Friday, July 23, 2021

Building Self-Esteem through Feedback

 Fairly often people say to me "I am afraid to give any feedback anymore" or "Our employees cannot take feedback - they don't want it!".

While it may feel like one or both of those statements is what you are thinking or living, those statements are polarizing, and they will not advance relationships and/or businesses.

Instead of thinking about the negative side of feedback, please think about the positive side of it, and how feedback delivered properly, and therefore, received well, can build self-esteem.

We often talk about, focus on, and encourage/demand self-confidence, yet self-confidence is circumstantial, where self-esteem is at someone's core. For example, I have high self-esteem, belief in my ability to understand, present well, learn, and grow. That does not go away. I have high self-confidence in speaking, coaching, golfing, and hosting events because, in those environments, I have the exposure, the experience, and the expertise that provide me with many ways to contribute.

The realities related to self-esteem and self-confidence are many, and two of them are that self-esteem is something we can coach to about a person, and self-confidence is gained by layering it on circumstantially, specifically, on top of self-esteem. So, giving feedback is key to raising self-esteem, and eventually, self-confidence for most people.

An approach to providing feedback to build self-esteem is to follow these steps/approaches:

1) Be clear that your idea-sharing is feedback to move forward.

2) Share that your ideas are coaching, not criticism.

3) Ensure that feedback is a loop and not only 1-way.

4) Ask and respect how each person with whom you are engaging prefers feedback: in writing, in-person, immediately, at scheduled times.

5) Learn the type of coaching each person seeks: written to understand on their own, shown & left to their own ways to practice, shown, then they do it, or working on it collaboratively start-to-finish.

6) State a goal for a coaching and/or feedback session with the person receiving the coaching and/or feedback.

7) Importantly, close out the session by asking and hearing how the person feels, thinks, and wants to move forward.

This type of feedback is the way to build self-esteem for the person, which then can be a foundation for building self-confidence in situations and in areas of experience. And, when we focus on self-esteem, the whole person is included, and that is what/who we bring to each relationship and work assignment, after all!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Lessons Learned: Observations from Keynoting in 2021

 As grateful as I am to have been able to give away a lot of remote work content in 2020, it was good to (finally) get back to keynoting to kick off a full conference this month!

Was I excited? Yes! Was I nervous? Yes! Was this different? No, there's consistently excitement and nerves because I am grateful and care, and yet these feelings of excitement were intensified and the sense of nerves was about remembering the ways to give the audience the best so they did not miss out.

Please don't get me wrong, each engagement over the 15 years of business is special, has my gratitude, and gets some nerves for ensuring all is outstanding. This July, though, was a return to a full hotel, full conference, and fully lighted stage production, and that was WONDERFULLY familiar and a HAPPY RETURN to a scene that was once far more typical in a day, week, or month.

The lessons learned included the following:

  • It's still the responsibility of the speaker (me, in this case) to engage, entertain, keep attention, stay on time, and give meaningful, sincere tips!
  • Sincerely engaging and story-telling are now, more than ever, the way people relate to messaging.
  • People are genuinely excited to be in a room seeing and feeling someone speak and connect, and allowing time for people to share has expanded, as the interest and desire to be seen and heard has grown, so don't rush people, and plan to stick around after.
  • Gratitude, kindness, and grace have not, and will not, go out of fashion or style on or off the stage!

So, if you have the opportunity to speak, do, and give from your heart, energy, and expertise freely, with practice, preparation, and anticipation of the enjoyment you and the audience will have!

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Importance of Rest

 "A holiday is an opportunity to journey within. It is also a chance to chill, to relax. It is when I switch on my rest mode."

~ Prabhas

Many people say things like "I'll sleep when I'm dead", or "There's no rest for the wicked". I've even joked with those thoughts and comments in the past...

Still, rest is absolutely essential, and rest is what this article is all about. Rest is valuable and impactful in three ways - physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Rest is not simply sleeping, although sleep is a form of rest. Sleep, good, sound sleep, is the form of rest that impacts us physically. Make sleep a part of your schedule. You would not miss an appointment at work, or at a service provider, so what makes it okay to skip sleep? Nothing. Sure, we rationalize it as something we can do without, and yet it is the one thing that is a foundation for so much more. When sleep is not prioritized, there is no rest for the body, and that leads to a lack of rest for the mind.

Rest for the mind, or the mental break can come when sleeping (although the subconscious mind is still working), and it can also come when meditating, or quietly sitting and letting thoughts be still. That stillness has great value in resting and recharging creativity and purpose, direction, and clarity. Being able to rest one's mental state is a way of allowing calm and even openness. That type of rest is also what can lead to emotional strength. When mental rest is not embraced, there is an emotional unevenness that may take over in a way that is not positive nor productive.

Rest for your emotions is a layering on top of the mental side of quietness, as resting emotions means you are not ignoring or medicating your emotions. When you have sleep, and you have mental breaks, you can rest your emotions by checking in on your emotions to understand, appreciate, celebrate and/or reconcile them. Should emotional rest and reflection not be allowed in a regular pattern, there may be things said or done that are regretted and/or regrettable.

So now you see, and hopefully feel, that rest is a necessary gift to give yourself each day in the ways that you can, and will, strengthen yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally through the approaches your take to tune into you as you tune out others and other's demands along with the distractions of life in order to get rest to be your best!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Lessons Learned: Flying without Earbuds

 "Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

With air travel back in full swing, and many missed 2020 trips rescheduled, I found myself on a plane again, yet out of practice for my typical in-flight packing, meaning there I was with no magazines and without earbuds.

