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. 


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

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

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

#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

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

2 people doing karate

Life Lessons from Karate Forms

I have studied martial arts off and on since my childhood.   There have been breaks in between as my life has taken me all over North America.   I have been out of formal training for a year now since my doctoral and work schedules made it extremely difficult to train on any sort of formal basis.  Over the past few weeks I have decided to resume my training.  For the time being I am doing this on my own but it looks like *knock on wood* that I will have the time to enroll with the karate club at Michigan State University. I want to start competing again so this is key for me.

This past week I decided to work off the rust on my katas.  A brief description of kata provided at the end of this blog.  Scroll all the way down right now if you need to.  Anyways, I was amazed at how I retained so much of and after a few sessions I had progressed through 9 of the 15 katas I need to know for my black belt.  I was feeling great until I got to kanku dai.  Kanku dai is a bit of a different type of form.  It involves going down to the ground, jump kicks, and some move sets that are a little different.  It is challenging but not overly difficult.  For some reason though, I couldn’t get it right to save my life.  I looked at various youtube videos and a visual map of the kata but it just wasn’t coming.  It was as if I had never learned that form at all.  Rather than give up, however, I decided to keep working at it.  I put practicing everything else on hold: this week kanku dai was my sole objective.

Progress seemed painfully slow since I decided to relearn the form one move at a time.  I would see what step or move one was and practice it.  When I felt I was ready I moved on to the next step or move.  From there I would go back and practice the first move, the second move, and then go on to learning the third.  Once I was confident in that I would go back to the start and do moves one, two, and three before learning move four.  I think you get the idea of how I went about this.  I am not the most patient person at times so learning it this way drove me crazy.  I kept at it.  I practiced during odd times in the day, in the elevator at work (I can perform kata anywhere), and added extra repetitions to my workout at home.

The whole process has reminded me how important it is to break things down into manageable steps.  That is the best and most realistic way of achieving our goals.  Sure some people attain instant success but those cases are not the norm by any means.  I am reminded of a college friend of mine who always talked about wanting to become a musician.  Let’s call him Gary.  He worked very hard at writing his own songs and even taught himself to play guitar decently in a short period of time.  He was off to a great start but that’s where his progress ended.  Gary loved his music but did not want to get a band together or play at small bars, fairs, birthday parties, etc.  He did not want to tour.  Occasionally he would sing at a karaoke night (as a patron of the bar not as formal entertainment FYI) but other than that he never had the chance to sharpen his skills.  He scraped together some money to cut a few demos and was hoping to shop the demo around to the record labels.  Gary’s plan was to sit back and let the agencies come to him, offer him a developmental deal, and live life as a musician without the struggles that most artists go through before they make it big (if they make it big).  Needless to say the record companies never found him and the last I heard his music dreams did not go far.  It is a shame because he had a nice voice and great charisma.

Pursuing instant gratification usually leads to dissatisfaction. Success if built on a bed of effort, sacrifice, and constant improvement.  A little luck or a few connections here and there does not hurt either.  It is a harder road that can test your patience but in the end you are better for having taken it.

Breaking it down is not enough though.  We have to celebrate our small victories along the way.  When I finished the first 25% of the kata on my own and fairly strongly, I gave myself a pat on the back.  I no longer had to worry about getting that part right and I could now focus on the next part of the form.  As I “mastered” the beginning of kanku dai I increased my expectations.  I knew the moves by heart, therefore I expected myself to do them stronger and faster than before.  When I became familiar with the first half of the kata I did the same thing.  We have consistently  to raise the bar during our journey.  Celebrate the small victories but don’t rest on your laurels.  Push yourself to the max, eat your greens and don’t do drugs,  I think I just overdosed on cliches!

I think one cliche sums up my point best: divide and conquer.   Trying to do it all can just be too overwhelming and not produce quality  results.  Breaking it down means better mastery and in the long run that translates into a lifetime of success.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have get back to kanku dai.  It’s far from perfect but I am getting better…one move at a time.

*Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational, speaker, author, and coach who helps people and organizations break through challenges and achieve to performance. For more information visit

#motivation #motivationalspeaker #adversity #disability #karate

What is kata?

Kata is an essential component to most traditional martial arts.  For those who don’t know, kata (also called forms) is a series of choreographed moves and stances that a practitioner does on their own.  It is a lot like a solo dance routine (except this one is generally a little more fierce and involves yelling).  Knowing you kata is also an essential step in getting your next belt and developing as a karate practitioner. 

the words success go get it

Motivating Employees for Success

here is no better feeling in the world than achieving a goal.   Imagine this: you plan something, put in the hard work, and at the end of the journey you achieve success.  Sweet, isn’t it?  Of course things do not always go so smoothly but when they do…BOOYA!  You feel like you a rockstar.

