paul drinking a coffee

How Gas Station Coffee Saved My Sanity

The clock on my dashboard read 6:17 AM. I didn’t bother to look at the temperature on my screen since my windows were frosted over.  I hadn’t slept well in three nights, I had more deadlines to meet than I could remember, and worst of all my gas tank was on empty. Of course I noticed this as I backed out of my driveway. 

I pulled into the gas station all I could think about was how bad I wanted to get to the airport as soon as possible; a fact that was made worse by the fact that the gas pump kept rejecting my credit card. Remind me again how chips on cards are supposed to make life easier?

I filled my tank and grumbled my way into the store to pay.  

The lineup at the register was unusually long and instead of cursing out loud (like I wanted to do), I decided to walk a lap around the premises. That’s when the aroma of coffee caught my attention. For a moment I was relaxed and dare I even say calm?

I staggered towards the five large carafes and took another whiff. I then glanced at the titles of the different coffee flavors. 

There was hazelnut, dark Columbian roast, Sumatran Medley, and premium decaf (two words that should never go together).  I began to wonder if the coffee really came from Sumatra. And what about it made it a blend? They never mentioned what they were blending with Sumatra.  And did the Columbian coffee come from Columbia? Would Juan Valdez and his crazy mule appear behind me if I purchased it?  

And then….

I laughed….

Loud enough for others to hear. 

I didn’t care.

It felt good.

I hadn’t laughed in a long time.  I decided to treat myself to a large and delicious cup of Sumatran blend with a splash of premium decaf and topped with Coffeemate’s finest French vanilla creamer that came from an enormous dispenser. I tried not to think about how long the creamer had sat there.  All of it for the fabulous price of $1.09.  

As an added bonus if I bought five cups I’d get the next one free.

And just like that a new addiction (and tradition) was born.  These days, every early morning that I fill up my tank I get the gas station coffee. I’ve earned 4 free cups since I started this.

I don’t know why reading coffee titles sparked my creative mind and made me giggle like a high schooler but it did. For me it has become an important ritual; a way of giving thanks for making me laugh and reminding me that life doesn’t always have to be so serious.

It’s a ritual I look forward too even though the coffee isn’t what most would consider drinkable.

Every time I select and create a caffeinated concoction I find that my long morning drive is more enjoyable and I experience better inner peace. 

HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR GAS STATION COFFEE?

Our lives can be stressful and complicated and in that grind we sometimes create processes and expectations that are toxic or at the very least, keep us away from happiness and self-care.  It is important we create rituals and processes that center us and bring us to the happy place. 

It doesn’t have to be coffee. It can be an exercise routine, watching a show that you love, or a call with a family member or friend who knows how to supercharge your happiness. 

But whatever it is, guard it fiercely and visit it often.

I think my tank is empty again. Time for another cup.

*

Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 

For more information visit www.paulartale.com

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #leadership #manager

a pokemon back pack

What a Pokemon Backpack Taught Me About Organizational Culture

It started off as an uneventful morning.  Wake up. Brush teeth. Hustle the kids out the door.  On that day it was my turn to drive my son to school.   He was surprisingly ready and in my car as I was pouring my morning coffee.

My wife Sherri reminded me to grab his Pokeman backpack.  I barely nodded acknowledgement and muttered something about not being as forgetful as she thought.

Yea….. I forgot the backpack.

I could see the school driveway in the distance when I finally made the realization. We were barely on time as it is. I announced to my son:

“Hey bud! I forgot your backpack. No worries though. I’ll drop you off and go back home and bring it to you so you won’t be late.” Easy solution! Win-win, right?

Not so much.

My son suddenly became worried and upset. He talked about how if we walked into the classroom without his backpack (and more importantly the homework folder in it) that he would get in a lot of trouble.

I reminded him that he’d have the backpack in 12 minutes.

He became more upset. “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT IT’S LIKE WHEN YOU DON’T BRING IT IN DAD!”

Maybe I’m a softy. Maybe my son scammed me into an extra twenty-minute round trip journey so he could attend less school that day. I really don’t know.  

25 minutes later, I dropped him off at the office, signed him in as late, and as I drove to my speaking engagement had this realization:

What are we emphasizing that is important to people and what is the effect of that emphasis?

On some level I am sure my son was overreacting but the fear was real. I’ve received the notes about remembering to bring in the backpack and the much prized folder that holds the secrets of the universe. No wonder he was freaked out. 

That day when he got home I tried to walk that fine line of teaching my son to respect the rules and not letting trivial things get to you…..but it was hard.

I thought about my experience working in office culture.  The things that were often emphasized and prized as important.

·        Attendance over engagement

·        Perception over productivity

·        Deadlines over everything else in your universe that can’t wait either

I am not saying things like attendance and meeting deadlines aren’t important. Of course they are. 

As you go back to your organization think about what is emphasized and rewarded in the lived experience. Focus on the actions that occur instead of the rhetoric. What impact does it have on the workplace culture? How do people react? Pay attention to the subtle cues. You will be surprised at what you notice.

A Pokeman backpack and a faulty memory taught me that.