Clearly, that was not devastating, and yet there were unexpected lessons learned by hearing and seeing so much en route to Wisconsin golf, including:

  1. "Please" and "thank you" are neither dated nor overrated, and they are best, used over and over sincerely
  2. Smiles go a long way in tight quarters
  3. Saying "excuse me" is far better than pointing
  4. Speak to yourself out loud like your best friend would speak with when you're challenged by something or someone (such as not being able to get your bag in the overhead)
  5. Having empathy means giving others grace for their possible nerves and discomfort with flying while remembering you are all wanting to get to the same place safely
  6. When you don't have earbuds, you are allowed to sit, sleep, chat calmly and in a low tone, and you are not allowed to watch anything with sound, regardless of how low you turn the sound
  7. Whenever you travel, packing your earbuds & magazines are your best bet for enjoyable travel ;)

Cheers to many good miles ahead!

Friday, May 28, 2021

LESSONS LEARNED: Getting to Teach "Kindness as a Leadership Trait" Course

Kindness is in low supply and high demand.

As an avid reader of a double-digit number of books on kindness, a Kindness Attendant in "The Kindness Community" (an online worldwide group), and someone who wrote a book titled Reversing the Slobification of America, I look for ways to share kindness and kind actions as well as encourage others to do similar things.

A couple of weeks ago, the 14-week Florida State University Jim Moran Institute for Entrepreneurship graduated a cohort. That was the first-ever group who got to experience the class. Since Shane Smith, Ph.D. took a chance by allowing me to do what became known as the "Kick-off to Kindness" as the start of each Tuesday's experience.

Here are a few lessons learned from the fortuitous opportunity to share facts, acts, and the impact of kindness personally and professionally:

Kindness has four formats: toward self, toward others, toward the community, and toward the world

Most people are the least kind to themselves

Encouraging people to be kind to themselves is a form of permission

A kind act done for recognition is SPORTSMANSHIP, a kind act done for getting someone to collaborate or sign a contract is BUSINESS, and a kind act done for another person to feel good and/or have an opportunity, whether that person knows you did it or not, is true KINDNESS

Kindness makes some people uncomfortable and they are not wrong, rather have likely not been exposed to kindness which creates the discomfort

Kindness can be learned

Kindness begets kindness

Kindness is super

Kindness is powerful

(It follows that) Kindness is a superpower, and it is a superpower each and every one of us can use for good

Whether you get to facilitate a course on kindness is not the point of this "lessons learned" segment, rather the overall awareness of how a kind word, kind act, and a kind heart are available to us all, and all of us, whether we know it or not, can use (and use the impact of) a lot more kindness in our lives!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Casting Distractions AFAR

"Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions."

~ Saul Bellow

When you are moving forward, making plans, and setting goals, you surely want to advance, see progress, and eventually achieve success through your efforts and actions, right?

While we each have the opportunity to set a course, make/take actions, and more as we advance toward the end result(s), we also may face challenges that could create setbacks.

What to do?

Telling yourself, or others telling you not to care about any distractions or anything other than the goal can seem smart at first, and yet that is simply lying to yourself, and therefore delaying the impact of the distraction, and potentially adding guilt and/or pressure on you and others you involve in your endeavors.

Instead of hoping things will work out, or that you can avoid the distraction(s), cast the distractions AFAR with these four steps:

1) Allow yourself to consider the distraction and the impact 

2) Feel what the distraction is doing to you (not just thoughts)

3) Acknowledge that feeling with a label/name

4) Release the feeling, and therefore, the distraction

For example, if you are working on finishing a project (plan), and you start thinking about what might happen if you don't get it done (distraction), stop your project and give yourself a few moments to think it through by checking in on your feelings and naming them before determining that they are not serving you well at that time.

This is not a flippant/simple "Let it go", nor is it about telling yourself "It's no big deal" if it is a big deal at the time of distraction, rather this is about having a process for moving through the experience of distraction to cast them AFAR!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Lessons Learned from Loss


On Friday, February 26, 2021, after our 2021 American Heart Association Go Red for Women Lunch-In virtual event, I said hello to my husband as I picked up Michael from Tampa General Hospital after he recovered for a couple of days after his transplant donation surgery.

Later that day, a call came through to me that my father's heart rate had dropped into the 20s.

While Michael progressed each day, my father received a pacemaker through a cardiologist near where he lived, and unfortunately, did not progress each day, and on Monday, April 12th, at TGH, under excellent, attentive care, we said goodbye to him as he took his last breaths.

Over the past year, Michael and I have had two dear friends lose their young sons, we have both lost our fathers, and we both donated kidneys.

In attempting to process through these experiences, we hope our friends have found comfort, our dads are in heaven together laughing about how the last time the four of us golfed together at Copperhead, they did, in fact, beat us (and I am talking smoked us on the links) for the first time, and, we hope the two people who now have a new lease on life with their third kidneys make the most of every moment.

Life isn't always what we anticipate, and yet life is filled with memories and opportunities to participate in it, and yes, even in challenging times, embrace it. 

May all of us feel that way as we recall what was likely a memorable year in its own way for each of us. Some lessons learned from loss include:
  1. Be grateful for what we have or had versus hateful for what we don't have or lost.
  2. When someone dies, share condolences and yet do NOT ask "What happened?" or if someone shares a loss with you that impacts you, too, be mindful not to dump your grief on that person.
  3. If someone is grieving, however that grief happens is theirs, and it is right and best for them.
  4. If someone shares a "Sorry for your loss" with you when you have a loved one who passed, and they knew that person, too, say "Thank you, and sorry for your loss, too", as they lost someone as well.
  5. It's never too late to share your condolences...not ever...just don't apologize for the timing and make it about you - let it stay about the loss and your support.
  6. Whatever you have lost is not the same as what another has lost. You can sympathize and empathize, yet nobody ever understands your loss exactly, and that is okay - just let it be.
  7. Every bit of support and love, prayer, flowers, cards, and well-wish or fond memory offered is/are impactful, felt, and appreciated.

