Living the Reiki Way with Kindness

I’ve been working on a piece which I’ve yet to post and then I read this from my Reiki God Derek and thought – you all need to see this one too. Thanks Derek!

Healey Institute for Healers

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Kindness should be a no-brainer in this line of work, but unfortunately I have met some pretty nasty “Reiki Practitioners.” Which is just sad.

But with every profession, there are always going to be a few rotten tomatoes, which is just something you have to shrug off, laugh at, and send energy to. 

With all my studies and practices, especially as a pacifist and animal lover/vegetarian, I take this one extra seriously, more so than my views on “Diligence.” 

I have come to realize that there is “no place for prejudice, harsh judgment, cruelty, or indifference in a world where we are all connected, all a part of the whole, and all one.” Everyone and thing has a vital role to play and obviously be valued, respected, and treated with kindness. 

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Kindness in my opinion, is not only the concept of compassion for oneself and others, but of all sentient…

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Mindfulness – Just Do It

It’s hard to pick up any business journal today without seeing something about Mindfulness. Yet many of us have no idea what it is or how to get started.  We think we have to find teachers or read journals or take some sort of class.  In fact, throughout your journey, you may need to do some of those things, but to get started, I’d recommend the Nike approach – Just Do It!

OK – so if we are to Just Do it – what are we actually doing?  Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment – in this moment – right here, right now.  You may be thinking – OK – I can do that – I am present in every moment.  I’d challenge you to think about the last time that you were doing just one thing at a time.  Take a moment and see if you can find that memory of when you were truly doing only one thing, not multitasking, not thinking about the 5 things you need to do later today, not talking with someone and at the same time thinking through what you need to do at your next meeting – just doing one thing.  If you are like I was, it’s going to be pretty darn hard to put your finger on the last time you were doing just one thing.

One way to get started is to simply breath all the way in and as you are doing it notice the air coming into your lungs, filling your body with life-giving oxygen.  Now breathe out and notice the degree to which you empty your lungs.  Do you empty them all the way or just partially before you take that next breathe?  In these last few moments, you’ve been mindful.  You’ve done one thing and only one thing at a time.  You’ve been present.  Congratulations!

Now the trick is to do that in everything that you do.  Whether it is eating, exercising, sitting in a meeting, talking with a colleague, or sitting at a red light. Funnily enough, I used to tend toward road rage, always wanting people to get out of my way.  Didn’t they know that I had places to be?  That I was an important person?  My, how times have changed.  Now I know that the red light I am sitting and waiting for has put me exactly where I need to be at that moment in time and all is well.  I breathe in as I sit at the light and grab a moment of peace.  I have to tell you that I am happier and calmer these days.  I find that I am able to feel more deeply and think more clearly and that has improved my relationships.

Why be mindful in a business setting?  I found that by focusing on the one thing that needed my attention at a particular moment in time, that not only was I much more effective, but that everyone around me felt good about the interactions and that helped them be more effective.  Imagine a scenario when an employee comes to tell you something.  For them, it may be a big deal to be in your office sharing something with you.  Meanwhile, you focus about 1/5 of your energy on them and 4/5’s on the next task.  They feel this and even though your words may be appropriate, the interaction feels flat and leave with an unsettled feeling.  In a mindful interaction, you focus 5/5 of your attention on them and when they leave they feel truly valued and you feel very connected.  This is true even when you need to discuss difficult issues.

It is much easier to say that you will be mindful than it is to be mindful.  I suggest you have compassion for yourself as you embark on this part of your life journey.  Our habits have made mindfulness a fleeting hope and only practice will make mindfulness the core of our existence.  Celebrate the little journeys along the way.  If you are mindful, even for a moment each day, then you are moving in the right direction.

UN Global Compact on Women’s Empowerment Principles – Grit & Grace

Did you ever have a few days that challenged your point of view? I recently had two of those days. Marie Jordan (@Marie_jordan1) and I (@CWarren_SG) were fortunate enough to have tickets to a conference sponsored by the UN Global Compact on Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP). http://weprinciples.org/ Hillary Clinton was set to keynote the two day event while Geena Davis would close it. How could one say no to that? It didn’t hurt that the first day of the event was held at the UN with full, real-time translation; something I hadn’t experienced since the 90s when I was working in Peru. It’s a special feeling to be in the company of highly intelligent, passionate people from around the world, knowing you will hear their thoughts, in their words. Sitting in stadium style, posh seating made for a very comfortable way to engage on these crucial issues.

