22 December 2015

Entrepreneurs: Give your Family some #HolidayLove

They met in high school and got married after they graduated from university. Their first child was born the following year. Amanda decided to stay home and Cyril got a full time job making very good money.

Four years into their marriage, Cyril lost his job. After an exhaustive job search, they agreed that going into business was probably a good idea. Moving out of the province didn't appeal to them. They love the lifestyle here at home.

Cyril quickly learned that an entrepreneur's life has its highs and lows. When things are good, they're great, and then there are the dry spells. This year has been a tough one. Tough business years make it more important that he spend time away from home out networking. He has 7 Christmas events in December alone. He generally enjoys them, but he feels guilty spending time away from the family. Amanda sees all the posts on Facebook where he's really enjoying himself.

While Cyril looks forward to the peace that a holiday break will bring, Amanda has the 'Friday night blues'. She's looking forward to spending time visiting friends and family, and socialising with her husband.

See the challenge?

Meet Harold. After 30+ years in business, Harold has seen it all. The lifestyle has taken a toll on Harold - single now, he accepts responsibility for that. Recently he shared this nugget of wisdom. "Make family and friends a priority when you can. Don't spend so much time creating a life that you forget to live it."

Take time during the holidays to appreciate the folks who have your back. They make sacrifices, too.

During the holiday season, enjoy the peace, fun and love of family and friends. Wishing you much prosperity in 2016.

19 December 2015

3 Ways to Resist Overspending

Holy cow!!! That is the expression that folks have when they first start making the big bucks. Right on the heels of that remark is the urge to purchase the next new shiny object. It could be a bigger house or car. It could be the latest toy. That urge to rush out and spend is strong in folks who are new to making good money. Here are three tips that I find worked for me. 

1. Stop Self-Sabotaging. Running out and purchasing the latest model 4 wheeler or that 70,000.00 truck isn't going to get you where you need to be. It's actually going to take you away from your goal. Recognize the urge for the villain it is. I am, of course, assuming that you have goals.

2. Phone a Friend: Have an accountability partner. Give them a ring. Tell them what you're planning to do. If you find yourself not wanting to share - listen to your inner voice. Are you reluctant to tell because you know it's a bad choice?

3. Turn on the Delay Switch: That's right. The delay - the space between the emotional urge to spend and the decision to spend. Promise yourself you won't buy anything for 30 days after you get the means to do so. You may change your mind in that time period. 

You don't need to reinvent the wheel. You're not the first person to experience the joy and pain of the boom and bust. 

11 December 2015

Notes on Law of Attraction Trauma and Grief

What I know to be true is that the Laws of Attraction are solid. We really do have control over the life that we want.

The law has a flaw in that it assumes that we are all in the same place - we can just engage our positive thinking and move forward.

Not the case. For those of us who have had less than charmed lives, who have suffered layers of trauma, who have unprocessed grief, more is required.

I know it to be true - because it is my story. I couldn't engage the tenets of the law of attraction until I dealt with what had hold of me - unprocessed grief. This took a professional. No amount of wishful thinking or "a lie in transition to becoming a truth" could help me with that. I needed help from the pros and I go that help.

***Good News*** That help puts you right back in the game of life.

Upshot - get help if you need it. Don't miss out on a great life!!!!

29 November 2015

Christmas - Keeping it Real

I love the holiday season for a number of reasons - the one that is top of mind for me is that my daughter comes home from university. But hear me out - young adults are developing their own traditions and I may have to make a reservation to get to spend any real time with her. That's just the plain truth.

Have you looked at social media lately? It is overflowing with examples of people being charitable on a large scale and a real trend toward advertising it. This can put a ton of stress on people to try and do what they do not have the means to do. Know this, there are many people out there who live lives of service who never post a single thing about it. Avoid the trap of trying to measure up.

What about the food? No one enjoys food as much as I do but I am not a person for pomp and circumstance.  My Red-neck roots always get the better of me here. I love to have a crowd in but not much for the rules and conventions around dining that some folks encourage. My grandmother would put a tray of sweets out at Christmas and have to crack my fingers more than once for trying to steal a cook before the crowd arrived. People remember how you made them feel - not whether you had the correct fork.

Here's what I suggest - put it all into perspective. Use your heart and make that heart an instrument of good will "without advertising". Do what you need to do to make it special for you - without worrying about what the Jones' are doing. Keep it real and find time to really enjoy it in spite of or maybe because of the humbleness. .