Love and loss go hand and glove with memories and smiles. Loss is loss, and yet sometimes loss leads to many moments of sharing and recalling good times...on some days, so choose to say hello to this, your next phase after loss...

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Positivity with Purpose, Please

There are "Be positive" and "Stay positive" messages abound, right? And, often, they come from me in my daily tips and workday videos. So what gives?

What is with all of this positivity?

Well, being positive for others is not being positive. That is being nice or compliant or phony.

Being positive with purpose is all about you first, and absolutely, the impact on others may follow!

What is the difference - the REAL difference?

Being positive for others keeps you quiet when you want to speak, and keeps you laughing when you want to exit the conversation. REAL positivity is about:

R - Reflecting on what you have and where you are and being appreciative of it all

E - Engaging in supportive self-talk and being your own best cheerleader

A - Approaching situations, people, problems, and opportunities with the belief that there is a solution, fix, or answer to move forward successfully

L - Leaning into growth even as there are misses and mistakes along the way

When you are a REAL positive person, you are not simply shining to get by, you are shining through and above situations with purpose. The purpose is YOU, and your well-being, centering, and success.

There is no purpose more powerful and positive than your own happiness.

This type of positive effort is from within that stretches beyond your realm and often has a good impact and lasting effect on others, too! How real is that?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A Lesson Learned from Kindness Encounter(s)

 While I am happy to be a part of many groups and organizations, it is interesting to see what people will promote or devote time to online.

One of the communities I am in focuses on KINDNESS. Oh, that is right up my alley, so it was exciting to get invited to be connected there!

With everything happening in the world, where it seems like some people are more concerned with hoarding than being considerate, it seemed this group would be a super reprieve for these "odd days".

I shared in that private group that my new hashtag is #KindnessNeedNotBeQuarantined and posted the hashtag there with a story about a trip to Costco and being nice to one another.

Someone took a shot at that by posting that I was taking jobs from workers by moving the carts out of the way in the parking lot. I thought, like I typically do, that she had the right to her view, and opted not to reply. It made me sad, though, as this person who was approved and/or invited in, was so quick to attack, and so fast to abandon kindness.

What I learned there was that some people believe kindness or being nice or considerate is ONLY the way they define it. Sadly, they are being judgmental, and in effect, not at kind in their ways.

So, please, let's be kind, even if that means not agreeing or not responding. After all, kindness and judgment are not adjacent, they are opposing mindsets...and kindness guides growth where judgment simply limits!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Removing the un from unLUCKY!

During these times of feeling uncertain, uneasy, and even unlucky in situations, scheduling, and even in life, in general,

make the most of your opportunities through the use of LUCKY-ness, meaning:

L - Limiting negativity and supposition,

U - Understanding your need for rest and rejuvenation (and honoring it),

C - Creating a community that supports one another,

K - Keeping a perspective on what IS going well and how to maintain it,

Y - Yielding not to the temptation of panic and paranoia.

When you own the unLUCKY, you can own the LUCKY, and therefore, remove the "un" in the way you handle your path and position!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Lessons Learned: The Outcomes of Kindness

"I have days of self-doubt, but I think the kindest thing I can do to myself is accept where my body is at."
~Geri Halliwell

Kindness is not necessarily rooted in niceness.

Being nice means we don't want to rock the boat and do not want to make anyone uneasy or at odds. Niceness has its place at times.

Kindness means we take in, stand up, and present ideas with grace, consideration, and perspective. There is rarely a time when kindness does not have its place.

A smile can be both nice and kind.

Biting one's tongue when frustrated or uncomfortable can seem nice, and it is not kind to oneself or to the relationship.

Please know, this is not a war on niceness, this is a campaign for kindness...

Having become a Kindness Attendant for Kindleigh's worldwide Kindness Community, sharing about kindness in posts and tips, speaking on the kindness impact/effect, and now, facilitating "Kindness as a Leadership Trait" in formal leadership programs at schools and in businesses, there have been a lot of lessons learned, including:

  • Kindness is not a soft-skill, it is a foundational skill
  • Kindness can be challenging, and people who are kind are not void of frustration or disappointment
  • How people kindly process through difficulty and rejection and present it through kindness, is centering to them (and others)
  • Kindness can be a born trait of a personality, AND it can be learned
  • People are rarely kind to themselves and when we are not kind inward, we are not likely to be genuinely kind outward
  • If we are frustrated or drained by our kind acts, it is not genuine kindness, it is often done out of obligation, guilt or a desire to be perceived as "a good person"
  • Kindness, when mistaken as a weakness, makes people feel like they have to defend this strength
  • Kindness is to be shared with others not for what they do with it, rather for how one believes it can impact a person or situation
  • Kindness "muscles" may not be found on a medical evaluation of a body, and yet they exist in smiles and head nods and genuine embraces, and when exercised, the kindness "muscles" flex and grow
  • The lasting effect of kindness on oneself and on others is measurable and there is much science to support it

Kindness is to be honored, considered, and shared freely without strings or quid pro quo. Kindness is all about you and your impact versus others and how they accept or deny it or you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Power of Positivity

"Positivity, confidence, and persistence are key in life, so never give up on yourself."
~ Khalid

Over the years, at various times, positivity has been seen as a strength, and at other times, positivity has been viewed as a weakness.

