Mentoring Mondays


Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - December 20, 2021 on December 20, 2021

“Life-Changing Decisions, Life-Changing Actions”

The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, is an exploration of the process of change and how the decision to change itself is the first step to a journey of transformation.

“The process of change unfolds over time. In fact, we can only reach our finest goals, realize our biggest dreams, and fulfill our true purpose by embracing change as a constant condition of our lives.  In other words, change happens in an instant, and takes a lifetime.”

In this final entry, we summarize the closing chapter in this small book that gives us the key to big change through small actions. Change is not a finite event. It is not something you can complete on a timetable.  There comes a point where we realize that we want more – that we want to become different, become more tomorrow than we are today. That is the moment when your change begins. You might not feel or see it but you have set the wheels of change in motion.

Unlock the power of the tools you have identified in the micro-actions during the past five weeks. Step into the path of change with conviction and commitment. “You may be just a heartbeat away from achieving more, becoming more and enjoying more. Focus on the goals and purpose that represent life-changing actions to carry you on your journey. . . . Pursue the things that matter . . . . Unleash the power of your mind. You may have heard the expression ‘If you can believe it, you can achieve it’ – nothing can take you further or make more of a difference in your life than the incredible power of your mind.”

Our brains are more powerful than any of us can truly realize. Saying positive statements aloud, visualizing the outcome with our eyes, and embedding future expectations in our conscious and subconscious mind can make those expectations a reality. Below is our final micro-action to perform.

Micro-Action: Feeding your mind with positive images -- When you wake up in the morning, read these statements out loud:

  •  I can be more today than I was yesterday.
  • My purpose in life is to serve others and make their lives better. I have been given wonderful gifts and talents and I have the courage today to ‘paint the canvas’ of my life. I am blessed beyond measure and today I will be grateful and enjoy my life.

Are you IN or are you OUT? The decision is yours. “You simply draw a line in the sand and you say, today I choose to be different.”


Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.


Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - December 13, 2021 on December 13, 2021

“Pushing Past the One-Yard Line and Breaking through to Peak Performance”

In this week’s review of The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes , the author compares one’s quest for success to a football game. For those of us who are sports fans, this makes sense. You push off from the starting line and march down the field to your opponent’s one-yard line.  Suddenly, the defense gets strong, and the offense seems to grow nervous and cannot push through that last one-yard into the end zone. Thus, having to settle for less than complete success.

“In life, as in football, winning matters. No matter how much energy, effort, and attention we devote to getting ‘almost’ there, if we fall short of achieving our goals we never enjoy the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes with true success. Even though we ran 99 yards, if we cannot move past the one-yard line toward our own peak performance, we have to settle for less.” What happened? Did our opponents hold us back? Or was it a lack of confidence, commitment, strategy or action? Sometimes we create our own one-yard line barriers that prevent us from fully realizing our potential and achieving peak performance.

With seven-minute ideas and micro-actions, you can destroy the self-defeating barriers to inaction, indecision, insecurity and unpreparedness that can prevent you from reaching your own end-zone of success. “In every organization only a portion of the people achieve real success. Those people who make it to the top are those who have torn down the artificial barriers of procrastination and indecision. You can be one of those people, too.” Don’t abandon your purpose. As we learned in earlier chapters of this book, by aligning your choices, priorities and dreams, you direct your actions toward achieving your goals and fulfilling your purpose.

Go back and review your earlier micro-action exercises and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you putting your purpose as a leader, teacher, mentor or supporter to work?
  • Do your goals, beliefs, and actions align with your purpose?
  • Does your vision accurately reflect your passion, desires, and purpose or do you need to reexamine your mission in life?

Think about this seven-minute idea: “What we do for others is often what brings us the greatest joy and fulfillment in life.” If your mission/purpose is based on feeding your ego in an organization that serves the public, you may fall short of the end-zone. Do you remember the story of the farmer who placed a jar over a pumpkin blossom? The blossom could have grown into a magnificent pumpkin but the limitations imposed by the thin glass barrier confined its growth. Don’t let your ego or other barriers limit your growth. Here are some micro-actions to get you back on track toward breaking through to peak performance:

Micro-Action: Assessing your room for growth – Take the next seven to ten minutes to assess your skills. What hopes, dreams, activities make your heart pound and your palms sweat? What do you love most? What makes you willing to push through the tough times?