****

Paul Artale is a motivational speaker and organizational culture expert. He is also the author of the book “The 2-Year-Old’s Guide to Work-Life Balance.” For more information visit www.paulartale.com

#leadership #shrm #organizationalculture #management #employees #retention

Paul Artale leading on a table

Do I want to be recognized? Reflections on my experience with (Dis)Ability and working in Higher Education

My name is Paul. I was born missing fingers and have funny arms. I am ok with it. There really isn’t much that I can’t do and I have learned to adapt.

People who looked at me probably thought I could never play college football but yeah…I did that. I even coached it for a while. I loved my time working in athletics and although I looked different, I never felt out of place or discriminated against. I was just Paul Artale, football guy, and keeping teams from scoring on us was the most important thing in the world. I bring up football because being an athlete (and the lessons learned from it) are still very prominent pieces of my identity.

Disability is a complex and nuanced identity. Disability is not a primary, or even secondary identity for many people with a disability. My athletic identity, ethnicity, and nationality (Canadian) are far more prevalent in my life. On a good day, it is something I don’t think about much about. On a rare bad day it is something that I repress. Disability is often left out of discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) because individuals with disabilities frequently do not prioritize their disability identity, or leave it completely out of conversations because it is a secondary or tertiary identity. Another reason is that disability is often perceived as a medical condition; a person has a condition, they adapt, they persist, and they almost forget they had a disability in the first place.

Paul Football
[creative commons]

Viewing disability identity through a social lens complicates things further. Society as a whole is not comfortable talking about issues around ability on a meaningful level. The subject is a bit taboo and as a result an individual with a disability may not always feel that wearing the disability hat is in their best interest. One doesn’t want to be tokenized, or thought of as less than, so you hide the disability, don’t mention the identity, and in doing so hope it is overlooked. This is the reason when I am job searching I love phone interviews, and dread in-person ones. On the phone, I am like everybody else; in person I have to worry about being discounted the moment I extend my hand to say hello. Sometimes I tell myself, “this institution prides itself on diversity in the workforce.” But do those interviewing me see ability as part of the diversity puzzle? I am not so sure.

What do I mean?

Ironically, the problem emerged when higher education institutions started to pay more attention to DEI issues. When DEI emerged as a priority, the exclusion of ability as an identity made me feel isolated and less welcome than one might expect.Consider for a moment a hiring committee that is very focused on bringing in a diverse applicant pool. What if, while looking at materials the committee chair says, “We want to bring a diverse pool to campus of underrepresented applicants. So let’s make sure we have diversity in terms of gender and race/ethnicity.” Two things a committee member with a disability might be thinking are: 1) are those with disabilities not underrepresented? and 2) what are the pros/cons of me speaking up and making a point?
The struggle to speak up is not just rooted in fear of association, labelling, etc. It is also rooted in knowing that many are uncomfortable or not knowledgeable enough about disability to properly react.

Let me share a personal experience.

At the beginning of my doctoral program, during my search for external scholarships. I came across a scholarship from a major national educational organization advertising scholarships for members of traditionally underrepresented groups. I read the scholarship description, but while it mentioned racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic identities, ability was not specifically mentioned. However, the criteria still seemed vague, so I emailed the committee. Two days later I received a reply that confirmed that ability was not a qualifying criteria; however, the response also noted that if I had a racial or ethnic identity in the minority that my disability would make my application “very competitive” which in my mind translated to: disability didn’t count unless it was a free add on bonus

As a student affairs practitioner, frustration surfaces in unexpected places:

  • Being told my department has absolutely no diversity (I flailed my arms around to remind people, but I guess it didn’t work).
  • When DEI programs about disability are dealing with ADA compliance, and not identity, nor the myriad of disabilities (visible and invisible) that our students possess.
  • Working on campuses that programming heavily for heritage months but ignore Disability Awareness Month.
  • Not hearing ability mentioned in discussions of marginalized groups.
  • Presenting a workshop on navigating disability identity in the workplace to colleagues with disabilities and getting collective agreement when you mention how often ability is left out of many DEI initiatives. It’s bittersweet. On one hand you are glad to find common experience with colleagues; on the other hand, you almost hope that your experience is unique, because being unique in this case means others aren’t struggling with this issue.

Up until a year ago I was hesitant to mention anything about ability in a meeting or to do any work that directly deals with this topic. It was at a meeting where a new scholarship policy was announced that I felt was not fair to students with disabilities that I finally opened my mouth. In that moment I realized that my silence helped nobody. This is why I have now embraced being on a few diversity committees, working in a new job that has some disability related work, and even doing workshops on disability identity for campuses and organizations.By now you may be asking “What can I do to improve the situation on my campus?”

I am offering eight easy strategies and some resources to get you started. They are:

1. If you are involved in making curriculum decisions for, or teach courses addressing DEI, ensure disability is covered.

2. Attend trainings on disability related matters and/or cover disability related in staff trainings. Improve your practice and knowledge by making the discussion on disability part of core expectations. To do this:

a. Ensure trainings shift focus between spheres such as identity, physical disability, and invisible disabilities.

b. Share the information gained from these trainings with your student leaders, incorporate it into diversity and inclusion trainings, and infuse it into student staff trainings (resident assistants, orientation leaders, Rho Gamma etc).

