Friday, December 24, 2010

Take the Time to Appreciate

As the holiday season is here, it’s important to take time to reflect on the people in our lives – family, friends, and co-workers – and truly appreciate the things they do for us; whether they are big or small. The positive impact others can have is undeniable, and far too often we neglect to say thanks or express our gratitude.

Appreciation is an important component of building positive relationships. It is not only the third component in our Let’s CHAT! coaching model, introduced in previous posts, but it’s also a key factor of employee engagement. Including appreciation into these models helps remind employers and employees to take the time to be grateful for the contributions and commitments of others, rather than focussing solely on the negative or areas that could use improvement.

Take a moment to reflect on who in your office (or life) has helped you. Who’s an un-sung hero in your workplace that could use some appreciation?

See for some ways to say thanks this season and throughout the year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hope – The Centre of Career Flow / The Message of Christmas

In preparing to write about “hope,” I googled the term. Perhaps not surprisingly, the first “hit” was Wikipedia – it’s worth a quick read. (As an aside, the second “hit” was a beautiful mountain community about an hour away from our head offices – Hope, BC :-)).

In the Wikipedia definition of hope, reference is made to belief in positive outcomes, spiritual grace, agency, and pathways. Very recent research has found hope to be an even better predictor of academic performance than intelligence, personality, or previous academic achievement. My own research demonstrated “optimism” (sometimes defined as having both hope and confidence) to be the best predictor of both career success and job satisfaction. Spencer Niles and Norm Amundson, my co-authors of Career Flow , placed hope at the centre of the model underpinning Career Flow. In other research, hope has also been linked to physical, emotional, and relational healing.

Clearly, hope is important across life arenas, so how can we strengthen it? Diverse professionals (e.g., teachers, nurses, pastors, counsellors) recognize that treating people holistically is important (i.e., instilling hope takes the whole person into account). Hope is also connected to the notion of “worth” – Amundson and others refer to this as “mattering.” Hopeful people know they matter – and this has been affirmed by others in their lives.

Hanukkah was celebrated earlier this month and Christmas is coming at the end of this week. Both spiritual celebrations are linked to hope. Rabbi Moshe Goldman, chaplain at Laurier University, says, “There are all kinds of social pressures that Hanukkah teaches us about. It teaches us about hope, not giving up, not settling.” The Christmas message, too, is centered on hope – the hope of a baby born in poverty but destined to save the world.

What gives you hope – the hope that is central to your career, your health, your faith, and your relationships? For some people, it’s taking time to look back before looking forward – reflecting on accomplishments. For others, it’s setting the past aside and looking ahead to a brighter future – actively working toward goals and dreams. Aristotle said, “Hope is a waking dream” – to bring your dreams to life, consider developing a vision board of words and/or pictures to keep you focussed.

John F. Kennedy cautioned, “We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes.” Try to make time this holiday season to reflect on your dreams, the fears that are holding you back, and a strategy to keep hope alive in 2011.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Gift of Help!

A willing helper does not wait until he is asked
~Danish Proverb

Last week we introduced the Let’s CHAT! model with a brief overview of the first step – Communicate. This week we’ll focus on step two – Help.

Within the Let’s CHAT! model there are two components to Help. The first is What help do you need? The second is What help can you offer? In our experience, individuals tend to focus on one or the other – making “Help” a one-way arrangement.

Think about what’s on your plate or “to-do” list right now. What help do you need? For some, the first step will be to ensure they are willing to seek assistance. Karen Rowinsky wrote an interesting piece on why people are reluctant for ask for help. She noted that some people fear appearing incapable while others believe that everyone else is busy too and, therefore, won’t really have time to help. Read more at: Everything you want to know about help

While thinking about what help you need, also reflect on what help you can offer. Who in your life might need some help – especially this time of year? Perhaps pay special attention to those who might need help but be reluctant to ask. Don’t wait for them to get up the nerve to ask. . . think back to Rowinsky’s article, asking for help can be difficult for many people. Think of offering help as the best you can give this year.

To learn more about Life Strategies’ e-course on the Let’s CHAT! model, see