If you want this blog in pdf, click on the link:  UN Global Compact on Women’s Empowerment Principles EssayUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon started the two day session by acknowledging that gender equity would only become a reality if the private sector worked tirelessly alongside governments, the UN, and civil society. His commitment was clear. After his remarks, he warmly welcomed the former First Lady and former Secretary of State and in his words, future President of the US.

The honorable Hillary Clinton, longtime champion of women’s rights, shared many facts to rev up the crowd. Men and women who understand that gender equality is “not just morally right but the smart thing to do” are growing in numbers. Did you know that achieving gender parity in the US would result in a 10% growth in GDP? Pretty powerful information for an issue that has often been pushed off Board room agendas and relegated as a soft, non-business issue. She said, “The unfinished business of the 21st century is achieving gender parity and I look forward to when we can say it’s done.” She talked about the fact that she is a grandmother and related that her mother was born before women had the right to vote, saying she was made of “Grit and Grace”. That imagery pervaded the two days as speakers found kinship with the sentiment and allowed the image to continue to form in all our hearts.

Joe Keefe, President and Chief Executive Office of Pax World Fund was the co-chair of the event and eloquently shared his perspective on why WEPs are crucial to the 21st century. He and his firm are so serious about them, that they’ve created a women’s empowerment index fund consisting of companies who have signed the global compact. The theory is that companies who have achieved gender parity will have better financial performance and therefore should be invest-ed in. Attracting businesses to the discussion by providing business cases seemed to resonate throughout the stadium hall.

Stories were shared that afternoon, poignant and truly life changing for women in remote places.

