Make a Difference Monday, Week 49: Balance Your Work Life

My thoughts, based on the Professional Guidance Cards:

Professional Guidance CardsWeek 49: Balance Your Work Life Between Personal and Spiritual Demands

Interestingly, this card came up on a day when my planned blog post was, “Live the Life You Have Imagined: You CAN Get There From Here” – subtitled “How a Jersey Girl Became a Maine-iac and Found Happiness Working in the Cloud” – a post about my journey from “stressed and struggling” to “serene and successful” business owner.

The key to that transformation was achieving balance.

When I moved to a Maine island, it was a conscious decision to change my life. I wasn’t running from anything, but rather to a place where I knew my heart, mind and spirit were always in balance.

It wasn’t an overnight transformation, mind you. I spent a lot of time and effort figuring out how to arrange my business to allow me to work from anywhere – which I now do. Sometimes that means from my sofa or my deck, other times from a seaside perch while my husband photographs gulls or crashing surf. I never put off medical appointments any more or end up running around like a crazy person before a holiday because “work kept me busy until the last minute.” And, frankly, there are many days I simply take the afternoon off and do nothing – nothing but breath the salt-and-pine air, walk around a lake or sit in a gazebo by the bay and let my thoughts wander. It’s good for you – and it’s good for your business to refresh yourself with the things that nourish your soul!

Whatever it is that nourishes you, I urge you to make time for it in your life, at least several times a week.

This week’s intention:

I will keep in mind the need for rest, play, entertainment, hobbies, interests and interaction with nature and make time each and every day to pursue at least one of these other parts of myself, for I know these things refresh and reinvigorate me and lead to greater clarity, creativity and calm.

What is your intention this week, in keeping with this theme?

Please comment here and also add to the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeADifferenceMonday

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Make a Difference Monday, Week 48: Empowering Others Empowers You

My thoughts, based on the Professional Guidance Cards:

Professional Guidance CardsWeek 48: Empowering Others Empowers You

Most business people – owners, managers, sales professionals – probably consider themselves to be competitive. And competing ideas and strategies can be a very good thing for business as a whole.

It’s when we compete with another human being by trying to crush them emotionally or destroy their reputation that we end up on the wrong side of the professional ethics argument. No matter how long I am in business or how many different types of people I am exposed to, I am still shocked when a person reveals him- or herself to be so viciously competitive that they are willing to destroy another human being to achieve their ends.

The alternative, of course, is the mature realization that another’s talents and ideas are no threat to you, that our unique gifts allow there to be collaboration and win-win scenarios and mutual success. And out of that realization comes the ability – in fact, the willingness – to empower others with encouragement, a kind word, or a request for their input or feedback. Making someone else feel good makes you feel good, too.

This week’s intention:

I am aware that empowering others is a gratifying act that nourishes my soul, and I will look for ways in all of my business dealings and communications to give to others without restrictions or agendas.

What is your intention this week, in keeping with this theme?

Please comment here and also add to the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeADifferenceMonday

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Make a Difference Monday, Week 47: The Tongue Has Power – Don’t Abuse It

My thoughts, based on the Professional Guidance Cards:

The Tongue Has Power - Don't Abuse ItWeek 47: The Tongue Has Power – Don’t Abuse It

It is said that an unkind word can cut like a knife. In the workplace, as in the rest of your life, it is easy to fall into negative chatter about others. It’s not necessary that you start it, just that you participate in it, in order to fall short of your highest and best self. I remember, years ago, remaining silent as a good friend and colleague’s professional reputation was being called into question by some gossipy people at a trade organization meeting. To this day, I cringe when I think of what I didn’t do. And I made a vow to myself immediately after that I would never let that happen again.

There are three ways to go when you find yourself in a situation where someone is being attacked. You can come right out and defend the individual. You can directly say that the talk is making you uncomfortable. Or you can walk away from the situation, indicating in a more subtle way that you will not be a participant in trashing someone else. While the third option is not as empowering as the first two, it should be your absolute baseline. It’s the least I should have done in the situation I found myself in, and I still regret it.