24 November 2015

Speaking of Company...

Who do you have in your corner? Business is a bizarre beast. It requires us to build relationships even if our personality is such that we would prefer to be alone.

During a sales workshop with Rocky Lake Crossfit, we talked about how nice it would be if we were all in a position to hire a professional sales team. But let's face it, in the early days we have to wear many hats, and some of those hats we may not be fond of. Learning to get out there and connect is not such a bad thing, is it?

The other company that matters is peer support. Do you have peeps in your corner that you can turn to when life is tough? Do you have folks around you who know more than you do – so that you can reach out to them on a tough day? If not, get out there and make it happen. Who you network with makes all the difference in the world.

Business is all about the company you keep. (click to tweet this)

22 November 2015

You're Exactly Where You're Supposed to Be

I can recall the first time I ever heard that quote "You're exactly where you're supposed to be." which I believe was attributable to Mother Thresa. Sitting on the step, waiting for a truck to load my furniture I was reading a book of inspirational quotes. Forced to sell my home where my daughter and I had shared so many happy memories made for a heartbreaking day.

At that moment, messages that were intended to inspire had a way of irritating me. "Really Thresa, is that what you think?"

Hindsight is 20/20. Fast forward 7 years and I can look back on that difficult time and see the lesson in the whole experience and the quote has taken on new meaning.

That experience taught me so many lessons - lessons about living beyond my means, asking for help and accepting myself for who I was. I won't wax eloquently about those here.

The point is to know that timing is everything when a message is delivered. I think every quote should come with a bit of preamble.

"You may not get it now but....you're exactly where you're supposed to be." Even you.

14 November 2015

Embrace your Grief

I was in a group a couple of years back and they were talking about grief. The gist of the conversation was that grief is not linear; there are cycles of grief in life - no two people grieve the same. Even though books have been written about the stages of grief, it is generally accepted that these stages don't really follow a set pattern either. Some grieve quickly and move on but most, grieve across the lifespan and you never know when it may hit you.

I'm grieving today. Not for a person but for a lifestyle. Losing my drivers' license really impacted my lifestyle. The life I have today is one that I tolerate but not the one I want.

I was bored when I awoke this morning. When I'm bored, I want to hop in my car and crank up those tunes - the soundtrack from "Chariots of Fire" brings back memories. I want to drive and arrive at some obscure location to explore. I want to do that alone.

But I can't and so I cried instead for a lifestyle taken away too early. For all of you rescuers out there who want to offer up solutions for how to solve this problem, don't bother. Just let me grieve - tomorrow is another day and I will be just fine.

For all you grievers out there, honour your grief. It's the only thing to do.

10 November 2015

Greenback Only - Show me the Money

This has been one of those months where every conversation has been about money. Nowhere was this more pronounced than when we were charged 1.35 to purchase some US green!! 

Phew!! that was brutal.

During our talks on income tax matters, it was agreed that we all detest paying taxes.  Hiring a professional to do your taxes makes good sense because frankly, there are too many nuances for untrained people to rely on off the shelf software. Point blank. I love talking about money since I've become reformed. 

Yes, you heard it here first. I used to have a poverty mindset that came about as a result of many things including the way that I was raised. How liberating to be free from the worst of it (although there are always areas where we need to be on the lookout). I'm excited about money; making it, saving it and teaching it. 

Financial literacy, the new focus for 2016. Sharing what I know. Here's the deal.

1. There is life after bankruptcy if you have a plan.
2. If you have money issues, deal with them!! You'll be glad you did.
3. If you failed at business once because you didn't manage the financial back end well, no biggie. Try again. But make sure you've learned the lesson. If you haven't then don't bother. 

Past behaviour is a good predictor of future behaviour unless there is an intervening measure like learning a lesson. 

You heard it here folks from the lady who did it all wrong before she learned to do it right. Money is good and fun and you're never too old to learn all about it. Make today the day that you start to invest in your own financial literacy

25 October 2015

3 Tips for Remaining Focused During Change

You know it - mindset matters when we decide to make a change. Change is never easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it - right? So how do you remain focused before you  have seen any real evidence of success? Here are 3 tips that work for me: 

1. Limit your time with people who will allow you to have too many pity parties. Once you start down the poor me path, it's not long before it starts to cloud your judgement. All of a sudden you're back in a dark hole and can't even think of a way out.

