Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A beautiful poem by William Butler Yeats--The Song of Wandering Aengus

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

by William Butler Yeats

Traveling through Ireland and Yeats country

My husband and I traveled through Ireland this summer, starting in Dublin and working our way west. We started our trip by taking the overnight ferry from Oslo to Kiel, Germany, and then spent the following day driving through Germany to Rotterdam, Holland, where we boarded the overnight ferry to Hull, England. Once in England, we drove from Hull to Holyhead in north Wales, where we got the afternoon ferry to Dublin. We stayed two nights in Dublin, living at the Sandymount Hotel, in the Sandymount area of Dublin that is quite close to the ferry ports. The Irish poet William Butler Yeats (a favorite poet of mine) was born in this area of Dublin, a happy fact that I was not aware of when I booked the hotel. But that is the nature of my travel planning; I happily discover things that I was not aware of and they become an important part of the overall nature of the trip. We did the standard tourist-type things in Dublin--visiting the Temple Bar district to eat Irish food at one of the pubs there, and listening to some live music which I love. There is so much live music at each of the pubs in this area, as well as many street musicians. Lively and fun. We also took the Guinness Brewery tour, which I had done once before, but which my husband wanted to do. We also visited the Christ Church Cathedral, with its crypts in the cellar containing a number of treasures from medieval times.
From Dublin, we traveled west to Galway, but stopped along the way to visit the small town of Banagher, in the county Offaly. From there we drove through the town of Birr, through pleasant Irish countryside, and then on to Adare in County Clare, where my mother's relatives were from. Adare was recently voted as one of the prettiest towns in Ireland, and I can understand why. On our approach into the town, we passed an old castle and an abby, a golf course, and many green parks and open spaces. The town itself was filled with pubs, shops and small bistros; quite charming. The day we were there was 'Market Fair' day, and I ended up buying a lovely green wool cape that was knitted by one of the local craftswomen in the village. We ate lunch at a small bistro, and I had a salad with warm goat cheese and strawberries--just excellent. After Adare, we drove on to Galway, a city on the west coast of Ireland. My husband's colleague had highly recommended it, and we were not disappointed. It was a lovely quaint city. We stayed at the Nox Hotel, and spent the evening walking around. I took pictures at the local cemetery with gravesites marked by the tall Celtic crosses--a quite striking sight. We ate dinner at one of the city pubs, where I had a hamburger that was just so good, as was the beer. We ended up watching one of the World Cup soccer matches, and it was fun to experience that in a pub setting. We then walked around the city, along the harbor and into the city's Latin Quarter, with many street musicians and young people milling about. It was a warm and nice evening. The weather was sunny and warm for most of our trip; it was only when we were driving in Germany on our way home that we experienced pelting rain for some hours.  
After our stay in Galway, we drove north on our way to Sligo, stopping to visit the Knock Shrine in the town of Knock. This is an internationally-known Catholic shrine where in 1879, a group of townspeople saw apparitions of Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Evangelist. It was a peaceful place in a lovely setting, and I’m glad we stopped to visit there.
Our arrival in Sligo brought us into William Butler Yeats country. When I was fifteen years old, I was introduced to the Irish poet William Butler Yeats by my high school English literature teacher, who was Irish-born himself (from Banagher). Yeats was his favorite poet, and he soon became mine as well. Yeats imparted a sense of the Celtic influences and the magic of Irish culture, in a romantic way that appealed to me at that time. All these years later, it still appeals to me, and now I see the true genius of his talent even more clearly. I also understand his importance to Irish culture, literature, and even politics (more by association with his circle of friends). But it is the man who interests me. This was a man who bore an unrequited love for a woman named Maud Gonne; he asked her to marry him seven times, and she refused him each time, but they did remain friends throughout his life. She is considered by many to be his muse. His romantic longings are reflected in some of his early poems. She married the political activist John MacBride (Irish republican) who was executed by the British for his participation in the 1916 Irish Easter Rising in Dublin. Yeats