This week’s intention:

As an empathetic person, I will not only not speak ill of another but will also encourage others to refrain from doing so. I know that my true character is revealed by how I behave when in a situation that makes me uncomfortable; therefore, I will follow my better instincts and rise to my highest and best self, refusing to be a part of this kind of negative and destructive behavior.

What is your intention this week, in keeping with this theme?

Please comment here and also add to the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeADifferenceMonday

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Make a Difference Monday, Week 46: Make Decisions with Determination and Justice

My thoughts, based on the Professional Guidance Cards:

Week 46: Make Decisions with Determination and Justice

What is justice, really? We may love justice in the abstract, but a real-world definition may be harder to come by. It is important to clearly define justice for ourselves so that it can be a guiding factor in ethical decision-making.

Making decisions based on honor and integrity elevates not only how others regard you but your self-esteem, as well.

This week’s intention:

I will strive to be aware of my decision-making process because my actions can affect others, and my intention is to be not only decisive but also fair and compassionate.

What is your intention this week, in keeping with this theme?

Please comment here and also add to the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeADifferenceMonday

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Make a Difference Monday, Week 45: Success is Not a Dirty Word

My thoughts, based on the Professional Guidance Cards:

Week 45: Success is Not a Dirty Word

With all the news outlets seemingly focused on the “Occupy” movement, this week’s Professional Guidance Card may seem particularly relevant.

And while the complaints about “big business” may have, at their heart, an understandable grievance, it also seems to me that some seek to unfairly malign business and success in general.

As individual entrepreneurs and business people, most of us seek to do well while also doing good. Of course we are in business to create a profit; that is how we keep roofs over our heads and food on the table for our families – and provide opportunity for our employees, suppliers and other associates.

Even if some of our fellow business professionals are also able to buy second homes, yachts and exotic vacations, doing so does not make one a “bad” person. Truly, success is NOT a dirty word.

Where we can “go off the rails” is by pursuing financial success at the expense of others or putting profits above all else.

The thing to remember is this: The more you succeed, the more opportunities come your way – and that includes the chance to help other people along the way.

This week’s intention:

I will embrace success as the rightful result of my efforts, while seeking opportunities to help others achieve success of their own.

What is your intention this week, in keeping with this theme?

Please comment here and also add to the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeADifferenceMonday

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Make a Difference Monday, Week 44: Holding a Grudge Makes You the Victim

My thoughts, based on the Professional Guidance Cards:

Week 44: Holding a Grudge Makes You the Victim

“Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting it to hurt the other person.”

Were truer words ever spoken?

Sadly, I personally know people who have gone literally years barely speaking a word to one another, harboring hurts and slights as if they were food in a famine. The reality, of course, is that holding onto that pain was starving them – starving them of nurturing relationships, a positive outlook, and happiness itself. You cannot be a truly happy individual when so much of your energy is going toward reliving hurtful incidents over and over, without end.

In a work environment, these bad feelings can often stem from colleagues jockeying for “position” or a dysfunctional relationship with someone either higher or lower on the org chart than yourself. In a perfect world, every employer and every manager would take a good, long look at their organization and objectively determine who within the group could use some counseling on how to be part of a harmonious workplace. But we don’t live in that world so, for most of us, it is up to us to create the workplace we want to inhabit.

Every glance, every word, every thought you have is a form of energy. Energy is power – the power to create harmony or discord. What are you creating today?

This week’s intention:

I will withdraw any connection I may have or begin to have with negative relationships, letting them go willingly and purposefully, in order to allow the free flow of positive and creative energy in my life.

What is your intention this week, in keeping with this theme?

Please comment here and also add to the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MakeADifferenceMonday

Here’s more information on Make a Difference Monday