2. Associate with like minded people.  It can get pretty lonely out there when you decide to make a shift in life. You're going to have tough times - you're going to face resistance. Find a new team to help cheer you on. Those closest to you may not be your best support system and that's a tough pill to swallow. But it's true. Find yourself some cheerleaders.

3. Practice mindfulness. There are so many ways to do that and you  have to find one that works for you. You're training your mind to work a new way - to believe before there is any evidence to support that belief takes faith. Mindfulness is key. 

Change takes focus and a strong mind  - these tips will help with that. 

20 October 2015

Canada Votes 2015

The results are in and we have a strong majority. Personally, I have mixed emotions.

No doubt, it was time for a change of leadership. We achieved this result - the people have spoken.

I'm sad to see iconic figure Peter Stoffer leave The House - he has fought long and hard for our area and for veterans in particular. He has been with us since 1997. I've had many opportunities over the years to refer clients and to call upon him myself to resolve issues that were unjust. Peter has always responded with a personal call and a commitment to help resolve the issue. I  know that he leaves big shoes to fill.

I'm a fan of minority governments because they often offer an opportunity for dialogue - although that's not always the case. Mr. Trudeau has a strong majority and I for one can't wait to see what that will bring. If he follows in his father's footsteps, we may be entertained along the way.

We start a new chapter - one that I hope is filled with fairness and a return to the identity that we enjoy as Canadians. Canada, after all, has spoken.

14 October 2015

Is Your Head in the Sand When it Comes to Finances?

In a course recently I asked everyone, "Are you meeting your targets?" I could tell by the reactions that they weren't. As a recovering ostrich, I knew full well where they were coming from. I never knew what my revenues were until tax time. I say 'knew' because I learned some time ago there is a positive relationship between tracking your numbers and profit.

We're in the final quarter of the year for sole proprietors. No sense looking back!! You cannot undo the past. Don't beat yourself up - leave that for the trolls. When we know better, we do better. We can, though, implement best practices moving forward.

Don't let June 15th (tax time) be the first time you have a look at your revenues. Here's my challenge to you: use these next 10 weeks wisely. Set aside some time and develop a mini-strategy to end the year. Start today to run your business like a business.

12 October 2015

Not Always Easy to be Grateful

Thanksgiving - all over the internet today we will see one story after another about the wonderful lives that people have and the things that they are grateful for. It's good to be grateful.

It's easy to appreciate the new car that your parents gave you for your 18th birthday or the beautiful neighbours who always send you a plate of dinner when they are cooking a big meal - that gratitude is common sense gratitude but what about the tough gratitude?

How much time do you spend being grateful for either the tough things that show up in your life or for the things that you take for granted.

Set aside some time to honour the not so obvious things that you have to be grateful for. What about that tough and painful mistake that you made that resulted in you being totally humiliated? Not easy but there was benefit in that mistake that churned to the surface once you processed it. Can you remember a time when you envied another person because they had more than you did? There is benefit in humble living.

I look back on my life and think of all the skills I learned because not everything was handed to me on a platter. We didn't have everything we wanted or needed as children but we learned how to work hard and I'm grateful for that.

Although I complain about being forced to take the bus, I appreciate the people I have met on my travels who opened my eyes to the blessings I do enjoy. I'm grateful for that lesson.

Today - take a moment and reflect on the things that you take for granted and you will notice that you really do have so much more to be grateful for than you can name in one day.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

6 October 2015

Get Your Ass Around That Corner

We have all seen this pic - we only need to see the next turn in the road, right? That all sounds lovely on camera but the reality is, we are scared spitless to take that turn. Most of us spend far too long waiting for some poor guy to come back and tell us what is going to greet us when we get around that turn. 

The truth is, most folks are so afraid to make the turn that they justify it with "better a devil you know than one you don't".  I know this because for a long time that's what I would do.

What I've learned is that the status quo gets your nowhere. What's around the corner is exactly what you need to move forward. There may be any number of corners. I'd be more concerned that you're stuck looking at the same landscape all your life and missing the bigger picture called living. 

So get up there and get your ass around that turn. It's amazing. 

25 September 2015


Seth Godin describes a cul-de-sac, in his book The Dip, as a place where "you work and you work and you work and nothing much changes".  For me that was around 4 years ago. I went into business because I couldn't find work and was trying to figure out what I could teach. Recently divorced, I wrote a book on dating and held some workshops on meeting someone new.

