Time…where does it go?

I haven’t been work­ing full time in a num­ber of months now.  I’ve taken a good amount of time off, and only in the last few months have been work­ing three days a week.  I thought it would be per­fect to work three days a week, I would still have two days a week to fol­low my pas­sions, try new things, blog, learn the things I have been want­ing to learn, make healthy liv­ing a pri­or­ity, etc.  And yet…

Time just drifts away.  It is absolutely incred­i­ble to me how busy I always feel.  There is always some­thing that needs doing.  I did take an online class over the last few months, and spend a fair amount of time on some inde­pen­dent con­tract work, but I am still shocked that I don’t have more time.  I am so per­plexed how par­ents do it…I can barely take care of myself, never mind any­one else!

I am work­ing hard at chan­nelling the ideas of Brene Brown where she reminds us how easy it is to come from a place of scarcity — a place of not enough.  Not enough time, not enough money, not enough resources etc.  Which quickly leads to “I am not enough”.  A dan­ger­ous slope to start slip­ping.  I don’t think I am slid­ing down that slope, but rather, that I need to be inten­tional about tak­ing back my time.  Pri­or­i­tize what I want to do, and do it.  I can’t be every­thing, I can’t do every­thing, I can’t see every­one.  I can do some­things though, and really all it takes is a bit of ded­i­ca­tion.  Any­thing I actu­ally want to do, seems to get done.

Employee Engagement — it’s starts with hiring

Over the past cou­ple weeks I have been doing a bit of work with my StepMom’s com­pany.  She has a very suc­cess­ful home staging/design/rental busi­ness. Design is not my forte (for exam­ple I own thrift store couches) so I’ve been help­ing out more on the man­age­ment end of things.  Her busi­ness has grown tremen­dously over the past five years and it has been super inspir­ing to watch a dream become a real­ity through hard work, cre­ativ­ity, and impa­tience with the sta­tus quo.  We’ve had many great con­ver­sa­tions over the past few years about man­ag­ing peo­ple and grow­ing a great team.

Recently, we wanted to take a look at hir­ing prac­tices.  They were hir­ing for a cou­ple posi­tions and wanted to make sure the new peo­ple really fit with the team.  This makes per­fect sense from a busi­ness point of view – it costs lots of money to hire a staff mem­ber that doesn’t work out.  Makes the most sense to get it right from the beginning.

This all got me think­ing about how employee engage­ment really starts from the hir­ing process.  I’m a big fan of the Gallup Group and Mar­cus Buck­ing­ham and Curt Coffman’s 12 ques­tions of employee engage­ment.  These ques­tions can guide any orga­ni­za­tion to hav­ing employ­ees who are engaged, pro­duc­tive and happy!

But this needs to start right from the begin­ning of a rela­tion­ship between an orga­ni­za­tion and employee.  We can use these ques­tions in think­ing about hir­ing.  Will this per­son be able to do their best work every day?  Will they fit with the staff cul­ture (will they find a best friend at work)?  Do you see them learn­ing and grow­ing?  Will the man­ager be able to sup­port them in their progress?  Does it seem like they are excited about the company’s mis­sion and val­ues?  If not, then per­haps they are not the right per­son for the job.  This is why hir­ing needs to be done care­fully.  We want to find peo­ple that are the right fit for the com­pany, and who find the com­pany to be the right fit for them.

Of course, that is eas­ier said than done.  So, we started by com­ing up with some good inter­view ques­tions that really got to the heart of the val­ues of the orga­ni­za­tion.  Ques­tions that asked about ethics, self aware­ness and val­ues were all impor­tant to this orga­ni­za­tion.   We also cre­ated an online appli­ca­tion form (thank you google docs!) that asked some basic per­son­al­ity ques­tions, avail­abil­ity, skills, and cre­ative ques­tions.  This is meant as a way to quickly “weed out” poten­tial appli­cants who are just apply­ing for mul­ti­ple jobs with­out the proper skill set.  It also shows a bit of the cul­ture of the orga­ni­za­tion to the poten­tial employee – the tone of the ques­tions give a sense of what they are all about.

This online form should also make inter­view­ing more effi­cient as it will limit the num­ber of inter­views needed. Lim­it­ing the num­ber of inter­views will also make the man­agers hap­pier and more engaged in the inter­views they do con­duct.  More engage­ment all around :)

Employee engage­ment is such a key part of a work­place cul­ture and can make the dif­fer­ence between a good com­pany and a great com­pany.  Hope­fully start­ing at the begin­ning can help to keep engage­ment high.  We will have to fol­low up in a few months to see how the new recruits are mak­ing out!

