Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

The Productivity Fix

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

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In my new keynote, I share the not-so-secret information that sometimes slows our productivity and offer up powerful solutions that are quite effective in increasing it.

It’s feels like the more effort we put in place to increase our productivity, the more hurdles pop up in an attempt to slow our progress.

Leadership, open communications and the ability to be resourceful are essential.

The problem is that constraints get in our way and limited resources only add to a decline in productivity. And, we’re often scrambling to keep our workload from getting the best of us.

There’s little doubt the each of us wants higher productivity, not less, when faced with these constraints.

It can affect any and all departments and all positions in the company as well. From leaders and management to first year employees.

Sometimes, we’re aware of the barriers and other times not so much. But, it’s this desire to remove them that is essential to growing productivity, retaining employees and growing workplace satisfaction.

Think about what’s at stake

Sales, marketing, production, admin, HR, IT, company initiatives and more have the opportunity to receive and deliver more information if they can identify the staff that could benefit from it.

Our customers benefits too, because the sharing of information that is not secret or proprietary can increase sales, inventory and margins.

Resourcefulness is essential in increasing productivity as history shows us repeatedly.

Too often, we recognize and even complain about the resources we don’t have. We’re quick to point out what’s not working or why we cannot produce like we used to produce.

The answer is based on studies for my new book, 28 years in corporate America and workplace observations, both inside and on the streets, where deals are made and lost.

Think about Gates and Allen. They began with Traf-O-Data. It read and processed traffic tapes but was too expensive for municipalities. They failed.

But Paul Allen and Bill Gates of Microsoft fame took inventory of the resources they had, looked at multiple perspectives of these resources and focused on microprocessors.

These efforts would eventually lead them to an inexpensive desktop computer that ran on microprocessors for much less then what was available.

Today Bill Gates is worth $70 billion and Paul Allen $20 billion. That’s leadership and productivity!

To increase our workplace productivity we must consider multiple perspectives of the same resource.

Doing this while sharing information with coworkers and different departments at work will:

1-Give you an advantage over your competition

2- Increase productivity

3- Grow employee retention

What are you going to do to assist your teams to increase their productivity?

 

Scott Lesnick is an international speaker and author. Learn more at www.scottlesnick.com

Mirroring Margaret’s Management Mojo and Leadership

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

It’s safe to say that Margaret is one of the finest managers I’ve ever met. She’s a rare combination of great insight, intelligence, forward thought, deep caring, tremendous leadership, problem solving skills extraordinaire and so much more.

So, you may ask, why aren’t more leaders like Margaret? I wondered too, so I asked her to explain her management philosophy.

Me– It apparent to me and those you work with that you’re a cut above other managers at your company. Why is that?

Margaret– I’m not comfortable comparing myself to other managers. Earlier in my career, I worked on defining my role, what I should be working on, what to delegate and how to “manage up” i.e. my manager.

This thoughtful approach has allowed me to become a better manager. And, others see this approach and are drawn to it. I try to be fair. It’s important.

Me– Aren’t you afraid of getting to close to those you manage i.e. everyone wants to be your friend which could lessen your effectiveness?

Margaret- Everyone doesn’t want to be my friend. While I genuinely care about the people I manage, there is still a difference between personal and professional friendships.

Me- You seem to care a lot, assist others and even have employees from other department coming to you for advice. Why is that?

Margaret- Perhaps all managers are not equal. I guess I have thoughts, ideas and ways to improve their job that they want to bounce off of me. As I said before, I’m a good listener. I cross departments often, I reach out a lot and folks know me. That makes it easier for us to

Me- Sweet! Do you have a management philosophy?

Margaret- Not really, no. I prefer to manage people the way that I would want to be managed. My role is to listen carefully, help others grow, point out ideas that staff may not of seen, reduce barriers, provide other perspectives and help make individuals more productive aka the best they can be.

Me- Okay, so managers are liked, loved despised and tolerated. You are liked and loved. That’s impressive. What’s your advice to other managers?

Margaret- Spend time with the people you supervise. It can be tempting to cancel meetings with your staff, because you have a lot of other things to do. My advice is to always make that meeting happen even if it needs to be postponed. And, some need a personal touch, others with task. If you spend time with them you’ll know!