My heart wasn't in it at all. It didn't go anywhere. There's no comparison between the passion I have for the work that I do now and how I felt back then. I was in a different space - a cul-de-sac. It was a waste of time and money - we can't undo it. Next time, walk away sooner - Thanks Seth for reminding me.

15 September 2015

A Business About-face

Sylvia shows up one day and asks if I can do her husband's income taxes. After a bit of conversation, it became obvious why he wanted to give up his business and go back to work at his old job. Sylvia also disclosed that by the time she knew what was happening, she felt it was too late to turn the company around.

I like taking on these cases because on a good day, I not only handle the taxes and get the family on board with CRA, but I can help the client continue their journey as a business owner. I love being in business for myself, but it would be a nightmare with a financial dead weight hanging over me. Bad accounting habits by business owners along the way will get them into hot water. Incorporating a few skills and new processes into your daily practise can make every year an easier one.

I've learned from the school of hard knocks. My own personal bankruptcy gives me the right to claim the status 'Subject Matter Expert' about how not to do it. I feel an affinity for folks who have gone down that road and I love showing them how to get back on track with their finances.

Why did Sylvia’s husband end up in this predicament? There were a number of reasons for why the business fell into decline, including pricing the product too low in the good times, going after the 'fast' cash (such as doing jobs that generated income under the table), not keeping on top of the financial accounting aspect of the business, and not including the family in the business decisions from day one. All of these mistakes can be boiled down into one crucial element: not understanding cash flow within the business.

We have two programs rolling out that will help with this type of situation. The Buck Stops Here is all about taking control of personal finances and Business Boot Camp is filled with nuggets about the habits of successful business owners.

If your story is anything like Sylvia's, call me. It's never too late to put some processes in place that will help your business.

5 September 2015

We Love Hard Work

It may be a long weekend but some of us are working anyhow. It's been an awesome week with everything falling into place at the office. We had our first coaching session there in the midst of a mess but it went well. I am really looking forward to Sep 22nd.
This week I've had some wonderful conversations with a group of people who have all had to become business people to make ends meet. The learning curve, the pain, the joy and the raw honesty and emotion was inspiring.
What owning a business does for people like us - folks who find great value in working hard is it gives us a purpose and a sense that we are contributing. I'm feeling so blessed these days. We all shamelessly admit that we love hard work. I come from a family of hard workers - it's in my jeans and my genes.

2 September 2015

Morning Ritual - Start with the End in Mind

Do you have a morning ritual? Morning rituals get your day off to the right start.

After a meditation, I grab a coffee and a piece of art paper and some coloured markers. I imagine myself at the end of my day looking back over the day. In the centre of the paper, I write "It was a fantastic day.

I change colours often as I write what it is that made my day fantastic. Like tentacles on an octopus my paper becomes filled with things that I have accomplished today. Your list will look different than my list.Then I get up and I get 'er done. What kind of day will you have today?

19 August 2015

Tool Talk

I love visiting women in trades to talk about what is trending in the industry. As non-traditional women, we have always needed an extra drawer in our toolboxes, not just to carry our unmentionables and lipstick, but what about the tools that you can’t see? We chatted about this with the Sisters in the Brotherhood at the Carpenters and Millrights College in Lower Sackville recently.

In an industry that is ripe with opportunities for conflict, the ability to communicate well is a staple. The better communicator will often be hired first. The better communicator can nip a potential disaster in the bud. If you’re at a loss as to how to start to develop this skill, check out your local Toastmasters Club. There is probably one in your area.

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

photo by Smaku / Flickr
I remember the first time I was in a workshop and we were given a mirror and introduced to 'mirror work'. The old me, the one who was more of a black and white thinker, couldn’t help but wonder what this hocus pocus was all about.

At the time, the focus was on loving our body and we were asked to look into the mirror and repeat the phrase, “I love my body.” I cringed in the beginning, but over time I learned that our reality is created from our beliefs and this work was going to take me where I needed to be. I just needed to suspend my disbelief for a moment.

Nowhere do I see this same resistance in others as powerful as when I ask them to say, “I love making money.” It is almost as if I am asking them to say a dirty word.

I get responses like, “I don’t do what I do for the money,” and “My work is heart centred.” I recognize these phrases because 6 years ago I was in the same boat. I, too, was challenged to think differently and I, too, resisted. But that has all changed. Monetizing what we do doesn’t mean that we leave our heart at home. It just means that we have more balance in our lives.