Micro-Action: Discovering and living your mission – Take seven minutes to read through the words below and identify those that are connected to your mission in life.  Then create your own list of terms you might use to describe your mission: 

educate                       peace                           vision

motivate                      patience                      clarify

encourage                   kindness                      strategic

love                             teach                           prioritize

hope                            play                             organize

joy                               serve                            simplify

work                            feed                             team

passion                        lead                             follow

creativity                     advocate                      flexible

faith                            health                          write

Micro Action: Setting One-Yard Line Goals – What are your one-yard line goals? What one-yard line goals would make a difference in your life? Consider some of these:

  • Could you accomplish 5 percent more by increasing your activity level at work every day?
  • Could you handwrite two or more thank-you notes a day to your colleagues telling them how important they are to you?
  • Are you willing to take 15 minutes at the end of every day to create a written plan of action for the next day (a “to do” list would be sufficient)?
  • Can you push yourself to make sure that you are truly creating the image that you want to project?

The final micro-action for this entry is to take seven minutes and set some one-yard line goals for this week and, each day, check the list to determine whether you have made it to the end zone.

Good luck! We are cheering for you!


Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.

Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - December 6, 2021 on December 6, 2021

“Powering Growth through Momentum”

“Don’t you love those wonderful days when you wake up before your alarm clock goes off, your hair looks just right, you hit all the green lights on the way to work, you have a great day planned, and with every minute that passes things just keep getting better and better? . . . . You are on a roll!”

That perfect start to your day is called momentum. We have been learning about the power of small changes. Once you get the ball rolling toward change in your personal and professional life, you begin powering the process of growth. Your momentum speeds you through the challenges of daily life and even helps you overcome those large obstacles that periodically stand in your path.

“The process of powering growth through momentum involves five stages:

  • Identifying your starting point;
  • Aligning your energies with your life’s purpose and passion to begin the process of change;
  • Drawing upon your strengths to create a strategy that will shape your identity;
  • Creating systems to regularly feed growth;
  • Keeping your growth on track toward long-term goals.”

One of the great lessons in life is that it is the difficult times that strengthen us. One writer puts it this way “great leaders stand out when times are hard.” Hard times or challenges can force us to stop and re-evaluate and create a plan for pushing through. As you begin to re-evaluate your life, focus on your purpose and passion and the goals you set a few weeks back. Don’t take your eyes off your purpose and passion – keep the ball rolling and continue to gain momentum. 

The author of “The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Change,” focused her attention on growth in the following four areas:

  • Education: She read more, studied, and attended conferences to increase her understanding of her profession (financial advisor);
  • Productivity: She wanted to improve her understanding of the current technology;
  • Organization: She wanted to de-clutter her work environment and create a system of paper management to make her life more efficient;
  • Processes and Systems: She wanted to implement repeatable processes and systems to increase customer satisfaction.

Wherever you are in your professional life, you must decide to move toward meaningful change if that is your goal. You need to understand what is sweeping you along your current trajectory.  The following micro-actions can aid in getting you started:

Micro-Action: Describe your starting point by asking yourself a series of questions, such as:

a)     Does your job allow you to utilize your gifts and talents fully?

b)     Is a lack of skills preventing you from moving forward in your company/institution?

c)     Are you able to share your strengths in your current workplace?

d)     Are you really in the right career?

After completing the analysis of your “starting point,” take the necessary steps to get the ball rolling – align your work with your purpose, passion, and strengths in order to gain momentum.

Micro-Action:  In the next seven minutes, write the answers to the questions in the first micro-action.

Micro-Action:  If you want to be different, you must create a strategy and your story. We spoke in previous weeks about developing your elevator speech – a statement that sets you apart from others in your professional environment. 

Micro Action:  Create your story.  Your story gives you a competitive advantage. Take seven to ten minutes to describe your story. 

If some of these micro-actions appear to be repetitive, remember that change does not happen instantly. We have to be persistent in our efforts. We have to keep doing some things until they become second-nature. “We have to practice changing day after day in order to become a different person and to use the momentum of each day’s successes to power on through a lifetime of growth and development.”


Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.

Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - November 29, 2021 on November 29, 2021

“Choosing Success – Every Day”

In the last three weeks we have reviewed the framework for achieving change through actionable ideas that lead to a successful life which include: expanding our knowledge base, following specific strategies, and committing to a daily action plan. Part of that framework also includes the choices we make and our daily rituals and routines (habits).

“Consider this: For the most part, life is a series of daily habits. That idea may sound simple, but it is also quite powerful. You often hear people talk about ‘the rhythm of life’ when talking about nature – the changing seasons, migration, the cycle of birth and death. Well, the daily acts that make up your existence are part of the same rhythm. You wake up, get dressed and ready for work, and drive the familiar route to the office; get your first cup of coffee . . .” You get the idea.

Your first actionable idea for this week is: daily routines can be empowering. “If you are in the habit of reflecting success in the small things you do every day, you are preparing yourself to be successful in the unordinary aspects of your day.” Focus on developing healthy routine skills such as:

Believing in your ability“On average we criticize ourselves over 400 times every day. Harsh criticism does not motivate or nurture most people. Change and growth occurs through encouragement and increased self-esteem. . .  We can achieve more when we have a fundamental belief in our abilities to do more. This is the first step in moving to the rhythm of success.”

Communicating success through body language (clothing and presence)“People hear your words, but they mainly listen to you through a subconscious filter. They ‘hear’ your eye contact, they ‘hear’ your smile, and they ‘hear’ your overall body language.” Jack Griffin provides some great examples of reading body language in his book “How to Say It at Work: Putting Yourself Across with Power Words, Phrases, Body Language, and Communication Secrets.” Here are some classic examples of fear that people communicate through body language:

  • Swinging legs, tapping feet, or otherwise being ‘fidgety.’ Those types of moves spring from nervousness and sends the signal that you are inadequate for the job;
  • Crossed arms. Expresses an unwillingness to move forward and insecurity – you are unconsciously protecting yourself;
  • Lack of eye contact. Communicates a lack of confidence in yourself or your thoughts; you are not focused; and what you are saying is unbelievable; 
  • Biting or repeatedly licking the lips. Another sign of nervousness;
  • Twirling the hair or making aimless hand gestures. Also signs of insecurity;
  • Open palms/closed palms. Open palm gestures reflect openness and a willingness to help, whereas closed fist suggests a need for authority. When people hide their hands behind their back, they may be hiding the truth.

Sending signals of confidence are important to a successful life. To be a leader, you must present yourself as a leader. You must walk, talk and dress like a leader.

Micro-Action: Make an effective entrance – enter with a purpose so people can see that you are glad to be there and let them know that you appreciate their presence, and you are ready to serve them with all the enthusiasm you have.

Micro-Action: Stand up straight and walk tall (proudly) – You don’t have to be six feet to walk tall. Research tells us that tall women and men have an advantage in the business world. While we might not be tall and cannot change our actual height, our posture and stance can determine how tall others perceive us to be. 

Micro-Action: Be a strong presence – First, and always, maintain good eye contact with others in the room, and use your smile to put others at ease; position yourself well in important meetings; communicate with relaxed energy; listen actively, and dress with respect for others in the room (casual is not acceptable, unless expressly stated).

Networking to communicate a knowledge of your profession and the people you serve – Networking is an essential element of the rhythm of any successful businessperson or leaders’ life. As you gain practice in networking, it becomes second nature to you, and it deepens your understanding of your abilities. You do not have to think twice about sharing who you are and what you do with others. 

Micro-Action: Describe your business/organization/position – Create your unique positioning statement – your two to three-minute elevator speech: here is what I do and here is how it might interest you.

Micro-Action: Take seven minutes now and write a brief introduction statement that defines what you do and why you are different. 

To close this week’s entry on “The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes,” start moving to the rhythm of success by believing in your abilities and remember that our daily habits and rituals tell people who we are, but we define ourselves to ‘ourselves’ by our dreams.


Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.

Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - November 22, 2021 on November 21, 2021

“Expanding Your Possibilities for Growth – Seven Minutes at a Time”

As we continue to learn about the “process of change” and the transformative power of small actions, this week we will discover some of the tools and actionable ideas that you can immediately use to improve your daily lives.