Success is a whole other beast, however, when we are managing others.  Sure we can still apply that same 3 step formula described above but the addition of another element (a human element) means that we are responsible for managing more than just our own attitudes, actions, and emotions.

There are several managerial styles and perspectives but quite often, it feels like there are two dominant philosophies: cut them down or build them up.   Quickly, the cut them down philosophy says “let’s throw “Sandy” into the fire and see how she does.  If Sandy is strong and capable the she will prove herself worthy of my praise, promotion, and better compensation.”  Going through misery will make them stronger and thus a better employee in the long-run.  There are times when this perspective is unavoidable but generally I do not subscribe to it and this is about all I have to say on this perspective.

The “build them up” philosophy focuses on developing the employee and putting them in positions to win.  It focuses on building upon strengths, improving weaknesses, and developing a win-win strategy.  When I coached football I did not always have the biggest, fastest, or most talented players.  My challenge as a coach was always to maximize and improve the talent I had.  I could have easily said “my nosetackle is only 5 foot 1, if he’s any good he’ll find a way to make plays”  but that would have been counterproductive.  Instead I worked on strategies and drills to utilize his talents (low center of gravity, aggression, and feet that kept on moving) to turn him into an All-Star player.

Beyond organizational success we need to remember that as managers we hold the keys to much of our employees happiness (read my previous BLOG for more on this topic).  Have you ever come home from a rough day at work or negative encounter with a supervisor and had those events ruin your personal/family time?  Of course you have, we all have.  It’s called work-family conflict and managers are often a key component of that.  Although managers can’t control everything (employees  think we do!) one thing that we can control is whether we have done all we can to make someone successful.  Here are some managerial considerations when trying to lead your employee and team to glory:

Dumping vs Delegating: When delegating tasks to others are you just taking work off one plate and plopping it onto another?  Are you assigning tasks without thinking about employee strengths, mindset, or current projects?  Do employees have input into what new duties come their way or do you just hand out extra tasks because you are the boss and you know best?

Skills training: There are times when that unsexy task needs to be given to someone because of circumstances outside of your control.  In other cases, employees will be asked to perform tasks that are new and possibly strange to them.  As a manager are you giving them the skills training and tools they need to be successful in these new roles?  Although there may not be time for a lengthy training or skills session, some effort towards ensuring that the employee has the right tools to succeed must be ensured.  Sometimes this skills training can be as simple as a discussion about time management or how previous priorities and deadlines may shift with this added workload.

Context matters.  What is the current company climate?  If you’re working with “Bob” then what prior experiences and backgrounds shape Bob’s thinking and actions?  What have Bob’s performance and interactions been like in the past week, month, or quarter?   I am not suggesting
having weekly counseling sessions with workers but having a basic understanding of organizational and personal contexts can assist managers in understanding behaviors and performance.  Bob will likely act and operate very differently if he came from a regimented and highly regulated company before working for you as opposed to a creative “come when you want, just get the job done” environment.  Factors such as layoffs, departmental shuffling, or that fabulous staff retreat may also impact how Bob acts.  No matter what the specific details are, context cannot be ignored.  Plugging into personal and professional context will also fill a lot of gaps regarding your staff on several levels.

Different workers have different styles.  This is where you get to apply all of those fun and fancy personality tests that inevitably become part of staff development sessions.  All organizations have their fair share of introverts and extroverts; of highly organized individuals and free spirits.  No one style or personality type is better than the other and a balanced staff is needed for optimal performance.  Working with an employee’s style quickens goal achievement and will have a positive impact on morale.  It also opens the doorway of communication and makes it easier to foster employee growth in areas of weakness.  Just demanding that a quieter, more introverted worker be more outgoing and social is not as effective (it’s actually quite stupid) as discussing ways that the employee could take baby steps towards involvement in the company community as a whole.   Scientifically speaking, job demands that are starkly different to ones personality type will freak an employee out.  Why cause that undue stress?  Managers should also consider aligning tasks that play towards worker strengths and comfort whenever possible.  Remember: there is a fine line between pushing the comfort zone in the name of development and eroding an employees sense of self and worth.