The one that resonated most with me was shared by Gustavo Pérez Berlanga; who is the Corporate Social Responsibility VP at Toks, a restaurant chain based in Mexico which has 130+ restaurants nationwide and over 10,000 employees. He saw the toll that was taken on women in remote villages when their men had to go far away for work; leaving them in poverty to raise the children. Often their husbands would have only a few weeks off at Christmas, but be gone the rest of the year. Inevitably, they would send money home for a few weeks or months post the Christmas visit and then stop sending the life giving pesos. Berlanga wanted to find a way to em-power these women and raise the standard of living for them and their children, but how? He decided to get out in the field and truly listen to these women, to hear their stories and better under-stand their needs from their perspectives. What he heard? We need money and we need it now, before we produce one thing! Imagine this businessman listening to these rural women who’ve plucked up the courage to tell him exactly what they need and when he hears it, knows that it’s something that traditionally no business would do. But what does Berlanga do? He took a calculated risk, paid the women up front and in his words, went to church to pray! He believes in them and wants them to succeed. The women got their first contract to make jam, in fact more jam than they’ve made in their lives and in less time than they’ve ever made it. They produced 800 jars and unbeknownst to them, Toks checked the quality on every one and found it exemplary! This begins a long term relationship that has fundamentally changed the future for these women, their children and their families. Berlanga has found a way to bring gender parity to rural Mexican women in a place and in a way that most would have decried “Impossible” and walked away. Talk about inspirational!!
The Australians are, yet again, far ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to taking concrete action to achieve gender parity. Liz Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner shared a ground breaking approach to making gender equity a reality in the coming years. She literally called up the top 25 CEOs in Australia and asked them to come discuss the business case for gender parity. What unfolded after that has been nothing short of remarkable and provides a strong platform for others to launch their own initiatives without having to learn all the lessons on their own. These CEOs, all men, are making history and are often found asking, “50/50, if not, why not?” and then taking action. Can you imagine? There is so much we can learn from their journey. Hearing Liz tell the tales was poignant and inspiring. She shared that the first four months was therapy for the CEOs who were coming to terms with the issue and realizing the situation was not good and at the same time learning a new language, the second four months was looking critically at the situation, and then it was on to action planning and making a true difference. Want to know more? Visit http://malechampionsofchange.com/.
Germany’s powerhouse, Manuela Schwesig, discussed the new law requiring companies to have 30% women senior execs and management personnel. Today, there is a 22% pay gap be-tween men and women in Germany. This new, hard won law will start to change the economics and bring gender equity in Germany and may serve as the forerunner for the rest of the European Union.
Sallie Krawcheck, formerly CFO at big firm names such as SmithBarney and Merrill Lynch, now leads Ellevate, an organization for women to connect and use their collective buying power. She shared that a women’s #1 reason for accepting a job is meaning & purpose, while men’s is money. Most women, while they need the baseline pay, are not as motivated by money and their focus on what matters most to them is starting to increase that baseline pay. Women are now starting twice the number of new businesses as men and the basis for their businesses are meaning and purpose. I’m betting they won’t have the same issues traditional businesses have with attracting and retaining women.
You may know this, but I did not. When an under represented group reaches 33% of the population, it has a voice. When women are often only 17-18% of the population, they have no voice. If you want to set metrics, % of population is a good one to track. Measure what you treasure.
The second day of the conference offered numerous opportunities to network, participate in workshops, and hear more amazing success stories. Participating in the unconscious bias work-shops gave me a chance to explore my own biases; we all have bias and they are not good or bad – they just are. It’s really important to know what yours biases are and to notice them in different situations so you can actively choose how you want to respond instead of going on autopilot. The workshop offered a way to test your bias at the Diverseco website (https://businessiats.diverseo.com/contracts/12) . I encourage you to better understand yourself and take control of your decisions.
The two days went swiftly by and before we knew it, Geena Davis was arriving. How lucky was I? Pretty lucky as she sat right next to me for a few moments as she finalized her speech and made her way up to the podium. What an impactful woman! She really is as bright and beautiful as she looks on screen and she is making a difference for women everywhere. Her media institute spent countless hours reviewing films from a gender perspective. What’d they found was stunning, not only to them, but to studios across America. When they analyzed crowd scenes, women represented about 17% of the population. Shockingly, in real life, that is about the percentage of women lawyers, congresswomen, engineers….and the list goes on. Is real life imitating the big screen? What if, just by fixing the gender equity on screen, the gender inequity in real life was accelerated towards parity? Well, Geena and her team intend to find out as they make studios aware of the inequity we will have to watch this space and see what happens!
Geena also shared another shocking fact. As you may recall, she played the first woman president on TV a few years back. In fact there were 19 episodes of her show and as a direct result of that show, 60% of the American population now can picture a woman being president! She had the good fortune to talk with the president of Iceland, a woman, who shared with her that she received letters from little boys asking if she thought that one day they could be president?! So I say – Geena – keep up the good work!
I’m proud to work for a company and a CEO, Steve Holliday, who has signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles. I can see the principles in play at National Grid (www.nationalgrid.com) on a daily basis and I’m proud to be part of a leadership team that puts them into action. 34% of our engineers are women and I can now say that they have a legitimate voice since we are more than 33% of the population! 36% of the U.S. executive team are women and yes, we have a voice. I hope that you too are proud to work at National Grid!

Attending the UN Global Compact on Women's Empowerment Principles
Attending the UN Global Compact on Women’s Empowerment Principles

Impact on Others

Have you ever been “worked up” about an issue?  You hear about it, think about it, and then get upset about it?  Do you ever think about how your reaction is received by others?  You should.

On this particular day, I had gotten up early and made a big effort to get in touch with a colleague to make sure that he was supported and that we were aligned about an agenda that was being developed for use the next day with our executive team.  We both had a lot at stake as did some other colleagues.  We had a great conversation, agreed a way forward, and agreed roles and responsibilities for all parties that were going to present on the day.  I felt great about it and told him so and told him that I would be “out-of-pocket” until that evening on other work commitments.  I let him know that I would get back to the office around 5:30 PM and would come to see him.

I then had a super day at the other commitment and drove 3 hours back to the office.  I was feeling great!  Normally, I would have gone home as it was after hours, but I had made a commitment to my colleague and I intended to keep it.  I arrived back at the office and saw the work product that had been  produced during the day.  Guess what?  It bore no resemblance to the  things we had discussed that morning and furthermore, it was no longer positioned for success with the executive team.  Now we were T-12 hours until the event and all the executives were lined up to attend.

