A tribute to working mothers

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Yes, I do realize this is not Mother’s Day Weekend coming up. However, I have been impacted this week by my discussions with our working mother coworkers.  I have spoken to at least ten just this week that expressed the challenges – not complaints – of being everything at work, yet caring for their loved ones.  Not one of these wonderful women expressed regrets and each one expressed their love for their children and the lives they have.  I truly admire each of you that work so hard to balance doing your best work in both phases of your lives.  Today, we pay tribute and give our thanks to you!

Yesterday on The Porch, I spoke of our destiny and how we have an opportunity to shape it. As parents, we know and understand that a significant part of our destiny and our ultimate legacy is embedded in our children and our grandchildren.  The legacy we leave can impact, literally, generations forward.  Ladies, please feel honored for what you are doing to pour your lives – the very best you have – into those future generations.  You are shaping the world and making a difference every single day.

Sure, you sometimes….

  • Feel frustrated when the “big meal of the day” is a burger and fries from a fast food shop once again
  • Wonder when that day will come when your children tell you how blessed they are to have you
  • Wish for once that that non-working mother down the street could have your schedule for just one week – would she still shake her head when she sees you flying out of the house late again?
  • Hate the fact that your car floorboard has more than a large order of fries bouncing around
  • Regret having to take your baby to the sitter with a dirty diaper for the third time this week
  • Would like, just once, to sleep for 12 hours uninterrupted by crying, bad dreams, or an alarm clock
  • Think you might be the only mother that ever tells her teenagers “no” on anything
  • Wonder why you even have a TV or bought that new book or keep paying for Netflix – you never have time for any of them
  • Wish you could stay late or come in early to finish a project, but you will just try to fit it in after the kids are asleep or get up at 3am to get it done
  • Think you should eat better, but you feel satisfied to just eat what’s available when you can squeeze it in
  • Feel guilty when you can’t tuck your child in at night because you have to travel again
  • Wish that men shared more of the burden, cared more for you, or appreciated the personal sacrifices you make each day
  • Think that time will never move fast enough
  • Believe only your teenagers must have a dress code
  • Remember those days when you could go out with your husband or girlfriends without feeling you needed to hurry home
  • Look forward to those days when life slows down and gets more simple

Well, time does pass. Someone once said about the days when you have small children at home, “The days are long, but the years are fast.”  How true that is!  I remember one year that my wife and I attended 160+ events with our children (ballgames, concerts, etc.) and we longed for the day when we had two free evenings in a row.  Then, when the kids were gone, we looked at each other and said, “We sure wish we had a ballgame to go to tonight.”

Ladies, there is a payback for your work and efforts and sacrifice. Those children do eventually grow up and you do eventually get more time for yourself.  But, in the meantime, please know that you are doing the most important work in the entire world.  So, today, The Porch says thanks… you are honored… you are cherished… and, you are blessed.  Hang in there, keep smiling, and remember that your work is critical.  May today be your very best yet!

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Choosing your own destiny

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Depending upon your age, you may or may not have thought about your destiny.  Destiny is that event or series of events that will shape your future.  So, do you know what you will be doing or thinking or involved in or with or whatever next year or 5 years from now?  Some might confuse destiny with legacy.  Destiny is what lies ahead, while legacy is what you leave behind.

Is it possible to shape your own destiny?  Certainly, there are things in the future that are beyond your control.  You may not be able to control the direction our company may take.  You may not be able to make choices for your family members.  But, we all do have some actions we can take to shape our attitude, our morale, our approach, our behavior, and, essentially, how we live.  Gandhi has some thoughts about how we can start with our thoughts to modify or alter our ultimate destiny:

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words;

Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior;

Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits;

Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values;

Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.

                                                 –  Mahatma Gandhi –  

Gandhi believed that a progression exists that leads from our thoughts to behavior to habits to values, then, ultimately, to our destiny.  I believe that establishing solid values is critical to a positive destiny.  Values are those items that you will never compromise, no matter what circumstances might arise.  For example, an individual with a value of integrity would never cross that line for money.  However, an individual that values wealth over all else would have no problem acting without integrity to advance his/her wealth.  Established values direct what you will do, say, or how you will act in any situation.  Thus, they can help define your destiny.

So, the question for today… Not knowing what the future holds, can you still choose your destiny?  Can you direct your life in a way the shapes your very future?  I’ll just leave that for you to ponder.

Have a fantastic day!

