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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Resisting Technology? How to Motivate Yourself to Keep up with the Latest Technology

 Remember Typewriters?

  I wrote my first few books and magazine articles on a typewriter. At the time one of my good friends and colleague said, "Your forte is speaking and communicating to a live audience-- I don't think you'll be able to capture that in the written word."

That was the only thing I worried about back then: Could I translate the power of the spoken word into written words and elicit action from the reader?

I didn't have to think twice about how or where to put my thoughts to paper. There were no personal computers, Internet sites, FAX machines, or e-mail; No cell phones, smart phones, scanners, or digital cameras; No blogs, on-line courses, webinars, video conferencing, or learning management systems; No social networking--no Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn; No Kindles, Amazon or e-books. I used the tools available to me at the time: pen, paper, typewriter and snail mail aka 'The Mail'.

When Does 3 Months of Experience Trump 30 Years?

In the 30 plus years I've worked in the training and development field, I've honed my speaking, facilitation, writing and program development skills. Those 30+ years of experience count for a lot. I am a skilled communicator, motivator and leader. I conduct meaningful and engaging workshops. But this is not enough.

In today's technologically-based world, sometimes 3 months of experience trumps 30 years of experience. This isn't to say 30 years of experience in the workplace isn't important. It means it's just as important for us to stay current learning and applying new technologies.

 Overwhelmed by the Speed of Change? Discover What Motivates You to Keep Up

 Rather than becoming overwhelmed by the speed at which things are changing, pledge to maintain a passion for life-long learning and to continually seek out your current motivators for stepping into the next phase of technology. Then take the next step.

Me? I'm motivated to learn how to use the latest technology by two things: 1) my need to communicate with and influence others and 2) my desire to find new ways to play with and showcase my art.

What Blows Your Hair Back?

  • What motivates you today?
  • What sets your curiosity on fire?
  • What blows your hair back?

Figure that out, and use it to motivate you to play with technology to further your personal and professional goals.

I started Lightarted Living so I could play with the technology and communicate with you. What do you want yourself to do NOW? How can you play to learn and change? What's one step you can take to move toward something you want to do better?

Motto: Small Daily Decisions Over a Lifetime Add Up!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Layoff Survivors Face Stress of Anger, More Work

 At the beginning of my career I survived two layoffs in less than ten years. In the first organization, I was one of five employees kept after 35 others were laid off. In the second, I was one of the first to go. Both situations were stressful and exhausting.

Good News-Bad News: You have a Job-- Your Colleagues Don't

When I was one of five people left with a job, I felt like an airplane crash survivor. The good news was I had survived the impact--I still had a job. The bad news was there was no one to celebrate with-- all my colleagues were gone. One day the office building was filled with people; the next day it was empty.

My job after the layoffs was  to rebuild the program. Under other conditions, I would have loved the challenge. But I was exhausted and depressed from the anxiety of the layoff. Getting out of bed each morning was the biggest challenge I could handle.

 After the Layoffs--Recognizing the Emotional Fog and its Effect on You

Layoffs are hard on everyone, including people left behind after the cutbacks. If you survive the cut, it's your job to pick up the pieces and move on. But a strong mixture of emotions can make it difficult.

You feel loyal to your laid off co-workers and you feel loyal to the company smart enough to keep you on. You breathe a sigh of relief one moment, knowing a paycheck is still coming; you catch your breath the next moment, wondering if you will be next.

Financial problems may permeate the organization so you don't bother to ask for sorely needed resources.  Tired and afraid, you look suspiciously at other people wondering why they have it so easy.

The Natural Response: Work Harder, Longer and Alone

The easiest response under these conditions is to pull in, and do it all yourself. Don't talk to anyone about your feelings. And don't complain about the amount of work that needs to be done. You should be happy to have a job.

Most important, you work long hours to overcome the guilty feelings you have about keeping your job while the others were let go.

If you stay in the job, you unconsciously cut off relationships with people who were laid off, even if they were friends. It's too stressful to maintain a relationship with them and still work in the organization responsible for their layoff.

Unconscious Adjustment of Your Beliefs to Support Your Behavior

Research shows when we act one way and believe another, we change our attitudes to support our behavior. This helps us reduce the inner tension created by the conflict.

So if you stay on the job, you'll find a reason to distance yourself from those laid off. Irrational as it may be, you may get angry at the people laid off for deserting you and leaving you with all the work. Ironically, the organization and those who survived become the good guys, and the people who were laid off the bad guys.

Or if you maintain a friendship with those laid off, you'll find a reason to put distance between you and the organization. You may decide you just can't work for an organization that let quality people go. In the end, the organization and the survivors become the bad guys,and the people laid off the good guys.

How to Reduce Your Inner Tension and Make Good Conscious Decisions

But is either response the best response? The goal in this situation is to make choices that leave you feeling good about yourself when you look back ten years down the road. During times of major upheaval, the path of least resistance is often the path of least enjoyment.

