Thoughts and such like.....
So I'm packed and ready to go - feeling sooooo excited! First off to Ottawa, so had to pack some sober clothes as I'm presenting on Succession Planning in Non Profits. Then my friend Christine is flying in and we'll be staying with another friend of hers for the weekend and exploring Ottawa! This will be the start of Christine and Maeve's Excellent, Amazing Adventure. Off we go then to Boston to meet Number one son who graduates from Berklee, I'm so proud of him! We'll spend a week with him, enjoying Boston, eating and probably drinking a wee bit, but most of all celebrating his success - he also graduates on his birthday - surely a good omen.
As you can see two half empty suitcases! I'll just have to do a little shopping. Suitcases have some books, along with my e-ready, sometimes I just have to feel the paper in my hands. Bringing my knitting, I have a top I took apart as it was knit in the round and too short, I need to have it a quite a bit longer, however since it is on round needles it means I won't poke my neighbour on the plane!
One of the things I like to do before I travel is to put new sheets on my bed so that when I come home I have beautifully fresh sheets that first night tired after travelling. It's one of my peculiar foibles.... we all have them. Another is to put a fresh set of clothes into my hand luggage, along with my toothbrush and face wipes. I've lost my luggage so often over the years that I now try and ensure I have something to sleep in, clean my face and teeth and change into the next day...
It's funny writing these blog posts, I can see the statistics and know there are people reading, or at least looking, at the blog, but I'm not sure how many of you enjoy it. It's a very strange relationship - sort of having a diary that everyone reads but no one talks about! Do leave a comment or note on your thoughts of my posts, or even like me on Facebook, which will allow me to access all sorts of information. Thank you!
Today is the last few days of April and I'm trying not to look at any of my electronic devices when I get up in the morning. A challenge I've broken because my meditations are on my computer. So I've compromised and only grab the computer for meditation purposes - I've set it up so that I go straight to the icon, and let me say - it's tough. The computer is there, maybe I can just check up on Facebook and see what's happening with family and friends or maybe I should just check my phone to ensure my kids are okay!! The excuses are great however I'm not succumbing and have now also decided that about an hour before bed, I'm turning them off. This is to try and allow me to have a better sleep which has for most nights worked!
I'm really pleased with this challenge and it has made me much more aware of what was happening to my sleep patterns, having a computer/iPad, a cell phone and any other electronic item on or beside the bed. Now except for the iPad they are all out of the room. I use it as both an alarm and as access to my meditations. Again I'm going to keep this challenge going - it's healthy for me. How do you manage your devices? Have you thought about what you have in your bedroom at night, having never been one for a TV in my room, it is not a problem for me, but slowly the other items crept into my room without me even being aware - could you change this one habit? Try it, and let me know how you do!
I'm off to Eastern Canada to Ottawa, (a city I don't know at all), this week, for the last few days of my challenge, and still thinking about what May's should be. I'm continuing with my Yoga and Pilates, however I would like to incorporate some outdoor time into my routine now that Spring is here and the days are longer and brighter. So I think I'll add at least 5 days of outdoor walking/biking a week during May! This does allow for a couple of lazy days, but because writing here makes me accountable I'm much more likely to keep the resolution. Too after Ottawa, I'm off to BOSTON - a city I do like and which is so great to walk around. I'm going to my eldest's son's graduation!!!! So proud of my young man - it will be awesome, a friend is coming with me to celebrate, always fun to have a pal, we'll enjoy lots of exploring, good food and great music! So expect a few posts during the next few weeks of our Excellent Adventures!
So I'm back painting, which allows me great globs of time to think. So a warning, you'll probably find a lot of posts over the next few days as I unload my thoughts!
Today my music was very eighties - Bruce Springsteen, Eurythmics and more recent Bruno Mars, great bopping (dancing) music. I had a lot to think about - yesterday we celebrated International Women's Day with a coffee hour hosted by Olympian and MLA (Politician) Michelle Stilwell who invited another Canadian Olympian, a former MLA and the ED of our local Women's Transition House to talk about what drove them to pick their careers, who inspired them and what they hope for the future! It was both exhilarating and inspiring.