 

 

A memo isn’t necessarily reality

I have a small booklet titled, Never Confuse a Memo with Reality: And Other Business Lessons Too Simple Not to Know. It was written by Richard A. Moran and has 361 helpful hints in it that the author hopes will make us more successful. Anyway, I am listing a few here today with more to come in the future. Find one or more that hits home for you:

  1. Use the word “paradigm” no more than once a week.
  2. Written visions, missions, and goals are not as important as knowing what you’re supposed to do when you show up in the morning.
  3. When someone tells you these are the best years of your life, believe it and act accordingly. They are.
  4. Brag about someone to another person; that someone is bound to find out.
  5. Never take a problem to your boss without some solutions. You are getting paid to think, not to whine.
  6. Believe that change can happen, even after overwhelming evidence says things never seem to get better.
  7. Share the credit for successful projects and make sure everyone’s supervisor knows of everyone’s contribution.
  8. Understand the skills and abilities that differentiate you from everyone else. Whenever you have the opportunity, use them.
  9. Never in your life say, “It’s not my job.”
  10. Being good is important; being trusted is essential.

Think about how you might use one of these nuggets of advice today. And, have a fabulous day!

 

 

 

This I know…

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Probably for most of us, one of the earliest songs we ever learned was one written by Anna Bartlett Warner in about 1860 called “Jesus Loves Me.” Here are the words that we learned and have grown to love so much:

Jesus loves me,

This I know;

For the Bible tells me so,

Little ones to Him belong;

They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me;

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Yes, Jesus love me;

The Bible tells me so.

This little, short song says so much to us and is so meaningful to me personally. There are six key points to this song that should apply to each of us in whatever station in life we find ourselves; whatever line of work we have chosen; whatever has happened in the past; whatever aspirations we have for the future; or, whatever trials we face today. Let’s take a look at these six items and see how they might apply to us this very moment:

  1. Jesus loves me – Perhaps, the greatest thing we could ever learn in this life is that Jesus loves us. When no one else seems to care, Jesus knows our name, knows what we have done and what we think, and He still loves us. God’s Word, the Bible, says this about Jesus’ love for me:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love…This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”                                                                                        John 15:9 – 17

We can see from this verse that there is no greater love than what Jesus has shown for us… that He loves us so much that He gave His life for us. And, He gave His life for us, not because we were so good or so lovely. He died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). While we were at our worst, the love of Jesus for us was so great that He voluntarily gave up His perfect life for us. So, yes, Jesus loves us with a love that exceeds all other love.

  1. The Bible tells me so – The Bible is God’s Word. He inspired men to write it in their own words, yet it perfectly and without error reflects God’s own heart. As it says in Hebrews 4:12, “…It is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

The Bible has the authority of God backing it up. His Word says:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”   (2 Timothy 3:16 – 17)

So, when the Bible says something is true, you can believe it and count on it. This belief is called faith… the confidence in things not seen or things you cannot personally confirm. This confidence or trust in God’s Word is essential to fully understand the love of Jesus discussed in item 1 above.

  1. Little ones to Him belong – Jesus repeatedly demonstrated a tender heart for children. When his disciples asked that the children be sent away, Jesus said (Mark 10:14), “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Children are precious to Jesus and it is clear that He holds them close.
  1. We are weak – Paul summed up his own weakness when he said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” In ourselves, we have no strength or power, but with and through Christ, “… we can do all things.”
  1. He is strong – The Bible calls God our rock, our fortress, a stronghold, a refuge (2 Samuel 22.2-3), and a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10). He is our strength and our redeemer. He is the Creator. We can be assured that Jesus is strong and has the power to hold us and protect us.
  1. This I know – The most important item in this song for us, though, is that little phrase, “This I know.” We can know that Jesus loves us with our head, but unless we know it in our heart and give ourselves to Him, these words are only a song for a child. Unless we make ourselves like that child, recognize our weakness (sin), recognize that only Jesus can save us, and give ourselves to Him, all is lost.

 

Today is a good day to think about this song that most of us learned years ago… perhaps, the first song we ever learned. The question is this… Do you truly know, with your heart, that Jesus loves you? And, have you accepted that love as your own? Have you admitted your weakness and His strength? Have you really taken it in that Jesus died for you… even when you were still at your worst… a sinner?