In her book, The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Change , Allyson Lewis shares an inspiring story of “The Pumpkin and the Jar” and how we can allow artificial barriers to limit our hopes and dreams. As the story is told, a farmer plants a field of pumpkins and over time the seeds sprout and grow into vines that burst into blossoms. “The farmer walks the field one day and admires the beautiful blossoms, marveling at how nature had transformed those tiny seeds he had planted into this glorious display in only a few short weeks. As he bent down to admire one particularly beautiful blossom, he happened to notice an old glass jar lying nearby, and he wondered what would happen if a pumpkin were allowed to grow only within the limited confines of that jar. He placed the glass jar over the bloom and walked away.”

You can guess what happened. When the farmer returned some weeks later, the pumpkin grew and totally filled the jar – taking on the shape of the jar, and then it stopped growing. However, it was surrounded by beautiful round and amazingly large pumpkins. The moral of the story is that the pumpkin in the jar had been limited by the barrier and, as a result, altered its final shape.

At some point, all of us have allowed artificial barriers to limit our hopes and dreams. I hope the story prompts you to consider what your possibilities for growth might be and how or what are the unnecessary barriers that are keeping you from achieving your full growth, thereby altering the shape of your future and purpose. “But you can break free of your constraints to live a life with as much room for growth as your dreams can provide, and although breaking your barriers can open the path for life-altering growth, it doesn’t have to be a painful or overwhelming task.  The barriers only have as much power as you give them.”

Here are some seven minutes ideas (micro-actions) that lead to a fundamental change in the way you approach your daily life. These tools will promote productivity and enable you to gain greater control of the hours in your workday:

Micro-Action: Create a daily written action plan. Every day before you leave work, spend seven minutes writing down the top four to seven tasks you need to accomplish during the next workday.

Micro-Action: Declutter one area. Your organizational skills play a major role in your ability to increase your activity levels both at home and at work – create and maintain an organized space. Spend seven minutes cleaning out one drawer. Schedule seven to ten minutes, three times a week, to work on your office files.

Micro-Action: Committing to daily contacts. It is vitally important that you communicate with your clients, employees, and associates. Set and keep a commitment to make a minimum number of contacts with co-workers each day.

Micro-Action: Expanding your knowledge. To grow professionally you must increase your knowledge. Choose one book then commit to reading 10 pages or more every day. You can even choose to listen to audiobooks on CD, tape or iPod –a great way to spend all those hours traveling to and from work.

Another seven-minute idea is to have fun.  You must have fun in your work if you want to grow within your profession. “Your work occupies approximately one-third of your adult life. If you do not take pleasure, joy and satisfaction from doing what you do for a living you will not do it well nor will you find true success.”

If these micro-actions don’t appeal to you, develop your own strategies for change. Take the next seven minutes to write down ten strategies for action – five aimed at professional growth and five for personal growth. Set the stage for a successful life – break the artificial or perceived barriers that limit your potential for growth and embrace change!


Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.


Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - November 15, 2021 on November 15, 2021

“Discovering Your Purpose and Passion”

As we begin to explore “the process of change,” last week’s introduction to Allyson Lewis’ book titled, The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Change,” provided the framework for achieving meaningful change in your personal and professional lives through small steps, called micro-actions. This week, we will actually dive into the process of discovering your purpose and passion. To do so, you will need to examine your life’s goals – which are closely linked to the pursuit of your purpose. Through these micro-action exercises, you should begin to have a clear vision of your goals in life, and work toward those things that you are passionate about and enjoy doing.

Your goals can be personal or professional, tiny or grand; achieved tomorrow or extending past your span on earth. Here are some examples:

  •  Personal goals: I want to grow in my faith. I want to spend more time with my family. I want to take more pictures of my family.
  • Financial goals: I want to be debt-free. I want to increase my income significantly within the next year.
  • Vocational goals: I want to be successful. I want to build a stronger reputation in my community and industry. I want to help others achieve a better life.
  • Health goals: I just lost 10 pounds and I want to maintain my weight.
  • Goals for leaving a legacy: I want to fund an endowment to help students with limited financial resources.

