Laura Novakowski  -  Oct 15, 2012  -  , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

What happens with all this accumulation and there is no room left – fatigue, dissatisfaction, and disillusionment?  Life keeps getting more and more cluttered; more stuff, more information, more competition, more challenges, more, more, more…

How can we make more room in our lives for increased health, family, productivity, contributions? We can make SPACE.

Select what is important. In Wayne Dyer’s The Awakened Life, he mentioned that when we identify that we as human beings really have one business – the people business. Now I realize that that is my business,  all the other clutter that shows up really moves lower on the responsibility ladder.

Clearly identifying a purpose filled with passion can lead to great discoveries and adventures. This already takes some pressure off and to quote Thoreau – we don’t need to “live lives of quiet desperation,” as we try to own more, do more and be more.

Prioritize our goals. It’s great to have goals. It’s not so great to have copious, competing objectives goals. Come on, you know exactly what I mean. The job, the family, the interests, the wants and needs certainly can stack up and become almost too distracting. Collect all the goals in one area, make a list and establish what is really important. The rest, cross off the list or move to a “someday” list for future reference.

This is where the “selections” need to narrowed down and re-ordered so that the “NEEDS verses the WANTS list.  All too often, we overlook what we need to do and put our wants first to be done comes up to the top.

Assess the choices that affect the quality of character, relationship, work and ultimately life building  Reviewing choices is for quality not quantity.   Buying more stuff may feel great at the time. However, accumulation of stuff leads to more clutter, more stuff to move, clear and clean.

Shakespeare once wrote, “The choices we make dictate the life that we lead.”   Assessing what is controlling our lives, our wallets, our relationships, our work becomes a fabulous space saving exercise. It’s really liberating to evaluate and eliminate all that excess waste.

Collaborate with others. Connecting and building the best relationships is a life giving enterprise.  Collaboration involves being authentic with others and allowing them to be authentic with you. These relationships are build on mutual respect and appreciation.

Collaborative relationships are  “win-win” for all.   No one is doing more than is required or sacrificing time and talent. Cooperation is encouraged. Conflicts are resolved in a healthy manner and mutually agreed upon goals and objectives are met.

Enjoy life. When we know what is important because we have selected our purpose, , prioritize our goals, assess our choices and collaborate with others, we can really enjoy work and life.

Today – choose to make SPACE and see if you don’t have a more positive, enjoyable  day.

Leadership is About Responding with Ability

Laura Novakowski  -  Sep 24, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

In a recent interview, an executive was discussing, although it sounded suspiciously like complaining to me, how disastrous the business had become.

The interviewer questioned if he had read a significant reform document that would have massive impacts on his business and the industry at large.

The exec’s responded, “I didn’t have time to read the document.”

He, the interviewee, then asked the interviewer what were the three or four major issues that reform was addressing. Fortunately, she knew the answers.  (She had read the reform in preparation for the meeting.) It was clearly apparent that she was much more prepared as an outsider to deal with his industry change than he was as the so-called expert.

The interview continue along the same vein, for each question, he didn’t know and then he would asked her a question. Great technique if you hold to the philosophy that you only asked questions if you already know the answer. Clearly, he didn’t have a clue regarding what his responsibilities were as the leader.

Close to the end of the interview, you could actually see the light bulb come on in this guy’s brain. “I know. I’ll tell the board that I am forming a committee to address these issues and that the committee will be meeting weekly to discuss. What do you think?” he asked of the interviewer.

She looked totally astonished and quickly ended the interview.

Great lesson from this interview, be aware of owning the role, being able to respond with ability and come across as the leader who is truly in command.

Start, Stop or Continue

Laura Novakowski  -  Aug 13, 2012  -  , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. ~Maria Robinson~


 “Stop the habit of wishful thinking and start the habit of thoughtful wishes.” ~ Mary Martin~


“Whatever the struggle, continue the climb. It may be only one step to the summit.” ~Diane Westlake~

The Power of Pain

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 26, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Pain is symptom and effect, it is not a cause.  It shows up in a multitude of forms.  Pain slows, staggers and often stops us from functioning.  Understanding that pain presents itself helps to get to the source of deeper issues and problems; this is important for growth and change.

The most obvious pain is physical pain. Early manifestations may show up as mild aches and pains.  If the source of the problem is not identified, the symptoms become more acute and debilitating.

Symptoms such as backaches and headaches can range from slightly annoying  to severely debilitating.  The causes are too numerous to list, but if prolonged in duration it becomes important to medical advice.  Other more subtle symptoms may be overlooked and if not investigated can result in devastating physical problems.

Granted a lot more time could be given to pain in the physical realm, but what I believe is just as important to identify the pain shows up in our offices or workspace as well.   I often say to my clients, we can have this conversation in a hospital room or in a boardroom.  Allowed to go unchecked, undiagnosed and untreated, the power of pain can be catastrophic and cancerous to an organization.