Trends are intriguing and often fleeting.

This is not about an approach to "try", rather, it is about the purposeful effort to be optimistic and realistic while working through situations and with people in a positive manner a human being and as a leader (of self and/or others).

Positivity in this case, and hopefully in all cases, is only worthwhile and effective if it is sincere, from a place of betterment and a forward-thinking approach to whatever is at hand.

With that in mind, the following 10 positive approaches to life and leadership, ways to STOP and replace with a GO instead, are ways to enhance you and your approach to your relationships and engagements:

10 - Stop the “fake it ‘til you make it”, Go for “Make it about right now ‘til you make it to the next day or situation or person”

 9 - Stop attempting to please everyone, Go for enjoying life and being YOUR best

 8 - Stop the “Let me know what I can do…”, Go for the specific offer of what you are offering to do

 7 - Stop the posting of data, Go for sharing of interesting information with how it can impact others positively

 6 - Stop the disappointment based on assumptions, Go for setting expectations with others to know where you stand and where you can anticipate going

 5 - Stop making people feel defensive, Go for creating conversation by using What and How questions in place of Why questions

 4 - Stop starting emails and updates with “I”, Go for being about the audience, using BASICs (Because, Appreciating, Since, In order to, Considering/Respecting, all with a smile)

 3 - Stop being jealous, Go for being happy for the other person

 2 - Stop gossiping after the fact or behind someone's back, Go for gathering and addressing what is at hand directly with who is involved

 1 - Stop wondering how will this look to others, Go for thinking about what feels best in the moment and what is best for the situation

When you are true to these positions and commitments, your positivity becomes who you are and what your personal being and brand represent as a part of your demeanor and part of your approach to life and business over a strategy or positioning.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Lessons Learned from "Hacking" Life!

Being resourceful, scrappy, and even creative was not new in 2020, and yet being restrictive in where I went to stay safe and keep myself challenged, or overcoming challenges was different!

From those altered situations came some ingenuity, or at least some "punting" when faced with a lack of resources or an interest in a new approach to doing or solving something. Some even reminded me of previous hacks that have become habits, and they are each worth presenting for your consumption. After all, aren't all learnings best when shared for other people's benefit?

  • LIFE HACK: Shoes smelling stinky or the linings getting misshapen? Doing 10,000 steps before sunrise for 100 days, and now a marathon of miles every week, my feet sweat, which causes both odor and wetness, and as a result, messed up shoe linings or arch supports unless you do this: Before putting on your socks, tights or shoes without socks or tights for work or for play, swipe or spray your favorite clear deodorant on your feet in order to save your shoes and keep your confidence high for removing them without odor or wetness hesitation!
  • LIFE HACK: Looking to practice a physically-distanced presentation at a podium without a podium at your remote work office for your run-throughs? While I am not a fan of using a podium, other than for a commencement address, they are making a comeback as part of safety protocols. To practice remotely, and/or in your home, use a large Amazon box, a paper ream box, or even a box from a case of bottled beer positioned length-wise, and there you go, you have a podium! Delivering that talk standing on a virtual meeting, and still no podium for notes? You can either put large print notes around the outside of your screen above the camera to keep eye contact up, or wrap the box in brown paper (available online in a roll), and put your company logo on the front, so the podium-effect carries across the on-line meeting!
  • LIFE HACK: Rough feet or hands? Having only had one professional pedicure, and no professional manicures in 2020, and still getting dressed head-to-toe for remote work each day, my hands and feet were not looking their best! The solution? Put Vicks Vapor Rub, or the generic equivalent, on in generous amounts before bed, and for your hands, use old gloves or mittens, and for your feet, use socks you no longer want, and cover them. In the morning, you will find all the little cracks diminished or gone, and once you dispose of the gloves or socks, you'll likely have the added benefit of noticing that you have clear sinuses as well! (Bonus hack is that if you are painting your own nails and/or toenails, shower with a washcloth or scrubby about an hour after the fast-dry topcoat is applied, and the excess around your fingers and toes will soften and you can quickly remove anything around the nailbed while the skin is soft.)
  • LIFE HACK: Too much gift bag to fill? I discovered this quite by accident and through my resolve when wrapping gifts in the early hours with a dwindling supply of tissue paper and leftover tablecloths from the prior week's in-home room-by-room-themed pub crawl. What to do? When you have a large gift and a large gift bag, instead of using 2 or more packages of decorative tissue paper to fill the space & cover the gift, use one Dollar Tree disposable, lined tablecloth to create a cute look while filling the bag for only a dollar!
  • LIFE HACK: At the end of your lipstick or ChapStick with some left below the surface? The lipstick I love was discontinued, and having many tubes in various places, it seemed there was a lot getting wasted when disposing of the tube with about 1/6 of it below the line of sight once the tube was fully extended yet part was below where it could not reach my lips. How to fix that pout without pouting over wasted lipstick or ChapStick? Using a cotton swab, you can scoop out the remaining lipstick or chapstick, and if you have any small container with a lid, that becomes your new container for it all, and you can use a cotton swab or your finger for applying what is now your new-found supply of lipstick or ChapStick! (Bonus hack is that you can put the lipstick, lip balm, or even sunscreen or foundation in a small contact lens holder for compact, flat storage, and carrying.)
  • LIFE HACK: Want to send flowers last minute within 2 hours? The idea of Christmas flowers following some news from a family member felt like they'd brighten that person's day, and yet it was too late to get a local florist to deliver. I love supporting local florists and do often. This day, though, I got creative by logging onto Publix (a grocery chain I knew was in the area) and selected a floral arrangement and a vase to be delivered (she had vases, so I could have skipped the vase). While there was no card with it, the process was outstanding and was less than half with tax and tip. In order to ensure the delivery was smooth, I messaged the recipient to ensure she'd be at home, and they sent a text message to check out front. When she got them, it was a beautiful exchange of surprise and appreciation for how fast that happened! I'll surely still honor the expertise of local florists in the future AND in quick turn-around times will use delivery services through grocery outlets!

