and Openness to Others

“All you need is love”. That’s what the Beatles said. Boy oh boy do we need that now.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there are a number of types of love – intimate love of spouse, strong love of family, teammates expressing real affection, love of your work/craft, game show hosts saying “I love you”, etc.

February is the month of love … and chocolates. Valentine’s Day is obviously the centerpiece of that celebration. But, I also think that love should extend to being open to (and even embracing) each other – especially if they are of different cultures or ethnicities.

This month celebrates Black History. The Chinese New Year falls on February 1st. I’m sure there are other examples. Where I live in the metro DC area (we call it the DMV – DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  NO, not Motor Vehicles), we have incredible diversity – people from all over the United States and all over the world. More than 160 languages are spoken in Fairfax County schools.

Diversity in my life:  I am proud to have rich diversity. My wife is from Puerto Rico. My daughter-in-law from the Philippines. Son-in-law from the Dominican Republic. Dentist from Peru. Barber from Vietnam.  Cherished business partner from Singapore. My best ever coachee is African American. Primary Care Doctor is Indian. Webmaster is Korean. Several mentees are Chinese. AND … I had the 20 year career in the Coast Guard with all (ok … only some) of the military thinking and behavior that comes from that. Remember, we also need to consider “thinking diversity”.

Outcomes:  Where am I going with this?

 #1 – I feel that I want to and can connect with people much easier and better (example – ordering food in Spanish). With those connections, I can help those who seem to have a need and desire. My November blog on gratefulness gave some ideas. More on this in a future blog, but I have found my “Why?”. It’s simply “To Lift People Up.”

#2 – Aside from inspiring me to tune into the global-ness of the world, these people have helped me be more open and tolerant – understanding that our actions come from different upbringings. 

#3 – I’ve committed to take action. Am probably 75% fluent in Spanish (without the gringo accent) and am learning the basic greetings in Chinese and Vietnamese.  And … I feel better about myself for having this attitude.

#4 – I learn about different places I want to travel to and see.

#5 – Business-wise, I can be more effective in the team building, training, and cross-cultural communications elements that are critical to Organizational Excellence.

It starts with a choice: Like many things, the first step is to choose to do it (diet, exercise, changing jobs, etc.).  When PBI works with organizations creating core values, they decide what those value “themes” will be.  BUT … I love those organizations that put CARING near the top of the list.

ACTION ITEM: Where (truly, honestly) is love and openness in your life? … in your organization?

It doesn’t have to be mushy.  Must, though, be heartfelt and genuine. 

How does one measure that? My Horizontal Maslow asks you to define the time and attention you are giving to 14 major areas to determine your life balance. Look at the bar graph and see where love/openness stacks up compared to the other competing life areas. Organizations and teams can do that as well by reviewing how they live their core values. Happy to discuss how to measure this and move forward.

Mega Planning

It’s January !!  That means that most everyone (organizations, teams, and individuals) talk about their plans (professional and personal) for the new year.  For this article, I’ll focus on a different kind of planning – Mega Planning.

MEGA PLANNING: Dr. Roger Kaufmann (a dear friend and mentor to me and many of my Coast Guard brethren) coined the term. It refers to taking Macro and Micro Strategic Planning up a level to make meaningful contributions to society and the planet.

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Celebrations. What do YOU and YOUR ORGANIZATION celebrate?

It’s December … and the holiday season … for many kinds of faiths. I was humbled by the reaction and feedback to last month’s gratefulness article.  Thank you.

Celebrations and gratefulness are pretty intertwined.  In my mind, celebrations are an expression of gratefulness.  I think of celebrations from both an individual and organizational perspective. December is a good time to “take stock”. 

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Gratefulness: My story and how to use it

Thanksgiving is almost here.  We all know (and most of us practice) this time to pause, reflect, and put our gratefulness into action. 

I have had a difficult year.  Been in the hospital four times for a total of almost a month.  I have  had cancer (a GIST) for six years now and we have that under control.  But this year, that tumor caused blood clots in the lungs and sepsis (bacteria) in the blood.  Separately, I have had significant hip and back pain necessitating injections and strong pain medications.   Finally in October, I had that hip replaced, but the recovery included a lot of pain and an intestinal blockage from the opioids (which I had really tried to keep under control). 

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