Your goals in life reflect and help fulfill your purpose. Spend seven minutes every day writing down a list of two to three specific micro-actions for achieving an identified goal. You owe yourself 7 to 15 minutes of personal time each day to work on you. Buy a notebook/journal and be very specific about the small steps you plan to take each day to propel you toward a goal.    Begin the first step now.

Micro-Action: Take seven minutes right now and begin to make your daily list, or review a recent list you have made of your priorities and goals.

Caution: Don’t let unconscious actions and unexamined habits create priorities for you.  It is important to align your priorities and dreams. Your success is determined by the choices you make and the priorities you set.

Micro-Action: Spend seven minutes brainstorming – positive dreaming. Our dreams influence our actions and, therefore, help form the blueprint of our lives – those things we like and are passionate about.

Micro-Action: While you are taking a shower or drying your hair, concentrate on your dreams and the positive attributes you possess that will help you achieve your dreams.

The author calls this micro-action, “differentiating yourself through your core convictions and strengths.” Our core beliefs about our work must match our personal values. In our private lives, our core beliefs are what makes us individuals – professionally, our core beliefs differentiate us from our competitors. “Everyone is gifted with unique talents, but only when we use those gifts to differentiate ourselves from our competitors can we truly succeed and move forward in our career.”

Micro-Action: List your core beliefs and strengths.

Good job so far. Now, consider this:

  • You have acknowledged your passions;
  • You have set your priorities;
  • You have examined your dreams;
  • You have identified your core beliefs and strengths;
  • You have determined the unique skills through which you can differentiate yourself as a professional.

Are you beginning to understand and gain an outline of your purpose in life? If so, you have begun the process of changing your attitude and approach to life.

The author closes this chapter by stating, “What we do for others, defines our purpose in life.  Deep within your soul drives your purpose, and your purpose will likely revolve around your natural passions and the things you love. I hope you will take the time to discover your purpose by completing this most important micro-action: write a short paragraph on “My Purpose in Life is . . .”

More next week on “Expanding Your Possibilities for Growth – Seven Minutes at a Time.”


Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.

Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - November 8, 2021 on November 8, 2021

“The Seven Minute Difference”

“I believe that making even small changes in your actions and behavior can result in monumental differences in your life,” according to Allyson Lewis, author of The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes.

This book was written to assist people from all backgrounds – businesspeople, corporate executives, leaders, financial advisors, attorneys, doctors, and yes, even you! If you truly wish to make a meaningful change in your professional and/or personal life, you need to undertake a self-examination and small actions are necessary to bring about the lasting change that you desire.

Engaging in small activities and tiny choices every day can achieve the difference between mediocrity and excellence. These small actions are called “micro-actions,” and they can occur in a number of ways:

  • Outlining a daily plan of action;
  • Taking time to thank a colleague for a job well done;
  • Being on time or early for every meeting;
  • Reading ten pages of a book every day;
  • Getting up 15 minutes earlier each day;
  • Eating more fruits and drinking more water.

Incorporating these micro-actions into your daily routine can result in greater levels of productivity in your professional and personal life. These small activities don’t require a lot of time – perhaps 5-minutes, 7-minutes, 15-minutes or even more. However, the research shows that the average executive’s attention span is seven minutes. “Further, according to Harvard psychologist George Miller, the brain is limited to remembering only seven pieces of information at a time.” Below are examples of what can be done in about seven minutes:

  • Outline and prioritize your top personal goals;
  • Write a letter to someone;
  • Call your spouse, parents or children;
  • Take time to relax and reflect.

To facilitate change, this book contains several underlying truths such as: change begins to happen the moment you decide to do so; you must want and expect to change; and you should employ the process of change.

In the coming weeks, we will do a deeper dive into this book and take you through the “process of change.” We hope this week’s introduction is a sufficient teaser to pique your interest in what comes next.


Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.

Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - November 1, 2021 on November 1, 2021

“Self-Care Strategies for Faculty”

We are sharing with you this week an article from Inside Higher Ed that focuses on “self-care for faculty.” However, these strategies may be applied to administrative positions as well. We all need to take time to care for our well-being.