Just because you went through it…: One of my mentors when coaching football was brought up “old school.”   As a poor grad assistant he slept many nights in the film office, as an assistant coach he was brought up under tough men who would rip into their staff in front of players and the public.  He prided himself on this experience (and rightfully so) but his old school approach was not always relevant to new age staff.  As an aside, I liked the old school approach but I saw how other staff members hated it.  We are often proud of what we have accomplished and gone through.  That being said, trying to simulate your experience for other employees is usually not very effective.  As a manager you are likely in a different time, a different context (see how that works?), and too many variables are different.  Be proud of the path you took but do not let that path cloud your judgment.  Even when situations are eerily similar to your past do not assume that your employees will or should react in the same manner you did.   Let go of the past and work towards finding methods that fit your current situation.

Final thought….

Being a leader is more than just giving rah-rah speeches and powering through.  Like a good quarterback, you have to have a good feel for the team and what their limits are.  Push them too hard and you lose their trust.  Don’t push them and you will get dismal results.  Finding that balance can be difficult but as managers we have to have an open mind.  We have to think of employee success as a vehicle to our own personal and organizational goals.  Covey’s Habit “Think Win-Win” is the ultimate metaphor for this week’s message.   All parties should come out of a situation energized and proud of their success.  The bulldozer mentality can only get you so far.  Likewise, relying on your favorites or workhorses really does little to improve team strength.  Anybody can manage a team of all-stars- there is no skill in it.  More importantly, working with employees to improve their skills and abilities will make them feel valued and energize them to come to work.  They will also feel content when they clock out at the end of the day paving the way for them to spend their family time in a positive and life-giving way.


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

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

a cup full of jelly beans

What’s Your Work-life Personality Style?

It’s 10:30 AM and you are on the treadmill at the gym.  It is your late day at work and are not due to check into the office until noon.  Your exercise program beeps at you and you begin to kick it up a notch.  You’re starting to work up that good sweat when your phone rings.  You glance down at the screen and see it is the office calling.   Do you:

a) Pick up the phone: it must be really important if they are calling you during your off time.
b) Ignore it:  you will deal with whatever it is at 12 PM when you get in.
c) Finish your workout and call your office back afterwards:  this is your time and 15 minutes probably won’t hurt the situation one way or another.

Your response to the above question can reveal your preferred boundary style.  Boundary management in the workplace is becoming an important issue for both employees and managers.  The integrated use of digital and cellular technology in our lives has often led to the blurring of
lines between work and family time.   Add the fact that alternative work arrangements such as tele-commuting or compressed work-weeks are becoming more common and we can see how the landscape becomes hazier.

So… does a phone call or email after your office hours count as overtime or comp time?   A recent law in Brazil states that workers who answer emails on their smartphones can count that as overtime.  Clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed at several levels.

3 Boundary Styles

Regardless of what policies might get constructed from the “higher ups” it is important that we all know our own boundary style.   Most people fall into one of three distinct boundary styles.

1) The Assimilator.  Assimilators love to mix work and family time and are comfortable with an irregular schedule.  Assimilators love the freedom that comes with shifting work and family demands and relish in the fact that there are no clearcut hours for work or play.  Flexibility is important to them so that 10pm email is not a problem if that means they can leave early one day to catch their child’s soccer game or meet some friends at a restaurant.

2) The Divider.  Divider’s have a more traditional approach to work and family.   When they are not at work or at a company sponsored  function they do not want to be bothered.  Work time is work time, personal time is personal time and the two should never ever cross.  Getting emails or calls at off hours frustrates them and often feels like an invasion of privacy.

3) The Chameleons.  Chameleons enjoy the best of both worlds.  They generally like to have a separation between work and family time but also recognize that there are times when work seeps into personal time and that is OK to them.  Emergencies occur, coworkers sometimes need help, and some times of year are just plain busy.  An intrusion of personal time is OK in small and predetermined doses but a return to regularity is preferred at the end of the day.

Why is this important?

Knowing which boundary style you are and which boundary style the organization prefers is vital in determining whether a place of employment is a good fit.  Both employees and managers should take note which styles their employees prefer or are more comfortable with as this may eliminate workplace conflict.   Everybody has a different perspective on how work and family/personal life should mix and thus the key to eliminating conflict and maximizing employee morale is open and honest communication.


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

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #leadership #manager #boundaries #flexstyle

a bowl of chili

The Chili Factor: Keeping Your Sanity in Toxic Work Environments

It wasn’t the greatest place to work.  The pay was miniscule, my resources were limited, and in recent months the president of the company invaded my personal space, revamped the terms of my contract without notifying me, and micromanaged every decision my coworkers and I performed.  The stress from these situations bled into my personal life on several levels; including my marriage.

