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MAY 2001
Success Harmony Newsletter

GOT SOME SOIL THAT NEEDS CHANGING?

I had become the victim of major spring cleaning fever this year and one of the tasks I took on was to replace the soil in the planters on my balcony. It had been five or six years since this was done last and, in the last two years, I could really notice that anything planted in that soil just wasnít doing too well. I got some help with delivering four large heavy bags of soil and a bunch of pretty little impatiens plants, set aside one long afternoon and got to work.

Eeeek. I knew the soil was bad but I didnít realize quite how bad it was until I started taking it out of the planters. Dust was flying everywhere, I was sniffling and sneezing as if my body just decided to get a quick allergy just to make me stop the process. The old soil was light as it had no moisture left in it whatsoever. The new soil, on the other hand, was heavy, full of moisture and simply wonderful to touch and to look at. Where looking at the old soil made me want to turn away and pretend I did not have a balcony, the flowers in the new soil put joy in my heart every time I look at them.

Donít we settle for the old soil in so many areas of our lives and then wonder why things are not working out? The "soil" is anything that we put into the environment around us. In relationships, the soil is made up of what we say to people and how we treat them. In our work, the soil is made up of the knowledge and skills we have at any particular point in time. In our health, the soil is made up of the food we put in our bodies and the rest we get or donít get.

When we buy seeds or pre-grown flowers, we cannot control all of the factors which determine whether we will get full-blown flowers or not. We cannot control whether there will be late frost this year, we cannot control if there will be heavy rains (in Vancouver, weíd better count on those), we cannot control if heavy wind will blow our seedlings away. But we can control enough things to help the process along.

We can improve our chances by picking good timing to plant our seeds. Experience says that planting seeds gets better results when done in the spring rather than in the fall - but even that is dependent on the type of seed we want to plant. We can educate ourselves on the best type of soil to use, we can use some fertilizer to help the growth, and we can water our seedlings regularly. All of these things, although they cannot ever give a 100% guarantee that the seeds will grow, will greatly improve our chances.

This works the same in our lives. At work, we cannot control the stock market or the market forces which dictate whether there will be a need for our products or services. In relationships, we cannot control whether people will like us or appreciate us for who we are, as we are. In health, even those who take care of their bodies can get ill.

However, we improve the chances for our careers and businesses when we keep our skills current, when we market consistently to the right audience, when we practice the skills and knowledge we have gathered. In relationships, we improve our chances of success when we take the time to be positive with others, when we appreciate and recognize the efforts of those around us, and when we are kind and thoughtful. In health, we improve our chances when we choose to eat food that is good for us, when we get enough exercise, enough "self" time and enough sleep and rest. When we do these things, the dust of the old soil is gone and gets replaced with new, nutrient-rich soil.

Ready to do some spring cleaning, too?

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"In every organization, there is one person who knows what is going on. This person must be fired."
Conway's Law
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WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, TRY HONESTY

A little while back, a client was having troubles with her boss, one of those difficult people. Iím sure you have met one or two of those types in your life at some point as well. You know, demanding, unforgiving, unwilling to give positive feedback, critical - simply impossible to deal with.

The client had already tried a few things to deal with the situation with no success. When even bringing the issues up directly with her boss resulted in nothing but a "well, you to learn how to deal with it r"eply, she was considering moving on elsewhere. She loved her work but the relationship with her boss was simply unbearable.

One of the biggest issues was in her being unable to get access to information which she needed to do her job properly. Her boss had the information but would only give it along with a negative, blaming attitude. She started asking others in the company for information in order to avoid dealing with her boss. This infuriated the boss because he was not in full control.

We talked about her options and I suggested that, next time, if her boss called her in the office, she ask him for help. I advised her to include him in asking for a solution.

The "opportunity" came up soon. She was discussing an issue with someone when the boss came and interrupted. He called her in his office and proceeded to get upset. Instead of getting defensive, she said: "Can you help me with this? The reason that I donít come to you for information is because I am apprehensive about your reactions. How can I deal with that?" There were a few moments of silence and then things changed. Blaming would have fueled the negativity, nodding would have just made her feel more powerless. The honesty, without any negative energy attached to it, made him think and the question turned the responsibility to him. I am told that this simple thing has changed their relationship around completely. Can you apply this insight to any of your difficult relationships?

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"Happiness is feeling that the world needs your work."
David Baird
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FIND A NEED AND FILL THAT NEED

Simple, ingenious ideas that take away some small annoyance always impress me. When I see a solution to one such situation, I appreciate greatly that someone took the time to go beyond complaining and found a way to turn the annoyance around into a benefit for someone.

I seriously dislike parking in oversize parking lots and, especially, in large multi-story garages. I donít always feel exactly safe inside a concrete building with nobody else in sight, but the other reason is that I invariably forget where I parked. By the time I remember that I should have taken note of my parking spot (and the floor I parked on), I am outside the building. Fortunately, to date I have always managed to somehow find my car, but at times this has involved walking up and down stairways while cursing myself.

A few weeks ago, I parked in a hotel garage and was about to again forget my parking spot. As I got to the elevator, I noticed a stack of note-sized pieces of paper which said "you parked on Level 3" and had available space to write the stall number. A few pencils were provided as well. What a concept! The other side had a coupon for the hotel restaurant. What a brilliant win-win idea, allowing for very cheap and noticeable advertising to a good target audience! Are there any small annoyances you can think of solving and turning into a benefit?

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"To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while."
Josh Billings
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© 2002 Pavla Michaela Polcarova, CPR Coaching Services, Vancouver, BC, Canada