eventually married a woman named George Hyde-Lees, considerably younger than him, who bore him two children, and who was also a great supporter of his writing. She is buried together with him in Drumcliff Cemetery in Sligo, Ireland. We arrived in Sligo in the early afternoon, and stayed at a hotel very close to the center of town. The Garavogue River runs through Sligo, and the river banks are dotted with one charming pub or restaurant after another. Again there was live music at many of them, which is one of the many things I love about Ireland. Sligo and the surrounding area were Yeats (and his family's) favorite places in Ireland, as I found out from the guide at the Yeats Memorial Building who told us the story of his life. Their mother was from Sligo, and they spent their childhood summers there, with fond memories of their stays there. Yeats is buried in Sligo, at the Drumcliff Cemetery surrounding St. Columba church, a ten-minute drive north of the town. We visited his gravesite—plain and simple, no fuss surrounding it, probably as Yeats wanted. His epitaph reads 'Cast a cold eye on life, death, Horseman, pass by'. At the end of his life, Yeats had found the objective eye he had perhaps sought. Or even if he had not longed for objectivity, he had attained a certain amount of it after a long life. He was no longer the romantic poet and man of his youth. We become more objective as we grow older, at the same time as our romantic longings become a treasured part of our past. 
We drove from Sligo to Monaghan along the scenic route, a narrow winding road that led us past several lakes and through idyllic countryside. Ireland is dotted with small farms and houses, but all of them are on roads that lead to main roads, even if they have what appear to be rural locations. You can be certain that you will eventually meet a main road even if you think that you are lost in the middle of nowhere. Once we got to Monaghan, the search began for the Castle Leslie Estate in Glaslough, County Monaghan. My husband had seen a culinary program on the National Geographic or Discovery channel that included the Castle Leslie, and his interest (and mine) were piqued. So I checked it out on google, and sure enough, you could book an overnight stay as well as your wedding reception if so inclined (this is where Paul McCartney and Heather Mills got married and had their wedding reception, as we discovered). The Leslie family own the 1000 acres that make up the property, and have renovated the 'castle' so that it can house paying guests. I had booked the 'Green Room', which had been the room of Sir John Leslie, as we later found out. This room overlooked the lake on the property and had a fairly complete view of the surroundings. Before dinner, we took a walk around half of the lake, meeting horseback riders as we ambled. After dinner, we had coffee in the garden with the fountain, and then walked down to the lake's edge to look at the lake and the boathouse. Fishing is allowed, so boat rental is not a problem as long as you know how to operate the rowboats. There were a lot of pike in the lake, some quite large as we saw from the photos of one man who had caught a few of them. It’s hard to describe how lovely this place really is; you have to experience it. It is definitely a place to stay for couples who want to get away from the stresses of the modern world and relax, if only for a few days. There are no TVs in any of the rooms, and the entire place has a calming effect upon the soul—no stress, no worries, no hustle and bustle. Just peace and serenity.
The following day, we drove back to Dublin and spent the afternoon relaxing, before we found another charming pub where we ate shepherd’s pie and drank a few beers. The food in most of the pubs is very good, from shepherd’s pie to beef stew (with Guinness beer in it) to hamburgers. I love it all. It reminds me of some of the food I ate growing up, since my mother made shepherd’s pie and excellent beef stews.
We then made the trip home, taking the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, and then driving to Frederikshavn in Denmark (instead of to Kiel), so that we could get the day ferry to Oslo. The trip went as planned, with no hitches, and it was a good to know that there still exist car ferries that will take you to England and Ireland from mainland Europe. It’s also possible to drive through the Eurotunnel (the Channel tunnel) from France to England, which we did a few years ago. It’s nice to have your own car with you, as we’ve discovered, rather than renting one, which of course can also be an option if you want to drive around Europe as we enjoy doing. Perhaps in a few years, we will be traveling through Europe in an RV; it’s something we’re talking about. But for now, it’s good to be traveling the way we do; we learn as we go, and tackle new challenges and experiences as well. Some photos will follow in my next posts.......

