Parents: Protect Your Child’s Vision Now

Are screens negatively affecting your child’s vision?

It’s not surprising that the answer is a resounding “yes!” But, you may be surprised by the reason.

Dr. Nicholas Despotidis is an optometrist who has been studying this issue for many years, ever since his two sons needed glasses in early grade school.

Dr. Nick, as he’s known to his patients, doesn’t just prescribe eyeglasses—he’s working to keep kids from needing them.

So, what does this have to do with screens?

I bet you’ve noticed how screens, in the form of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and video games are keeping our kids indoors—now more than ever before.

Well, it turns out that overuse of screens can result in a significant increase in childhood myopia (also known as nearsightedness). This is Dr. Nick’s specialty.

He taught me a shocking statistic: The World Health Organization projects half the world will suffer from myopia by the year 2050. Half the world!

I was honored to serve as Nick’s coach as he prepared to deliver a TEDx talk on this topic at TEDxAsburyPark in May of 2018.

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Top Five Tips for When an Employee Quits

quotes-933816_1920Pixabay You know it’s going to be one of those stressful leadership days when an employee walks into your office and says, “I quit!”

Sometimes you see it coming and other times you’re completely blindsided and wonder how you could have missed the signs.

When it’s a valued member of your team, you might be reeling with hurt thinking, “I don’t deserve this.”

Or, if it’s an employee you were hankering to fire you might feel great relief that they did the hard work for you.

Like any other leadership experience, there’s some valuable learning here for you—if you want to find it.

Here are my top five tips to maximize this situation for the growth of your leadership and the health of your business.

Five Tips for When an Employee Quits

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How to be a Positive—Not Prickly— Mother-in-Law

AdamArame2010Senegal

My son, Adam, and my daughter-in-law, Arame.

Mothers-in-law get a bad rap. Remember Marie Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond?

Are mother-in-law relationships really as prickly as the always bickering Marie and Debra?

Do they have to be?

During wedding season everyone is so focused on the actual day that they give little thought to this important relationship to follow.

I’ve been a mother-in-law for nearly seven years. I’m happy to report…so far so good.

So, here’s my take on what it takes to be a positive—not prickly— Mother-in-law.

Start by Clarifying Your Mother-in-Law Values

I had a hunch I was being introduced to my future daughter-in-law at our very first meeting. My son, Adam, spoke differently about Arame than any woman he had dated. They met while Adam was a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal where I traveled in 2010 and had a memorable first meeting with Arame and her family.MC Arame Adam Me Wayne2010

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Try This Tip to Stop Procrastinating

Just schedule it 2Remember Nike’s famous tagline: JUST DO IT

These three words, JUST DO IT, inspire many to follow through and finally stop procrastinating.

But the rest of us may need another step to get from JUST DO IT to I’VE DONE IT.

I’d say that middle step is: JUST SCHEDULE IT!

No matter what you’ve been putting off, if you actually schedule it on your calendar, your likelihood of getting it done will increase exponentially.

Have you noticed that if you’ve got tickets to a concert you nearly always make it to the show? When we think of other commitments like concert tickets, and put them on our calendars, we are more likely to make them happen.

Here’s an example: Say you want to exercise. Start by picking one week and add each intended workout to your calendar—start small, even with one workout. Pick a time when you are most likely to follow through.

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Three Tips to Get the Best Letter of Recomendation

writing-pad-3229690_1920Pixabay Whether it’s for a college application or a job, getting a letter of recommendation is a rite of passage for which we receive practically no instruction.

And I’ve seen a lot of people really mess up this significant opportunity.

Here’s how not to be one of them.

As a school principal I wrote more of these letters than I can count. So, here are my top three tips (drawn from my top three pet peeves):

Remember you’re asking for a favor. Writing a letter of recommendation is not a requirement for your boss or teacher (though it may be in a some settings). Approach the asking as if it’s a big favor—because it is.

Remember to make the job as easy as possible. The person you’re asking is likely very busy so help where you can. You could offer to provide things like the dates of your employment and the strengths you’d like included (especially if you feel the writer of the letter may not emphasize what you value).

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The Trick to Keeping Tough Conversations on Track

DogWalking PixabayHave you ever walked a dog that has her own idea of where you’re heading? She yanks the leash left, when you want to go right?

Well, I bet you’ve had some conversations that get tugged this way and that way too.

Say you want to talk with your spouse about money issues. You find the right time and bravely say, “Babe, I’d like to talk with you about our budget.”

You want him to reply, “Oh, sure, let’s dig in!”