3. Understand that disability is not just a medical condition requiring Individual Education Plans (IEPs), formal diagnosis, accommodations and modifications; it is an identity that contributes to the diversity of your institution.

4. If you are forming committees made up of “diverse” membership, then make it a point to ensure a voice (or two or three) is present to represent the viewpoints of people with disabilities.

5. Hire speakers who are disabled and identify with it, whether they speak on disability or not.

6. If you don’t have much experience working with people with disabilities, engage with them.

7. Create robust programming around Disability Awareness Month. Don’t rely on the fine folks in Disability Services to do all this work alone.

8. Reflect on your own practice. How inclusive have you been on this topic? What are your biases, assumptions, and conceptions What can you do to affect positive change around this topic?

The higher education landscape still has a long way to go in creating a more inclusive environment for those with disabilities. As a field, we still view it from a largely medical and legal perspective, but disability as an identity and as a social construct is complex and warrants more attention. The good news is that the field of higher education is filled with great people who are committed to change and who have inspired me to speak up, get involved, and work towards a more inclusive practice.

___

Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, researcher, and author who works with organizations who want to create disability inclusive cultures. A former student affairs administrator, Dr. Artale’s research focuses on how student affairs can retain top talent.

For more information visit http://www.paulartale.com

#studentaffairs #disability #sachats #disabilityinclusion

Resources

Artale, Paul. Disability awareness: Disability Identity at Work. Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FkkzI_INto

Bruyere, S. M.; Erickson, W. A.; Ferrentino, J. T. (2003). Identity and disability in the workplace. William and Mary Law Review 44(3), 1173-1196.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Barriers to Participation Experienced by People with Disabilities. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/disability-barriers.html

Department of Labor. National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2017. https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/

Seale, J. K. (2013). E-learning and disability in higher education: accessibility research and practice. Routledge.

Wendell, S. (1996). The rejected body: Feminist philosophical reflections on disability. Psychology Press. * particularly Chapter 2. The Social Construction of Disability.

Suggested Citation

Artale P. (2017,October 5). Do I want to be recognized? Reflections on my experience with (Dis)Ability and working in Higher Education Retrieved from https://ascnhighered.org/ASCN/posts/188961.html

a basketball player sitting in the bleachers

Career Development and Student-Athletes

 Career Exploration and Student Athletes

It has been a few years since I coached college football.  There are lots of things that I miss about it like the first day of fully padded practice, late nights breaking down film,  scrimmages and of course, game day.  I also miss my players and not just the coaching part.  Developing relationships with players creates a bond that is unique to those in student affairs administration.  That’s right, I said it, coaches are student affairs administrators; especially at the small, NAIA institutions I used to work at.  One thing that I always tried to work with my players on was career development.  Many athletes   in the NAIA and Division III pay for the education through financial aid and   family contributions.  Athletic scholarships (if any) cover a   fraction of the tuition, room, board and miscellaneous expenses   associated with getting a college degree.  Most would graduate with significant student debt, making the question: what do you want to do when   you graduate an increasingly important one.

The answer to this question is not easy for   student-athletes, even those who compete at levels that do not typically lead to professional careers.  Across levels, the literature is pretty clear that student-athletes identify strongly as athletes first, and students second (Houle, Brewer, & Kluck, 2010). Moreover, the stresses associated   with balancing their athletic schedule with academic commitments leads to the   athlete choosing the former in most cases (Brewer, Raalte, & Linder, 1993).  These choices, while often a positive factor in retaining   student-athletes, can have harmful effects upon the athletes psyche as development in other areas/identities is often stagnated (Watt & Moore,   2001).   Two areas that are often underdeveloped are long-term goal   setting and career planning (Sandstedt, Cox, Martens, Ward, Webber, & Ivey, 2004; Eiche, Sedlacek, & Adams-Gaston, 1997). When addressing career planning with students   there are two important terms to consider: vocational identity and career   maturity.  Vocational identity refers to strong feelings or identities associated   with a particular field.  Student-athletes often score high on vocational identity surveys largely due to the fact that athletes often feel that they will either play professionally after college or be involved in a   closely aligned athletic profession (i.e. coaching or physical training).  Career maturity refers to factors that are broader in nature and are nested in the realistic appraisal of one’s competencies and abilities in a field (Martens & Cox, 2000).

Martens and Lee (1998) provide a model for   involvement that is both sensible and beneficial to the student-athlete if implemented. Their three step model involves cooperation with the (1) athletic department, (2) identification of student-athlete goals, and (3) implementation of the program (Martens & Lee, 1998).  The first step  is the most crucial since the athletic department and specific team control much of the athlete’s schedule.  Without a push from the athletic department, administrators may find it difficult to get student-athletes to   engage in career exploration.  The second step involves breaking down   logistical barriers, promoting independence, exploring options and interests, and using the student-athlete’s strong identity as an asset to the job search   process (Martens & Lee, 1998). This last point (using the student’s   identity) can come in useful in creating “back-up” plans for those who have aspirations of playing professional sports.    The final step discusses the implementation of a career development   program. Martens and Lee (1998) suggest incorporating career development into the athlete’s schedule.  Realistically, incorporation into the schedule or some form of formal endorsement by either the team or the athletic department is essential in creating an effective career program for student- athletes.