I made the decision to give my heart to Jesus when I was 21 years old.  I was newly married and attended church with my new wife.  There, I came to realize that I could not be totally satisfied with my life without Jesus.  I realized that I was a sinner and needed His forgiveness.  I asked Him to forgive me and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.  My life completely changed and I’ve never regretted it.  I know that I have eternal life when I die and my life today is more complete and satisfying than I ever believed possible.

Life can never be all you want without accepting the love of Christ in your life. You might search for love or acceptance or satisfaction in people, things, money, power, or many other things. But, you’ll never fully achieve fulfillment without Jesus. Why not put your life in His powerful, loving hands today?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Why not accept that everlasting life that God offers right now? Jesus loves me…. This I know!

 

Today, I will make a difference!

 Today a few paragraphs from Max Lucado.  Great words for us any day! 

Today I will make a difference.  I will begin by controlling my thoughts.  A person is the product of his thoughts.  I want to be happy and hopeful.  Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful.  I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances.  I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters.  I will avoid negativism and gossip.  Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark.  Today I will make a difference. 

I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me.  Time is a precious commodity.  I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom.  I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant.  I will drink each minute as though it is my last.  When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever.  While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving.  Today I will make a difference. 

I will not let past failures haunt me.  Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures.  I will admit them.  I will correct them.  I will press on.  Victoriously.  No failure is fatal.  It’s OK to stumble; I will get up.  It’s OK to fail; I will rise again.  Today I will make a difference.

I will spend time with those I love.  My spouse, my children, my family.  A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love.  A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships.  Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world.  Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening.  Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends. 

Today I will make a difference. (from On the Anvil by Max Lucado) 

Will this make a difference in how we live today?  Have a “top ten” day in everything you do! 

 

 

 

Don’t give up on your dreams

In the US, we are currently in the midst of what is called March Madness, a three week basketball tournament that will ultimately crown our national collegiate champion.  To recognize this event, QQQ today looks once again at some of the important quotes of John Wooden, recognized by many as one of the all-time great basketball coaches.  Wooden’s Pyramid-of-Success is still considered applicable for student, individuals, and business today as a roadmap to personal and professional success.

To me, however, Wooden might be one of the greatest examples I have ever seen of integrity.  He lived his life with purpose and was truly dedicated to enhancing the lives of others, not his own personal success.  And, his dedication to his wife was an inspiration to me.  He was married for 53 years before his Nellie died.  Those close to him, said his life was a love letter to her.  Anyway, he remained dedicated to her until his death at age 99.

Let’s look at a few quotes to get his perspective:

  1. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out” – We may not be able to control what happens or the events around us, but we can control our attitude.  Wooden says that it is also important that we make the best of what does happen.  This is Wooden’s version of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
  2. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do” – Do what you can do; control what you can; and keep moving forward.  Simple, eh?  Why, then, is this so hard sometimes?
  3. “I worry that business leaders are more interested in material gain than they are in having the patience to build up a strong organization, and a strong organization starts with caring for their people” – Caring for people is such an important concept – not just for business, but in every aspect of life.  I can tell you definitively, that as you get older, you understand this better.  What you do for others lasts; what you do just for yourself is temporary.
  4. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one – Keeping perspective in both good times and bad is one way to avoid those peaks and valleys that emotionally drain us.  I think Wooden is right that if you allow either praise or criticism to affect you and the person you are, then it has too much power over you.
  5. “All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low” – See #4 above.
  6. “Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life” – This is a powerful statement!  Don’t get so caught up in your work that you fail to enjoy those good things in life.  Don’t be so blinded by your work that you fail to nurture friendships; spend time with your family; or do the things that you enjoy.  An individual can give 110% of their being for this or any company for 20 or 30 years and their efforts can be forgotten in one month.  However, good, deep friendships can last a lifetime – even beyond a lifetime – and make your life more complete and enjoyable.  Don’t neglect the important things of life!
  7. “Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you” – What keeps you motivated?  Are you driven by a goal or dream or are you just getting through the day?  I think Wooden is saying that we all need to have a dream and that we should be striving, every day, to achieve that dream.  Once we give up on our dreams, we’re just merely trying to get through the day.  Time is too short for that!

So think about what these say to you today.  Are you letting circumstances dictate your life?  Or, are you using circumstances to motivate you?  Do you have a dream that you are striving to achieve? Or, is your life a series of “one more day doing the same old thing?”  Let’s make today special!  Have a great day!