What is you managing style?

How close to Margaret’s style of managing is your manager’s?

Learn more at www.scottlesnick.com

Com-mu-ni-ca-tion: The KEY to Productivity, Job Satisfaction and Retention

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Com-mu-ni-ca-tion:

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Com-mu-ni-ca-tion: The KEY to Productivity, Satisfaction and Retention

Why is this not task completed?

How come you aren’t you getting MORE done?

Why am I a crappy manager? Oops, scratch that one!

The many benefits of my decades in corporate America and now as a professional speaker are the lessons I learn from leaders. This includes what TO do and what NOT to do with regards to great communications with your staff.

Surprisingly and appreciated by yours truly were men and women at several recent conferences I presented at who had admitted to me that they strive to communicate better but either don’t know how or don’t have the time.

Here are Scott’s 7 tips to better communications with everyone. Please remember that when used properly, great stuff happens. The stuff I’m referring to includes, but is not limited to the title above.

  • Listen- Your staff has things to share. Things you need to know. But if you’re TOO busy then…
  • Access- What do they need, how can you assist? What else can I do to move them forward?
  • Open that door- I am honored that folks share so many professional and personal stories with me because I learn and grow. I have learned that some staff/employees feel that you’re difficult to approach or that you will yell at them. So, they don’t bother and productivity suffers.
  • Two Minute Drill- Listen and help your staff understand how and why what they’re doing matters, who it affects and the outcomes it will produce. Or, as one C-level put it-“I need to shut the hell up and let them talk. Then, my words are more helpful; I can assist in some way and reassure them that they are heading in the right direction.”
  • Big Pic- Employees (especially Millennials) want to understand the big picture, how they are involved and what the desired outcomes are. The days of holding back information have passed. It’s sharing time!
  • Dampening ones enthusiasm- Or DOE lowers productivity, lowers retention and more. Today’s workplace currency is great communications! Spread it and watch the positive growth in your department, your workplace and your world.
  • Want to make a bet? If you think the six tips above are lame, don’t work or are “above” you, then please ask yourself this one question.

How do I want those in my professional and personal life to communicate with me?

 

Yeah, I thought so. You get it!

 

Scott Lesnick is a Professional speaker and author

Learn more at www.scott lesnick.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Saying Yes All the Time. Workplace Strife!

Monday, November 14th, 2016

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Thank so much for asking me to do more at work. I appreciate you’re trust in me, but my plate is 12” in diameter and you’re giving me three plates filled with crap!”

 

Okay, last week’s conference keynote ended with applause, mostly smiles and brisk book sales. It’s an honor to get paid to speak, but the real honor for me is the people I get to connect with. The workplace staff who do the heavy lifting.

They share some pretty deep things with me in confidence which we speakers are used to. We share on stage and some feel compelled to share with use in the back of the ballroom, hallway or in this case on my way to the restroom.

My bladder was full of water and I was ready let nature take its course.

Not so fast!

Rounding the corner I spotted the “Men” sign and quietly smiled as relief was literally in sight.

But, between me and the sign was the women’s bathroom. Out came three attendees who quickly stopped me, formed a half circle and began to tell me how much they enjoyed my presentation and actionable takeaways.

I was once again honored. And, I continued to give proper eye contact to each as my bladder reached Defcon 3!

Kasha was the ‘leader’ of this passionate threesome.

Them- Why doesn’t management understand how busy we are? Why do they continue to shove more work in our face as if we are multiple people?

Me- Well…

Them- And, How in the world are we suppose to say NO! It’s not permitted. It’s a sign of laziness.

Me- I see… (trying to respond and bursting from within)

Them- We love our jobs, but our managers are all over us all the time and we’ve about had it!

Me- Wow! I can see that you’re upset and I have a couple of thoughts. May I share them with you?

Them- Share away-‘cause we need to say NO sometimes and are frightened of losing our jobs. We can’t afford that, Scott!

Me (smiling and reaching Defcon 4!) Managers often don’t realize how busy you are. They shove more work your way and have a few plates of their own they are sifting through.

Have you tried sitting down in your 1-1 meeting and showing-not telling them what you’re up against? This can work really well!