The need for career exploration early and often in a student’s academic life is needed if we want to ensure a smooth transition into the workforce; especially during these trying times.  Reports indicate that possessing work-related experiences and skills are a chief determinant in employing students out of college (CERI, 2007).  These skills and experiences come primarily from internships and co-op placements.  Such placements are difficult to obtain during the academic year due to team commitments and depending on the program’s requirements.  Such opportunities can also be difficult in the summer if the student-athlete is catching up on coursework or in the case of some Division II, III and NAIA athletes may be working jobs to help cover their school expenses.  This can be problematic as many internships and coops are unpaid (the legislative battles currently surrounding unpaid internships is a whole other story).

So what is the solution?  Particularly for those who work at institutions that may not have services dedicated specifically to student-athletes or at institutions that may have limited campus services period?  The overly- simplistic answer is: anything.  Any conscious effort to develop an athlete’s skill set and allow them to further explore their aspirations is a good step.   This can be done through orientation programs, specific sessions with campus administrators (i.e. having career services administer surveys such as the Student Athlete Career Services Inventory (SACSI),  using resources from the NCAA Life Skills program or a formalized effort from the athletic department itself.

Although student-athletes tend to struggle with long-term planning outside of their sport, they have a plethora of skills and abilities that make them marketable in the post-graduation world.  Such skills include teamwork, leadership, ability to cope with pressure, commitment and work ethicIt should be the goal of coach/administrators to ensure that student-athletes can enter the marketplace with these skills in addition to experience and a better sense of what career path they wish to take.

__

Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker who tells the story of how he overcame physical disability to play college football. With years of experiences as a college coach and administrator, Dr. Artale helps student athletes find superstardom after their playing days are over. For more information visit http://www.paulartale.com

#athlete #studentathlete #career #jobs #success #ncaa

References

Brewer, B. W., Raalte, J. L. V., & Linder, D. (1993). Athletic identity: Hercules’ muscles or achilles heel? International Journal of Sport Psychology, 24: 237-254.

Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac (2005-06). College enrollment by racial and ethnic group, selected years.

Eiche, K., Sedlacek, W., & Adams-Gaston, J. (1997). An exploration of leadership characteristic in university athletes. University of Maryland at College Park. Research Report # 6-97. Retrieved March 6, 2010 from: http://williamsedlacek.info/publications/articles/exploration697.html

Houle, J.L., Brewer, B.W., & Kluck, A.S. (2010).  Developmental trends in athletic identity: A two-part retrospective study.  Journal of Sport Behavior, (33)2, 146-159.

Martens, M.P., & Cox, R.H. (2000). Career development in college varsity athletes.  Journal of College Student Development, (41)2, 172-180.

Martens, M.P., & Lee, F.K. (1998). Promoting life-career development in the student Athlete: How can career centers help? Journal of Career Development,(25)2. 123-134.

Sandstedt, S.D., Cox, R.H., Martens, M.P., Ward, D.G., Webber, S.N., & Ivey S. (2004).  Development of the student-athlete career situation inventory (SACSI).  Journal of Career Development, (31)2, 79-93.

Watt, S.K., & Moore, J.L. (2001).  Who are student athletes?  In M.F. Howard-Hamilton & S.K. Watt (Eds.), New direction for student services: Rethinking for college athletes. (7-18)  New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

two hands with 3 fingers on each of them holding a football

Reflections of a “Disabled” College Athlete

Athletics has always been in my blood.  From the first time I watched Hulk Hogan bodyslam Andre the Giant to watching the San Francisco 49ers dominate the NFL during the 80‘s, I knew I wanted to compete on the biggest scale possible.  On the surface, this was an unrealistic goal.  I was missing fingers and had shortened forearms, who was I to compete with “able-bodied” athletes in anything other than soccer?  I remember my surgeon trying to push me to compete in the Special Olympics as a swimmer but my fear of the deep end quickly killed that dream.

Someone born into my situation tends to fall into a weird No Mans Land at times.  My “disability” allows me to function in society without any serious need for accommodation but some things can be tougher for me than say those five fingered folks out there.  I always felt like I was not “disabled” enough to compete in things like the Special Olympics or amputee sports but different enough that playing against the “able bodied” in many sports was challenging.   As a result I spent much of my childhood with no involvement in formal athletics.  It would have stayed that way until I turned on the tv and saw a one-handed pitcher on the California Angels by the name of Jim Abbott.  He was awesome.  I remember buying his biography through the school book club and reading it several times.  I posted his pictures in my locker; a tradition that exists in some form today.  If Jim could do it, I could do it and that’s all that I needed to persist.

Choosing to play football was especially challenging for me but I loved every minute of it.  I was the victim of many snide remarks from people I thought were my friends but by then I had grown pretty tough skin.  I was cut from the team in my senior year of high school but found myself playing for the University of Toronto six years later.  It was a road filled with bumps and challenges.  From the men’s league coach who was resistant to me playing because this wasn’t the “Special Olympics” to mangling my elbow during training camp to former best friends telling some nasty jokes about me playing football.   It was tough but I am stronger for having gone through it.  It really was  the most surreal experience of my life and taught me a lot about myself and the people around me.  The life lessons I learned during my journey in football were priceless and I spend much of my free time promoting those lessons to anybody who will listen.   So on that note, here are some random reflections and pieces of advice.

