success

Life is like the Weather –It Changes

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 14, 2017  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

weather3_14-2017Just when I thought that I had everything planned perfectly, the day changed.  The weather forecast was for snow. Well, I traveled from the North (NEPA) to DC thinking that I was leaving the weather behind me.  Surprise – surprise, it followed me here. 

The old me would have wanted to have everyone soldier through – to suck it up –to keep going no matter what. The new me says, “Yeah. Let’s take advantage of the day, the time, the location and the people.”  And so that’s what I am doing.

As an early riser, I woke well before the alarm – a little after 5AM (which is in my mind 4AM, time just changed on the East coast in the US).  In downtown DC, I normally hear trains and trucks, all the usual early morning wake up traffic. Instead, I woke to the sound of a winter mix of sleet, rain and snow.  Really a refreshing sound – the sound of nature giving people the day off. 

A call roused me from my enjoyment of nature to tell me the day was postponed and we would need to reschedule.  “What a pleasant surprise,” I thought. “Now what?”  Normally, I like to follow my plans, it makes life so much easier, so much safer. Then I realized that I could make this a special day to really visit DC.  (Fortunately, I had planned for the weather (boots, scarf, gloves, coat- not my typical style). After a hotel breakfast, I venture out on foot.

There is slush, ice, and water everywhere.  Almost no cars on the road.  In spite of wet feet (okay, not totally prepared – my boots look great, just not very water proof), I trudge a few city blocks to the Metro. The people that I passed were wonderful.  Dressed for the weather- they shoveled, swept and tossed salt on the sidewalks. Stopping respectfully for me to pass.  Everyone has a wonderful smile and kind greeting. – Whomever says, “DC is not a friendly city,” might want to reconsider and visit in the midst of a storm. 

Coffee shops were open and the welcoming attitudes continued to envelop me.  In the lobby of the Constitution Building, an employee whom had been there since the previous evening welcomed me with a smile and showed me a warm and welcoming place to sit. 

Moving on to the Metro, again I encountered warm, welcoming people. Despite delays, people were gracious and respectful with phones, seats and juggling bags – people would stop to allow someone enter the car ahead of them.

Quite a refreshing way to spend a morning in DC.  Today, I am allowing my life to enhance my work, rather than allowing my work to control my life.  Thank you Mother Nature for helping me to see the value of weather to help me improve my life and my work.

How about you? Are you willing to take the “weather” as it comes and allow yourself to go with the flow when you encounter the storms and delays?  I’d love to hear from you. 

Have an amazing day and enjoy the” weather.”

Charge Challenges and Change!

Laura Novakowski  -  Oct 29, 2012  -  , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Already thinking a typical day is starting. Too little time, money, resources and/or the wrong resources become more and more the prevalent thought with each passing day. Energies and spirits sometimes feel like an all time low. And, often times, the “What I do doesn’t matter” attitude prevails. Turning around circumstances, situations and cultures can seem and often is a daunting task.

So what the heck we might as well go back to bed or worse yet, go into the day with little or no motivation. Off to work we go.

A memo shows up on our desks…

Looking for Volunteers –
Individuals that Will Charge Challenges and Change
Need to Bring: Mind, Heart and Soul

Already feeling different – excited, scared, overwhelmed, intimidated or perhaps a little interested? Guess what? No matter what role we play changing and charging challenges is pretty much what is required of us in work and life everyday.

The choice we have today is to be the one who changes and charges those challenges as they show up. Go for it –  Charge challenges and change!

Make SPACE

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.

Focus – Faith – Fervor

Laura Novakowski  -  Oct 08, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

When embarking on a new endeavor or relationship, we often fail to appreciate what it will take to ensure success. In fact, quite honestly, I had not nearly often enough considered the long term effects of those quick, easy and sometimes even thoughtless decisions I have made in jobs, relationships, and life in general. Then it struck me that there are three essentials that can and will ensure the degree of our success. Focus – Faith – Fervor

Focus is the starting point

“What you choose to focus your mind on is critical because you will become what you think about most of the time…”

Noel Peebles

Finding the focus, that central theme or purpose for our actions and existence, sets the stage for a healthier, more productive and definitely more satisfied existence.

Some Focus Finding Questions:

What motivates me?

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What interests me?

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What inspires me?

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Faith is the second point.

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Finding our faith, that unshakable belief that we have the strength, resourcefulness and talent to live and work in a manner that always, always contributes. This is the midpoint for fulfillment and satisfaction.

Some Faith Finding Questions:

How do I totally support myself in my focus?

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How do I tap into that universal source of strength that holds me unshakable to my focus?

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Who can help to restore my faith in my focus?

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Fervor is the is the third essential component.

Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.

Vincent van Gogh

Some Fervor Finding Questions:

How do I get motivated?

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How do I get back on track once derailed from my focus?

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What would ignite that candle of passion when there is no fuel left?

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It’s within our power to change lives, companies, communities and the world with focus, faith and fervor.

 

Are You Clear About What You Want?

Laura Novakowski  -  Oct 01, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

One would think that when a person is asked what they really, really want in work, in life, in a relationship, that the response would be immediate. Surprisingly, or perhaps, not so surprising, the responses are: silence… or “Let me think for a minute,” or more sadly, “I really don’t take time to think about what I really want, I’m too busy doing.”

Silence or “Let me think for a minute”

These two are interesting responses. to me, they indicate that the person is stopped short for several reasons.

  1. Genuinely,they need time to give a thoughtful response because it is important to them.
  2. Actually, they am afraid to express what they really want
  3. They need to think about a response that will sound interesting and important enough to share and impress others.
  4. They don’t trust me and so are not willing to share.

This third response, “I really don’t take time to think about what I really want, I’m too busy doing,” can mean many things, but my mind jumps to the following:

  1. They are not willing or able to invest thinking time in themselves to fully appreciate what they really want.
  2. They are not used to stopping all the crazy busyness to think
  3. They don’t fully understand how import knowing what they really want is to themselves and to others involved with them.

Whatever the reasons or stories we have for not clarifying what we really want, it has become profoundly clearly to me, that this is one of our greatest limiting factors in success in business and joy in life. The more we are clear about what we want, the more likely we  are to attract that which we want, whether it be positive or negative,  into our life and work.

Please consider finishing this sentence, it might just change your life.  What I want out of life is…

Or in the words of Henry David Thoreau….will you “live your life in quiet desperation?”

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.

Define Success and Build Foundations

Laura Novakowski  -  Sep 12, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

There’s a quote often attributed to Alice in Wonderland that goes like this “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

By defining our success, we at least have a fighting chance of achieving what we really want. Success is unique and special for each of us. Some of us choose tangible success – a gold medal, a degree, a prize, a certain life style and income. Others seek achievement in spite of physical, mental or developmental limitations. Still others seek leaving a legacy such as a breakthrough cure, exploring new horizons, or creating an innovative product or service.

This is not about judging our motivators, Rather, defining success is about clarifying what is really important to each of us. By asking ourselves questions such as…

What lights me up in the morning, or causes me to lose sleep at night?

What provokes me to take outrageous risks and throw in all the chips?

When we start asking ourselves these motivating questions, we become inspired to live a life that is extraordinarily fulfilling. To define success we must discover what “trips our trigger.” Not just forces us, but compels us to take life changing actions.

Henry David Thoreau once wrote

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

When we define success, we can move confidently in the direction of our dreams and live each day putting foundations under those castles we build in the air.

What is Leadership?

Laura Novakowski  -  Aug 25, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Peter Drucker ‘s definition of leadership:

“Leadership is not magnetic personality– that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not “making friends and influencing people”–that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s  vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

 

It’s one thing to manage, to control, to dictate. It is quite another thing to demonstrate
extraordinary leadership. Leaders serve as catalysts, conductors, facilitators, mentors and coaches. They impact directly on the organization or the individual’s ability to compete and grow.

Leadership is:
Attitude  –   creating a positive, success-oriented, vision & purpose-centered environment.

Interpersonal Skills –  learning, teaching  and understanding of the dynamics of teams effectively.

Assessing  – quickly and clearly identifying  factors critical to the success and sustainability of the organization.

Goal Setting – leaders provide organizational direction and facilitate accomplishing
necessary objectives.

Results Oriented – monitoring and measuring results, following through,  following up, and ultimately making  changes and adjustments as needed.

As you can see, there is very little time for a “glib tongue” and “flattery”. Leaders invest their time  creating and maintaining cultures that effectively develop and support human while expanding business potential and growth.  Lifting people higher while maintaining focus on the vision and the results needed to make an extraordinary organization.

That’s leadership!

I Don’ Know is Not an Excuse

Laura Novakowski  -  Aug 20, 2012  -  , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Businesses, communities, marriages, careers, lives are suffering, deteriorating or being destroyed everyday in so many ways. And, although there are numerous causes of this suffering, deterioration and destruction, I am consistently receiving this response as one major contributors – “I don’t know.”

We define ourselves by our thoughts, words and actions. What are we conveying to others when we say we don’t know?

We need to question and ask why we are saying “I don’t know my responsibilities in my career, my community or family.” If we agree to a role or a job, we need to be crystal clear about what we have agreed to or signed up for. If we are the CEO, president, owner, employee, spouse, parent or volunteer, it is imperative for us to have the expectations clearly laid out before we agree to the position.

I caught a segment of a reality television show – I honestly can’t tell you the name – but the show was about an expectant mother who was seeking help from an expert about becoming a new parent. The good news was she was asking for help in advance – She was scheduled to deliver the following Monday and her meeting with this expert was taking place on the preceding Friday, not quite 3 full days before she would bring into the world a brand new baby. To follow is the bad news…

The expert started with a basic intake assessment to determine how much help and information this new mother-to-be needed. The nine month pregnant woman was not able to answer one question correctly, nor could she demonstrate on a doll how she could care for a totally dependent infant. When the expert asked her to show changing a baby’s diaper, she asked, “I have to do THAT?”

The expert decided to take a different approach and here is how the interview continued.

Expert, “Will you have help?”

Mother-to-be response, “Oh, yes we have hired a nanny.”

Expert, “Is she going to live in?

Mother-to-be response, “On, no, she’s only here during the day or when we are away.”

The expert turned to the audience and mouthed, “She doesn’t have a clue.” To the expectant mother, “So, how do you plan to care for the baby when the Nanny is not there?”

The mother-to-be just stared back looking puzzled.

The sad part of this entire scenario for me is that this response is so, so typical.  Caring for a company is like caring for a child is a massive responsibility,and yet, everyday people jump in without a thought for  their responsibilities and  roles. That  is just a disaster waiting to happen.

We have to stop using “I don’t know” as an answer. Start coming in prepared with research, education, questions and an interest to be accountable to and for our responsibilities.

Let’s start taking ownership instead of looking for the easy way out or believe me, we will be learning some really hard lessons.

To Dream The Impossible Dream

Laura Novakowski  -  Aug 03, 2012  -  , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Business, as life, can seem impossible at times. Big ideas appear unrealistic.  Opportunities only open to others. 

Are you spending more time in engaging in futile activities or attacking imaginary enemies – also known as tilting at windmills?

Let’s consider the classic story by  Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote, the story of an middle aged man who assumes the role of errant knight, seeking out injustices and fighting giants (windmills).  May not sound like our typical day, however, are we a present Don Quixote?  Fighting futile battles, wasting time, passion and talent.  Or, can we see that what we are confronting and challenging is taking away from our dreams.  That  life and work have caused us to believe those dreams are now impractical?

Now may not be the time to read the  book and so I’d like to offer an alternative.  Below are the lyrics to a song from the movie/play  Man of La Mancha…

“The Impossible Dream”

from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)

music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

I couldn’t say it any better (at least not right now).  Don’t just dream the impossible dream, reach for the unreachable star!!!

 

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