Them- Yeah, they will tell us that everyone is busy and we all have to “pitch in.”

How much “pitching in can we do before we crack or look for another job? ( All three nodding in unison.)

Me- My guess is not much longer. So, how about trying this once.

Ask your manager for 20 minutes. You’ll only need 10. SHOW them what you have going on for the next 30-60 days and the amount of hours it will take per week to complete. If it’s too much they’ll know right away.

You’re not saying no, you’re saying I need your help. I need your guidance and support. My experience is that they will assist in prioritizing, give you breathing room and even take away some less important projects.

Them- Hmm. Never tried that approach. That could work. Seems possible.

Me- Let’s chat about this some more. I just have to run to the men’s room and I meet you at the reception to continue our conversation.

Disaster averted by 1 Defcon!

The cocktail reception was great and our conversations turned to family, vacations and food!

The workplace is like many other places. It is delicate, filled with talent and emotion and in need of constant communication to grow knowledge, empower employees and increase retention.

 

To learn more visit- www.scottlesnick.com

 

Politics, Religion and Pizza

Monday, August 15th, 2016

 

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Today’s insight focuses on an important part of our fabric It’s calling again and again and will we’re able to ignore it for a while; its power can overtake us in a moment of weakness.

Sure, I’m talking pizza-hot or cold! But what’s my pizza got to do with this political and religious stuff you lead with, Scott?

Well, the stuff that fills a person’s soul on the first two issues used to be something we mostly kept to ourselves. Many still do, but there has been an increasing attempt from many in the last, say, 15 years to tell you how to think and what to believe.

Before this, we had little care of our family and friends’ political views. We just wanted to get along. Religion and politics was discussed and mostly forgotten during holiday meals.

Not so in 2016.

Today, folks want to tell you who to vote for, which religion, if any is the best and won’t like you as much if you disagree.

I mean would you ever tell someone which ingredients to put on their pizza? I mean, would you! Hell no, that’s against the laws of…..um….PIZZA!

Today’s workplace is filled with passion, purpose and people with opinions. Important, yes but we tend to push the line of personal beliefs and choice more than ever.

So here are 5 ways to stay friends, grow relationships and not get punched!

  • Hey, your political opinion is you own. Please keep it to yourself unless asked. We have our own thought process and are able to navigate things just fine. We got to work today all by ourselves didn’t we?
  • Religion is all over the place. More than politics. So, SHHHHHHHH. People don’t really care where you are on this topic. If they do ask, than it’s open season to chat.
  • Remember 1 & 2 because it can save you a relationship or 3!
  • Listen, respect and acknowledge statements even if they are different than yours. You want the same, right? Ha, trick question – I knew you did!
  • Lastly, pizza. You like anchovies and barbecue sauce. I don’t. It’s okay because I ain’t even going to try and convince you to try my delicious black olive and onion ZA. Why would I?

Yet, we sometimes think that we can sway political and religious opinions over a cup of coffee or adult beverage.

Work and life are fun, challenging and full of twist and turns. And speaking of turns, I know this great pizza joint that make thin crispy crust with great sauce too.

Care to join me? We can discuss….sports?

 

Scott Lesnick is a high content speaker and author. Learn more at www.scottlesnick.com

Leaders, Staff and Excellence

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

The pendulum has swung back in favor of workers. Businesses are hiring, unemployment is hovering around 5.5% and workers understand that there are many more work options available. Retention is always an issue and now you have to fight hard to keep your best from jumping ship – a right they have and will exercise when appropriate.

Our competition is stronger than ever. Our business goals increase yearly but the leaders with unhappy staff will lose them in the blink of an eye.

New hires understand that the options are out there and will make up their mind within 30 days of starting a job how long they plan on staying.

You ain’t got much time to make them satisfied, comfortable and committed.

Excellence comes from more employee training, a watchful eye on their wants, needs and desires and an overall feeling that they matter and that you care.

When I conduct breakout sessions, I often include an activity that allows us to “deep dive” into issue. Sure I can present but a room full of talent can always come up with more ideas, thoughts and recommendations than one person can offer.