Hir­ing often seems like a lot of work.  It is easy to neglect the impor­tance of a good hir­ing pro­ce­dure until it time to hire again – and by then you might be fac­ing a time crunch to get them hired.  Why not be proac­tive and take stock before you need to?

The no-job job

So I have been offi­cially “retired” for over two months now.  In total, there have been about three hours where I have ques­tioned what I am doing with my life.  The rest of the time, I’ve been too busy not work­ing. Too busy liv­ing in the moment.  I am mak­ing many small deci­sions to avoid the big ones.  I kind of fig­ure that as long as I jour­ney down a path by mak­ing deci­sions that feel right in my heart at the time, then I will end up where I am meant to be.  Bore­dom has never really been a prob­lem for me…I always find some­thing to do. Hav­ing no-job is a job in itself.

In the last two months I have:
  • Done a free­lance facil­i­ta­tion for a non-profit
  • Facil­i­tated Per­son­al­ity Dimen­sions for my Step-Mom’s staff
  • Taken two courses in adult educations
  • Com­pleted a graphic design project for my aunt’s business
  • Learned to make bread
  • Started a Emily Carr paint­ing class
  • Spent two week­ends at camp
  • Cre­ated myself a bed­room office
  • Reg­is­tered “Magic Apple Con­sult­ing” as a busi­ness in the province of BC
  • Opened a busi­ness bank account and deposited my first two cheques
  • Applied for one job :)
So what now?  Well…I have a con­tract for the next month or so.  And then it is pretty much Christ­mas so that’s a bit of a write off :)  I haven’t been home for Christ­mas over the last few years, so I am cer­tainly look­ing for­ward to being around my fam­ily and friends.
“The plan” as it stands now is to con­tinue to make small deci­sions that are in line with what feels right at the time.  If a job pops up that looks absolutely awe­some, then I may just apply.  But if I can keep scrap­ing by with short con­tracts and new expe­ri­ences, then that is likely what I will do for a while.  I just want to soak up as much learn­ing as I pos­si­bly can, and right now it feels right to do that learn­ing in this way.


I am grate­ful that my life is full of amaz­ing things that I for­got to actu­ally pub­lish this post until 3 days later ;)

I went for the most amaz­ing run today.  Van­cou­ver in Sep­tem­ber really is won­der­ful.  I ran about twice as far as I usu­ally do because I was so inspired about life.

Yes­ter­day was my last day of work.  The last of the lasts.  Finally!  It feels like I have been run­ning a marathon since about Christ­mas of last year…and espe­cially in the last month or so.  I thought I would be full of feel­ings and emo­tions in the last few days but I find that instead I am just filled with grat­i­tude.  Grat­i­tude that I have had the priv­i­lege of work­ing with such incred­i­ble peo­ple over the past nine years.  I am have so much grat­i­tude that I had the oppor­tu­nity to learn and grow with this orga­ni­za­tion and have been able to become a per­son that I love.  I really can’t express how pro­foundly my life has been impacted by work­ing at camp.

Most peo­ple who know me are aware of my insanely deep love for the work of Brene Brown.  Sur­pris­ingly, I hadn’t actu­ally read any of her books.  So I finally started read­ing “The Gifts of Imper­fec­tion.” It couldn’t have come into my life at a bet­ter time.  Brene (yes, I do think I we are on a first name basis), writes about grat­i­tude.  In her research she found that folks who prac­tice grat­i­tude on a reg­u­lar basis lead more joy­ful lives.  Brene talks about grat­i­tude can help in times of vul­ner­a­bil­ity.  Today I am feel­ing a bit vulnerable.

And so, on my run, I started to think about the incred­i­ble things I am grate­ful for in my life.  And per­haps, that is why my run was so long.  My list was very long, and this is just part of it.

I’m grate­ful that I have fam­ily and friends who really care about me.

I’m grate­ful that I have 4 amaz­ing par­ents who are healthy and incred­i­bly happy.

I’m grate­ful that I have awe­some rela­tion­ships with my many sib­lings.  And that my sib­lings are all lead­ing lives they value and that make them happy.

I’m grate­ful that I live in an apart­ment that I absolutely love, in a neigh­bour­hood that is amaz­ing, and with a room-mate who is my best friend.

I’m grate­ful that I had the chance to com­plete my mas­ters in a sub­ject that I am pas­sion­ate in, and that the expe­ri­ence trans­formed me in ways I didn’t know possible.