Friday, June 29, 2018

My last post for this month, in line with my previous post......a good article on the Clicktime blog about motivating your team. It has some good tips, and as is often the case with this particular blog, is a well-written and common-sense article.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Believing in something bigger than ourselves

This is Forbes magazine's quote for the day today:

"If you only think about your own advancement, your own success, you run out of fuel pretty quickly. But if we believe in something bigger than ourselves, that kind of motivation is self-sustaining".

Elaine Chao,
U.S. Secretary of Transportation

If we believe in something bigger than ourselves.....Our grandparents and great-grandparents and many in their generation looked at life in this way. In the present time, I am sure there are those who would proclaim loudly that they believe in something bigger than themselves--God, country and family. That's fine. It's just that for a good number of them, their belief is not generous, not expansive, not inclusive. For them, it's about excluding what they don't want in their lives and in their country. It's about xenophobia and hatred of the unknown. And they use God to back them up. Those are not the people who rebuilt Europe after WWII, and certainly not the people who built the USA into the great nation it is. But our country's image is tarnished. I'm not going into a discussion of why; I'll leave that to another blog post. Suffice it to say that it is generosity of spirit that made America a great country, not xenophobia and hatred. The latter have always existed, but great presidents like FDR made sure that a lid was kept on them. 'We have lost our way', as an elderly woman visiting FDR's home (Springwood) said to me and my friend Jean when we were visiting there. She would know; she experienced WWII and the horrors it brought.

The quote above is mostly applied to modern workplaces. But it can be applied to our daily lives as well. We need to get over ourselves; we are not an invincible nation, and we won't be at all if we continue down the path we are going. We need a leader who inspires us to greater things; one who takes the focus off himself, his family, his wealth, and his character weaknesses. We don't really need to constantly see and hear what's rotten under the surface; we know. We need a leader who rather espouses values that appeal to our minds and souls and hearts. If the talk is only about hatred and revenge, then our lives will only be about that. If the talk is about generosity of spirit, a will to communicate, and a will to consider others' life circumstances, then our lives will be about that. It is a simple equation that I learned early on (in a work setting): "Garbage in, garbage out". The natural extension is "Decency in, decency out". We need to believe in something outside ourselves, because at present, we're being filled up with garbage, and we need to find a way to empty ourselves of it before it is too late. The media too need to find a way to motivate and inspire themselves and us to be better people. We need to stop taking the hatred bait and to rather espouse, and continue to espouse, the importance of decency and respect. It's slow-going, but it will go a long way toward overcoming the current situation that has most decent people up in arms.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Approaching sunset

We were out on the boat for Saint John's Eve, which is the night before John the Baptist's birthday. It is celebrated in Scandinavia as 'Sankthans dag', with bonfires lit along the coast once evening approaches. It is believed that the bonfires were originally lit in order to keep witches away. The day is celebrated right around the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The summer solstice is also called Midsummer, and the bonfires may be celebrating that as well. When I first saw the bonfires in the early 1990s, it seemed like something out of a pagan ritual. Interesting to witness, for sure. But when we were out this past Saturday evening, there were very few bonfires, and the few that we saw seemed to be placed in deep pits, not on hills as was the custom earlier. It was a windy evening, and the weather has been mostly dry and warm the past two months, which has created forest fire conditions. People have been asked to be careful about using grills and lighting bonfires/campfires generally. So that was probably the reason for the very few bonfires. The evening was beautiful, and I took a couple of photos from the boat. In the second photo, you'll see light rings around the clouds nearest the sun. Pretty cool.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Quotes about silence

Silence is a source of great strength. --Lao Tzu

Silence is a true friend who never betrays. --Confucius

Silence is better than unmeaning words. --Pythagoras

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls. --Mother Teresa

He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words. --Elbert Hubbard

Silence is true wisdom's best reply. --Euripides

Silence is argument carried out by other means. --Che Guevara

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from. --Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Keep silence for the most part, and speak only when you must, and then briefly. --Epictetus

One of the greatest attacks of the enemy is to make you busy, to make you hurried, to make you noisy, to make you distracted, to fill the people of God and the Church of God with so much noise and activity that there is no room for prayer. There is no room for being alone with God. There is no room for silence. There is no room for meditation. --Paul Washer

Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom. --Francis Bacon

Everything that's created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness. --Wayne Dyer

Liars hate silence, so they often try to fill it up by talking more than they need to. They provide far more information than was needed or asked for. --Travis Bradberry

I am rather inclined to silence. --Abraham Lincoln

Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode

I'm posting the video of Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode, along with the lyrics to the song.

Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me
Can't you understand?
Oh my little girl
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
And forgettable
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
Enjoy the silence

Songwriters: Martin Gore
Enjoy the Silence lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

The value of collectively shutting up

My generation grew up with the quote 'Silence is golden'. And my mother also used to say, 'If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all'. Another stellar quote, in my opinion. We were encouraged not to open our mouths on all occasions as young adults, and as children, we were strictly instructed not to. Overall, we were raised to not talk back to our parents or elders. The key word was respect. We were taught to respect our parents and/or elders whether we liked it or not, and whether or not they actually deserved it. When I was around twelve years old, I began to understand that not all adults deserved my respect. But I didn't tell them that to their faces. I simply tried to avoid having anything to do with them whenever possible, which was not always easy. But not always opening my mouth to tell people what I thought--of them or about specific issues--was valuable training. 'Think before you speak' was one of those quotes that took root in my brain from very early on. I learn to be a bit wary of people who were quick to tell you their opinions, who were quick to judge others, who were quick to shift their opinions, and who tended to dominate with their opinions.

But back to the first two quotes. The world appears to have forgotten their value. Every time we turn around, some pundit is telling us what he or she thinks. The media and just about everyone else have an opinion about everything. Everyone is an expert on just about everything. I respect those people who when asked for their opinion, are honest and say they don't have one, or that they don't know enough about the situation to have a conclusive opinion, or something along those lines. I also respect those people who take their time in answering a question about how they think or feel about something. I fall into the latter group--someone who doesn't always have a ready answer or an immediate opinion, someone who needs to retreat into herself in order to think about what she really thinks and feels about a specific situation. I would say that my opinions about things are for the most part well-reasoned. I don't tend to 'open my mouth and insert foot'. I like working with and associating with people who are not quick to open their mouths with their opinions about everything under the sun. Modern workplaces encourage employees to brainstorm. It's all well and good, but again, the opinionated people tend to dominate. Those who wish to think about a specific issue, or who need time to do so, do not. In the world at large, it's the brash and the aggressive people who dominate in the media. Turn on the TV news, and there's another story about Trump--always larger than life, and who never shuts his mouth. After a while, you lose interest. Everything is drama, over-the-top drama. Everything is a crisis, except that it's not. The crises are Trump-made, and he uses them for all they are worth. He incites his followers, many of whom adopt his opinions uncritically. Trump is one example; the media generally are another example of those who never shut their mouths. They are paid to keep talking, to keep spouting the same story, the same rhetoric, over and over. I miss the days when I sat with my father on a Sunday afternoon and watched 'Meet the Press' with him. The debates were interesting; it was possible to listen to reasoned opinions from both political sides without name-calling, harassment, degradation or embarrassing situations. I don't want a world where the press is muzzled; I would appreciate a press that used more time on figuring out what is worth reporting and how to do so. Not everything is interesting, nor does absolutely everything need to be dissected ad nauseam.

I think we need to take a break from talking all the time. We need some silence. We need time to evaluate whether the opinions we are spouting are well-reasoned, and whether they are really our opinions or the opinions of media and political pundits. The world would benefit from a 'collective shut up', e.g. one day a week. We could use that day to digest the news and current events; we could figure out what we really want from our politicians and from the media. Or we could just 'enjoy the silence' as Depeche Mode sings. Whatever we use the day for, it's got to be a better use of our time than being the passive recipients of a constant bombardment of others' opinions. It may even help us to learn to better communicate. Because when we are constantly being bombarded, we lose our footing and we end up adrift. We end up irritated, confused, and even angry--angry at those people and situations that are constantly destroying our peace of soul and peace of mind. That cannot lead to anything good.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Beautiful plants that I want to plant in my garden

These are some of the plants I want to plant in my garden--perennials all.......

1) Large yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata), called Fagerfredløs in Norwegian. These yellow flowers spread out once planted. Here is a photo:

Image result for Large yellow loosestrife

2) Royal Purple Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria), called parykkbusk in Norwegian. The color of this plant is something to behold--royal purple indeed. It's gorgeous and stands out in any garden.

Related image

3) Lupine (Lupinus)--this plant comes in so many gorgeous colors. This is the tutti frutti lupine.