Money allows us to do a tremendous amount of good in the world. We can feed our families and, for those of us who are the primary breadwinner, that matters. We can give to charities or set up scholarships at local learning institutes. Money makes many good things possible.

Grab a mirror, look into your eyes, and say, "I love making money." How do you feel?

1 August 2015

Where will you go today?

 Many years ago I was introduced to the music of  the lovely Laura Smith, Nova Scotia talent. the lyrics of one song in particular has stuck with me and I often find myself humming the tune. "I go there, I go there to find stillness when the wind might blow me away." Of course the place that she was referring to was a place where she went in her mind not an actual physical location. 

I had a lovely discussion this morning with a very interesting person I am getting to know and we talked about how important it is that "we go there" when we want to create something new in our lives. It isn't just the logical choices that we need to make - get out there and sell a product, write a good report, etc., success also requires us to go places in our mind to pave the way for the journey.

What you think matters as much as what you do.

Where will you go today? "There's a place that I go, not for pleasure, not for show. I find comfort there."

21 July 2015

The Middle Passage - Answering the Call

It was one of those months where people show up in your life because the encounter is supposed to happen. Some may say it's hocus pocus but I happen to believe that there is so much about life we do not understand.

As a woman who has questioned her sanity a time or two, heard the call for change, took the leap and got a toehold on the other side, I love looking back to holler at the sisters and brothers who are faced with what James Hollis refers to as the middle passage. Change can be so frightening but the reality is, it can also be rather fantastic.

Here's a few tips I learned on the journey and we've only just begun:
  1. Letting go is key. This time of flux can make us question our own sanity. Part of the reason is because we love to be in control of our lives and change is all about letting go. But we have to freefall a bit to get to that new place. Let go!
  2. You will make new friends. There are benefits and burdens associated with all change. Not everyone will support your decision to change or like the new you. You will make new friends and your old friends will have their own transition. The ones that are important will be with you in the new life. This change is natural. You're not supposed to hold on so tight that you can't grow. So let go!!
  3. You will amaze yourself. You can do so much more than you ever imagined. We grow across our lifespans. Once you stop fearing change and actually embrace it as a necessary part of life, your life will be amazing again. So let go!!!
No matter what put you in this situation, know this - only you can take you to the next level.

12 July 2015

Grateful for this? Really???

My friend Renee recently gave me a beautiful gratitude journal and I treasure that gift. Truth is, she was as excited about giving me the gift as I was about receiving it. Gratitude at times like this is a fairly easy practice.

But what about those times when life isn't going so great? Let's say your life is a mess at the moment? Can you feel gratitude when you're in the middle of a real crapstorm?

Your child tells you she hates you. You're on your way to sign bankruptcy  papers and you are going to be couch surfing because truth be told you can't afford to get your own place right now.

Gratitude is no warm and fussy matter. It is an essential ingredient to creating a better life even in the middle of all of the mess that we sometimes need to call living.

Here are a few tips that worked for me when the days were dim. Hope they work for you.

1. Suspend your disbelief. Sit with pen and paper and take a moment before writing to acknowledge that you are not feeling very grateful right now but you are going to suspend your disbelief for the duration of your writing.

2. Mine for gold. In the midst of my own turmoil,the cat making it too the litter box was often the only thing that I could find to write about.  If being grateful puts you in the right mindset, humour greases the wheels a little. Look around you, there are things going well in your world.

3. Keep at it. Don't give up the practice just because it appears that things are not going well. Like most new tasks, you get better by doing.

Don't give up before the miracle happens. I'm grateful for you.

16 June 2015

Creating a Supportive Community

“We are more than a gym. We are building community and I want that community to be inclusive. Whether you are an elite athlete or are new to fitness, you will always be welcome at Rocky Lake CrossFit.” Shane Lynch is my nephew and the owner of the new “box” in Bedford. We had a sit down to see if I would come in and chat with his members about what it takes to build and sustain a welcoming and inclusive community.

“Not everyone will want to be in an inclusive gym. It was part of my mission when I opened. The folks who aren’t into that kind of environment will move on and, as we spread the word about how welcoming we are to people no matter what their fitness level, we will attract more of those people.”

Hats off to Shane - a man with a big vision.

