Sep 172014
Broken Lightbulb Snail

Broken Lightbulb Snail (Photo credit: K.G.Hawes)


“I never did anything by accident, not did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.”

 — Thomas Edison

I’m not sure I’m 100% “sold” on the idea “everything happens for a reason.”  It’s my nature to question things.  Still, it’s not easy to ignore the evidence: our response to a problem can energize and inspire us as we grow into new ways to live.

As a person who has worked in the “change industry” for a very long time, I believe there are lots of benefits to using ordinary events and environments as real life learning labs.   In my experience a “problem” usually contains parts of an answer.  A problem often offers doorways to new behaviors and habits that will lead us to function at  higher levels.

For example, lots of people complain about not getting to the gym.  Maybe we’re focusing on the wrong problem.  What if, instead of strengthening the excuse muscle, you decide to do some “lifting” out in the garden?  Or putting on some miles with your dog?  Is the “problem” getting to the gym?  Or finding ways to move your body?

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What if you’re struggling to get household chores done?  Involving a partner and  the kids benefits all of you, doesn’t it?  First of all, communication and negotiation skills get a workout.  Teamwork and compromise.  If you can let go of micro-management (not one of MY strong things) the work gets done and everyone in the family gets to make a meaningful contribution.

What would happen if we decided to look at problems simply as information?  Perhaps discomfort is simply a way to get our attention about the need to make a change.  Neither problem-solving nor self-improvement come by accident.  Both take work.

Experiments and small steps may lead you in unexpected and wonderful directions.

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Jul 232013

Balancing business and family can be fun

For the past several years I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of women in direct sales and I love it.  As part of a four-generation direct-selling family, the challenges in this type of work make sense to me.  And it doesn’t hurt that I admire people who achieve success in what can be a very difficult type of work.

Many people choose to work from home so they can earn money while creating a better work-life balance.  I’ve noticed  they sometimes struggle with creating the right boundaries: How do you figure out what’s flexible enough for “home” but professional enough for business?

Too many people apologize for their home-based business, talking to others in a way that lacks confidence.    Did you know that home-based business contribute more than $500 billion a year to the US economy?  Why anyone apologize for being part of that?  And, you started a business for reasons that were important to you, right?  To set your own schedule, to make more money, to have more freedom?  But when things don’t ‘work’ as quickly as we’d like solo-preneurs sometimes abandon about those reasons.

And when being near the kids is a high priority, setting limits about office hours can really push that “guilty parent button.”

As you can see from the picture (my friend Lisa Wilber and her daughter) growing up in a family business can be a great way for kids to learn about  confidence, creativity, keeping  positive attitude and problem-solving. Direct sellers who take what they do seriously enough to get the support they need — and run the business like a business — pass along those lessons every single day.

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Feb 012013
High quality ostrich feather duster

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you want your children to think of themselves as guests in your home or as vital family members who contribute to its daily operation?  If you answered “family members making a vital contribution” then you might be ready to look at household chores with a new eye.

Chores are an important part of a child’s sense of independence, and help to teach that duties and responsibilities don’t have to be onerous and tedious. Kids who are assigned a regular slate of chores to complete will often find creative ways to get them done, and may even find newer, better ways to achieve desired results.

The simple act of completing chores on schedule can contribute to developing both discipline and a strong work ethic.  Independence, responsibility, creativity and innovation are all traits that can enhance it.

Make Chores Fun

If you’re concerned about getting that roll-the-eyes, “you’ve got to be kidding” stare from your kids when you tell them they’re now responsible for taking out the trash every Wednesday, you’re not alone. But instead of threatening or grounding them for six months, try this: re-frame the chore to make it fun. A little motivation never hurts and helps drive home the idea that work is worth doing well.

If, for example, if one of the weekend mornings is devoted to weekly housecleaning, you could:

· Have a race – “Can you finish cleaning the bathroom before I’m done in the kitchen?”

· Play a game – Set a number of points per project… Add for ‘extra good work’ and/or ‘no reminders needed.’ Subtract for sub-par work.  (Give a prize if you want e.g an extra bedtime story or 15 minutes later to bed for example.)

· Add music – “The first person to start Saturday morning chores gets to choose the music that we all listen to while we’re working.” (This is also a good way to check in on your kiddos’ taste in music from time to time.)

· Make a date to do something fun when everything’s done. (Give yourself “bonus points” if it’s fun and FREE like taking a walk, or playing catch in the backyard!)

Keep in mind that the important thing is that the child learns to do the task, rather than worrying about getting it perfect. Every successful adult interviewed for What Kids Need to Succeed shared responsibilities at home, and many had jobs outside the family to earn money.