Related image

4) Allium (Allium giganteum)--another lovely flower, a bit alien-looking, but worth having.

Image result for allium giganteum

Navigating workplace politics--some tips

I think so many of the articles on this blog are very good. This is one of them. The tone of most of the articles is realistic, yet optimistic at the same time, and the presentations of the different themes are balanced. The writing is neither artificial nor cloying. Check out some of the other articles--well worth your time.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Garden update June 2018

Both May and June have been unseasonably warm for this part of the world--temperatures in the 80s and sunny most days. They've been great days for the garden. This year I've planted two types of pumpkins, string beans, corn, radishes, tomatoes and snap peas. I've also planted a few artichoke plants and some potatoes, just to see how well they do. The artichokes are slow to take off, but the potatoes are doing well, so next year I will plant more potatoes.

I've also realized that it makes sense to plant mostly perennial flowers, because they come back each year and that by itself will save me time and money. And it will also spare my back, because sometimes it's pretty tough on my back to be bending and kneeling and getting up and down all the time.

I've taken some photos of the garden during the past two weeks, and am posting them here. Enjoy.....

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The goal of workplace harassment

When my book Blindsided--Recognizing and Dealing with Passive Aggressive Leadership in the Workplace was first published in 2008, I was contacted by a woman who worked in conflict resolution. She had read the first edition of my book and wrote to me to tell me that she liked it, but that she wished I had provided more tips and advice on how to deal with such behavior in the workplace.

At the time she contacted me, I found it hard to envision a day when I would be 'free' of the passive aggressive workplace environment in which I found myself (nearly a decade ago). I myself was stuck in a place that caused me to question my capabilities and my sanity. I dealt with leaders at that time who 'knew' my weaknesses and exploited them. They may not have had that as their initial goal, but over time, it moved in that direction because they knew they could 'get to me'. I was subject to their whims and harassment for about a year, during which time I learned (the hard way) how to deal with them. Essentially I learned to 'go around' them. It is a tactic that served me well in grammar and high school with the (very few) teachers I didn't like (or who may not have liked me). I could sit and look directly at them, in rapt attention (or so it seemed), but in reality I was miles away, planning my next move or how I was going to pursue what I wanted to pursue, no matter what. I forgot that tactic over the years, or suppressed it for one reason or another. But I tried this tactic on some of these leaders, and found that it worked. I did not have to overtly fight them; there would have been no point since they 'ruled' and complaining to management above me would not have led to a satisfactory resolution. Sometimes in this life you're on your own and you've got to figure it out for yourself. I did. Through writing and many discussions with other long-suffering colleagues, I learned about workplace behaviors to which I and many colleagues were subjected unwillingly.

When I published the second edition of Blindsided in 2009, I included a chapter called Fighting Back--Survive and Thrive by Being More Assertive, the title of which was suggested to me by the woman who worked in conflict resolution. Her suggestion about including more tips and advice was a good one, and when I re-read them now from this vantage point, I am surprised that I had the presence of mind to expand on some of them. However, I still disagree with her on one major point. She felt that all conflicts could eventually be resolved through listening and good communication. I do not agree. There are some conflicts that cannot be resolved. If all conflicts could be resolved, we would live in a perfect world, and we do not. I felt that way in 2009, and I still feel that way. This doesn't mean that we cannot try to resolve conflicts, just that we should not be overly-disappointed if resolutions are not forthcoming. This applies to conflicts in both our personal lives and our work lives. Sometimes the other party does not want to extend the olive branch, other times it may be us who do not want to do that. Sometimes we just have to walk away from conflicts, or wait until we've become savvy enough to deal with them. I have chosen a new tactic for myself the past year or so. It comes down to this--I do my job and I do it well. I dig deep and find the motivation I need to get the job done. I don't take things personally anymore, and if the goals shift and new priorities overtake the old, I've gotten better about letting go of the old goals and priorities faster. I've learned to let go without suffering the grief that used to accompany having to give up a beloved project to focus on something else. But as luck and fate would have it, I now work for good leaders who respect their employees. A win-win situation, because I work for people who support rather than harass others. That makes it easier to find motivation again.