Lesson #1: This is specifically to the “disabled” athletes out there.  Compete at the highest level you can.  Don’t let people tell you to settle for less or play sports that would be “easier” for you to do.

Follow your heart and go after it.   You know your limitations and capabilities more than anyone else.  Pardon the cliche but: go for the gold.

Lesson #2:  Faith is such a huge part of this whole process.  Faith in yourself.  Faith in the journey.  Faith that it will all work out; and trust me it does.

Lesson #3: Naysayers will be naysayers so don’t listen to them.  There are certain people out there who will try to bring you down for simply trying to do something you love.  Ignore them.  They will only get in the way of success.  Also, don’t try and please them because they can’t be pleased.  Nothing you can do will silence their criticism so it is best to cut them from your life.

Lesson #4: Don’t let your critics take your pride.   A few years ago I competed in my first karate tournament just for the fun of it.   As I was prepping for my next match I overheard my first opponent saying to another competitor that he felt sorry for me and went too easy.  His tune changed later that day when I took the gold medal in sparring.   If I believed the naysayers and all the other critics out there my accomplishments would have been because people felt sorry for me.  I would have never earned it.  I was just a mascot.  That’s a load of you know what.   Be proud of what you accomplish and know that you ACCOMPLISHED it.  Nothing on that field, rink, or ring is ever given to you so don’t let people tell you otherwise.

Lesson #5:   This one may reflect my own personal bias more than anything else but I think it is important to note this.  This may be useful for some of the student-affairs administrators out there as well.  A “disabled” student athlete is often going to identify as an athlete first and disabled second.   Athletic identity often supercedes other identities in college athletes and those with “disabilities” are no different. For me personally, “disability” probably ranks fifth on my identity chart behind being an athlete,  Italian, Canadian, a member of a fraternity, and then as someone who was born looking different than the rest.   Just be aware of that in your dealings and in some of the assumptions you may make.

These days my athletic exploits are limited to my Playstation and the occasional karate tournament.  I recount my football and disability journey in several forms to different crowds.  If I had to boil all my talks down to one simple lesson it would be this: disability is a state of mind and not a diagnosis.  The biggest obstacle to our success is our attitude and the way we react to adversity.   I always put the word disability in quotation marks when referring to myself or others.  It’s just a word and like many things in life, that word only has as much power and influence  over our own lives as we allow it to.

__

Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker who shares his story of overcoming disability to play college football as a way of teaching organizations to break through their challenges. For more information visit http://www.paulartale.com

#disability #athletics #football #athlete #studentathlete

a piece of metal in the shape of the number 7

7 Habits of a Positive Work Life Balance (Part 1)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People had such a great impact on me and the Franklin-Covey training I received years ago shaped me as a leader and a person.  In honor of Covey,  the next few blogs will show how his 7 Habits can be used as a cornerstone for positive work-life balance.  This week deals with the first 3 Habits or the Habits that deal with going from Dependence to Independence.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Aint this the truth.  Work-life policies and opportunities often do not fall into place.  We have to work at them.  Proactivity in this area means educating, advocating, and negotiating your way to a better work-life situation.  Proactivity carries the mindset of “I impact the world” vs “the world impact me.”  Being proactive means looking for alternatives and positive outcomes and by doing so we grow our circle of influence.  Remember, most family-friendly and positive work-life policies come from employees taking the initiative to ask and create these opportunities.  They also come from managers who go to bat for their staff because they want to keep them on as happy and effective members of their team.  In either case, the improved situation did not magically appear; someone made it happen.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.  Simply put, what’s your end game?  What is it you want to achieve on your work-life balance journey?     Are you interested in a compressed workweek as a short term or long term goal?  Is telecommuting something you want to do for a year or two so you can spend time with your young children or do you want it to be the standard norm?  When you know what you want, you will be in a better position to clearly communicate that supervisors, policymakers, and coworkers.  This will lead to less conflict or at the very least, misunderstandings about expectations.

Habit 3: Put first things first.  Amen!  Not all jobs are created equal in terms of work-life balance so you have to sit down and prioritize what is most important to you.  Are you a work-centered person?  A family-centered person?  Are you trying to be balanced between the two domains?  Add to the mix your hobbies, side jobs, ambitions, etc and things can get sticky in a hurry unless you rank and prioritize what is most important to you.  Doing this not only gives you a better sense of who you are (and who you want to be) but allows you to put forth a constant effort towards achieving those goals.  This habit also focuses on committing your time to activities that progress you goals.  Spending your time on tasks that are not urgent and not important becomes an illogical choice, especially when compared to working on tasks that are not urgent but extremely important (this is where the good long term planning is done).

Final Thought….

