Monday, March 24, 2014


The goal in life seems to be happiness.  Happiness based on our surroundings, on how we look, on our possessions, etc.  I have been in those seminars that teach you how to be happy.  For only $1095, you, too, can learn the secrets of the speaker.  He/She hops around the stage and over-inflects verbiage to stir a reaction in you (wow, that’s critical of me, isn’t it?).  And do you know who usually has the lasting happiness from that session?  The speaker who just made 70% per person with a room full of 150 people, if not more.

Why do we crave it so?  I think it’s because we are designed to achieve.  We are designed to inspire and to create.  We are designed to engage others and to energize our environment.  Happiness comes from doing what we are designed to do.  The pathing is unique, the skill sets vary and the product takes various shapes, but the outcome is consistent.

In the human resources sphere, I see lots of well-meaning people put together lots of well-intentioned programs.  We seem to think that these programs will fix what ails our people.  If happiness is what our staff is missing, no great program will provide lasting impact.  Sure, there will be some positive results.  Some staff will express gratitude for causing them to think differently about a subject or a process (which is a victory!), but does it last?  If one year later, you sense the same rut returning, then what has that program gotten you?

As taxing as what I am about to say is, over the last 20+ years, the most impactful push towards growth I have been involved with are about the individual.  Working with the individual to find what makes him/her tick. Working with that person to see what he/she can bring to the table.  Working with that person to see where he/she dreams, finds glimmers of fulfillment, and senses purpose.  When we can tap into those things, we find the core of happiness for that person.  That is the heart of the matter.

I believe our staff can find happiness in their work.  Our responsibility is work-related as business professionals; however, I understand and have observed an overlap to the personal lives of those we serve.  If the core of happiness is pierced and inspired to multiplication, then by nature, an individual will want to design his/her entire life around that exposed core. 

For the professional, we have to make a decision to coach effectively.  Coaching is not just about the skill desired or the task to be completed, but it’s about the whole person.  I have had many robust discussions with peers regarding this perspective, but I can only point to the lasting impact differentials I see.  Those employees that have been coached as a whole person, under the auspices of the work environment, have embraced lasting change and have remained happier than those who have not. 

Happiness is a decision; joy is a state of being.  Inspiring the lasting decision for happiness has to be based upon impact and validation.  My circumstances may not make me happy today.  So what does that mean?  Should I be an absolute jerk to those around me (with justification in my mind) because my circumstances suck?  No.  This is not beneficial to the work environment nor to the person.  We have to be content, satisfied, happy regardless of circumstances.  It’s a decision for approach and for interaction. 

Find what makes you happy at the core of your being.  How does that get expressed at work?  How can it get expressed at work?

And, as silly as this may sound, know what brings you back to center.  If you know what makes you happy, and you lose your way, know what triggers will push you back to it.  Is it a best friend?  Is it a favorite piece of writing?  Is it a song?  Talk, read or listen.  Do what you need to and you might surprise yourself at how happy you can really be.  And all that without spending $1095 (I mean, if you want to Paypal me the amount to make yourself feel better, I will send you the link…)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bag Lady

(A post by +Victorio Milian

As a New Yorker, I use public transportation to get where I'm going. It's generally fast and relatively cost effective (especially when compared to the cost of owning and maintaining a car here).
Photo of Mosholu Parkway train station
It also provides a snapshot into how human beings act. Whether as individuals or in groups, commuters here speak quite clearly--through their behavior, dress, and other means--even as they avoid eye contact. One observation I've made over time is this: New York City commuters carry lots of bags. Now this is unscientific, but I can say on my normal commute to and from work most passengers carry more than one with them. The vast majority of multi-bag carriers are women. Based (again) on personal observation, most carriers seem to carry one bag for personal effects, and another contains essentials for the commute, such as gym clothes or work items (e.g., laptop, paperwork). 

For me, people carrying multiple bags present a challenge. They take up more room on the subway, which my main form of transportation. When you consider that close to millions of people take the subway on a daily basis, every available inch counts! In addition, I can't help but think that lugging that much stuff around consistently will have an impact on the carrier's health. If nothing else, it probably puts a lot of stress on one's back, shoulders, arms, and legs. I imagine that there's an enterprising chiropractor out there that specifically targets people impacted in this fashion. I know of one that has a sub-practice centered around clients who are in need, due to poor posture related to how they utilize their cellphones! 

With all of this, I strive to carry one bag with me when I'm out and about. Sometimes this presents difficult choices, but for the most part I can successfully balance my needs with my ability. I have bags of various sizes and shapes, and I also try to take care of myself so that, in the event of having to carry a particularly heavy load, I don't overdo it. I also try to carry items that perform multiple functions. For example, utilizing cloud based services such as Evernote, Google Drive, or Dropbox allows me to carry less paper files around. Because they able to be used across multiple devices, I can mix-and-match which ones I carry with me. Most days, this helps me to avoid carrying around my laptop, by far the biggest and heaviest of my work related devices. That being said, I'm overloaded in other ways. It doesn't necessarily manifest itself physically, yet it still can be exhausting. My issue is communication overload. Here's a snapshot of the various communication devices or channels I manage:
  • Two smart phones (one for work, one for me)
  • Several emails (roughly 1/2 dozen)
  • Fax machine (don't ask)
  • Two physical work mailboxes
  • Two phone landlines 
  • Social media outlets
There's a multitude of methods to reach me. And while it doesn't weigh much physically, mentally it can be a lot to manage and maintain. It demands that I check all these different methods, to insure I don't miss anything important. From a security perspective, the different programs and electronic devices I use means multiple access codes. It's a lot! With that, it's time to start thinking realistically around assessing, consolidating, and/or eliminating these items from my life. Wherever possible, as Erykah Badu would say, it's time to let it go...

How do you keep yourself from being overloaded?