“Those of us who work in higher education should purposefully attend to our important needs, even if only for a short time each day.”

~ Janet Alexander and Beth Kelch


Self-care has never been more important. In “normal” times, it was challenging enough for faculty members to make self-care a priority. We often heard of faculty who started work before dawn, others who worked well past midnight and others who answered email in their beds.

During the first pandemic of our lifetimes, work has seemed constant. Many of us have been toiling from home with no clear definition of the boundaries of work’s place and time. Sometimes our spouses, our kids and our dogs have been additional obstacles to our workload. For many faculty members today, remembering to include exercise, healthy eating, adequate rest and other recommended self-care practices has seemed to be only a pipe dream.

At Delta College, we decided to make that dream a reality, if only for a half hour. In January 2020, we had a Winter Learning Day, with eight hours of Zoom sessions dedicated to self-care and professional development. As soon as the agenda was released, faculty were already making comments about how being on Zoom for eight hours, with a program devoted to self-care, seemed hypocritical and rather ironic. In addition, they usually use part of their Fridays to catch up on grading and prepare for the following week. Now they would have to steal time from their weekend to catch up on those eight hours of work.

As co-coordinators of the Faculty Center for Teaching Excellence, we were asked to lead an afternoon session. We knew that our session could not just discuss why we needed self-care; we needed to provide actual self-care. We understood that we cannot be the best versions of ourselves in our classrooms and in our personal lives if we are exhausted. Our center’s goal is to help faculty achieve a level of teaching excellence, which will not occur without first having healthy mental, physical and psychological well-being.

In preparing for the session, we read a number of articles, including “A New Way to Think About Work-Life Balance.” That became the focus of our challenge to our colleagues. We began our session by acknowledging that it had been a long day on Zoom, not to mention the long year adjusting to online teaching. We asked faculty to write in the chat the ways that they take care of themselves. They mentioned items such as praying, taking a nap, exercising, eating healthy food, talking to a friend, getting outside and so forth. We saw that faculty certainly know what to do to be healthy but often fail to make this a priority or even a reality.

We let them know that we are aware of all the roles they juggle in their jobs, their homes, their relationships and their communities. We identified the most precious “glass balls” that will shatter if we drop them and “plastic balls” that will bounce and can be picked up later. We then reminded them to consider what was urgent versus what is important. Many people know this concept, but putting it into practice is the challenge.

Then, to give faculty members the opportunity to care for a “glass ball” -- to act on what was important over urgent -- we asked them to take the next 30 minutes and engage in something that was important for their well-being. Then they were to send us an email, letting us know what they did and how it contributed to their self-care. We had the hope that faculty would experience it and decide to make it a regular part of their lives every day -- even for just half an hour.

A Gift of Time

The response? We read emails about “How I spent my Winter Learning Day break” from over 150 faculty, full of genuine thanks for the opportunity to take care of themselves. Many mentioned taking a walk on the cold winter day or exercising. Others spent unexpected time with children, spouses, dogs and cats. (Photos of dogs, babies and art projects were included.) Others used the 30 minutes for reflection, prayer and meditation.

Here are just a few memorable comments from the wide range of professors from all types of disciplines -- including English, mathematics, languages, residential construction and physical therapy, among others -- who responded.

  • “Honestly, I was tempted to work during this time since I actually have childcare help today, but I didn’t. So here is what I did: I went and kissed my 1-year-old just before he went down for a nap, had a snack with my 3-year-old before he started his quiet time and then took my dog on a 15-minute walk -- just me and him.”
  • “I went for a 1.5-mile walk up and back on our road with my dog. I really needed to get away from the computer and get some fresh air. Felt great!”
  • “I used my 30 minutes to do some exercises and stretches (while listening to music!) and then enjoyed a snack while basking in the silence (a rare thing at my house). For the first time today, I feel energized/recharged and realize that spending this time on myself is crucial to my well-being.”
  • “This is not the ‘correct’ answer, but I spent my time finishing teaching today's virtual first-grade lessons to my son. That probably counts as ‘urgent,’ but if it makes you feel better, I also take a lot of joy being able to participate in the important learning he has done this year, like learning to read and grasp basic math concepts. If I didn't also have to work, it would be my dream to be able to teach him this stuff! As it is, it is very hard to perform double duties of teaching first grade and teaching college, but I am grateful for the added safety afforded by being at home with my people.”
  • “I took a book I’m reading on my iPad and headed to our basement treadmill. I have been neglecting getting enough physical exercise recently, and I knew I had a busy day, so I had given up hope that I’d have a chance to walk today. It was a real pleasure to have been given the permission, or rather the assignment, to take 30 minutes to do this for me.”