First, Best or Different

I’m not a wine drinker but you can bet your bottom dollar I said yes to a chance to visit Luckett Vineyards. And what a fantastic experience it was. Pete Luckett knows business and I enjoyed having a brief chat with him, and watching him roll up his sleeves and get his hands in there. It was interesting because, from my experience with business folk, there are a few things that separate the successful people from those who are flash-in-a-pans. One of those things is a willingness to get your hands dirty. That’s not to say that when things are better, you don’t outsource some of the work. But a real willingness to be seen as human can go a long way to earning respect.

At one point, Pete stopped by our table with a smile on his face and a story to tell. I boldly asked for one piece of sage advice. “Are you ready?” he asked with a twinkle in his eye. Not one to be outdone in the charm department, I responded, “I am a Newfoundlander. I was born ready.”

“Be the first, be the best, or be different.” That’s it. The key to success. You heard it from the man.

20 May 2015

In your Loudest Voice, Say "NO"

Do you ever look back on choices that you have made in the past and ask, “How did I end up here?” I know you may not want to hear it, but the truth is that we end up in places where we don’t want to be because we made choices.

Do you look back sometimes and think that if you had to do it again, you would run? Maybe ditched him at the altar, said “Not a chance” and hightailed it out of Dodge. Sometimes when we are so far along a road, we struggle to say no - even when we know we should. What will others think? How will I explain my change of heart?

Here’s what I think: say no when you know that you ought to say no. I did that this week when I made a decision to walk away from a lease negotiation that really wasn’t working in my favour. When I first thought, “I can’t say yes to this,” I got the 'cringe'. Oh no, what will everyone think? What will the other party think? But then a newer, stronger voice boomed inside my head, “What is in Debbie’s best interest?” And I walked away from the negotiation. It was in my best interest to do so.

What a relief. Out a few bucks, no big deal. It could have been a lot worse to make a decision that wasn’t working for me. I wish I had the same amount of courage back in the day. What are you saying yes to when a no would be the best response?

Grateful for This? Really?

Has anyone ever said that one day you will look back on this and be grateful? I’ve been there. No matter how true it might be, there is nothing worse than hearing those words when we are in the middle of turmoil.

As the movers loaded the last box onto the truck when I was moving from a house that I had hung onto far too long, the last thing I was thinking about was how grateful I would be for this lesson. After all, the real issue was that I couldn’t afford to live in this home, but I hated change more. I should have sold it earlier, but the reality was that I didn’t. And then I was forced to sell quickly because the gig was up with Peter and Paul. Most of us have been there and those who won’t admit it are likely in denial.

Gratitude is definitely part of a healthy creative process. Keeping a Gratitude Journal has become a staple in my life. In the early days it was almost painful to take the journal out. Sure I was grateful that we had running water and that the cat made it to the litter box. But I would give up running water just to drive a car again, and turn in the litter box for a chance to make a decent living.

In spite of the process, I stuck to it because my wise friend who is an expert in this area told me it was necessary. The more I dug deep to find things to be grateful for, the more blessings I uncovered. I have so much to be grateful for. I still miss the losses, but I’ve changed focus – the big things have lost their power over me. There is joy in my life.

No matter where you are today, take a moment, sit and write one page about what you are grateful for. Do it for 30 days and watch how it impacts your life in a good way.

5 May 2015

Women Lead

Did you ever find yourself in a position at work where you're working for a great boss who really appreciates your work ethic and generally treats you well. Do you sometimes feed him nuggets of information that make him a better leader? Do you silently lead but never get the credit? If any of this sounds familiar - maybe it's time for you to get out there and take on a leadership role.

Think about it, you're doing it anyway without any of the risk. Women make awesome leaders but for some reason, we often struggle with that internal urge to put ourselves out there.Maybe it's time in every organization for women to step out and take on those roles. 

21 April 2015

Who Gets the Love?

Sometimes discrimination in the workplace isn't as overt as mistreating you in a very open and obvious way. Sometimes, it’s a little more subtle. Sometimes it’s got to do with who gets the love.

We all mess up at times, wouldn't you agree? If you’re really part of the inner circle, you can mess up and people help you out. They circle the wagons, so to speak, and treat you like a human being. Understand one thing: we all make mistakes in life. If you’re part of the 'in group', you’ll be forgiven and move beyond those mistakes.