I’m grate­ful that I live in a city that is so beau­ti­ful.  And that pub­lic trans­porta­tion, bike lanes, and car shar­ing are pro­moted and encouraged.

I’m grate­ful that I am healthy.

I’m grate­ful for the many peo­ple in my life who believe in my (often before I believe in myself).  I’m grate­ful they can see my sparks.

I’m grate­ful that I have the secu­rity that I can dare greatly and leave my job because I want to.

I’m grate­ful that I have peo­ple in my life who speak the lan­guage of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, self aware­ness and courage.

I’m grate­ful that I can live my life as I choose.

Above all, I’m grate­ful that I belong.

What a view! Look­ing East off the Granville St Bridge

The beginning of the end

Well, my year is almost up.  My year of “my last ____”.  My last coor­di­na­tor train­ing, my last camper appli­ca­tion process, my last inter­views and hir­ings, my last time of meet­ing the new staff.   Now it is time for my last vis­its to each camp.  Time to start to say good­bye to the pro­gram that has meant so much to me.

Say­ing good­bye to the peo­ple doesn’t worry me.  For the most part, it really isn’t good bye.   In this day and age, we are all con­nected through social media and other avenues.  And the peo­ple have changed so many times in the past nine years that say­ing good bye to them is almost more routine.

Say­ing good­bye to the actual camp sites is some­what more dif­fi­cult.  These are places that are filled with so many mem­o­ries for me.  Every where I look, I remem­ber a funny moment, a chal­leng­ing moment, a beau­ti­ful moment.  I remem­ber deep and mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions with staff mem­bers and then I am flooded with sto­ries of campers doing hilar­i­ous things.  These places are filled with nooks and cranny and quirks that have shaped my sum­mers for almost a decade.

I had my last trip to one of the camps last week.   I was shocked at how emo­tional it was for me.  I expected emo­tion, but I hoped it would be at con­ve­nient times.  I didn’t expect it right in the mid­dle of con­ver­sa­tions, or to be so over­pow­er­ing that I couldn’t func­tion. Of course I know that isn’t the way emo­tion works.  And yet…one can hope right?

If say­ing good­bye to each camp is this emo­tional, this could be an exhaust­ing month.  As I get to the lasts of “my lasts” I expect I will feel some­what drained and vul­ner­a­ble. I guess that is what hap­pens when you put your whole heart into some­thing.  It means you have your whole heart feel the emo­tion of start­ing to pull away.…


Last week I had the priv­i­lege of walk­ing across the stage in the Royal The­atre along with 38 of my class­mates at our con­vo­ca­tion from the Royal Roads Mas­ters of Arts in Lead­er­ship Pro­gram.  While the offi­cial con­vo­ca­tion was noth­ing too spec­tac­u­lar, the pre and post cel­e­bra­tions were amazing.

Our cohort got together the night before grad­u­a­tion at a pub in down­town Vic­to­ria.  There were so many hugs, laughs, and life-updates to share.  We cel­e­brated each oth­ers accom­plish­ments and spoke about “what next”.  What an inspir­ing group of peo­ple who are doing absolutely great things in the world.  I know that the con­nec­tions we have made over the past few years have cre­ated a net­work of sup­port that will carry us forward.

At the begin­ning of the pro­gram our fac­ulty sug­gested cre­at­ing a strong vision for  what it would feel like when we walked across the stage at the end of it all.  I held that vision in the front of mind over the past few years.  When it all came true, it was even bet­ter than I’d imag­ined it!

Camp is better than Christmas

Every year I have the priv­iledge of spend­ing 10 days work­ing with the coor­di­na­tors of each of the three camps dur­ing coor­di­na­tor ori­en­ta­tion. This train­ing has become a favourite time of the year for me.  The ori­en­ta­tion is a com­bi­na­tion of skill devel­op­ment, per­sonal growth, team bond­ing and learn­ing the pol­icy and pro­ce­dure of our program.

This year was no excep­tion to my gen­eral feel­ing that this is my favourite time of the year.  It is com­pletely inspir­ing to work with a group of peo­ple who are so ded­i­cated to their jobs, com­pletely engaged in what we are learn­ing, and are really excited to get to know each other bet­ter.  We did a lot of sce­nario based work and tried to make all the learn­ing as expe­ri­en­tial as pos­si­ble.  Feed­back from this approach was over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive.  I also took the oppor­tu­nity to run a per­son­al­ity dimen­sions work­shop with the coor­di­na­tors.  I think this cre­ated some sparks and conversation!