The lessons learned over the past years were meant to assist you with some quick or convenient changes or considerations, and hopefully this LIFE HACK edition carried that forward with a twist. While these life hacks were new to me the first time I thought to "hack" the way shared above, I present them not for credit, for, admittedly, they could be something common that I never heard of, or they could be unique based on my experience, and either way, here's to happily hacking life and enjoying the results with some fun!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Hit Your Stride in 2021!

 "Stride forward with a firm, steady step knowing with a deep, certain inner knowing that you will reach every goal you set yourselves, that you will achieve every aim."

~ Eileen Caddy

As midnight on December 31, 2020 grew near, a lot of messaging around resolutions and "New Year, New You" began to surface, as they do each year around that time.

For some, that is encouraging. For others, that is a reminder to reflect. For others, that is daunting to think about change. For many, it is simply a forced concept of resolve due to the time of year. Regardless of how the moving from December to January typically strikes you, and regardless of the date on the calendar, or time of year, it is consistently a good time, when it is the right time for you, to focus on hitting your stride. We happen to be at the beginning of 2021, so how about it...what stride do you want to hit in 2021?

That stride, your stride, will not be hit without intention, so please consider these four phases of stride-hitting for a successful venture this year:

1) Reflect on what went well and what you want to improve in order to create awareness of where you are right now.

2) Imagine the desired state where you are going so that you can embrace the look and feel of what you want to achieve.

3) Assess the gaps between where you are and where you are going for the base for your plan for the year, which includes skills, experiences, people to engage, and more.

4) Map out milestone accomplishments with realistic wins along the way that can be recognized and celebrated as you achieve them.

5) Decide on immediate actions to take to launch the plan - from something as simple as sharing the plan for accountability to scheduling actions on your calendar to keep the momentum flowing.

6) Create habits that are well-serving to the plan such as daily activities that form a pattern and lead to consistent effort that repeats (hence making a habit), weekly check-ins on progress, monthly milestone monitoring, and other time increments for ensuring forward progress.

7) Reward yourself along the way in the ways that enhance your efforts and encourage your continued momentum. For example, if health and well-being are part of your desired state, plan and mapping out, and your actions of mindful eating and movement have become habits, reward yourself with a spa treatment over a trip to the ice cream store, so as to keep the alignment, and therefore, keep the habits reinforced.

When these seven steps are consciously and intentionally embraced, it is not about focusing on a new attitude or a new approach, it is about seeing and achieving the new stride that is hit because of you...and not the changing of a date on the calendar!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Lessons Learned from Getting to Give a TED Talk


As a speaker and performance coach, delivering a TED Talk (Technology Entertainment Design Talk), is a goal and a dream combined. (Click HERE to watch it)

I was fortunate to be asked to share a TED Talk first as a replacement for Tony Dungy (yes, that Tony Dungy) two days before an event for MacDill Air Force Base called LIFTx. I was not insulted at not being the first choice, rather thrilled to fill in. The talk was called "You, Magnificent You!". Some of you have seen it. It was wonderful to share, and while that feed did not go to the full TED organization, it was a goal achieved, and a dream come true - plus, getting to share with those who serve our country, made it THAT much more special.

Even so, I was not able to get the message out to many more in a way that would be fulfilling to give people the ideas and convey the desire to increase people's confidence and self-love.

Then, along came Beth Socoski and TEDx Westshore with an invitation last year to deliver a full TEDx Talk on May 1, 2020. Then it was postponed until October 30th, and then it went virtual. Beth, in her graceful and deliberate leadership, let us decide as speakers if we wanted to speak virtually (live for recording, yet without an audience) or wait until next year.

She'd been so kind to include me, I wanted to do whatever would work best for TEDx Westshore, and we agreed that was filming this year.

Less than two months after donating my kidney, I delivered, in one-take, the 12:55 TED Talk, "Who CAREs?", and the link is here, and below. The gratitude (and energy) I have for it is foundational and grounding while lifting me up to think of the opportunity seized. Here are the lessons learned from that evening in front of an audience of four:

  • Step up and take what is offered at face value, as there is value in each chance we get!
  • Practice, even if words are from your heart, honor the audience, and practice. (Thanks to Skip and Barb for letting me rehearse and grow into my CAREs talk to hone it, even though it has been a LUNDBERGism for years)
  • Give someone a surprise. I asked if Michael could join us safely, and Beth agreed to have him with the two camera operators and her. He never heard it before, and so he had the chance to be that special audience member.
  • Respect differences. Others opted to wait. I may feel different, and yet wish them the best and look forward to their TED Talks next year, too!
  • When you have the chance to inspire, speak from the heart without inspiration as your direction, rather draw on, and embrace that vulnerable sharing as your base.
  • Know that some will criticize, and they have the right to disagree and look for feedback and learning in their words (or even that heart-sinking thumbs down).
  • Be grateful for every comment and every person positively impacted. The ability to get to share is a gift, and that gift may not be one-size-fits-all, and still, it is a gift that keeps on giving, even if nobody says thank you or that they saw it! Gratitude is an attitude, and it is contagious!

From the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul, I ask you to please share your journey and learnings, whether in a TED Talk or otherwise, as this experience is a reminder that you may not love the timing, every word you said, and yet, loving the impact beyond self is so much more important and lasting!