While painting I thought back to yesterday and thought 'okay but what now? What are those 130 Women of all ages and walks of life going to do, change, today as a result of what they heard yesterday?' It is so easy to walk away feeling great, then as the 'tyranny of the urgent' takes over the excitement we experienced disappears and is forgotten. So I'm challenging you to think what could you do this year to make a difference in a women or girls' life? I've loads of ideas, of course! What about helping the single mum by offering to drive her child once a month to their activity of choice, allowing the mum to rest? What about mentoring a girl in high school or university? Volunteering your time once a month to a women's charity?, like your local transition house. What about in your professional life, how about mentoring a young women coming into the profession? Try it.
What am I doing, since it is my suggestion! I've done a number of things which I will continue - I mentor/coach someone who is new to the non-profit profession, a program I was involved in last year and enjoyed, so I volunteered to continue this year with another individual - we introduced ourselves via e-mail this week. I also joined a great group www.tenthousandcoffees.com
We’re a team of young people who believe that the next generation has incredible potential just waiting to be unlocked. The problem? There’s a gap between the leaders of today and the social generation. We built Ten Thousand Coffees to be the solution: to bridge that gap and help people connect in a way that’s never been done before.
Business leaders go for coffee all the time, but they’re restricted to their personal networks of friends and family. Ten Thousand Coffees is democratizing the coffee experience by opening it up to
youth all over Canada.
The conversations I've had so far have been incredibly interesting, and with young women. Ten Thousand Coffee has a new idea and a great one. Those women I've had the privilege of talking too are not from my side of Canada and with technology today it's easy to talk.
I believe each of us has a lot of value inside, we just have to open up and share - start with a smile at the bus stop or at the car beside when you're stuck in a traffic jam! Take it a bit further and listen, really listen to a friend or colleague when they are unloading or trying to sort out a problem out loud - don't let your mind wander, even if you've heard the story a hundred times, sit and listen. All of us have amazing talents, we just have to share them. A professor at the University when I took my coaching certificate used to say, 'what people really want is to be seen, heard and understood', and it's so true. I love watching people blossom as they grow in confidence, it's my payback
So I challenge you to think about what you can do this year, let me know and return in one year and let me know how it went!
You remember the saying March and coming in like a lion - yesterday March 1st, here in Southern British Columbia we had another snow storm. Such a coward, I am, that the very thought of snow turns me to a blithering idiot. However it was also the day that I finished my chocolate reset button. So breakfast started with chocolate, which I had purchased the day before. Chocolate that had been in my fridge and was taunting me that last night! Actually it was the most difficult night, having a bag of chocolates in the fridge and being unable to eat them. I didn't eat them all that morning - it took me a few days and actually my reset plan worked I couldn't eat them all at once - even the couple of breakfast chocolates felt too much!
And so, now it is March, roaring like a lion. I'm not giving up anything this month - I'm adding. I've decided to add something to my day and so I'm adding either six sun salutations each day or doing my Pilates practice, some days I've done both. I'm also taking a page from the weather and adding the lion pose each day - if you don't know the lion pose in yoga, it's a great one to for our faces
"in this posture is thought to be one of the best face exercises you can get. People often overlook another benefit of Lion Pose: it stimulates the platysma, which is a thin, rectangular-shaped muscle in the front of throat. This exercise will keep the platysma strong as you age." (http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2011/03/13/the-health-benefits-of-simhasana-lion-pose)
It actually looks a bit like this fella on the right, tongue out and all!
So how is the reset going, both on the wine and chocolate it's been great, each reinstatement of the two things I enjoy has been easy and exactly as I'd hoped. What have I learnt, as everyone tells us, making out goals realistic and attainable. I think if I had said I was giving up one or the other item for the year, I'd have failed miserably. As it is I've achieved my goals and reset the button for both that is I'm not overloading anymore. Now by adding yoga and pilates into my daily routine I'm getting into the habit of exercise, doing something that I like, even when I'm at home which given some of my longer days is great. Too, it helps me in the rehabilitation of my knee which needs movement each day to avoid getting stiff. One of the great things about doing either of these activities is that not only do they help me build strength, in both my core and upper body, but also I feel great after both and I'm sleeping better too!
So my challenge to you is to add something extra to your day, something that is attainable. As Spring comes it may be a walk each evening for a month, or even as simple as giving yourself the gift of sitting quietly, no TV, no noise, each day; try it and see what happens and let me know how it works for you. Remember it's only for one month!