When you’re not quite an insider yet and you make a mistake, well that is a horse of a different colour. In closed cultures, the rules are a little different. You’re more likely to be thrown under the bus when you mess up. That, my friends, is a more subtle form of discrimination. I could care less what the policies are. Failing to act is painful and hurtful and downright wrong. Inclusion is when you provide the same treatment to Jane as you would for Joe. Know what I’m saying? No brainer.

So, in your workplace, who gets the love?

Are You Snagged in Your Own Safety Net?

Is it time to take that leap? Leave a full time, secure job or make enough money to put your disability pension in jeopardy? Those are tough choices. I’ve made at least one of them and coached others who have made both. For me it’s a no brainer, it’s the choice between living and shrivelling up and perishing. It’s as simple as that.

“But Debbie, you don’t understand, I may put my livelihood in jeopardy and we may not be able to enjoy the lifestyle we have.” That’s very true. Find a quiet place and be honest with yourself. Are you happy with the status quo? ‘Nuf said. You know what to do.

There are no guarantees in life. Risk takes guts. We all get to that chasm in life where we either jump or turn back. A devil you know or one you don’t? That’s a toughie.

12 April 2015

Birthing a New Era - Men and Women as Team

We are at a pivotal time in our history. Many women of a certain age are learning the real secret - life is not like we thought it would be. For many of us we are on the cusp of bringing in a new way of doing things - whether it is relationships or who gets the remote after a long day of work. Things are changing.

It's not a case of women becoming empowered, it's more of a case of women and men realizing that the old model "women as caregiver, men as provider" does not work. We're birthing in a new era - we're going to be a team and it's about time.

19 March 2015

What Kind of Woman do You need to Become?

Goals take work. That’s not news to you. You write it down. You set the intention. You take steps to make it happen. You fall off the wagon. You start again. You know the drill. Goals are not for the faint of heart.

The game changer for me came when I learned to ask myself this one question:  “What kind of woman do I want to become to achieve this goal?”

Check out this example. 2015 is the year of “strong body” for me. I have a goal that sees me changing my lifestyle resulting in a more active, slimmer and conscientious person when it comes to the benefits of good health. I’m not that woman yet.

I know the art of goal achievement - after all I make a living helping people achieve goals. I understand that goals take a lot of courage and determination.

The kind of person that I need to be to achieve this health and fitness goal is one with the courage to change. I have to be the kind of person who says no to a sale on chocolate cakes at the grocery store. I have to be a woman who jumps out of bed and into sneakers. I also have to be a woman who speaks a truth. Those chicken wings and nachos will not cut it if I am really committed to becoming a strong me.

I’m not that kind of woman yet. That’s the cold hard truth. But I will become that woman. I will gently morph into the type of person who is able to achieve that goal. It won’t be easy but a goal worth having is not one that is simple.

Have a look back at your goals and ask yourself the tough question: “What kind of woman do you need to become to achieve that goal?”

Get out there and get ‘er done.

photo by Sangudo / Flickr

Cardinal Rules for Women in Trades

So you have chosen a career in trades and you want to be amazing in your profession. They are lofty goals and many of us who have gone down that road have a real appreciation for what it takes to be someone who is respected in that workplace. What kind of person do you need to be to achieve that goal? You need to be the type of person who imposes rules upon herself even when those rules are not stated.

Here are my three cardinal rules for women in trades:
  1. “Don’t get your honey where you make your money.” Show up on Day One as a professional. You’re not in a meat market. It’s not a pick-up joint. It’s a work place. Act accordingly. When we were young women in the army, we had a strict rule against fraternization. We tried to break it, of course. We also saw what happened to the people who did. If you ignore the rule, there are consequences. Maybe you won’t be called back to work next time you’re laid off because too much drama is hard to deal with. Women always get the blame; you don’t have to like it, but it is the truth.
  2. Don’t tell dirty jokes, use sexual innuendos or comment on people’s body parts. Don’t open that door. You give them an inch and they will take a mile. Actions escalate. Today it’s a joke, but six months from now it’s a charge of sexual harassment with him saying, “She started it.” Don’t get yourself in that situation. Don’t accept the rope and you won’t hang yourself.
  3. Observe the 3B rule: no breasts, no bellies and no bums. People who know me know that I’m well endowed in certain areas and I am proud of the girls, but when it comes to the workplace, it is minimize, minimize, minimize. Not the time or the place to be a diva.
Seems like common sense, but people who get in trouble have often ignored one of these cardinal rules.

photo by expertinfantry / Flickr

18 February 2015

The Toxic Boss

What a difference it makes when you work for a boss who has your back. When I was a young mechanic in the army, I had the good fortune to work for a man who became the benchmark for other supervisors. Vic was not only fair, he was a gentleman, and he had a zero tolerance policy when it came to allowing anyone to bully the women. In the early 80s, there weren’t very many of us women in non-traditional trades in the army. They say the first one through the wall is usually the bloodiest and the truth was that we had a tough time in many areas. Vic had a way of dealing with people who broke the rules that let you know that you were going to be just fine. I was blessed to work for this man.