I reflected part way through the ori­en­ta­tion how for­tu­nate we are to be given this time at the begin­ning of every sum­mer.  Because it is a sea­sonal posi­tion with new coor­di­na­tors start­ing each year, annual train­ing is nec­es­sary.  I won­der how effec­tive other orga­ni­za­tions would be if they too could pri­or­i­tize a solid amount of time for an off­site retreat to come together to learn together.

This was my third time facil­i­tat­ing this par­tic­u­lar train­ing.  This was the first time that I have felt so relaxed about it.  Hav­ing a strong vision going in really helped.  I used the phrases I heard so many times at school over the last few years…“begin with the end in mind” and “trust the process.”  Both phrases guided the way I led.

The final evening was per­haps one of my favourite evenings at staff train­ing in recent his­tory.  We cre­ated capes for each coor­di­na­tor and then took turns adding their “super-skills” to the capes.  This was fol­lowed by a beau­ti­ful “cap­ing” cer­e­mony down by the lake.  Pure magic.

Coords in Capes

Ready to share their super skills with the whole camp world!

The art of leadership

Last week, I was for­tu­nate enough to attend a one day con­fer­ence called “the art of lead­er­ship” hosted in Van­cou­ver.  I  knew about this con­fer­ence for months, and knew that many of my RRU bud­dies would be going, but the price tag was just a lit­tle to steep for me to jus­tify.  Then I got a call from a friend that a non-profit rate had been announced, and so, I quickly registered.

The con­fer­ence hosted 6 keynote speak­ers.  There were no break out ses­sions or smaller groups.  Just all 1100 of us crammed into one huge room with great acoustics.  Usu­ally this would turn me off, but it was actu­ally really effec­tive.  There were no dif­fi­cult deci­sions to make about which ses­sion to attend, and all the speak­ers were engag­ing and for the most part, made you believe that you were not in a room with 11oo others.

It was inspir­ing to be, once again, learn­ing and laugh­ing along­side my RRU friends.  And to see so many other incred­i­ble lead­ers in our com­mu­nity com­mit­ting their time and money to see the likes of Patrick Lencioni, Robin Sharma, Jeanne Meis­ter, Leonard Brody, Steven Shapiro, and Gen­eral Rick Hillier.

The mes­sages of the day were not rev­o­lu­tion­ary for me per­son­ally.  Themes such as vul­ner­a­bil­ity, authen­tic­ity, adapt­abil­ity, change and respect were spo­ken loud and clear.  I def­i­nitely got some new ideas and was re-inspired, but didn’t learn any­thing that I wanted to shout from the roof tops :)  In all hon­esty though, I feel like I can’t hear too much about this stuff.

I did, how­ever, have two very clear take-aways from this day.  The first is that I want my next work­place adven­ture to involve work­ing with an open, inno­v­a­tive, and almost “edgy” orga­ni­za­tion.  I want to be part of an orga­ni­za­tion with some spunk and per­son­al­ity.  Not sure just what that means yet…but I am excited to fig­ure it out.

The other take-away I had was that speak­ing in front of large audi­ences can be engag­ing and fun.  I dream of being a key note speaker one day…and I feel like it came across loud and clear that with the right prepa­ra­tion you can engage the audi­ence in an inti­mate sort of way.  I feel inspired by all the speakers.

All in all, it was a great day and a nice treat to step away from the every day to think about the big­ger pic­ture for a while.

If you want any more infor­ma­tion about the con­fer­ence, you can check it out here.


A love affair with vulnerability

Brene Brown entered my life about a year ago with her incred­i­bly pow­er­ful Ted Talk about vul­ner­a­bil­ity.  Her pas­sion, authen­tic­ity and humour really spoke to me about the beauty of vul­ner­a­bil­ity and the human spirit.  Dr Brown’s ted talk pro­vided a great start­ing ground for many mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions I have had with friends and col­leagues about vul­ner­a­bil­ity and trust over the past few months. I appre­ci­ate being given lan­guage and words to use to explain my attrac­tion to vul­ner­a­bil­ity and, there­fore, authenticity.

I highly encour­age every­one to watch this ted talk.  Well worth the twenty min­utes: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

And now, she has fol­lowed this ted talk with a sec­ond one about shame that is equally as pow­er­ful.  Dr Brown role mod­els once again what it means to be vul­ner­a­ble, and why we can not ignore role that shame plays in vul­ner­a­bil­ity.  She is hum­ble, funny, and able to rec­og­nize the role that her work can play in the world.

Vul­ner­a­bil­ity is not weak­ness, it is courage.  I strive to lead a coura­geous life.

Here is a link to her sec­ond, equally pro­found, ted talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html