What is awesome about the first three Habits is their ability to help us define what we want and lay a foundation to go out and get those things.  Mastery of these steps takes us from dependence on a system, a boss, or life circumstances and moves us towards independence.  Independence gives us much more control over our lives and our situations and in the case of this blog, work-life balance.  As a leader moving from dependence towards independence means you are someone who makes things happen and does not use company policy or culture as the framework for all decisions.  Authentic leadership makes you a rockstar!   As great as independence is the next three steps move us even further along towards interdependence.  We” touch on that next week.

_______

Paul Artale is a motivational speaker who specializes in Labor and Industrial Relations.  He is also a keynote speaker and facilitator.  Please visit http://www.paulartale.com for more information.

a piece of metal in the shape of the number 7

7 Habits of a Positive Work Life Balance (Part 2)

The first 3 habits discussed steps we need to take to be independent; in other words, personal (private) mastery.  The next 3 Habits add the team (Public) dynamic into the equation.  Positive work-life policies and practices are largely dependent on the ability of different parties to communicate and cooperate effectively.  Let’s dive into it.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win.   Many of my blogs on this topic mention negotiation and discussions with other coworkers in some form.  The research shows that many organizations are not open to the work-life policies even when they offer them!  The bottom line is that when we are discussing different work arrangements, setting boundaries, or justifying actions to our family or boss, we have to do so from a point of view where all sides benefit.  Positive work-life policies help every body involved.  Let’s dissect this briefly:

Management/“The Company”: Positive practices and policies (say that fast 3 times) have been shown to strengthen output and more importantly decrease employee stress and health problems.  Not only is this more humane, but the company benefits by having less health claims which in turn contributes to keeping insurance premiums low.  Plus, work-life policies have been shown to increase employee loyalty and decrease intent-to-leave and we all know how costly rehiring is!

The Employee: This one is pretty obvious but employees benefit by having a senses of control and enjoyment over the various domains in their lives.  This increases their satisfaction, performance, and quality of overall life.

The Family: Those not directly involved in the business relationship also benefits as rates of work-to-family and family-to-work spillover tend to decrease.  Spending more time with loved ones is what life is really about (sorry if I am getting sappy here).   Having to listen to a family member groan or vent their angry on a constant basis because of work is just not pleasant.

Enacting positive work-life policies means thatthe company gets the same (or improved) output, increased loyalty, and fewer health costs while the employees are happier due to less conflict in their lives which is greatly appreciated by the family.  This appreciation increases employee satisfaction, decreases family-to-work conflict and benefits the company.  Now that’s WIN-WIN!

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  With all my pleas for self-advocacy this habit may seem counter-intuitive at first.  Before we can start asking for changes or accommodations we need to understand where the other side is coming from.  For employees there may be reasons as to why you may get that call or home or have to pull in extra hours beyond your boss being a controlling jerk.    There may be legal reasons or company policies that prohibit certain work arrangements as well for whatever reason.  Employers should listen to why their staff want changes in their current situation.  At its most base level, an employee coming to a supervisor asking for a change in the routine/practice/policy is a sign of some form of discontentment and should be listened to.  That discord could be as simple as a misunderstanding about job functions/expectations and as serious major problems at home or within the office.  In any case, understand the entire situation before conclusions or arguments are made.

Habit 6: Synergize.  Synergy says 1+1=5.  When people are working together, listening to each other, and looking out for everybody’s best interests then a powerful and addictive positive synergy is created.  What I love about synergy as a work-life concept is that it embraces multiple alternatives and truly is focused on the end goal (see Habit 2).  That’s what success and leadership is about.  Finding what works in any situation is at the heart of effective work-life balance implementation as well.

Final Thought…

As we move from independence to INTER-dependence we see a shift from me to we.  When work-life balance becomes a team effort then we come up with the most effective and fair ways for all parties to be successful.  Moving towards interdependence also means we are focused on long term success rather than trying to put out short-term, immediate fires.  Next week….the 7th Habit and the one that is all encompassing of work-life balance: Sharpening the Saw.

_______

Paul Artale is a motivational speaker who specializes in Labor and Industrial Relations.  He is also a keynote speaker and facilitator.  Please visit http://www.paulartale.com for more information. Posted

a married couple enjoying coffee

What if every weekend was a 3 day weekend? Considering the Compressed Workweek.

In a society where life is becoming increasingly complex we sometimes need a job that can be flexible beyond the normal 9-5, 9-7, 8-10pm Monday-Saturday timeframe.  The compressed workweek can battle the rigidity of traditional schedules while still allowing for employee productivity.

What is a compressed workweek?

The compressed workweek involves working more hours four days a week in exchange for not having to work the fifth.  The employee still works the 40-45 hours required per week; the only difference being that those hours are squished onto other days.   It is important to note that extra day off is not intended for work of any kind.  This is not a telecommuting or alternative location arrangement.

With that in mind, here are some considerations when inquiring about a compressed workweek:

1) Does your company already have a policy?  Many companies have compressed and flextime policies and procedures already on the books.  Read up on your company’s specific policy to see if a compressed schedule is possible and what steps to take.

2) Talk to your manager. A consistent theme in HR literature reveals that managers are often the gatekeepers to all sorts of alternative work arrangements.   Have a conversation with your supervisor to see if this is possible.  Why not be a trend setter?