Consider the pain that shows up in the office or workplace.  If left undetected, can fester to the point of irreversible damage.


  • Employees come to meeting late, unprepared and non participative and leadership allows it.
  • Employers ridicule and reprimand in public and employees accept and scurry away to try to do better or staying below the radar.
  • Communication is unclear, no one questions or challenges.
  • Departments compete and derail and management lives lost sales and customers.

Obviously, this is a very, very short list. When the source of the pain is not assessed, the affects are lethal.  Turnover increases, firings are rampant and arbitrary. The toxins become like nails in a coffin. Reputations are destroyed. Resources are compromised.

Just as, in my opinion, no physical disease is hopeless, neither is cultural disease.  Using a simple model can ultimately heal the organization.  I’d like to reinforce the power of ACTS  to alleviate pain.

  • Leadership needs to assess the results and identify the gaps.
  • The entire organization needs to create a clear vision and values that people can align their goals and performance.
  • Plans and strategies need to support motivation and innovation to transform problems and obstacles into opportunities.
  • Teams  need to be held accountable through best performance practices and standards to overcome challenges in order to sustain and support success and growth.

Yes, it is uncomfortable when pain shows up. That being said, there is power in pain, if one is just willing to investigate and diagnose the true causes of cultural disease.

12 Rules for Self Leadership

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 04, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Source: Unknown

1. Set goals for your life; not just for your job. What you think of as “meaning of life” goals affect your lifestyle outside of work too, and you get whole-life context, not just work-life, each feeding off the other.
2. Practice discretion constantly, and lead with the example of how your own good behavior does get great results. Otherwise, why should anyone follow you when you lead?
3. Take initiative. Volunteer to be first. Be daring, bold, brave and fearless, willing to fall down, fail, and get up again for another round. Starting with vulnerability has this amazing way of making us stronger when all is done.
4. Be humble and give away the credit. Going before others is only part of leading; you have to go with them too. Therefore, they’ve got to want you around!
5. Learn to love ideas and experiments. Turn them into pilot programs that preface impulsive decisions. Everything was impossible until the first person did it.
6. Live in wonder. Wonder why, and prize “Why not?” as your favorite question. Be insatiably curious, and question everything.
7. There are some things you don’t take liberty with no matter how innovative you are when you lead. For instance, to have integrity means to tell the truth. To be ethical is to do the right thing. These are not fuzzy concepts.
8. Believe that beauty exists in everything and in everyone, and then go about finding it. You’ll be amazed how little you have to invent and much is waiting to be displayed.
9. Actively reject pessimism and be an optimist. Say you have zero tolerance for negativity and self-fulfilling prophecies of doubt, and mean it.
10. Champion change. As the saying goes, those who do what they’ve always done, will get what they’ve always gotten. The only things they do get more of are apathy, complacency, and boredom.
11. Be a lifelong learner, and be a fanatic about it. Surround yourself with mentors and people smarter than you. Seek to be continually inspired by something, learning what your triggers are.
12. Care for and about people. Compassion and empathy become you, and keep you ever-connected to your humanity. People will choose you to lead them.


The Power of Strategy – Design a Masterpiece

Laura Novakowski  -  May 30, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

“What do you want to achieve or avoid?  The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desired results? The answer to this you can call strategy.”

William E. Rothschild

William E. Rothschild is a former executive from General Electric. In his role as Corporate Strategist, he created the first “market driven Corporate Strategy.”  Using this approach, according to Rothschild, GE for the last two decades has consistently had been described as having “the best inventors, the best strategic planners, and the best results.”

Whether we are planning a trip to the market, a vacation, a day at work…, we are always has to quote Stephen Covey “an end in mind.”  Now that “end” may be to fill the refrigerator, plan for vacation, deliver the product or service. While that certainly gives us some kind of results, are they the best results? Are you exhilarated with the results you’re getting? Can you see the value of identifying the results you want and then filling in the picture, rather than the other way around?

One of the greatest strategists of all times was Michelangelo. He depicts a highly focused professional who valued quality and achieved amazing results. When Michelangelo worked, he clearly used strategic thinking and planning.  When asked how he could carve such beautiful statues, his reply was, “it’s already in there.” He saw the results prior to even lifting his tools to work.   He wasn’t just banging away at some granite to up with such great masterpieces as Moses, David or the Pieta, he used purpose, thought and planning.

Let’s imagine this great artist’s process. First, he saw the granite.  He considered form, structure, faults and strengths. Slowly a vision and mission came to mind and Michelangelo could start planning his approach to achieve his results.   Next, he determined what was critical to creating his product.  What tools did he required? Where would he do the work? Who might assist him (moving granite might take some help)? What would it cost in time, money and energy? Yet, he still had not raised a chisel, for if he did, I’m sure that would have altered his results.