Instead he tugs the talk toward his poor childhood, his need for a sports car, or any other thought that will reduce the heat of this very conversation he does not want to have.

Or maybe you confront an employee about chronic lateness only to have her reply, “Yeah, but I was here early yesterday.”

Conversations can be tricky in this way. One person wants to “go there” and the other would rather clean the toilet. So, instead of saying, “I don’t want to discuss this,” they divert you to what they find easier to discuss.

So, what can you do? The trick is not to follow them.

It’s like what do you do when the dog veers off the path to sniff yet another shrub.

You gently tug the leash and get Skippy strolling in the direction you want to go.

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3 Ways a “STAY CURIOUS” Mantra Will Help You Stay Calm

zen-2819215_1920PixabayDo you know people who react defensively or erupt with anger when you try to tell them something?

Or maybe you have a friend or colleague who cuts you off and never seems to hear what you’re saying.

Or maybe that person is you.

That defensive (and sometimes interrupting) person used to be me.

But, it’s not anymore.

So, what did I do to overcome these not-so-great traits?

I read books, attended workshops, practiced listening, focused on not interrupting, and learned how to ask open-ended questions.

All of that helped…a bit.

Mostly I was learning what NOT to do. Don’t talk too much. Don’t make it about myself. Don’t blame others. Don’t get defensive.

I wasn’t learning what TO DO.

Until I began my coaching training. My mentors suggested I stay curious when listening to a client and hold off responding too quickly.

Just hearing those two words, STAY CURIOUS, gave me an instantaneous, aha, kind of insight.

STAY CURIOUS became my new mantra. If I were into tattoos I’d have it inscribed on my wrist.

When my brain was working on staying curious, I found that it couldn’t do all those other things I was trying so hard to stop doing.

It’s simple:

Do more of what you want and there will be less space for what you’re trying to stop.

Almost magically STAY CURIOUS helped me to put my thoughts on the back burner so there was space for me to stay calm in the face of hard to hear views.

Here are three ways that adopting a STAY CURIOUS mantra might help you:

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Better Than Resolutions: Start Your Gratitude Basket Now

Gratitude Basket 2017When my dear friend Nancy gave me a beautiful West African basket a few years back I decided to use it in a special way.

Starting on January 1st, I toss mementos for the year into the basket.

Then, late in December I empty the contents onto my office rug and savor them once again.

My heart sings as I recall Broadway shows and concerts (Come From Away and James Taylor top this year’s list).

There are ticket stubs from fun outings and trips: Legoland with my Magical Mystery Tourgranddaughters and travel to Scotland, England and Charleston. (Tops: The Magical Mystery Tour in Liverpool!)

Booklets and note cards highlight professional success: an ATHENA award nomination and coaching inspiring clients and TEDx speakers.

Sadly, the memories aren’t all happy. Photos of dear friends whose lives came to an abrupt end were also in my basket (missing you: Janie, Michelle and Ree).

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Stop Holiday Stress Before it Starts

christmas-2973900_1280PixabayI pull up to the ATM, lower my window and can’t quite reach the slot for my debit card. Instead of unbuckling my seat belt, I reach—and then reach a tiny bit further. And that’s when I feel something pop down the right side of my body.

I bet you’ve done this too. Maybe you’ve strained your back moving a sofa or suffered shin splints from over-training for a race.

We all do it. We overextend and end up hurting our bodies.

We overextend in other ways too, especially during the holiday season.

We “have to” buy too may gifts, say “yes” to too many invitations, or incur credit card debt that takes the rest of the year to pay off.

There’s a cascading effect from all of these “yeses.”

It goes like this:

We overextend We get overwhelmed → We feel stressed → We lose joy.

Sound familiar?

Well, now that Thanksgiving has passed, some might say we’re entering the season of joy.

But are we? Are you?

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Don’t Dismiss Employee Grumbling Without Doing This 1 Thing

IMG_1335On a recent trip to Scotland I was reminded of the importance of not dismissing employee grumbling too quickly.

So, here’s my wee tale from The Waterfront Restaurant in Inverness…

Our party of five dined in a Scottish pub. We made careful selections and sipped local beer as we awaited our food.

Our entrees arrived with quite an unusual presentation.

Picture this (or better yet, look at the above photo): White plates of food were arranged on thick particle board trays, with unfinished rough edges.

Our waitress, Natasha, could barely manage to set each tray on the table without losing control of the whole set-up and serving the meal into our laps.

She grimaced and groaned, “We hate these heavy boards. The plates are sliding about and we’re constantly getting splinters. But the chef won’t give them up no matter what we say.”

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