It was a dark and dreary day, (I've always wanted to write that line!). Rain pouring down, it was as if the day was trying to make us as miserable as possible! I decided it was an ideal day to stay home, have a leisurely late breakfast and tackle some of the painting I have left undone, forever. So after breakfast in bed with my latest read 'The Trial of Fallen Angels', by James Kimmel, Jr., which despite the title isn't as dark as it sounds, I got up and dressed for painting.
I am the messiest painter out there, most of the spare paint somehow lands on me, so I now designate old special paint clothes that I throw out after each job. These days I'm painting the wood ceiling and shelving in my loft, I want to have more light up there all year round. Like any 'have to' jobs I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time getting psyched up, funny actually as I quite like painting. It gives me time to think, ruminate over my week, wrestle with problems or just go off on tangents. There are a few things however that I need to bring with me, first coffee, then water and finally music - to paint I prefer what my sister terms 'bubble gum' music, stuff that I can dance to, stuff from my teen years right up to today and to which I can sing along to as loudly as I wish!!
The music is always upbeat, and allows my mind to jump all over the place - it makes me feel happy. I think of my younger son who cringes at his aunt and myself and our love of this music, at his brother who understands the genius behind those that can create such sounds and my sister who coined the phrase 'bubble gum' music, I can see her dancing in the night!
Today, as I painted I thought of a friend who had contacted me during the week to apologize for not being in touch, personal problems she explained. I had invited her to come over, anytime, we could have a bottle of wine, talk and she could sleep over in one of the kids beds. Her contacting me made me think of how often we don't reach out to others when we have problems. I'm guilty, are you? When I first became a single parent, I told no one that my husband and I had split, other than my family and with the closest relative probably over 10,000 km away it was an expensive conversation any day! I think what stopped me from telling friends was pride and fear of everything, from how would we survive to how would I survive financially? Don't ask me what telling people had to do with any of those and the hundreds of other reasons I had but then I felt there was a connection! Mixed in was also relief, and from that relief a little shame that I would feel so!! How crazy is that? What was actually a good thing for me and my kids, and I told myself that I should feel shameful for feeling relief - sometimes we should smack ourselves for our own foolish self talk. How much easier would life have been, how much less lonely I would have felt if I had confided in others during those years. Instead I closed in on myself. Now I'm not exactly an open book today, but I have learned over the years to reach out
It sounds like that I spent my afternoon thinking somewhat negative deep thoughts, when it was actually lots of fun. As I said I'm painting the ceiling and I have to do it in stages otherwise I get a bit glassy eyed at the thought of doing the whole undercoat at once. So each time I go up there I give myself a certain portion to paint, before I'm allowed to go onto something else - like diving into the books I've taken down from the shelves (I can sort and maybe give away a few). Or check out a new pattern, look at my fabric stash and start imaging what I could make. My challenge is there is so much to play with, and I want to do it all - NOW! So I need to give myself a goal before I move onto something else - a skill I've learned over the years as I get to know myself better. Today, I only stopped because I ran out of paint!
So who do you talk to when you are fearful, or when life kicks you in the knees? Take a look around, there are so many people out there who are willing to help, you just have to ask!
So I'm nearly half way through my chocolate-less month and I have to admit it is as difficult as I thought it would be! Even chocolate covered ginger is out! Plus after visiting the British sweet store in Victoria this week, I have decided that I have to also cut sugar from my diet. This came to me as I happily chewed my way up the Island highway! What was I doing? I didn't consciously decide, but without thinking I was jeopardizing the good I was trying to achieve by cutting out chocolate for a month. What a eijit! (a good descriptive Irish word)
So I've decided that apart my yummy cereal, which is almost all nuts and seeds with a wee bit of honey, I'm cutting out sugar too! I started this on Saturday and so far so good, I've been replacing the candy with fruit not quite the same, but it is working. In the meantime, I've been thinking how funny it is that we do this, we make a decision about changing a habit and then test ourselves consciously or unconsciously by doing something to jeopardize what we are trying to achieve. A book that discusses how habits work and suggests how to change them, is "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. I read it recently and really enjoyed it. It gave me the idea to quit alcohol for the month of January and now chocolate in February. Pressing the reset button!
So as I continue my challenge, let me know what you think.
I've always said that if you are going to eat chocolate, you must eat the best chocolate you can afford! It's the last day of January and I decided to indulge myself with some spectacular chocolate from my friend Christine's shop. Tomorrow I begin my chocolateless month. No temptations please.