Pressure?  Concern?  Annoyance?  Yep!  All of those and more.  How on earth did it get so far away from where we needed to go?  I was still committed to stay as late as we needed to stay to get it fixed.

So, I went to see my colleague.  I opened with, “I have concerns about this agenda and I’m not sure how we got here.”  I was also feeling a little “put out”.  How do you think that went?  He’d been working all day on the product.  He had worked with other leaders to develop the new agenda and was under pressure.  He also knew in his heart, that he had not hit the mark with the agenda and was feeling more than a little insecure about that.

So – you guessed it.  It did not go very well.  It’s not that my intent was wrong, but the delivery sure didn’t get the outcome I desired.

All I wanted to do was to fix the agenda and have a very successful day.  My opening, did not at all achieve my desired outcome.  I did not start with, “wow – looks like you’ve made a lot of progress today.  I want you to know that I am committed to working with you as long as it takes to polish this agenda.”  If I had done that, he wouldn’t have thought that I was going to dump a night of work on him to prepare for the next day.  He wouldn’t have been uncertain about whether that work would hit the mark.

So, what did I do?  I quickly realized that my intent was not apparent to him.  I took a step back and said, “I will be here as long as it takes to get the agenda to a place we can all agree will position us for success tomorrow.  Let’s regroup in 30 minutes and we can get the other leaders who are still in the building to help craft it.”  That took the heat out of the conversation.  It made him realize that I valued him and his work and that I was there to support.  It allowed him to cool down and it allowed others to participate in the success.

A group of us worked on it until 8 PM and it was reshaped.

He came to me later and apologized for the way he reacted and noted that we both always have the same agenda – which is do the best we can!  That won’t happen every time, but I realized, that in every interaction, if I can try to put myself in the other person’s shoes before I begin the conversation, then we can some to a better place without having angst in the middle.

The next day the kickoff was a huge success!!  At the break I told him what a great job he was doing with the master of ceremonies role.  We have a stronger relationship for the honest conversation.

EQ – How’d you get started?

Thanks to my sister-in-law, Tracey, for asking another question.  She wanted to know, how did I learn about EQ?  Did I read a book or articles or what?

Well, I can honestly say that I have learned about EQ over time.  In the beginning, I knew could feel somethings but didn’t have a name for them.  I read articles and snippets in books, but EQ still wasn’t real.  Then more time passed and I could touch parts of EQ.  I could sense when interactions with some people didn’t go the way I wanted them to, but I didn’t have all the tools necessary (and still don’t as it takes a life time for most of us!!) to really put all the pieces into play.  The biggest help for me, was talking with other people and discussing situations. When you talk about things, it brings some of the non-verbal realities to life and allows you to examine them in a more fruitful manner and then take action when necessary.

For me, my executive coach who is a lovely person, really helped to translate EQ.  She crystallized the concepts into words and helped me develop a lexicon for emotions and EQ.  For me, it really helped to get the language down so I could begin to express it to others.  Some of you reading this will already have the words and you will be further along on your journey.  I encourage you to share with others.  For those of use who don’t have them, we need your help.

So, my advice to you – talk with other people.  Find people who you can test out your thinking and your actions to see how things work.  You may need to tune up your reception skills and it helps if you have a friend who will let you experiment without getting his/her feelings hurt!

April 2013

Well, I was off to a rousing start with the New Year’s resolution.  Right, now four months have passed a life continues to rocket by.  So, today is the day to add another post.  Co-Creation happens in lots of ways.  One way is by reaching out and giving to others.  The simple act of kindness embedded in sharing something you know with someone else is a form of co-creation.

This week, I spoke at the Tech Valley Series for Empowering Women Annual Symposium (sponsored by http://www.renscochamber.com/) with four amazing women.  Linda Hillman, who is very much like Katie Couric, led Barbara Hess from SEFCU and Mary Alice Russo and I through a hard-hitting 1.5 hour long panel in front of a 150 strong, mostly female, audience.  I was very proud to share the stage with them.  Barbara is an introvert, Mary Alice is a “bad girl” and I’m the extrovert.

I shared many stories that range from My Mother the women who doesn’t know the word “can’t” to A beginner’s guide to EQ to Confidence the double-edged sword to Howard and Heide, don’t I know it to A mentor’s advice – You can do it and Learning through Adversity.   I’ve paraphrased them below and added a bit more color to some.  I hope they help you in some way and that they lead to some co-creation between us.