After he thought about his overall strategy, vision, mission and critical results, he next set goals.  Goals that were results focused,  motivating and achievable. He knew exactly what he wanted and then he started his action plan – the hair, the eyes, the nose, the beard…  All predetermined actions which embraced his values of beauty and perfection. Michelangelo envisioned beauty, integrity, passion, courage, commitment to high standards with incredible details. The results – a masterpiece!

The people, in my experience that are the most successful, the most energized, the most fulfilled, are the people who know their personal and professional vision. Why not strive for a masterpiece in your life? At the end of everyday, how powerful it can be see everyone generate a wonderful piece of art, a rewarding service or an outstanding, quality product. Engage a strategy that will help you to see and then design your masterpieces too!

The Power of Service

Laura Novakowski  -  May 16, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Life can get tough, really tough.  Pay checks don’t stretch as far. Invests have turned to dust. People, that thought they would be retiring, are looking at postponing their retirement or finding a second job.  Others who have joined the growing ranks of the unemployed are struggling to find an income after their unemployment benefits run out. Panic sets in and fear becomes immobilizing. How can we turn around the panic and keep moving forward.

John Adams, the 2nd Vice President of the United States, wrote back in the 18th century, “If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind, whom should we serve?” In these words, I think that President Adams was giving a call to action. Adams was motivating, inspiring, commanding that we be in service to mankind!

“How can I serve mankind, when I can barely keep my company afloat, meet payroll, pay the vendors, expand services, continue services?” one might ask. Or is the better question,  “How can one not serve mankind, when some can barely put food on the table, receive health care, access transportation to find a job, let alone keep the job?”  

I am not talking about service that is enabling, debilitating and or demeaning because one has more and must take care of some one that has less. I am suggesting that we actively seek opportunities to serve others in meaningful, mutually beneficial ways. That we approach each day as an opportunity to discover someone, some organization, some community that has little or big challenges and offer service little respect, integrity, compassion and humility.

Okay,” one agrees that service is important. “How do I begin? Where do I go to find opportunities to offer my services? How can I be sure that my services will be appreciated or accepted?”

One pre-requisite that I have made for myself is to go into the service with an attitude that I will also be receiving something in return. This return won’t be money. It will be some much more and it always is.

In service to others, I keep in mind that everyone – I mean everyone – has value and a contribution to make.  I learned very humbling lesson more thank once.

In one experience, I volunteered to work with women in low income housing.  I was working as an executive in a health system and decided that I needed to offer my services and expertise to one of our community service programs.  I showed up dressed in a business suit and heels – just a tad overdressed for the occasion.  I intended to “teach” them about self esteem and a better way to live by sharing some “tips and tools.”

There were about 20 women and several small children in the community room.   I had been speaking at these women for about ten minutes when one woman stood up and she interrupted me.  “I may not have a car, nice clothes or a fancy job, but I do know how to a thing or two about taking care of my family.” She continued, “I have two modes of transportation – my two feet.  I have 9 people that I am responsible for and I have four part time jobs.  We may not have a lot, but there’s food on the table, a roof over our heads and I love all of my family and I don’t need someone to make me feel like I am not doing a good job. Let’s get that straight right up front.”

Talk about a humbling experience.  I apologized and asked them what they would like to talk about.  You see, I forgot to ask them about themselves – I made some terrible assumptions.  Fortunately, one of those courageous, intelligent, talented women was willing to stand up for the others and her. She was not willing to waste her time, but she was willing to invest it. It turned the experience around and I am fortunate to have a relationship with many of these women for more than a decade.  They have taught me economy, time management, resourcefulness, courage and so much more.

Another experience, I was distributing some food to a center for the homeless and mentally challenged.  I was in a hurry as usual, but there was a cluster of men outside of the building just leaning against the wall.  One man, surrounded by his bags and a shopping cart, stopped me and said. “You look like you could use a hug today.”  He grabbed me and hugged me tight! At first, I was rather shocked. Then suddenly, I realized he was right, the day had been hectic and I was doing a duty not enjoying the service.  He made my day.

I do hope that I have caused you to think of the power of service in a slightly different manner.  Take a moment and write down one service that you can perform today. And write down what you received in return.

The service _______________________________________

What I received in return ___________________________________________________




The Voice in the Head

Laura Novakowski  -  May 09, 2012  -  , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

I’ve come to realize over the course of time, that the greatest noise in my head,  the voice that hammers at me day-in-and-day-out, is me. This is that little voice that becomes so loud that it can and does make or break a person, a family, a career, a community, or a world’s spirit.

Here’s some messages that can play over and over in my head

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m not rich enough.
  • I’m not deserving of a promotion or a healthy relationship. 

Now it’s your turn.

