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In This Month’s Issue...

A Note from Liz

It comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but March is not just a month of opposites. It’s also a month of everything-all-at-once (think of Charlie Sheen or Libya).

So it may be a good time to look through a different lens. Shift your focus from small to large and back again — microscope to telescope — or the other way around.

Try changing your view to tackle your work and your life with renewed energy.

Stress Less

The Big Sleep: Perchance to Dream

Got someone or something on your mind, on your nerves, or on your case? Working on self-improvement, self-care, or self-determination?

You’ll cope better if you’ve had a good supply of that most precious of human resources: sleep. No matter how resilient or intelligent you are, when you’re on short sleep rations, both your body and your intellect begin to deteriorate almost immediately.

Healthy adults need between seven and nine hours a night. Assuming you can’t set the alarm to go off any later in the morning, try going to bed 10 minutes earlier each night until you get closer to the ideal.

You’ll be less of a cranky-pants, as we say at my house, and more like a “smarticle particle.” You’ll make fewer mistakes, be less volatile in your reactions, exercise more effectively, lose weight more easily, remember people’s names, stabilize your blood sugar levels…

    …and the list goes on.

Of course, I’m preaching with the zeal of a convert because I got a solid eight hours last night for the first time in months. Maybe I’ll see you soon in Dreamland…

Service Smarts

A Broken Plane Window?

I was waiting for a flight when I heard my name announced. I was booked in First Class on frequent flier miles, and knew, based on past experience, that any change was likely to be bad news.

Luckily, my seat was fine, but the apologetic gate agent handed over a voucher and asked me to get my own breakfast. She didn’t know why, but there was “no catering on board.” It was no big deal, and I wondered if the same problem affected the main cabin and how it was being handled there.

Once in Seat 3C, I arranged my papers for a couple of undisturbed hours of work and reached up to turn on the overhead light. Nothing happened. Fortunately, it was daytime so the cabin was bright enough anyway.

When I visited the restroom, a strip of edging was missing from one of the cabinets. The inch-long, gummy dollops of glue were visible as if someone had squeezed them out and forgotten to press on the plastic cover. I was careful not to brush up against the sticky spots.

None of these deficiencies affected my trip, but they implied a lack of coordination, functionality, and care, and evoked the “broken window” theory: Small problems, left unattended, can be “signals” of larger, as yet undetected and unresolved problems.

Missed details can also be a little worrisome when you discover them six or seven miles above the ground, and you start wondering what else may not have been planned, maintained, or supervised.

Sometimes minor problems are just minor problems. But wouldn’t you rather fly, shop, and spend your time and money where everything seems to be okay?

Management Matters

In Control, Out of Line

As a leader, are you clearly, definitively, absolutely in charge; the source of all power, influence, and reward; and the arbiter of all that is moral and beautiful? Then you’d better get used to a lack of everyone else’s participation in creative, innovative, responsible, or growth-seeking thoughts or actions.

You may feel that the only way to get anything right is to do it all yourself. That’s perfect, if you want things to stay the way they are: tightly controlled and exhausting. Because if you don’t make room for anyone else, you’ll always have to do it all.

If your subordinates don’t have the chance to learn and grow, neither do you. So ask yourself what you really want. Should your staff be able to:

  • Handle your job so you can move on to bigger, more fulfilling opportunities?
  • Accomplish things your business has never done before so you can attract and retain a higher level of customer?
  • Learn new skills and practices that will actually make your life easier?
Use the answers to help you loosen the reins. If you want greater total accomplishment, you have to give away some of your control.

And think about whether you’re pushing your staffers out of the nest early enough for them to strengthen their own wings to fly independently — or if they’re just coasting in your wake. Once they can fly on their own, they may be able to take you along and show you places you wouldn’t otherwise get to see.

One More Thought

To reset your thoughts about thinking, try Jill Bolte Taylor’s remarkable book, My Stroke of Insight. In fascinating detail, Taylor, a neuroanatomist, relates the experience of her own massive stroke and recovery. Her explanations of left-brain/right-brain functioning, and her descriptions of the fleeting quality of emotions (they only last 90 seconds each!), show how we can change the way we think, feel, and respond to whatever the world throws at us.

I hope you’ve found a couple of nuggets of wisdom that you can use in your interesting world. Please let me know if there’s other content you’d like to see featured, and do forward your bit of Workplace Wisdom along to anyone else who could benefit from ideas like these.

Till April, onward and upward,


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