The best and worst of “culture”

The entire March 15, 2016, edition of Fortune magazine is dedicated to corporate culture.  This edition not only covers the best of corporate culture (e.g., The 100 Best Companies to Work for in 2016), but the worst (e.g., Hoaxwagon – the VW Scandal).  As I have said more than once on The Porch,

“Culture is determined, not by what you say, but by what you do.”

There is much to learn from both ends of this best/worst spectrum, but let’s look very briefly at an example of each:

  1. Volkswagen – You may recall that VW was recently accused and subsequently admitted that its engineers had devised a “defeat device” that would alter how the engine functioned only when the vehicle was being tested for emissions efficiency.  On the road, the engine was much less efficient in eliminated toxic emissions, but in laboratory tests, the software would detect that a test was underway and alter the engine to yield more acceptable results.  In short, the software cheated the emissions test and, as a result, the company advertised and enhanced sales using bogus eco-friendly credentials.  The company will lose many $Billions and may not even survive.  Major changes have already occurred and many senior managers and leaders have been fired.  The investigation revealed several key points dealing with company culture:
    1. No one had the courage to admit that ambitious goals to improve engine efficiency could not be met.  So, to avoid communicating this failure to management, the engineers devised a way to cheat to obtain desired results.
    2. The mere fact that engineers would believe that the environment favored cheating is a heavy indictment on the poor culture at VW.
    3. Management failed to create an open environment that encouraged collaborative problem-solving and truthful communication.
    4. Management failure to admit their failure and quickly and decisively deal with the problem might explain the entire situation.
    5. Management failed to establish reasonable goals and provide a system to monitor progress truthfully.
    6. The overall culture was one of micromanagement, intimidation, fear, and capitulation.

By creating a culture that exhibited an “achieve my objectives, by any means necessary”, accompanied by fear and intimidation, you get a company culture that says that cheating is an acceptable approach, unless you get caught.  Never allow yourself to be in such an environment.

  1. “A Job I Love” – Throughout this edition of Fortune, were quotes like these:
    1. “I’m thankful to wake up every day and go to a job that I love”
    2. “Today’s workers are looking for a corporate culture that values them and their contributions”
    3. “When you empower people, it allows them to do what’s right for themselves and for our customers”
    4. “The culture aligns with my values.  Performance is expected and rewarded.” It is clear that a positive culture is created by ensuring we allow employees to be full and valued participants in the success of the company.  Participation in decision-making, work environment, and the ability to contribute are key attributes of companies on the Top 100 list.

So, what can we do to drive our culture to one defined by purpose, values, empowerment, and involvement?  What is your own personal take-away from this?

 

The mystery of good communication

Today, we take a look at the mystery of communication.  In reality, good communication is no mystery at all — you must simply do it!  However, in most work environments, we suffer because of a basic failure to say what you want, understand what is needed, and ensure that everyone is on the same page.  Let’s look at a simple parable that illustrates these concepts:

 

Parable of the Squirrels

There was once a squirrel named Rollie.  Rollie was considered, by his own account, the King of the Squirrels.  What Rollie wanted, Rollie got.  One day, Rollie told his subjects, the other squirrels, he wanted a nut for dinner.  When they asked what kind of nut, he simply said, “I’ll let you know when you bring it to me.”  So, the subject squirrels had a meeting.  Since they did not know what kind of nut, they decided that they would each gather a different kind of nut, then, they could present each nut in turn until Rollie, the Squirrel King was satisfied. 

Rollie was presented a walnut.  He said, “I hate walnuts!  Why did you bring me that?”  He had the same response with increasing emotion for the pecan nut, hickory nut, and peanut.  Finally, he was presented a hazelnut to which Rollie responded, “I wanted a hazelnut.  Why didn’t you bring that to me first?” 

Moral of the story: When communication is lacking, you might be dealing with a bunch of nuts you don’t need or want.

Alternate moral: When you’re working with a bunch of nuts, communication becomes even more critical!