3) Make it an occasional thing.  Some employers may not be a fan of the weekly compressed schedule.  That being said, there is no reason why you can’t work a compressed week occasionally or on part-time basis.  Doing so could give you that three or four day weekend without burning vacation time.

4) Make it a seasonal thing.
  Most businesses have a “crazy” time and a “lazy” time.  Not being at work during crazy periods could make for a more stressful work environment overall or lead to calls/communications from your office on your extra day off.  Who needs that?   You may have better luck pitching a compressed workweek during points in the year when things are calmer and there is less chance of stressful deadlines and situations popping up.

5) Consider mid-week.  We all want that long weekend but maybe taking Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday off is the better way to go.  If deadlines at your workplace revolve around a specific day of the week then build your new schedule around that.   If deadlines are usually on Fridays or Mondays then the long weekend approach may not be so popular.

6) Pitch the benefits of a compressed workweek to your supervisor.  Some bosses may not like the idea or not see the benefits (other than you getting a day off) to compressed workweeks.  Here are some positives that you should bring up

  • Increased employee satisfaction (more time off = a more satisfied employee)
  • Increased employee retention (more satisfied employee = a more likely to stay employee)
  • Decreased attendance problems such as lateness, absenteeism, and calling in “sick” (if an employer agrees to a compressed week there is no excuse to be late, or lie about why you can’t go into work.  Not that there ever really is a good excuse to do this).
  • Increased productivity (Largely due to increased morale but also the fact that you a larger block of time daily allows for more to be done with less interruptions.
  • More hours of coverage (Working later may also mean that the company will be open longer.  In a customer service environment this can be especially useful).

Final thought…

The compressed workweek is just another tool as you strive for work-life perfection.  It may be appropriate as a weekly occurrence or may be a nice way to accommodate key events in your life.  In either case what is important is that we seek work arrangements that allow us to flourish both inside and outside of the boardroom.

______

Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths.

  Please visit www.paulartale.com for more information.

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance #leadership #manager #virtualwork

characters from the muppets tv show

Mindset Lessons You can Learn from the Muppets

“They‭’‬re not quite mops,‭ ‬they‭’‬re not quite puppets but man are they funny.‭”‬  -‭ ‬Homer Jay Simpson.

‭Like many people from my generation,‭ ‬I grew up adoring the Muppets.‭  ‬They were cute,‭ ‬they were funny,‭ ‬and they could put together one heck of a variety show.‭  ‬The celebrity guests were a really cool bonus.‭

Every Holiday season my wife and I rewatch many childhood classics:‭ ‬among them are a Muppet Christmas Carol and a Muppet Christmas.‭  ‬Both are awesome in their own way and for us,‭ ‬anyway,‭ ‬have a rewatchable charm that many childhood films do not.‭  ‬But alas,‭ ‬this is not a film review.‭  ‬There are tons of those out there and I am by no means an expert on these awesome creations.‭  ‬No,‭ ‬this is a brief review of Muppetism.‭ ‬A simple but powerful ideology that (in my opinion) stresses four principles:‭ ‬Teamwork,‭ ‬Diversity,‭ ‬Fun and Attitude.

Let us begin.

  • Teamwork.‭  ‬The Muppets face many challenges from things going wrong backstage,‭ ‬to celebrities or performers not being around when needed,‭ ‬to tyrannical billionaires trying‭ ‬to‭ ‬buy and demolish their old theatre because it sits on large oil reserves.‭   ‬Not only do they work as a team to achieve the common goal but they are‭ ‬ultra-supportive.‭  ‬Fozzy‭’‬s comedic routines don‭’‬t always go well but they keep giving him shot after shot.‭    ‬No matter what the problem is,‭ ‬the Muppets always find a way to come together and overcome their challenges as a cohesive unit.‭ ‬Sure they have their tiffs and disagreements but they always pull through in the end.‭   ‬This is partially a byproduct of the next principle:’
  • Diversity.‭  ‬Pigs loving frogs,‭ ‬international culinary experts,‭ ‬intellectual‭ ‬athletes,‭ ‬biracial general managers,‭ ‬wise-cracking rats,‭ ‬whatever the heck Gonzo is and so on and so forth.‭  ‬They all look‭ ‬different‭;‬ have different backgrounds,‭ ‬and different motives.‭  ‬None of that matters though because they accept each other for who and what they are.‭  ‬There is no better metaphor for this than the Muppet band led by Rolph.‭   ‬I mean look at them‭ (‬see photo below‭) ‬if that‭’‬s not‭ ‬a diverse group of people I don‭’‬t know what is.‭  ‬The best part is,‭ ‬these‭ ‬“different‭”‬ people come together and make some of the catchiest and sweetest music this side of Muppetdom‭!
  • Fun.‭  ‬Life is tense and full of twists and turns.‭  ‬Sadly,‭ ‬bad things do happen to good people but one of the keys to keeping our sanity and persevering is keeping a sense of humor.‭  ‬This is what I love about the Muppets:‭ ‬they always find ways to have fun.‭  ‬They don‭’‬t take themselves too seriously even when you think that they should.‭  ‬You have to be able to laugh some things off or at least escape into a world that gives you a good chuckle.‭  ‬The Muppets have turned this into a fine art.‭  ‬Let us learn from their frolicking wisdom.
  • Attitude.‭ ‬This is the most important aspect‭ ‬of Muppetism.‭  ‬I read an interview with Jason Segel on how he came to be the driving force behind the recent Muppet movie.‭  ‬At one point in the article,‭ ‬Jason was asked what challenges did he have in writing for the Muppets.‭  ‬One part of his answer really stuck with me.‭   ‬Segel stated that certain jokes had to be rewritten because they made reference to the Muppets not being real.‭   ‬Although the Muppets break the fourth wall and poke fun at their shtick,‭ ‬the one thing they never do is refer to themselves as puppets,‭ ‬made of felt etc.‭  ‬Their mindset is that they are a frog,‭ ‬a dog,‭ ‬an eagle etc.‭   ‬When you request an interview with Kermit,‭ ‬you are in fact interviewing Kermit and not his puppeteer.‭