If you've recently survived a layoff, you can reduce your inner tension, regain your balance, and make better conscious decisions by engaging in the following five activities.

Put Your Thoughts on Paper
When your thoughts keep tumbling around inside your head, the issues get clouded by your emotional filter. When you put them on paper, the emotional filter is removed, allowing you more conscious choices. This helps you clarify your feelings and goals in the midst of the emotional fog.

 Find a quiet place, pick up your pen and start to write. Don't worry about the consistency, logic or truth of what you write. Just write what comes to mind. Write a letter you'll never send to the person in charge of the layoffs. Put your thoughts aside for a day or two before reviewing them. You may be surprised by what you discover.

Get Adequate Sleep
We all make better decisions when we're well rested. Give your mind and body time to come down from the stress; plan to go to bed early and sleep in as late as you can. On your days off take a nap. Continue to get more rest until you feel your body and mind are back in balance.

Take some unscheduled time for yourself as soon as you're able. Do whatever you feel like doing. Don't sweat the details. Breathe. Just Breathe.

Get out and do something that has no purpose other than enjoyment. Attend a sports event, take a bike ride, go for a walk, watercolor, work in the garden, play with your children. Play lets you focus your attention on the fun parts of life. When you return to work after engaging in playful activities, you'll return with renewed energy and a fresh perspective on life.

Talk About Your Feelings
Layoffs create inner confusion for everyone involved. Talk to your co-workers about it, and don't be afraid to talk frankly with the people laid off. Let them know you 're sorry they lost their jobs. If you feel guilty you still have a job and they don't, tell them.

Feeling guilty, and working longer hours won't make your laid off friends feel better-- and it won't bring them back to work. You can do more to support your friends by encouraging them to trust their strengths and abilities to get rehired. Each of you have the needed ingredients within you to create a successful next chapter in your lives. So relax, regroup, and regain your strength and energy for taking the next steps. Move forward knowing everyone's future will be bright and secure again. Life has a way of always working out.

Need help making a transition in your life?
If you or someone you know would benefit from coaching to get through a career or other life transition, please contact me. The first hour is free. Skyping is available for out of the area help.

To schedule workshops for your group or organization, please contact me.

All things seemingly good or bad work in my favor!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Live Simply. Speak Kindly. Care Deeply. Love Generously.

The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.Unknown

Listening for Life-Enhancing Messages

Today was my day to sit quiet and reflect on life. I decided my goal was to do nothing-- set no goals and have no expectation for accomplishing anything.

Today I would be open to listening for the life-enhancing messages that wanted to come in, then share them with you. It didn't take long for one to appear.

Life is Like Coffee

I'm a coffee lover who loves the ritual of starting my day with a great cup of coffee. So when Simple Truths sent me an inspirational video called 'Life is Like Coffee' I knew this one was for me to share with you.

Click on the link below to treat yourself to four minutes of quiet reflection, then share the message with someone you care about.

Be Wise--Apply What You Know

Sure, you've heard this before, but sometimes life gets away from us and we stop applying what we know. Why not stop and start over? Recommit to yourself to live what you know rather than allowing your circumstances or the negativity of others determine your attitude and actions.

Live Simply.
Speak Kindly.
Care Deeply.
Love Generously.

P.S. Having said I want to coffee does taste better in one of my hand painted cups!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Opps! How to Make Fewer Mistakes at Work and at Home

To err is human; to develop a strategy to make it less so is divine. Lightarted Sue

Our Father Who Art--Where?

I was taking my first sip of coffee as I opened my email to see a message from my sister with the unsettling headline:
What? He had just gone into the hospital the night before with a cough, and he was doing just fine. How could this happen? This can't be right. With my heart racing, and my mind now fully awake, I quickly clicked the email to view the entire message.

My sister's message went on to say,
"Daddy is in great spirits and in good hands. They are doing blood cultures, EKG, chest x-ray, and more. Love, Daddy's favorite daughter"

A Mere Trifle of a Typo

It took me a moment to settle down, and take in what happened. One trifle of a typo--the omission of a single letter "o"-- had hugely changed the opening message, and my brain had further corrected the message to read my father was in 'God's Hands'. It didn't help that the message was in all CAPS.

I immediately rang my "father's favorite daughter" and asked, "Are you trying to upset me this morning?"

"Why? I just sent out an email to the family about Daddy."

"Yes, I know--that's what I'm calling about."

"Why? -- I said Daddy's in good hands at the hospital."

"No, you didn't. You said he was in God Hands."
There was a big pause before she laughed. "I didn't get home from the hospital until midnight. What can I say--I was tired when I typed it.

And therein lies the problem, she wrote the message when she was tired, and I received the message when I was barely awake.