So, what can we learn from the Parable of the Squirrels?  I think we can discern at least three clear points from this:

  1. If you know what you want, say it! – How many times have you seen a leader give an assignment or express a desire, but utterly fail to properly describe the deliverable or outcome he/she really wants?  Why take a chance that teammates do not understand what is really needed or desired?  It is good when expressing any assignment to ask, “Do you understand what is needed?  Do you have any questions?  Are we all clear as to what the result will be or what the product will look like?”  As a general rule, you have no right to believe that your expectations as a leader will be met unless you clearly describe and obtain acknowledgement of the desired output.
  2. If you don’t know what your leader wants, ask! – I have seen many examples of followers walking away from the leader with little or no idea of what assignment was just given.  Have you ever heard anyone say, “I really didn’t understand what he/she was asking, but I’ll take a shot at it and adjust later, if needed.”  Please, don’t accept any assignment that has not been clearly articulated or that you don’t know what final output is expected.
  3. Poor communication is frustrating, wasteful, and unnecessary! – I am sure you have had an experience in which poor communication made your life more difficult.  We have probably all had instances where poor communication cost us time, money, or effort.  Why?  As leaders, we must be clear as to what we want.  As followers, we should ensure up-front, what is needed, wanted, or expected.  The fear of asking a “dumb” question is at the root of much of this poor communication.

So, the bottom line… If you want a nut, tell what kind.  Better yet, go get it yourself!  Good communication is no mystery – it is simply a matter of doing it.

 

Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit!

Today, an old poem is provided which simply says, “Don’t quit.” Everyone sometimes experiences a time or day or hour when nothing seems to be going well.  In fact, we sometimes experience a season when we face uncertainty, undesired change, problems, loneliness, or whatever that could entice you to throw in the towel and give up.  If that is your state today or if you know someone struggling, share this poem.  Maybe, this is the thing that will inspire you to try one more time or give it one more push.  To all of you tired of pushing that ball up the hill, this is for you:

            Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a failure turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out; Don’t give up though the pace seems slow– You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than It seems to a faint and faltering man, Often the struggler has given up, When he might have captured the victor’s cup, And he learned too late when the night slipped down, How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out– The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far, So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit– It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Author Unknown.

I truly hope that you all know or at least sense that I care about each of you. I am excited when good things happen for you and sad when you hurt.  I’m hopeful for your future and seek to encourage you when you are down.  Keep going; keep putting one foot in front of the other; encourage those around you.  And, if I can ever be helpful to you, I trust that you will call upon me.

Have a fantabulous day!

 

Four Principles of Workplace Stewardship

Recently, representatives from across our company assembled in St. Louis to discuss strategy, systems, compliance enhancement, people development, and plot our future as a key contributor to company success. One of the key words used in this meeting was the word stewardship.  Stewardship is a great concept to describe our role and responsibility to the company and to our patients.  Stewardship means the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.  In our case, it means the careful and responsible management of patient care, product safety, and our company’s overall success.  We have an important role that we should never forget.

There are four key principles of stewardship that apply to us as employees or, really, to anyone that properly acts as a steward or caretaker. Let’s look at these principles and see how they apply to us:

  1. The Principle of Ownership – Though we may have significant responsibility for large budgets, large numbers of people, or strategic direction of the company, we do not own what we manage. Sure, we need to take ownership of our function, responsibilities, and activities, but the real “owners” are those that count on us every day… our patients. Certainly, the shareholders actually own the company, but we have to remember why we do what we do and how our work impacts those using our products.
  2. The Principle of Responsibility – As stewards of our company, we have a responsibility to always do what is best for our patients, our coworkers, our company… we actually come last in this list. We carry a burden to care for that which is entrusted to us. Thus, we must act with that in mind. We must do what is best for all, especially that child in Memphis at St. Jude’s using our products today to relieve their pain or diagnose their cancer.
  3. The Principle of Accountability – We cannot perform our work in a vacuum. We must be accountable for our results. We must do what we say we’ll do, in the way required, and in the time promised. Understanding that others count on us is essential as we link our efforts with our coworkers to deliver that required product at the right time.
  4. The Principle of Reward – Yes, there are tangible rewards for working at our company. However, we also receive a “reward” every time we hear a patient testimony of how our products improve lives. We are rewarded every time a regulatory inspection ends successfully. We are rewarded when our coworkers are promoted, our teams are recognized, or our work is celebrated. We receive a reward each night when we walk to our car knowing that we made a difference to someone today.

There is a reward for being a good steward. Knowing that we work in an industry that changes lives demands that we operate as good stewards.  So, when you consider that each of us must function as a good steward of the resources, people, challenges, and opportunities under our care, we should be inspired to operate with a bit more care in our daily activities.  And, it should inspire us to hold our heads just a little bit higher as we know that we produce something good… something worthy… something important for the lives of others.  Have a really great day!  It could be our very best yet!