Monday, December 14, 2020

12 YAYS of the Holidays!

While you may or may not have a lot of traditions in the past, it's likely that each of them is coming to mind this year, in 2020, as many of us have a bit more time on our hands or reflection in our hearts as we grow close to turning the calendar to a new year once again.

Situations, face coverings, gatherings, and more, are all different, and yet, all year, my hashtag #KindnessNeedNotBeQuarantined has been my guide through any change, setback, surprise, and/or disappointment regarding what was planned versus reality. It has made for some spectacular memories, including new ways of contributing, donating a kidney, and playing Pebble Beach with some "new friends".

In that light, hearing many people are bummed about what they "can't" do this year, let's instead focus on what we can do, and then...DO IT! To assist with those creative tweaks to past activities, and perhaps add some new ones, too, here's my list of the 12 YAYS of the Holidays:

1 - Volunteer. When you are off/down, focusing on others is one of the best ways to get back in touch with yourself. In a physically distanced way, you can get food or goods to those in need. For that, we chose Metropolitan Ministries. Or, go to a store and buy clothes and other items to donate off their sale rack. We went to a store and asked them to let us know what was left on the last day of their sale, bought everything, and will donate the remaining dresses to Dress for Success.

2 - Schedule a video toast with friends for 15-30 minutes where you share what you are thankful for while you offer good cheer. We started this with my Aunt and Uncle on Thanksgiving, and it was a ball. We will do it again on Christmas (a 5 hour time difference doesn't stop us!)! And, it could be cheers with coffee, water, or a drink - it's the cheers that matters, not as much what you cheer with!

3 - Go out in the area/neighborhood in your car, or on foot, over a few nights, and create a video of the most spectacular lights you see to share on social media, or as a tribute to those who hang the lights.

4 - Find out what your friends/family have as a favorite charity, and make a donation of $1 for each year you have known that person in their name/honor. Optionally, instead of lunch or dinner with someone, mask up and get some angels from an angel tree, or the needs of families from a food bank or local community center, and instead of buying each other gifts, spend the money on those in need and let that be your gifts to one another, too. My girlfriend, Christine, and I, have been doing this for a decade. Another thought is buying a star or a brick with a special memory highlighted as the gift of giving that star or brick to the recipient. The Chi Chi Rodriguez Foundation will benefit from a brick bought by us this year. If it's more about being outside, run a mile for each year you have known someone while on a call with your earbuds in to reminisce about the miles covered. Let the walk or run be the gift to one another!

5 - Text a video greeting to those you'd normally see at parties and gatherings with a special, personal hello and happy holiday greeting for each of them (hold your phone horizontally, not vertically). If they sent you a gift, hold it up so they can see you and that special gift! That is something in addition to a personal card with a note and/or a photo of you with/using the gift they gave you! If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much you can "say" with a video or photo card!?!?

6 - Decorate a small tree or menorah with lottery tickets, and auction it off with your friends and family to raise money for a charity, and then mail or deliver the prize to the highest bidder (the "winning" may keep going!)!

7 - Buy mugs, wrapped stick candy, and flowers at the grocery store, and arrange them for a surprise "leave" at the door for local friends and family, and for those at a distance, send a photo card with the arrangement on the front with flower seeds inside for planting. You can give these to strangers by leaving them on their doorstep. Similarly, you can pay for someone's layaway or groceries or something else (pay it forward).

8 - Buy items and/or write letters/cards for deployed military members, and share your gratitude for their service with holiday cheer. We made a video for the 927th Air Refueling Wing with other Honorary Commanders and gave gift cards for the enlisted Airmen's families.

9 - Order a "12 Days" kit for a girl, boy, man or woman, and no matter what day you start, open a gift each day to have your very own 12 Days of Holidays. I ordered 12 pairs of holiday socks for Michael and an ULTA 12-gift package for me. We are wearing/using the items each day to ensure we really appreciate the "gift".

10 - Host a holiday movie streaming watch party where everyone has the same snacks (you can mail them or have Amazon or UberEats deliver as a surprise). Optional, you can host an ugly sweater contest by people posting a video to your group and then announcing the winner in a Video session (optional, have people make cookies that match their sweater theme for bonus points). Or, have a holiday charades session virtually or a Virtual Lip Sync Battle where you project to your TV. Take these events outside the virtual office for a change of pace and location. Another way is a wine and cookie, or coffee and cookie pairing where everyone has the items ahead of time, too. I do these for corporate fun, and have been having a good time delivering cheer these past two months!

11 - If you have ever held a progressive dinner or gone on a "pub crawl", recreate that in your home by decorating and naming each room, and having different courses, drinks or both, in that area. Take photos like you would if you were out. If you do not want to make the food, have UberEats or DoorDash or another service deliver food every 30-45 minutes for pacing. They leave them at the door, and that would be your incentive to go to the next stop! Here are some photos of our Team Lundberg 2-person pub-crawl from this weekend:

12 - Take some fun photos throughout the month, and make a Happy New Year bloopers card with silly shots to bring smiles to those who receive them as you look forward to 2021.

Surely there are many, many more! These are the 12 we are implementing, and no matter what, there will be fun, memories made...perhaps even some new traditions created, and absolutely a month worth remembering!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

'TIS the Season for Toasts

Effectively, energetically giving a toast, raising a glass, honoring a holiday or person, is both an art and a science!

How so?

While most people say comments such as "Here's to Steve!", or "Cheers to a good night!", and those are alright to get through a step in recognizing a person or a time, those experiences are neither memorable nor thoughtful.