Stories

My Mother the women who doesn’t know the word “can’t”

It was never a question that I could do anything I wanted to.  My mother doesn’t have a prejudiced bone in her body and she just naturally raised us that way.  If I said I wanted to be President of the USA, then that was what I wanted and she would help me.  She believes that all things are possible if you just try and her life is certainly proof of that.

We didn’t have a lot of money.  My dad worked for the power company and my Mom was a nurse.  There were three of us; me, my brother who is 2 years and 5 days younger than me and my sister who is 10 years younger than me.

When I was growing up, all the cool kids wore Lee and Levi jeans to school, but we had to wear the Sears brand, toughskins.  We always begged for the cooler brands, but we just didn’t have the money.  And yet, somehow my mother scrapped together enough money to buy an Apple IIe for us.  She knew the world was changing and that we would not be irreparably harmed by wearing toughskins, but that our future’s just might depend on us having a computer.  Boy was she right!  It certainly changed my life and fueled a passion in me that is alive and well to this day.  I am a self-described geek with 8 computers, one being water cooled!  Learning to code at a young age with not much memory (RAM) taught me essential skills that I have used throughout my life.  How she scraped together that money, I’m sure I will never know the full details, but I do know for sure that she did without a lot to make it happen.

Fast forward 10 years…  When my mother graduated from high school, girls had two career choices: nurse or teacher.  My Mom wanted to do something in technology, but no way were her parents or society going to allow that in the 1960’s!  So, after I completed my BS Electrical Engineering degree from Union College in the 1980’s, she decided it was time for her to live her dreams.  She went to Union and achieved a BS Mechanical Engineering degree while working nights as a nurse, being a single Mom and raising my sister!  She got a job at Knolls Atomic Power Lab where she worked until she retired.

A beginner’s guide to EQ

Linda kindly threw me the opportunity to explain EQ to the audience.  I told them that it was about your head, your heart and your gut.  It was about understanding where others are coming from when you listen to those three things and then make an active choice to walk toward someone and affirm the things that they need affirmed to feel value.  I said that it was about understanding that when someone is insecure, the way you approach them is fundamentally different.  I shared that had gotten the feedback- “you are too smart and have too much energy”.  At first I felt like, well what the hell do you want me to do about that?!  But then I got my coach and began to learn about what that really meant.  The fact is, I love to think.   I’m so happy thinking all these big thoughts, but while I was thinking, I was missing what others were actually feeling.   Sometimes when I would start a conversation and hit them with…idea, linked to a new idea, linked to a new idea and so on – that people felt overwhelmed.  I now try to focus on how others are receiving me and try to make sure that I am dealing with them in a way they like to be dealt with. I can tell you, it’s alot more productive and everyone feels good about the interaction.

Confidence, the double-edged sword

So – yep – I’m the one.  I’m that person who was born confident, whose parents encouraged the confidence, whose early mentors applauded the confidence and here I am today as confident as can be.  I don’t even have to open my mouth for you to know that I am confident.  I vibrate at a frequency that you automatically pick up and you just know it.  Many would say, “Isn’t that great!  You must always get what you want.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  One of my mentors, Jim Burke, told me early in my career that your good points are your bad points.  If you think about it, if you were to over exercise a muscle and not exercise the surrounding muscles, what happens?  That one strong muscle pulls the others out-of-place and causes havoc.  Ask me, I know, I pulled my knee caps out of track and lost my air force scholarship.  That’s a story for another day.

So, what actually happens when you are confident as I am?  Well those who are just as confident love me.  They like to hang out, ask my advice, feel free to give me there thoughts, and they feed off my energy and it’s a great experience.  But guess what?  I’m in the 99th percentile for confidence and the rest of the world doesn’t feel this way.  For those on the opposite end of the spectrum, the insecure, they hate or fear me for just breathing.  I don’t have to do anything, just breath, and in their minds I am a threat to be eliminated.  In my early career, I had one woman who hated or feared me so much that I used to walk down different corridors at work so I wouldn’t run into her.  It felt like anytime she saw me, she  would go out of her way to think of bad things and then do them to me.  I’ve always been scared of her because at that age, I had no idea why she treated me the way she did.