I’m not…

I’ve come to realize over the course of time, that the greatest noise in my head,  the voice that hammers at me day-in-and-day-out, is me. This is that little voice that becomes so loud that it can and does make or break a person, a family, a career, a community, or a world’s spirit.

How can we change the recording in our head so that we can appreciate our ability to thrive and grow, learn and lead personally and professionally? How can we change our heads so that we allow our hearts, our passion to believe the following…

  • I am interesting!
  • I am making a contribution!
  • I am  terrific!
  • I am a great writer!

Now it’s your turn.

I am…

There are actually many techniques and tools to help us take better care of heads so that our hearts, our soul, our passion and our purpose are achieved. Fortunately, for me, I tend to by nature be a person that sees the cup more than half full and often overflowing, but even I need help sometimes.

How can we change our words and pictures to help us become a person and leader that we have great love and appreciation for?  We can start in the children’s section of the bookstore or library and read The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper.

 The Little Engine that Could is one of my favorite children’s books and the reason is this little phrase that plays over and over again,

 “I think I can!”

“I think I can!”

“I think I can!”

If we chug along with that thought in our heads, it becomes surprising how we view ourselves very differently and are able to achieve extraordinary results.  Let’s put it to use right now…

Do you want a successful business? Think I can!”

Do you want a new job? Think I can!”

Do you want a new relationship? Think I can!”

Do you want to write a book? Think I can!”

 Do you want to be courageous, successful, happy, at peace? Think I can!”

Now, let’s move into the psychology section.  Denis Waitley wrote a book and created an audio book entitled, Psychology of Winning.  Dr. Waitley details theTen Steps for Winning often put into practice by Olympic athletes and top executives alike.  One of thetop steps is positive self expectancy.” This one in particular certainly can help us to improve that voice in our head and position ourselves for a more effective, productive, happy and healthy life.  We must use our self talk  to create our own “little engine that could,”  in order for us to create positive self expectancy and ultimate success.

Reframing our thoughts and our words into strong, positive, affirming statements is the key. Index cards are a fabulous pocket-sized tool for everyone. The one side is lined for words. The opposite side is blank and a great place to draw a visual or take a picture and tape it on the card. The little index card is the perfect vehicle to pen strong, positive affirmations to set your thinking straight and create strong visuals to help you wrap your heart around feeling successful. 

The problem with most of us is that we seldom shake ourselves and wake ourselves to the noise that goes on in our heads. Unfortunately, the yammering today is destructive and limiting. We find ourselves becoming less and less. Our dreams fade. Our lives fade.

When with a little conscious effort and positive self expectancy – our dreams grow and our lives flourish, because then new voice says over and over again

“I think I can!”

One Brick at a Time

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 14, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

I don‘t know what my calling is,
but I want to be here for a bigger reason.
I strive to be like the greatest people who have ever lived.
Will Smith.

We are surrounded by limiting factors. Not enough money, costs are on the rise – health costs, fuel costs, life and work costs. It may almost seem better to cut back and limit. I would like to suggest that we change that mental paradigm and see each challenge, whether real or imagined, as an opportunity to find our own greatness

One of my favorite videos on You Tube is Will Smith’s Wisdom – this is a much watched video - . One story that Will shares is a story about his father and building a wall. Smith’s father instructs Will and his younger brother to build a wall. At first this seems like a daunting task, and then these two children – Will was 12 and his brother younger laid one brick at a time and in 18 months built a wall.

What a gift, Mr. Smith gave to his young sons. This wall stands today because two mere children were given a job and decided to lay one brick at a time. It didn’t occur to them that the wall couldn’t be built and so they built it.

Now, it only takes one kind word or expression of gratitude to change a relationship for the better. It only takes one dollar at a time to create an investment program. It only one word at a time to write a book. It one brush stroke at a time to paint a masterpiece.

If two small children can build a brick wall in eighteen months,than I certainly can improve my work, my life, my community “one brick at a time.” How about you?

Business Success -Winners Never Cheat

Laura Novakowski  -  Jan 18, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on Business Success -Winners Never Cheat

Jon Huntsman, chairman and founder of Huntsman Corporation, built a $12 billion dollar chemical corporation on the premise that “Winners  Never Cheat – Even in Difficult Times.”    

Here’s some of Mr. Huntsman’s business and life philosophies that are practical and powerful:

“Circumstances may change but your values shouldn’t.” 

“There are many temptations but reminders help.”

“Treat competitors, colleagues, employees and customers with respect.”

If the common practices become about posturing and positioning, then  business are using smoke and mirrors and their guiding principles. Diversions away from the quality, service, abilities, and integrity become the rule of thumb.

Let’s get back to authentic business success.  Build business success on character, honesty, integrity and respect.  As a result, customer, employee and stakeholder confidence and satisfaction will escalate dramatically. Because – “Winners NEVER Cheat!”



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