Here is what I learned at three different conferences I presented at this summer about what employees want. I’ve shortened the list down to seven. They are:

  • Training, training and more training. The reason- more knowledge, better opportunity for advancement & improved skills.
  • Cross Training– They want to better understand what others at the same company do and how it affects their role. Plus, they may find an area of the company that they are better suited for.
  • Employee recognition- Sure, you remember when we did more of that! Well, they want it to come back. Gas cards, bonus, lunch. Employees need to hear that they matter, make a difference and are an integral part of your team.
  • Ask them. Asking for feedback and input grows trust and builds relationships. Plus, great ideas can come from anyone at work but you have to ask.
  • Cross mentoring. Attendees have convinced me that mentoring not only works, it moves projects and employees along faster. Because we are now seeing Boomers & Xers specifically working with Millennials and the results are mostly very positive. Millennials can offer fresh perspectives, are a whiz with technology and are fast learners. Older generations have plenty of experience and are often in a higher profile position. Legacies are left by those in their forties and up, mentees advance faster than those who are not mentored and succession planning is stronger as a result.
  • Humor me. Lighten up, lose the “boss” attitude and come down to our level. Today’s best leaders understand that relationships increase productivity, grow business and make for a ‘lower stress’ work environment. No laughter, no fun, no appreciation. Where would you rather work?
  • Social gatherings. We understand that outside of work people let their hair down and tend to relax. Some more than others! New bonds are formed, relationships grow and leaders show their ‘off site’ personality. When offered and organized, the results can be tremendous and the cost to benefit ratio low!

Excellence in anything requires dedication, assistance and time. Today’s leaders lead from the sideline, in the trenches and wherever they can to be effective.

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Roses Are Blue

Monday, August 10th, 2015

 

 

 

 

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As Leaders, we all know the importance of compromise in our professional and personal lives.

Without it, things fall apart quickly. With it, opportunity improves and progress is made albeit sometimes slowly with challenges along the way.

However, your ego can get in the way along with personal feelings. Susan knows this first hand.

As a C-level executive, she has seen a lot and been through even more. At a recent conference she shared with me one of the reasons she beat the odds and rose to the top – not only as a woman but as a mother, wife and dedicated employee.

“Many managers around me were working towards the same goals as I was; climbing the corporate ladder. Leadership was in our blood. Most of them didn’t succeed. Time after time I would sit and watch as good people around me self-destructed, gave up or moved on. It wasn’t confidence or lack of ability that slowed them down or ended their careers; it was their desire to compromise.”

She explained, “People respect compromise Scott. They also appreciate it especially if you’re on different sides of an issue. They hate and I mean HATE those who are inflexible. Communication is so very important.”

“This is nothing new,” I replied. “Compromise has lead to many great accomplishments for thousands of years. What’s the key to reaching compromise and avoiding an impasse?”

“Well, it begins with repeating the other person(s) goals, demands, and desires back to them in a succinct manner,” Susan continued. “The key is making sure that each side understands what is at stake as well as the position of the each party involved. People who are not flexible lose in the long run. Those who can grit it out with less emotion and more productive dialogue win!”

“What does it matter the color of a rose? Red, yellow, pink. We can dye them to fit any occasion-even blue. Compromise allows conversations to move forward. Solutions are often reached and both sides can feel a sense of victory. Without this, you end up at an impasse,” she explained.

“That can cause ill will, lack of progress and a decrease in overall productivity and efficiency. No one needs that!” she concluded.

What are your challenges at work? Do you look for compromise and lead well or do you say it’s my way or the highway?

 

 

Red Licorice and Work

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

downloadIn an effort to stay in shape I run, lift weights and practice yoga. Yes, I watch what I eat too and it’s FAR from easy. The temptations are everywhere and my “say no” toughness to unhealthy foods is average at best. But, I try.

That’s all I want you to do-try.  We’re so quick to brag about being the best, being your best and besting the rest. It’s simply too much. Hay, I’m not advocating a transformation from human to 3-toed Sloth. I am suggesting that we often don’t try at all and in doing so we often miss the target. The good news- there are plenty of targets to aim for in life and many are closer than we realize!

Losing weight, getting a promotion at work or starting a walking regimen that you stick for 12 months a year takes just plain hard. But, trying gets results and we all like results.