So for me, today means tea and chocolate - yum. I have two of my favourites, salted caramels and hazelnut cups, plus a gift from Christine of a lavender and I can't remember what else filled it, it was good too. I'll keep a couple for my tea tonight the rest are gone......
I seem to be talking to a lot of people about Succession Planning and it appears to me that like death and taxes, it's not something people, particularly people at the top of an organization want to think about. Why not? I've come to the conclusion it's a bit like death and taxes, we don't want to think that far ahead, for some it's frightening, a step into the unknown, others think 'why rock the boat', I'll/we'll think about it when we have to.
Who should think about Succession?
I believe that both the Board and the CEO should be responsible for, and worry about Succession and yes, it should begin with a capital, it is that important. There should be both an Emergency plan, for three months or less, and a plan for when it's time for goodbye.
One of the reasons I believe that these conversations are happening now, is the number of changes taking place at the top of many organizations - some have been somewhat clumsy, with games of musical chairs at the top, others seem to have got it right, but have they, how many organizations do you know that after the long tenure of a CEO, there seem to be a number of individuals rotating through the CEO's office over a short period of time. A succession plan can help smooth the transition from one leader to another.
When should we think about Succession planning?
As soon as possible, it's easy to put it off when things are going well, however that's probably the best time to develop your plan? If you're in the middle of transition, or you are playing musical chairs - it is not too late, however you need to start straight away, don't go blindly into picking another leader without being absolutely sure of what/who you are looking for. Some of the questions that should be asked include:
What are the attributes that we are looking for in our next CEO?
How will we go about the search for a new CEO - by ourselves/using a search firm?
What is our timeline?
Time must be spent reviewing who we are and what we are looking for. Each Board orientation/annual review
must include a review of the Succession plan to ensure that it follows the current needs of the organization.
Succession planning is not a once in a while operation, it must be part of Board work and should be part of the Board's fiscal responsibility. It is also important for the Board to have it's own Succession plan, asking who will be following us in guiding our organization? It is also the responsibility of the CEO to ensure that not only does the Board have a CEO Succession plan, but also that she/he has a plan for the organization in the same way - what happens when a key staff member decides to leave, who can carry out those responsibilities while they search for a new colleague.
So if you're serious about Succession planning and need to start, or review your plan, let's talk.
I was invited to the Survivors dinner, Dragonboat Festival, the 11th, over $2 Million raised for diagnostic and operating equipment. I sat at the front and watched as women young and old greeted each other. Some came from down the road, others from flood ridden Calgary. Each of these men and women have a story, each a survivor of Breast Cancer. Some friends from last year weren't able to come, others will never return - they lost their fight. I sat and marvelled at the courage and felt privileged that I for a few hours became part of their fight. They laughed and teased each other, dressed to the nines for the dance competition later - the songs they chose ranging from Swan lake to Stronger inspired by this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaQdwTsVtCY). And me, I was invited to say thank you and what I wanted to do was go away, hide and cry - why? These are incredibly strong women and men, who have battled and are winning their individual fight, why am I so emotional? Is it my ego, am I crying for myself and my fears? I acknowledge that some is fear but what else pushes that button that brings tears? Is it guilt that I have, to date, avoided this disease on my dance card? As I sat and watched these women and men, it occurred to me that I was avoiding the question? I skipped around it, testing, but I don't want to answer, I'm letting my fear take over. There is no big question today, no clever discussion - just a thought - when did you last look at the good in your life and give thanks and love to those around you?
So when do I learn to take my own advice. Returning to full time work this week, I work one six hour day, good; another nine hour day and the third twelve hours, consequently the fourth day I crash! This after major surgery and two months recuperating, why would I do this to myself, particularly when I would advise others to take their time, come back slowly, don't over do it...
Thanks to Jeanie, we had that and another conversation today - what is it that makes us so hard on ourselves, harder, much harder than we would on others. Why is our self talk so cruel, the things we say to ourselves, in our minds, we would never say to family and friends and/or colleagues, the stories we tell ourselves that sabotage our efforts to move forward - so what can we do to change this mindset? One way is to catch ourselves in this negative self talk, reverse it, laugh at ourselves and and ask why? Why did we say that? What was that about? Try it and let me know how you do, me I'm going to rest!
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog