Thanks to our facilitator Nadine Martin for this: The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn , arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit,beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church. B y this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria . The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten "The Tablecloth". The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria . When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth;but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home. That was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job. What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years between. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine. May we all see the blessings that God has given us this holy season, Lou Russell
From TTI, Target Training International: Dr. Ron Bonnstetter, Senior VP for Research and Development (for people who know their DISC profiles “S” and “Cs” can learn from this, but “Ds” and “Is” better copy this to their day planner!) The average business professional attends at least seven meetings per week that last on average 2 hours and 45 minutes and tie up four or five co-workers. That’s almost 100 working hours each week! Brain research tells us a great deal about both how to run an effective meeting and how you, as a participant, can get the most out of each meeting. The purpose of any meeting, from the perspective of the participant, is to either receive information or learn about future action requirements. The tips below offer suggestions so you can leave each meeting with a clear vision of your responsibilities. However, our goal at TTI is to always offer more than simple “how to” advice. Therefore, this month’s PEP includes the underpinning, brain-based rationale for each of these tips. This will arm you with not only the “what” and the “how”, but the ever important “why” of our actions. Full article:/www.ttiassessments.com/blogs/making-meetings-more-profitable If you'd like to find out your DISC profile, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lou www.russellmartin.com
Another great article by the Indianapolis Mental Health Association: Leading Stress Management Psychologist Offers Dr. Lyle Miller, Chief Psychologist at AboveStress, Inc. addresses various sources of holiday stress and offers practical tips on how to savor the season without getting too stressed out The holidays are a time of festivity, gifts and delicious holiday foods. Yet the season can also be stressful and lonely. Dr. Lyle Miller, Chief Psychologist at AboveStress, Inc. offers a few quick tips on how to savor the season without getting stressed out: 1) Family Stress: Avoid age-old disagreements. Focus on togetherness. Tension between family members often surfaces during the holidays. We can easily slip into old patterns: adults can become children vying for parents’ affection, while others may revisit insecurities or habits they practiced as teenagers. Be mindful of falling into old habits/roles while avoiding age-old disagreements. Focus on cherishing the time spent together, however imperfect or flawed it may be. 2) Shopping Stress: Do not be a perfectionist. Be flexible and creative. The stress of shopping -- as well as the stress of fighting holiday crowds and navigating traffic -- can be overwhelming. Shop during off-peak hours, as early in the season as possible, and if possible, online. Most people appreciate the thought behind a gift, so do not be rigid about finding the ‘perfect’ gift for everyone. Shop at stores that offer excellent customer service and return policies. When in doubt, gift cards are always a great choice! 3) Holiday Eating Stress: Eat mindfully and plan ahead. Often, the pervading fear that we might gain weight negates the actual pleasure in our favorite holiday foods, leading to stress-induced binges later on. Don’t go to a party starving; eat something healthy beforehand and drink plenty of water. Set limits. If you look forward to your grandmother’s famed sugar cookies, decide beforehand to eat one cookie, savor every bite, and then move on. Drinks should be accompaniments to conversations and companionship, not the focus. 4) Stress for Being Alone: Proactively reach out and make connections. The holidays – though filled with social events – can also be filled with loneliness, which can settle in after the party when you are by yourself. Try to divert the attention from yourself by focusing outward: reach out to other friends who may also be lonely by suggesting a coffee date. Engage in activities that allow you to meet new people, such as volunteering at a church homeless shelter or taking a cooking class. If your family lives far away, pick up the telephone or schedule a Skype chat. 5) Increase stress resiliency: Maintain good sleep, exercise, and dietary habits. Good sleep, exercise and dietary habits often get thrown out the window when they are needed most. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep as many nights as possible and at least a half hour of moderate exercise four times a week. If you dislike the gym, call a friend to schedule a walk/talk date or try a dance class. Do not overindulge in alcohol and sugary foods, as their effects will render you more susceptible to stress. About AboveStress, Inc. AboveStress, Inc. is a leading web/mobile technology company in the field of stress management. Its mission is to use evidence-based approaches to help individuals reduce stress, thereby living a more productive and fulfilling life. You can find more stress reduction advice by downloading the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch Stress Tracker application at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stress-tracker/id439288154?mt=8 Or download the Android Stress Tracker app here: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.stress or visit http://www.AboveStress.com Merriest!
This Business News article that I snapped from the awesome NAWBO newsletter has some interesting challenges in terms of marketing. Some of the predictions are obvious, and some seem inevitably wrong. Remember the picture phone? Anyway, I'll let you decide which you think is which. The challenge is how to deliver luxury / quality / special-ness in a continuing cost conscious world. It's not enough to just cut prices for the same thing... change the game. New products, new prices. Lou
Projects fail all the time, in fact many more projects fail than succeed. In IT studies in the 80s by Capers Jones of the Stanford Group, projects failed 80% of the time. The Cutter Consortium in the late 90s found that project success has improved a bit, but the chance of your project failing is still pretty high. Sure, there is weirdness in the discussion of projects failing. First, what is a project? Many people work on projects and don’t even know it. Next, what does failing mean? Does it mean late, over budget, poor quality or does it ‘just depend’? Leaving this discussion for a later article, there are certain things that I see in my project management consulting work that fuel failure. Do these teams know that they are struggling? Absolutely. Do they know what to do about it? No. You’re probably on one right now. Here’s my personal autopsy on projects that I’ve watched die: • Meetings with too many voices Much of our research with companies shows that good, effective project meetings can improve a project more than anything else. However, bad, ineffective project meetings can kill a project quicker than almost anything else. One of the most common mistakes is inviting too many people to too many meetings. When a project is challenging, you are a lot better off going ‘guerilla’ – get the people who can make the decisions in a room quickly, and go. Building consensus is a great thing, but not when something is on fire. • Building overtime into the plan It is weird what I see in original project plans. These are the plans created BEFORE the project starts. This is the nirvana plan, the way you plan for it to go. Everyone knows that the project never really goes this way, and more likely or not, it is overly optimistic. Even so, I see so many plans built with overtime in them. Overtime should be a disaster strategy not a planned strategy. Burnout is not a good thing, and shouldn’t be built into a plan. I’ve also seen bizarre timelines, for example, it is not at all unusual for the Help documentation for software to be due a month after the first products ship. Ouch. • Letting technical people use MS Project Bad idea. Let technical people do what they are supposed to do – write code, build networks, create test scripts, etc. They have plenty to do. Hire someone who is an expert at project tracking and have them be the librarian for MS Project, or whatever tool you are using. Giving technical people new software to play with is like giving little kids a bunch of new colored markers in a bare room with white walls that you’d like to keep white. • No configuration management plan There are many methodologies to plan the development of something, like software or other products. The big lie is that development is a linear process. When you build, something surprising always goes wrong. Fixing that something, and letting all the people who are depending on your deliverable know that things have changed, requires handling complex communication. Teams don’t build plans for this communication until things get hysterical. Spend MORE time on your configuration management than on your original development plan, and build it early. • The wrong person as SME and/or no Executive Sponsor Same problem, different amounts of time before the project spins off into death. The Executive Sponsor is the single person funding the project, owning the business need and making decisions about scope. If there is an unclear sponsor, eventually the rug will be pulled out from under the project. If the SME (Subject Matter Expert) assigned to the project does not have the authority or expertise to help define requirements, you are also doomed, although it will take longer and the pain will be drawn out. Neither of these can ever work. • More than one Project Manager I do not believe in multiple project managers. I suppose there are projects that have been successful at the end with two project managers, but it’s uncommon. Think about it – how many pilots do you want flying the plane at the exact same time? How many Presidents of the United States do we want? How many Army Captains leading an infantry team through Iraq streets? Of course, backups are a good idea (like co-pilots) but only one person should be driving. In summary, be creative and be real. A large corporation showed an impressive Project War Room, with detailed large, colorful charts of all the projects they were working on. It appeared they were completely in control of their project investments. Later, the leader of the (PMO) Project Management Office confessed “Oh, those charts are all fakes. We have that room to keep people off our backs so we can get the projects done.” You know what you have to do. Lou Russell