What to do?

As a self diagnosed candy junkie in his 50’s, I had to make a concerted effort to stop eating the stuff. Okay, in all honesty it took every ounce of strength I had to kick the sweet habit. If you’re one of  my 77 approved candies or sweets I’m gunna eat you.

So, I switched to red and black licorice! They’re low fat sure, but sadly plenty of carbohydrates, sugar and other crap. I had to find a way to eliminate this delicious, I could eat a bag of Twizzlers, snack.

All this and work too?!

From time to time works has forced me to take action as well. We’re all faced with decisions from “bossholes” to a crummy coworker and more. Working for a company that often times makes good decisions is wonderful. Working for a company that doesn’t get IT can be frustrating at best. Thankfully, my company was pretty darn good, my team rocked and I always emphasized the power of trying. They got it. They understood how this one word could affect their lives both professionally and personally.

I’m no Einstein, I’m just me.  However, I remember learning the lesson myself from someone and passed it on when I could.

The simple act of walking away from a good paying corporate job to peruse speaking professionally took guts. The looks sometimes we get when we confide in others our dreams, goals and aspirations is somewhat similar to glares we might get if we told someone we used crystal meth 3-5 times a week.

Life is demanding. Working is demanding. People are demanding. I’d like you to consider trying. Whatever it is you’re holding on to inside that few if any know is important to you.

Try. Go for it. And, please don’t be afraid.

I’ve seen so many times how this small act can change a dream to a wonderful reality. The glass suddenly overflows with possibilities and you may have to make some difficult, yet awesome decisions .You deserve this and it contagious. Others will take notice. You’ll sometimes fall, but don’t get discouraged. You’ll bounce back like never before because you understand that it’s all about trying.

Lastly, would you be so kind as to please pass me one-no two pieces of licorice. Hey, trying doesn’t mean perfection!

 

BREAKING SAD! Leadership done right.

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

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Those of us in the speaking business are fortunate. We get to travel, stay in hotels and present to people from many walks of life. Oh yeah, we get paid too. The hours, weeks and months of creating and preparation plus rehearsal and fresh topics are expected by those who hire us.

My peers understand “the biz” and the difficulty in obtaining gigs. The not so secret- secret that motivates the crap out of us comes from a source we rarely discuss outside of our industry.

YOU!

That right. We do what we do because you like what we have to offer. The programs, keynotes, breakout sessions, books, consulting and more are what connect us at first. However, as presenters we understand that the real payoff is the connections we make.

One on one or in small groups we learn from you. You teach us. We listen (which isn’t always easy for a speaker) and we grow as people, you and I. That’s the pay off!

Leaders make or break a company and its staff as I found out again at a recent conference.

Jean came up to me after a presentation in tears. Her friend was consoling her. She’s a strong leader and I hit a nerve, her friend explained. I suggested that the three of us meet later in the lobby to chat.

Me- “So Jean, you’re looking better. I mean…,”she stopped me.

Jean- “I’m so sorry, but my boss at work is driving me crazy. I’m sad, so sad because I love what I do. I’m been there 12 years and am thinking about leaving.”

Me- “Can you elaborate? What’s he/she doing that sucks so much? Let’s break you of this SAD.”

Jean- “IT DOES SUCK!!! She’s not responsive to emails, slow as molasses to move on anything and takes FOREVER to make a decision. I have a staff of 25 that this directly affects.”

Me- “You’ve talked to her about this-yes?”

Jean- “Ad nauseam, Scott. Look, I understand you can’t fix this. I was hoping that you had another perspective like you mentioned in our general session.”

Me- “Thank you for stating the obvious (we all gave a much needed chuckle) I’m no expert, but I’ve seen and heard of difficult situations like the one you’re in.  Who can you confide in that you wouldn’t think to approach? They don’t have to be in the same department as you. Someone who does not pop into your mind right away may be the key.”

Jean- “Dan in Accounting is sharp, has a dry sense of humor and at my same management level. Plus he’s heard about some of the difficulties my department has been facing from others. I suppose we could have lunch off site.”

Me- “Low key and hush-hush.”

Jean- “Yep.”