I knew she was insecure, but it wasn’t until many years later that I learned how to deal with that issue.  This is where EQ, emotional intelligence, really comes into play.  I’m the confident one, so I have to be the bigger person and put my pride on the side, recognize that my normal way of interacting makes her feel bad, and then I have to work out the root causes of her insecurity.  Using that knowledge, I can affirm her in the way that she needs affirmation and therefore open the door so we can do the business we need to do.  Easy?  No.  Worth it.  Yes!

Howard and Heide – A Harvard Case Study

I told the story of how Harvard had done a case study where Heide had done some phenomenal work.  Harvard wanted to test gender biases and so they gave half the class the case study and attributed the work to Howard.  The other half of the class got the same exact material and was told Heide did the work.  The students all agreed that the work was exemplary.  The instructors then asked how they felt about each Howard and Heide.  Howard was seen to be a cool guy, one you wanted to work with and for.  Heide, not so much.  She was seen as hard to work with and for, a bitch a person you didn’t want to hang out with.  I see this happen every day.  It’s a reality, but understanding this phenomenon can help you navigate situations. Want to know more, read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. (http://www.amazon.com/Lean-Women-Work-Will-ebook/dp/B009LMTDL0/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1367093778&sr=8-1&keywords=lean+in) or get the Harvard Business Review case study.

A mentor story – You can Do it.

When I first went to work at PTI, I couldn’t believe how amazing it was.  I was one of the first two people ever hired directly out of college.  Tom Short was the other one.  He’s amazing!  You can check out a little about his career at (www.linkedin.com/pub/tom-short/38/6a8/258).

Everyone else had 10 year+ experience.  One of the first summers, I had an opportunity to go to Florida where we built a mock power system and then fired rockets to attract lightning under the direction of Phil Barker.  From the research, we redesigned lightning protection for power systems. I had two minor jobs: 1) collect the data from the 8 Nicolet oscilloscopes and analyze it and 2) collect the rockets from the gator, snake and spider infested fields!  I also did a lot of work in electric reliability including writing simulation programs, doing studies around the world from Bogota to Australia,  and testing new theories.

So, now to the mentoring moment…  My boss, the industry legend Jim Burke, know the value of IEEE and of publishing.  In those days, you would prepare the paper, and then it would be submitted to the industry for peer review through the IEEE.  If it passed, you had to present the paper at a conference and the audience would ask hard questions.  Needless to say, that was petrifying for a young engineer.  Jim came to me one day and said I needed to write-up my work.  I did.  When it came time to present, I was preparing like crazy and I was scared.  He said,

You can do this!  You know more about the subject than any of them do – you did the research.  I’m betting there isn’t a question you can’t answer.  I’ll be in the audience so on the off-chance one comes you can’t answer, I’ll be there. 

I want you to think about something else, how do you think they put their pants on in the morning?  One leg after the other – just like you.  Now go present it!

Having the safety net of Jim in the audience and yet being up on stage on my own gave me a new confidence!  I did!  After that, I was much less sacred and today I have 38 published papers and I was the youngest person ever and only woman to win the IEEE PES Excellence in Power Distribution Award for my contribution to electric reliability (http://www.ieee-pes.org/pes-past-award-recipients#excellence).

Learning through adversity

I wasn’t sure how I would manage to go to college.  As I’ve already said, we didn’t have much money.  I knew I could go to a community college and had applied to HVCC as a safety school, but I wanted more.  I’ve been super lucky to have mentors and champions throughout my life.  When I was in high school I was in the Girl Scouts.  My leader, Maxine McVery, was a recruiter for the 109th Tactical Air Guard in Schenectady, NY.  She encouraged me to apply for an Air Force scholarship.  The deal was, you drilled every week on Tuesday’s and did a two-week stint in the summer of your sophomore year and they paid for tuition and books.  In return you gave them a four-year term of service.  GREAT!  I wanted to fly the space shuttle or at least be in the space program.  And, with the scholarship I would be able to attend Union College!  So this sounded perfect!