Toasting can seem rushed or even forced if there is no planning, and yet you want toasts to be from the heart. To bring timing and a plan together, think of 'tis the season (at all moments or days of the year) when you want to raise a glass and hear that "clink" of cheer.

Similar to how you can introduce a person with TIS (Topic, Importance to the Audience, and then Speaker credentials before that person's name), a fun, memorable toast has those three parts. Before a toast, ensure people all have had a chance to get water, soda, wine, or whatever they are drinking, and share your TIS with this twist:

T - Thanks/Today/This - Start your toast not by rattling a fork or spoon on a glass or yelling "Okay everyone" or "If I can get your attention", as those approaches can be jarring and even startling. An example that is compelling is to say something like "Thanks for joining us today", or "Today is a very special day for many reasons". The T in the TIS gets people attention in a positive way, and gives a reference for what is happening as it foreshadows where you are going!

I - Importance/Insights - Move from the T's connection aspect to the toast to the importance and insights about what or who you are raising your glass to celebrate. Without saying things such as "Everyone knows" and "Obviously", you can happily share some points about the individual or holiday such as "It's heartwarming to see how many people have been touched by one person here tonight".

S - Share who/what, specifically - Wrap up the toast with a clear statement of who/what is being honored. Yes, it is okay to say "So, let's smile and raise a glass to our host, Raji Patel", and another approach is to elaborate with adjectives or another context

An example for a virtual Thanksgiving toast is:

Thank you for joining us! Today is a special day for giving thanks.

Thanksgiving is traditionally about food, gathering, and sharing. While we have been eating good grub in our separate locations, and we are gathered differently this year, we are getting to share by staying connected.

So, with much appreciation for each of you, and gratitude for sharing this moment. Here's to each of you feeling loved and appreciated today and throughout the rest of the year! Happy Thanksgiving!

You may have noticed the lack of the word "I", and the focus on brevity and positivity, and those efforts are intentional for making everyone feel included and keeping to mood up! No matter with whom or how often you toast, make the 'tis the season lift come from your TIS approach!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lessons Learned: COVID-Safe Hosting

While I was concerned, and (perhaps overly) communicative about the 13th year anniversary of Bubbles, Baubles & Bling, where any/all women are welcome to join in on the post-birthday, pre-holiday Wednesday-before-the-Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving traditional after-hours shopping event held at one of my friend's boutique, it was a huge success because everyone was safe, kind, and part of a group experience that evoked feelings of less disconnected & more hopeful!

Lessons learned personally & through attendee feedback include:

Come from a place of care and safety in the invitation and the overall event experience when you host something for 1-2 hours maximum, as keeping clear and brief in both your plan and the time keeps everyone from a sense of further "fatigue".

Ensure everyone knows the rules of engagement in regards to mask, how masks are worn, whether guests are welcome, and more with clear guidelines and communicate via phone, text and email what is expected ahead of time without apology or a sense of it won't be as good. You can even have a fun mask competition with a prize (we did, and it added to the positivity around the masks).

Greet everyone personally to be certain there is no miscommunication before someone is "in" the event.

Have a kind, professional, swift plan for if someone rejects or disrespects the guidelines.

Do not serve food and drink (I served mini bottles of water and champagne with straws to place under masks, and now do not recommend any food or drink to avoid confusion on keeping masks on).

Do not be disappointed, mad, or disrespectful when someone chooses not to participate from the start, or even close to last-minute (normally there is a 5-day cancellation consideration), if something happens regarding the pandemic cases and/or their comfort.

Be clear in any and all sharing of the event (before, during, after) that all guidelines were followed, without additional apology or explanation so the message is clear, concise and focused on positivity and gratitude.

Missing out fully may be your choice. Having a virtual option may be best. If you decide to host an in-person event, please consider safety over tradition and health over the desire to be unencumbered. No matter what you do, here's to health and happiness without any complications!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Being a Living Kidney Donor: Lessons Learned & Surprises Revealed!

Even though I never imagined being an organ donor until passing away, I am one now.

People can survive with just one healthy kidney, so someone with two healthy kidneys may choose to donate one. This is called a living donor transplant. I am a living donor.

The two most common reactions are "Why would you do that for a stranger?" and "Wow, that is selfless". While some of you know that "Why" questions create defensiveness, I simply smile and share back the truth - my thought was "Why not? What would be the reason I wouldn't assist another human being if I could, even with the risks - I would hope someone would do that for a loved one of mine if it came to that.", and "As it can seem selfless, I look at it as self-aware, meaning I was aware that me, myself, could make this impact, and wanting to give of myself, I was aware of the potential complications, and yet, with that awareness and desire, going through it did not seem like less, it gave me a chance to give more."

Beyond those questions/reactions and answers, four key areas strike me that were learning lessons and experiences that were not expected prior to becoming a living donor on 8/6/2020 (yes, two months ago today!), and they are here below as I am in the "HEALING" phase of change with this decision and donation. Before getting to those four, a few "reveals" include:

It takes more than a matched blood type to be a kidney donor (admittedly, I hadn't thought about it before this year, and if pressed, blood match would have been what I would have guessed was how people donated a kidney). While that is the start, there are such an array of tests from urine to tissue typing to kidney function and stress tests that the amount of time it takes is not terrific, it is enough that requires scheduling and planning to spend work hours getting poked and prodded!