Because of this early experience, I was a little shocked when, later on, I had a boss that didn’t quite measure up. I worked for a man who was scared to confront a bully and was so two-faced that he had no one’s back except his own. What a difference it makes when you’re looked after in the work place. You can go to work, do your job and thrive. This new situation made it a chore to go to work and really impacted morale in the workplace.

When no one has your back, you need to develop some pretty amazing survival skills. With a weak boss, you’re on your own to protect yourself against bullies and people who like to abuse you. If my first encounter had been with this terrible supervisor, I would not have remained in the trade long enough to become a journeyman.

Vic ended up in a leadership role because he was not only a great technician, but he had great leadership skills. Unfortunately this is not always the case. There are all kinds of bosses out there with terrible skills when it comes to managing people. I hope you end up with the best and, if you don’t, learn some survival skills.

Good bosses:
  • Stand up for you
  • Set standards in the workplace that prohibit abuse

photo by Lottery Monkey/Flickr

Suspenders: You'll be Needin’ Them Now

If you intend to achieve results in your life, you have to gain control of your mind. During a recent workshop, I was passionately sharing with the class how important it is to suspend your disbelief when it comes to achieving goals. When the class was over, a student who had been sitting quietly at the back of the class made her way to the front. She wanted to know more about this concept of suspending disbelief. Actually she thought it wouldn't really work for her because no matter what she believed, she didn't have the resources right now to accomplish big change.

I loved where this conversation was heading. Achieving goals may require more resources, but the first ingredient is the right mindset. The resources will come. Dare to dream in technicolour and add a pinch of emotion and... voila!!! That is the recipe.

“So, that’s it?” she asked. I thought for a minute and, even though the explanation was a little oversimplified, the truth was that beliefs aren't the only things that need to be suspended. In a 'crabs in a bucket' society, it is often essential that you suspend your contact with some of those friends who work hard to undermine you at every turn. Those naysayers who will speak as loud as the little voice in your head to ensure that you never get ahead.

The mind is a powerful tool when it comes to accomplishing anything in life. For a while it got out of control with my 'poor me' and not being able to focus. I had to train my mind to dream a new dream and it is tough when your reality is not one that inspires hope.

So, suspend your disbelief for a second and dream a big dream. Surround yourself with folks who support you. Make sure there is alignment between your actions and your dreams. Once you develop the right mindset, you will see it as a tool you will use in all areas of your personal and professional life. Change your mind first and then your life will begin to change.

photo by Rrrrred / Flickr

26 January 2015

Women make great apprentices, but...

“Pass that wrench to me, Debbie,” my father yelled down as I assisted him when he was repairing the furnace one day. It feels like I started my apprenticeship when I was four!! Truth be told, when girls are raised in families with tradespeople, it is not uncommon for them to learn the language of the industry just by being around it all the time.

The careers we chose (me a mechanic, and my sister and niece cement finishing) were quite natural for us. Women make awesome apprentices, but to become a journeyman, we have to have more than the hours in trade or a slip of paper. To become a functional journeyman, we have to challenge our internal belief systems.

Even after I received my qualification as a certified mechanic, I was quite content to be an apprentice during the work day. After all, it was safe to keep things going as they were. No sense ruffling feathers. The guys didn't mind having us around as much as they resented those women who looked arrogant to us. It wasn't until later that I realized that those women weren't arrogant at all. They were confident in what they did. I wanted to be just like them.

The defining moment for me was when I took the lead on some of those jobs, which was a huge risk - the risk of failure in front of folks who sometimes wanted us to fail. It meant stepping away from the women in our lives who were challenged by non-traditional women. It was a lonely place to be at times. Not quite belonging to the brotherhood, and having less and less in common with the sisterhood.

Where are you in the journey? Have you made that psychological shift yet? That's the real journey for us. Oh, the fun of it all.