I applied and didn’t hear and didn’t hear and pretty soon it was time to go to school.  I had been accepted at Union and I asked Maxine if she thought it would come.  She was beavering away trying to work out what had happened.  She knew I should have qualified.  The mystery was finally solved through her efforts – it was the 80s – computer’s were relatively new – they had accidentally entered me in the system twice, so to get rid of the duplicate entry – they killed me!!!  I was legally dead for 6 months.  Who knew?!

So – it was October of my freshman year and all was well with the world.  Fast forward to my Junior year and I was training for marathons.  I still didn’t have any money, but I had an old pair of sneakers and two feet.  So I decided to run marathons.  I was running and running and as it turns out, I am a pronator, which means I naturally step on the outside of my feet.  Well, running as much as I was, I pulled my knee caps out of track.  So, each Tuesday I would report to RPI for my AFROTC duty and report on my medical status: doctor appointments, progress, medication, etc.  One Tuesday, I reported for duty and reported the medication I had taken and that it made me sick so I hadn’t taken any more.  Turns out it was on a list of meds that could not be taken by people in the air force and the following Tuesday I was discharged on a medical.

WOW – that really puts life into perspective.  In a matter of a moment, my ability to attend college was in jeopardy, the career I was shooting for was over, and I had to figure it out, because I still didn’t have any money!  I almost didn’t graduate because I had difficulty digging up financial aid and loans, but finally it all came together and I gathered enough money to finish.  I also found a new career because I had to find a new summer job.  I worked at GE for the summer and fell in love the power engineering!

Feedback from the day

I got the nicest compliment from my sister and it has lit a long-lasting fire of goodness inside me.  She said that she never knew what EQ was and that when I described it she knew exactly what I was talking about.  She said that for the last 8 years that she could feel me doing that with her.  When we were younger she felt that I always walked on by her, but that now she feels that I walk with her and that I make her feel safe.  She referenced our trip to Cozumel in 2006 and how she did so many more things that she would have ever done, including SCUBA diving because she felt safe and supported with me.  WOW!!!

She is 10 years younger than I am and she said she learned a lot about me.  I hadn’t even thought about that fact that she was a child when many of the formative events in my life happened.  She knew I was in the Air Force, but not the circumstances behind why I wasn’t commissioned.  She didn’t know that I almost didn’t graduate as a function of losing my AF ROTC scholarship.

My sister also said that my words really lifted my Mother up and made her cry.  She’s been having a tough time recently as my Aunt has been ill and died on Friday, my Grandmother (her mother) has been ill and living with her, and her husband has Parkinson’s disease.  In hind sight, I’m not sure my mother knew that I felt that way.  Odd how sometimes you take things for granted that you shouldn’t.

One of my colleagues at work came up to me after the event and said, “When you were speaking I thought wow, she really does know how her confidence affects others”.  He was really glad he had come to the session.

Another woman who is in the construction industry came and said my words really resonated with her, especially the discussion on confidence.

I met another woman who said, “I never thought about where other women were coming from.  If someone didn’t talk I thought they were a b1tch, but now I think they might just be shy”

So – THANK YOU Linda Hillman for giving me the opportunity to co-create with the so many people in the capital district area!  Thanks to Mary Alice Russo and Barbara Hess for sharing the stage.

Co-Creation

Welcome readers!  I’ve been meaning to start this blog for a long time.  New Year’s Day seem an appropriate time to start something new, a resolution of sorts.  So here it is.

I got really turned on to co-creation in 2010.  I was so lucky to be in the right place at the right time and I got to meet an extraordinary human being; Dr. David Copperrider.  He was working with top executives at my place of business.  This very unassuming man, of small stature, was talking about Appreciative Inquiry, a technique he developed a few decades ago.  He was explaining how using the positive in everything we do can pay huge dividends in life and in business.  Patiently, he gave example after example of how using the positive to ask the right business question had made substantial differences to world religion, the US Navy, the UN, Wal-Mart, Dealer Tire and the list goes on and on.

Well, he had me at the positive, at asking the positive question and building on successes.  He made the statement, “Life is not a problem to be solved”, yet what has traditional business methodology taught us?  Identify the problem, find creative ways to solve it and then look for the next problem.  When you see life as a problem, you are perpetually stuck as a hammer looking for a nail.  David changed all that for me.

More to come on Appreciative Inquiry and why I think it’s one of the keys to unlocking innovation.