What I didn't discuss in my book was the goal of the harassers, at least not in detail. After watching the video about trolling, I realized that their behavior had a distinct purpose, and that was to disrupt my focus on my research work. By blindsiding me, they riled me up, slowed me down, distracted me, and pushed me off course. They, and my reaction (taking their behavior personally) cost me at least two years of productive research work. They took away the possibility for me to be the best self I could be at that time. And that was the point. They were/are narcissists, only interested in themselves and their research work. Perhaps they considered me a competitor, or perhaps they were envious of my good relationships with my students. By dismantling the self-confidence of others, they could reduce the number of competitors on the playing field, because competition for research funding is tight. There's something to be said for keeping a cool head when those about you are not doing so. It gives you the power to make informed and common-sense decisions. The fear and anxiety of a decade ago are long gone. A new confidence has taken their place, and it is firmly rooted in a strong belief in self. I am grateful for the lesson learned, and for the fact that I did indeed learn it.

Trolling as practiced by our president--who knew?

This video was suggested to me by one of my readers, and I'm grateful for the tip. It provided valuable insights about trolling, a behavior that I knew very little about. After watching this video, you'll see Trump in a new light. But it will also make you wonder exactly how we are to combat these types of techniques, because as long as he continues to rile us with his bullying and bizarre behavior on Twitter and the internet, he wins. But if we don't react to his bullying and bizarre behavior, what does that say about us as concerned and empathetic human beings? It's actually difficult to know what to do, and Trump knows that. We have to learn how to deal with him.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Losing and regaining workplace motivation

There are many reasons why employees lose their motivation for doing their jobs well. Burnout as a result of a poor work-life balance may be one reason, lack of feedback or recognition from management may be another. Unclear and constantly-shifting goals and strategies will also destroy employee motivation gradually over time, which is understandable. It’s hard to aim at a constantly-moving target. It’s not possible to continually start over, reorganize and restructure, working toward yet a new goal that management has suddenly decided to prioritize, and retain motivation. Change is fine and necessary in workplaces, just not continual change. Harassment and bullying in the workplace also contribute to loss of employee motivation, especially if they are allowed to continue once reported. All of these are important reasons for why many employees simply give up and stop trying or stop caring. Many of these employees should probably quit and find other jobs, but if you’ve been treated poorly over the course of many years, your self-confidence may not be at an optimal level, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll do well in an interview for a new job. Additionally, many employees need their jobs for economic reasons and cannot just quit.

When employees are treated poorly by management or ignored by management, employees will lose their motivation. They will slow down, be less effective, produce less, and complain more. If they don’t complain, they will find other ways to undermine what they perceive to be a system that is completely indifferent to them or that rarely listens to them. They will say that ‘they could care less’, but in truth, they do care, and wise leaders will recognize this and do something about it.

Leaders make all the difference, and they should remember that. In all my years in the workforce, I have yet to meet employees who are motivated solely by money. Most employees are inspired by leaders who know what they want and know how to impart that message to their employees. Most employees want to know that their work counts and that it is important to the company. They want to hear that they’ve done a good job when they’ve done a good job; they want to be seen and they want their hard work to be acknowledged. Many leaders seem unable to do this. They have difficulty praising employees for a job well-done. They have difficulty offering constructive criticism, whereas most employees understand the need for constructive criticism when necessary. It’s how you learn, grow, and progress professionally.

It’s possible to regain motivation for one’s work, even after many years of minimal motivation. A change of leadership may do the trick. A wise leader takes over for one who was clueless, ineffective, or unprofessional in tone and behavior. A wise leader meets with his or her employees, takes the time to talk to them about their work and how they feel about their jobs, discovers the strengths in his or her employees, and builds on those strengths. When employees feel that they’ve been listened to and then given new tasks that match their strengths and abilities, they regain their motivation. It may be a slow process, but what’s important is that those employees are once again effective and productive employees.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sparrows and hens

The sparrows in the community garden enjoy the birdbath; I've watched them having a ball splashing around and bathing before they quickly fly away. Sometimes it's quite funny to watch them and the bees enjoying the bath together. They seem to be peacefully co-existing.