I wanted out….badly.

The problem was that searching for a new job is often a slow and cumbersome process; especially during a recession.  There was not much to look forward to and I resented being at work just about every single day that I was there.

Many of us were in similar boats.  We had our moments of sanity but if there was one thing that united us and gave us hope and lifted our spirits it was CHILI MONDAY!

At 11:40 am every Monday those two words would chime throughout the hallway and collectively we would all trek the cafeteria for a bowl of hot, tasty, honest-to-goodness chili.  Ok, in hindsight it was most likely made with leftovers from meatloaf night but at the time it was golden!

I don’t miss much if anything about that employer.  That being said, occasionally I do think about Chili Mondays, the excitement it created, the fun we had huddled around the table eating and sharing a few laughs.  Other lunches were good too but Mondays were special.

Unfortunately we don’t always work in dynamic and friendly environments. Scientifically speaking, sometimes our work situations suck but we have to weather the storm and stick it out until better opportunities arise.  Chili Monday taught me three things that made that work environment a little less toxic.

1) Get excited!  This can seem impossible when you are in a toxic work environment.  Maybe we got excited over chili because on some days, it was the only thing to get excited about.  You may have to dig hard for this one but it exists, trust me.  Sometimes it is a routine such as your morning cup of coffee while at other times it may be a special event.  Having something to look forward to makes the day(s) go bye just a little bit faster and keeps the positive juju flowing on some level.

2) Small victories and moments matter.  When things are terrible it can be difficult to find the good in any situation.  It is also very easy to focus on the negative.  Within every day there is always SOMETHING that is positive.  Focus on that as much as you can and the bad stuff will fade away….for a little while at least.

3) Isolation = Decimation.  The decimation of your sanity and happiness in particular.  I had some great coworkers with great senses of humor that improved the quality of many days.  Congregating in the cafeteria every Monday was an expression of that.  It was more about the comraderie than it was the chili.

Final Thought…

Toxic work environments can bring us down and can threaten to keep us there for a very long time.  Nobody wants to “live” in a place where fear, misery, and anger prevail all the time.  The next time things at work have taken a turn for the worse, take a moment and find your chili factor.  It can make the difference between sanity and insanity.


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. 

#shrm #hr #humanresources #worklifebalance  #burnout #motivation

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I Quit My Job Because My Company Didn’t Offer Zumba Class

I marched into my boss’s office poised, calm, and dedicated to my decision.  I couldn’t take it any longer.   It’s 2018 and I was in a work environment that was barbaric and absolutely opposite of everything I knew work-life balance was about.   It didn’t take me long to blurt out “I quit!”   My boss replied with the typical: “why?”

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The Work-Life Resolutions You Need To Consider

It’s that magical time of year where you may indulge in Holiday parties, reconnect with loved ones, and begin to reflect on the year that was.  You are days away from setting your new year’s resolutions.  After all, you want to start 2018 off on the right foot, right?  Before you do that, I want you to consider some work-life resolutions in addition to those that center around losing weight, saving money, and taking that dream vacation.  Here they are.  In in 2018 I want you to consider these four resolutons:

  1. SPEND MORE!  That’s right, don’t save it; spend it!  If you think I am talking about money, then you are wrong.  I am talking about spending more TIME on whatever you value most.  If that value is family, spend more time with them.  If you feel like you don’t have enough time for a hobby, spend your time there!  Success with time (as it is with money) is most effective if you tell it where to go.  It’s as simple as conducting a simple analysis of time spent, finding the deficiencies, and making a change.  Not sure how to do that?  Click HERE to get my simple time analysis activity worksheet.
  2. INCREASE YOUR INVESTMENTS!  Buy low, sell high right?  Luckily you aren’t going to get stock advice from me.  2018 is the year you should consider investing more in yourself.  My recommendation is to invest in personal development that helps you build a skill set you want to strengthen.  This could be professional in nature such as getting strengths coaching or personal as in hiring a personal trainer.  There are countess possibilities but the most important part is to do it.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot but it does have to grow and stretch you.

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STOP COMPLAINING! The 1 Action Step You Must Take to Improve Work-Life Balance

I was recently at a conference when I overheard someone say “There is no work-life balance in this profession. People need to accept it.”

I took a few deep breaths as statements like this to me are complete bunk and do nothing more than reinforce a work-life culture that is negative and toxic. As I chewed on this sentiment later that night, I thought that instead of just complaining about individuals who spout this rhetoric, that I would offer one simple action step you can take to improve your work-life balance. Here it is.

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