Two months later I received an email from Jean which said:

Scott, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Dan and I did have lunch and he suggested that I involve the senior VP before things got worse. Reluctantly, I did. Remembering what you said about facing fear head on helped. My manager had some upper level discussions and things are better. Not perfect, but I’m not thinking about leaving!

I was honored to assist her in my small way. Jean did all of the heavy lifting.

Leadership form and style is a personal thing. Keeping good employees is critical for company and staff. Losing them costs money and time. Plus, if one person leaves it can cause others to do the same.

Active dialogue between employees is important. Management should strive to keep communication open, honest and productive. Motivating and encouraging retains good employees!

Breaking sad is a must!

 

Successfully Navigating Change in the Workplace

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

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Human Resource is described as: the department of a business or organization that deals with the hiring, administration, and training of personnel.

Sure, but add the words human beings to the definition and it takes on a multitude of layers that can resemble a three dimensional game of chess! And change can cost billions!

 

When I decided to speak on change I quickly realized that this topic bridged the professional and personal lives of employees. After all, we’ve all been faced with change and understand all to well that it can sometimes be difficult at best.

Thankfully, 28 years of helping others navigate change at a Berkshire Hathaway Fortune 500 company gave me insight I share with groups from coast to coast.  As HR professionals, we’re called upon by Ceo’s, Presidents, first year employees and everyone in between to assist in various levels of change. I call it “Fractured Time” because it depletes energy, decreases productivity and places fear into otherwise strong workers.

 

 

Happily, I found many women and men who were able to navigate change and even thrive during difficult times. Here’s how they did it.

  1. Eliminating Fear

Think it’s easy, we’ll guess again. I’ve seen giants fall to change and $35,000 a year employees navigate it so well they received promotions.

I began to notice that those who understood that changed occurred all the time were much better equipped to make it through unscathed. One person described it this way.

“Today, we’re facing this direction and next week we’ll be facing another direction. What’s important Scott is that we continue to face in the direction our company is in and make personal adjustments along the way.”

So true. How about you? The great unknown that fear places upon us will slow you down to a crawl if allowed. Change occurs and we can do little to stop it. However, we can do much to increase our chances of making it through the change. Begin with eliminating fear. Make it your friend. Come to some sort of agreement. Okay fear, I acknowledge you exist but I’m in control! Successful women and men know this. Sure, it bothers them and makes work/life interesting. The key is in how we choose to deal with it.

 

  1. Personally Speaking

We face change at home all the time. It can follow us to work in our car or on the train. Pretending it doesn’t matter won’t make it go away. Dealing with it will.

Someone once said- We speak about someday dealing with that or someday dealing with the change that’s glaring us in the face when someday isn’t even a day of the week!

Our complex lives leave little time for relaxation. Is there a way to gain back some precious time that runs through our hands like sand?

Once again, our ability to confront change head on and deal with it can bring the most positive results. These include: More time for you. More time to give to others and the change that was staring you in the face just a day ago is now a thing of the past. Ahhhhhh…..

And of course, you squashed the fear and succeeded. Way to go!

 

 

  1. The Payoff- The Secret

DYK? Managers, bosses and companies are always watching our performance. Duh! We’re all graded on it and given raises and promotions, in part for our good performance.

Most of us answer to someone with a higher position at work. At the end of the day we go home and become the non-work us leaving that world behind. Our lives are full, we need some rest and then it’s back to work in the morning.

At the office, change affects us, connects us and sometimes directs us. If you’re looking for a promotion, if you like receiving that yearly raise, if you’d like to stay employed than you have a distinct advantage over others. Remember what I mentioned above? There is a direct correlation between perception and advancement. If your manager remembers your Ninja-like skill of successfully navigating change you will be looked upon as a savior. Why? Because, you made a difficult situation pertaining to change easier for them to navigate. And, trust me; they also remember the staff that did not assist them as well. They complained- a lot. They couldn’t handle it well. They poisoned those around them.

In the meantime, YOU kept it together. YOU successfully navigated change. YOU are the one that will be remembered as opportunities arise.

Was it easy? Heck no! Did you make it? Heck yes. Are you better for having done so?

YES, yes you are!