And who would have thought that you would hear hens clucking and cackling in the city of Oslo? The owners of the house across the street installed a hen house in their garden several days ago. The hens are getting used to being there, and it's clear that they like their owner, because whenever he comes into the hen house, they start 'talking' to him. Of course, he has food for them. I enjoy hearing them at different times of the day. There is no rooster (yet), as far as we can determine. If a rooster arrives, we can kiss our alarm clocks goodbye, as they enjoy waking up the neighborhood at the crack of dawn.

I'm posting two videos, one of a sparrow and the birdbath, the other of the hens clucking....Enjoy!

Bees and water

There are two honeybee hives in our community garden. There seem to be many more honeybees this year compared to last year, when the hives were first established. The worker bees are non-aggressive and friendly. And who knew that bees like water? I certainly didn't. After doing some online reading, I now understand that not only do they like water, they need to drink water to survive. They need water just like humans need water. I've watched the bees closely, especially during these May days that are sunny, hot, and dry. The bees line up at the edge of the birdbath, drink water, and then fly away. But every now and then I find a honeybee that has drowned, and I'm not quite sure how or why that happened. I've been filling the birdbath with less water so the bees have more of the ceramic wall edge to hold onto when they drink water. I've also placed a stone with a lot of uneven edges in the center of the birdbath. That seems to have helped. But according to what I read online, some of the dead bees may have died a natural death (they only live five to six weeks during the active season) in the birdbath. But I also wondered if some of them actually drowned. So I went online for more information, and found out that bees cannot swim, and are actually experts at drowning.

I hate to see any living creature die, and if I get the chance to save bees from drowning, I'll do what I can. Today, I found a bee that had flown into my small watering can that was filled with water. When I checked the can, I saw the bee still struggling, so I dumped the water out onto the earth. The bee lay still in the grass, so I found a flat green leaf and maneuvered the bee onto the leaf. I then placed it onto the stone base of my sun umbrella. The bee was moving, but quite slowly. It seemed to need time to recover; from the time I rescued it to the time it flew away, I estimated that the entire recovery period was about twenty minutes. I was so happy when I watched it fly away. I knew it would, since its wings were not damaged. During the recovery time, the bee seemed to be trying to dry itself off. I took a video of it with my cell phone, about five minutes before it flew away; I'm posting it here.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

An excellent article about identifying the next generation of leaders for your company

Leadership is a topic that I've written a lot about during the past decade, in this blog but also in several books that I've published. I've written a lot about the poor leadership I've seen and experienced personally, but also about the good (and even great) leaders for whom I've had the privilege of working. What characterizes the latter is their generosity, expansiveness, visionary abilities, and their emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence involves knowing your employees' strengths and weaknesses and acting on that knowledge when trying to find the right person for the job. In order to know this as a leader, you have to be able to talk to your employees.

It's a pleasure to come across an article that makes a lot of excellent points about how to identify leadership potential. More specifically, this article focuses on identifying the next generation of leaders in your company:

It also makes the point that extroverts don't necessarily make the best leaders. I couldn't agree more. So many 'introverts' have been ignored or passed over when it came time for promotions to leadership positions. During the past decade, the focus on extroversion has been intense. I have no idea why. I've participated in countless numbers of meetings, many of them dominated by extroverts. There was little exchange of ideas; the outcome was often that the introverts declined to participate in future meetings or found ways to get out of them if they could. Not a win-win situation for a company.

Modern workplaces during the past fifteen years or so have often been dominated by extroverts, by Newspeak, by trendy business philosophies, and by a dilution of responsibility that serves no one. Let's hope that the next generation of leaders gets back to business and to an understanding that "your company is only as good as the employees who work for you, and your employees are only as good as the leaders who lead them".

How to achieve better employee engagement

An article worth reading.......

Employee engagement is a tricky subject. I agree with the points brought up in the article, but emphasize that good managers and leaders are what lead to engaged employees. Employee satisfaction starts at the top and works its way down. Leaders and managers are employees too, and if they are engaged, motivated and happy, if they believe in what they do and in the goals of the company, those who work for them will be motivated as well. In some few cases, I've experienced the opposite--that engaged and motivated employees re-inspired their bosses who had lost their motivation. If that happens at times, that's good too. But leaders must understand their role in keeping employees motivated. They have a responsibility to do so. That is what leadership is about.