  • 650,000 is the number of Americans facing end-stage renal disease
  • 468,000 is the number of Americans on dialysis, which is what is required if no kidney match is found
  • There are approximately 4 times the number of people in need of kidneys than there are available kidneys
  • Various sources give statistics on being a match, and it is over a 1 in 100,000 chance a non-relative will be a match for donating a kidney (I was for the recipient, Debra), and yet there are paired exchanges, or 'kidney swaps.' During a kidney swap, transplant recipients who have willing live donors essentially swaps donor organs. For patients who have a willing but incompatible donor, the strategy allows people who need a kidney to receive an organ that is a match. How cool is that!?!? 

With all that in mind, through the entire 5-month process, I have been, and continue to be grateful to be ahead of the statistics. Based on the experience with the Transplant team and the Kidney Donor Athletes group, so much of this is due to the state of mind and health I was in pre-donation, as others in that encouraging group have shared similar experiences. Above all else, health and happiness are foundational for everything, and now, here are the four take-aways or areas of learning, so far:

Pain & discomfort. The pain was FAR LESS than ever imagined, and the discomfort was far different than anticipated. The pain is gone. I had pain, true pain, at a low level through the 4th day only. It was a 2/5 at most. I am grateful for that, and still working through the discomfort. The tugs on the skin, the overdoing it at times brings that discomfort right back. It will likely all subside. Other donors say they have some discomfort forever when lifting weights or pushing their limits. The protrusion in my lower abdomen feels strange, admittedly, and yet the four scars are not a big deal to me. The surgeon said think of them as a "Badge of Honor", and still, many people state they won't go through the process due to the scaring. That never crossed my mind that a few marks for life would keep me from contributing to someone else's extended life and quality of life.

Sleep & rest. Never underestimate the need for sleep (no, not speed, sleep!). Prior to the donation, I was someone who could sleep at the drop of a hat. If I wanted to, and I did, sleeping through an opening act at a concert while people screamed around me was something that was not only possible, it was done. Before donating my right kidney, I trained myself to sleep on my back (before face/stomach sleeping was typical). Even though that habit was formed, sleep was the most strange and disrupted. I highly recommend ensuring anyone who has surgery get or have a recliner first. A recliner was my resting place. It was a place to get a lift where needed. We ended up buying a sleep number bed after a week of the crazy battle to get zzzzs, and it seems to be working. I was a huge proponent of 20-minute power naps previously, and I still am now, only they are in "Zero G" on the sleep number! The tiredness was shocking and still kicks my but even though I am working out, eating clean, and walking and/or running 35-50 miles a week.

People & personal. People have been spectacular supporters. The generosity of strangers has been heart-warming. The consistency and kindness has inspired me, someone who reaches out a lot, to do more! Some people have been radio silent, and that works, too. I will not be upset, and yet I will be excited to see some people more than others. Going through the 4-part process of change that I refer to as Impact/Recovery/Healing/Excellence, I am in healing and plan to move through to excellence and achieve it. The people who will be there will be hugely appreciated. Every card, text and message of thoughtfulness personally was a point for pushing. People say "Don't take things personally", and yet we are persons, so how else will we take them. The personal touches people gave me were, and are, valued! Michael, my husband, was an outstanding support, and having a team of 8 communicating out was reassuring, too. Now, Michael forgets that it may take a while for me to get up or lifting something is still something to consider before quickly doing it, so our joke is "You know I only have one kidney, and it has only been X number of week, right?" We both nearly forget at times and that is good, as it is becoming part of how we as people navigate it!

Identify & Identity. As proud as I am to identify as someone who gave a kidney, a #OneBeaner, and to be an Organ Donor, a living organ donor at that, being any of these labels is not my sole identity. This has changed my life, yes, and habits such as water intake, bathroom planning, protein lessening, getting up and down from a chair and other things will be incorporated as my now-moving-forward-self, they are aspects of how I function, and not my only function or focus. I want people to see me as Debbie Lundberg, and all I do, and being a kidney donor as something for which I identify with and smile in hopes of encouraging others.

A hope I have is to encourage people to be health-minded, and another is to be your own health-advocate, as well as certainly wishing others will consider being a living donor once reading that the process is one to use the change strategy to work through with success while donating life!

The lessons will surely continue to reveal themselves and grow, and the scars will go away some while the protrusion in my abdomen will lessen also, and forevermore I will be amazed by, and appreciative of the opportunity I had and accepted to change a life!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Lessons Learned from Being SAD (Social At a Distance) and Not Sad!

Please know this is not a complaint.

Being physically distant is important currently.

Being socially distant is something that is negatively impacting people's lives, emotions, and their outlook.

From the late part of March, I have encouraged people to use the expression "Social At a Distance" rather than calling our recommended physical separation "Social Distancing". While these are similar words, the impact can be much different from one to the other.

Still, while this may encourage you to rephrase the concept, I also reflect on what Social At a Distance also can mean - being SAD. Hmmmm...when someone is sad, are they wrong to be or feel that way? No. So, when someone is SAD, are they wrong to be or feel that way? Some say yes. Still, I feel like we are doing what we can by remaining Social At a Distance, and here are some lessons I have learned from the experience:

  • Eyes are expressive and making eye contact on video or in person, really makes a difference in engagement - at any distance
  • Words matter, so speaking to people and acknowledging them, even with a "Hello" or "Good Morning" has a positive impact
  • Leaving a message or sending a text or email asking for nothing and yet sharing that the person is on your mind and you wish them well, can make someone feel less lonely than without it
  • A driveway hello or masked engagement is replacing a hug or a handshake, and while they are different than we'd like, they a special, too.
  • Walk and talk meetings have the benefits of being distanced while covering distance, and that may be a standard approach to meetings moving forward
  • Embracing the reason for being Social At a Distance means keeping the future in mind during this present change in behavior

With these lessons learned in mind, it keeps me happy, or at least positive, about being SAD versus being sad about the situation!