What a great metaphor‭!  ‬One of my core values is that‭ ‬“disability‭”‬ is a state of mind,‭ ‬and not a diagnosis.‭   ‬Much like a Muppet,‭ ‬I don‭’‬t see myself as‭ ‬“disabled‭”‬ and definitely do not like the term.‭   ‬I am a strong believer in the power of positive thinking and having the right attitude.‭  ‬I am not a fan of labels-‭ ‬especially when they are imposed on us by others.‭  ‬Muppets say‭ ‬“I ain‭’‬t no puppet,‭ ‬I am a large and very stately‭ ‬Eagle who delivers the news.‭”‬   What is apparent on the outside means nothing to them and because of that they go out and achieve what they want.‭  ‬That‭’‬s the frame of mind we need to have.‭

I‭’‬m not‭ ‬“disabled‭;‬” I‭’‬m Paul Artale and that‭’‬s all I need to be.‭   ‬Now if you‭’‬ll excuse me,‭ ‬I need to go.‭  ‬You see it‭’‬s time to play the music and it‭’‬s time to light the lights…..I sure that you can figure out the rest.‭

___

Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and coach who teaches organizations how to break through challenges and turn adversity into opportunity. For more information visit http://www.paulartale.com

#adversity #motivation #motivationalspeaker

A speaker in front of a crowd

What I Learned from my Journey as a Motivational Speaker

Believe it or not there was a time in my life when I was terrified of public speaking.  Granted, fourth grade was a long time ago but I still find it ironic that the once shy and scared little boy who hated the annual speech project has set course on a career as professional speaker.  I remember the topic of that first speech: roads.  While it may not sound overly entertaining let me assure you that I got two standing ovations and the mayoral medal in public speaking that year.  Or maybe I got a C….I will let you decide what is truth on that one.

A couple of years later I decided to do “what it is like to be handicapped.”   That was definitely the first time I publicly discussed how I was born and from what I remember I spent most of the speech making fun of how “normal” people asked me dumb questions.  How do you take a shower? Some kid once asked me….Lucky for him I wasn’t as smart allecky as I am these days.  The next year I performed what was essentially the same speech because well….I was too lazy to think of something else.  UFO conspiracies was the topic of my eighth grade speech and with that my bookings as a speaker dried up for a very long time.

Fast forward a decade and aside from some speeches given during fraternity election time and many hours doing bad stand up in front of my friends, I was a pretty quiet guy.   By then I had fallen in love with writing and was on a quest to be Canada’s greatest playwright.  It wasn’t until I was done playing football at the University of Toronto that people started asking to hear my story. To be honest, I did not think there was much of a story to tell.  I had an opportunity to try out for my university team, I took it, saw a little action and made a boyhood dream come true.

Around the same time I also noticed that I was getting comments like “you don’t act disabled” or “you have adjusted well.”  Those statements got me talking a little more and I found that I  started telling people how disability is an attitude above all else.  My reactions to these comments soon turned into pep talks and I found myself even giving talks during job interviews. Finally someone suggested I try my hand at public speaking.   I figured why not? and did what most people in my situation would do: I made the ninth grade literacy class I taught listen to what became the first version of the “it’s a state of mind” speech.   They were inspired I could tell- especially after I told them they could achieve anything through the power of belief and effort.  The room went silent until one of my students cleared his throat and said: “Sir, can I go to the bathroom?”

I spoke sparingly over the next few years before life took over and speaking was something that was fully on the shelf.  Again, I found myself giving informal pep talks when my “disability” was mentioned in a conversation.  I started giving lip service about talking to people and spreading my messages.  Finally, my lovely wife Sherri called me out.  “You’re always talking about doing this but you never do it.  Take your own advice and take the chance.”  I did not know what to say- especially since she was right.

I joined a local Toastmasters group to work off the rust and to try out my material.  10 years later I found myself having been among the top 25 out of over 35,000 competitors at the World Championships of Public Speaking, earning the prestigious Accredited Speaker Designation (something only 87 people have done in Toastmasters 100 year history) and am now running a successful speaking business that is actively motivating people and organizations to live their best lives. I love being on stage because it is where I have found my calling, my true voice and my home away from home.

*Fore more information visit http://www.paulartale.com

#motivationalspeaker #toastmasters #accreditedspeaker #motivation #publicspeaking #speech