Your Brain is Creative, and Wired to Make Mistakes

This mini-mistake by my sister, whose only intention was to inform her family in a timely fashion, was one more example of 'to err is human'. It's so easy to do.

Our human brains, it seems, are designed to be creative, and therefore wired to make mistakes even under the best of conditions. But when we're tired, hungry or upset, it's even easier.

My Brain Doesn't Make Errors!

Sure it does. Everyone's brain is wired to make errors...that's the downside of its ability to be creative. Test your brain's wiring now. Look at the picture--is it moving or standing still? This is a 'still shot', not animated. If you see it moving, it is your brain creating the movement, or error in perception.

Typo? Typo? I Don't See No Stinkin' Typo!

Because our brains are wired to make mistakes--kind of like fuzzy logic of the brain-- it's often difficult to catch typos. Our brain knows what the word is supposed to be, and it corrects it for us as we read through what we wrote. Let me show you.

Can You Read This?

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in what oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

You can see why it might be difficult for my sister to find one single 'o' omitted from 'good' when she's tired, and why it was easy for me to read God's Hands when presented with God Hands.

Teeny-Tiny Mistakes with Huge Consequences

While the omission of one 'o' in my sister's message created a bit of angst for me, it didn't have the type of longer lasting consequences created by a misplaced decimal point in a medication dose or on a mortgage or tax payment.

In the medical community, preventing medication errors is a big deal. It's especially important for medical professionals to develop and implement error prevention strategies to offset the brain's natural tendency towards making mistakes.

A ten-fold medication error can be made when a dosage is written with a zero that follows a decimal point. When 1 mg dose is written as 1.0 mg, the reader can fail to see the decimal point and interpret it as 10 mg. Likewise, if a physician quickly writes 10mg for 1.0 mg, omitting the teeny-tiny decimal point you have the same ten-fold medication error.

When I was in college, I came down with a very painful sinus infection while visiting a friend in Arizona. His doctor saw me and wrote me a prescription for 10 pills of 100mg of of a common antibiotic to take to the pharmacy. Unfortunately, when the pharmacist handed me a bottle with 100 pills instead of ten, I knew there was a mistake. The physician had written the prescription incorrectly, transposing the numbers to be 100 pills of 10 mg. I had to wait hours until the pharmacist reached the physician to correct the prescription.

But the medical community isn't the only place where little errors can have big consequences. One year, I had a year-long battle with the IRS due to an inputting error by a clerk. I submitted a check for $2,770.00 that was incorrectly put into the system for $277.00. Again, one teeny-tiny decimal point put in the wrong place created a problem that took hundreds of hours to undo.

I Make All My Mistakes Very Carefully...and You Do Too!

No one sets out to make mistakes. Usually we work very hard to get it right--especially when it's important to do so. But with our brains wired to make errors, we need to accept it's virtually impossible to do everything perfectly on our own.

I make all my mistakes very carefully--and you do too. The harder we try, the more some little detail eludes us. That's why I need to implement strategies to prevent costly mistakes that enlists the help of others--and you do too!

Simple Ways to Reduce Errors at Work or Home

1. Whether you're doing your best to get it right at work or at home, accept your brain is wired to make mistakes and develop a strategy for making it less so.

Anywhere you need to get it right---when cooking, building houses, paying your taxes or mortgage, dispensing medications, correcting computer bugs, or just sending informative emails to your family--you will benefit from applying a few simple techniques.

2. If you check your own work, take time out between doing that calculation or writing that email and when you recheck it for accuracy. Why?

You are more likely to find your own errors when you put time between rechecks.

My mother used to say 'make time work for you'. Here, you make time work for you by giving your brain a rest from concentrating on getting it right. Engage in other activities--take a walk, do the dishes, read a book---anything unrelated to the task you're trying to get right. Then with a relaxed, calm mind recheck your work for accuracy. You'll see with fresh eyes.

3. When it's critical you get it right--especially in high risk areas--such as dealing with high alert medications or legal documents-- implement double checks. Double checks means engaging the help of others to double check with you. Why?
Your brain sees what it expects to see.
So when you write that email and attempt to quickly check it for mistakes before hitting the send button, your brain sees what it expects to see making it difficult to find your own mistakes. This is true for other things like calculations and measurements too.

If you measure lumber to the specifications in the building instructions, before cutting, have your partner measure it again and call out the results to you as you check it against the written specifications. Measure twice, cut once---and double check it with the help of others.

Or to implement double checks for nursing, have one nurse read what's on the medication package or dose, while the other nurse checks it against the order, then reverse the process.

Nobody's perfect. We are going to make mistakes.  By accepting that your wonderfully creative mind is wired to make mistakes you can choose to act in ways that make it less so.

P.S. 'O' Well--Did you catch the omitted 'o' in the title? OPPS is actually spelled OOPS!