Because this time was unexpected, faculty members especially appreciated it. It was a gift. Here’s the secret: our time is always a gift. Daily, those of us who work in higher education should purposefully attend to our important needs, even if only for a short time each day. Flower Darby reminds us that we should “schedule wisely.” We need to “carve out (regular) time to unplug and recharge.”

This is the lesson we learned from offering just those 30 minutes -- a lesson we hope you’ll consider, as well. It is a vital ingredient for making our classrooms reach the level that our students deserve: the level of excellence that we can only provide if we do, in fact, unplug and recharge. Our students, our loved ones and we are worth the investment. So go ahead: take just 30 minutes.


Source: “Self-Care Strategies for Faculty” by Janet Alexander and Beth Kelch, Inside Higher Ed, July 9, 2021.

Janet Alexander is professor of English and Beth Kelch is associate professor of mathematics at Delta College.

Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - October 25, 2021 on October 25, 2021

“Creating a Success Culture – Revised Version”

The idea of a success culture is the result of a world-wide survey of 139 offices in 29 professional service firms in 15 countries in 15 different lines of business. For this particular survey the basic question was “Are employees’ attitudes correlated with financial success?”

The answers to the question varied, but in most cases it was yes. And in those “yes” cases, it was found that there were high levels of commitment, dedication and enthusiasm. Where there is less commitment, dedication and enthusiasm, how can a manager or leader create a culture that promotes growth and/or measurable returns? These are some strategies that come to mind:

  • Teamwork;
  • High institutional standards;
  • Strong employee development programs.

But the real key is the character of the individual managers and leaders.

David H. Maister, author of “Practice What You Preach,” provides an in-depth review of “What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture.” The book is easy reading and I have extracted one section to share with you.

“The success culture is about creating a community. It is not about just teamwork. It is much more – it is about a community where people feel a mutual sense of responsibility and obligation to support each other. Each accepts his or her share of the responsibility of the challenges that face the firm or organization. It is not just a random collection of people who happen to work in the same firm or who are members of the same organization, but individuals who feel a sense of ‘being in this together’.”

 Hence, how does a manager achieve such buy-in? One-on-one counseling, coaching or mentoring, or modeling the desired behavior. According to some of the best managers, here are some ways to achieve this kind of community:

  • As you grow, have people you have developed (and who share your values) manage with you;
  • Strive at building loyalty to the firm or organization;
  • Create a sense of mutual pride in each other’s accomplishments;
  • Earn trust by supporting each other – enforce the rule that employees don’t leave until they ask if anyone needs help;
  • Encourage group discussions – leaders should let people know the reasons behind their thinking;
  • Face successes and failures as a group – don’t be so quick to point the finger;
  • Keep everyone informed – good communication ranks high in all successful endeavors;
  • Rotate staff meeting facilitators – give the junior or mid-level staff member an opportunity to develop presentation skills. Help people understand that they need to grow – don’t assume they know;
  • Set standards and live by those standards;
  • Take time to interact socially;
  • Create fun and enjoyment in the workplace;
  • View individual goals as collectives – no egos are allowed.

And the list goes on. But these are not arbitrary rules of good people management. These are the practices of the most successful and profitable businesses and organizations throughout the world.

The message is clear. Accept the challenge. Have the courage to believe that the message from your leadership is clear and that the strategy is not to wait until tomorrow, or until someone else implements the plan. Remember, you reap the benefits of what you do now, not what you hope to get around to doing some day if it is convenient and you’re not too busy.


Source:  “Practice What You Preach,” David H. Maister, July 2001, Free Press Publishers (can be found on-line, by keying in book title).



Permanent link for Mentoring Mondays - October 18, 2021 on October 18, 2021

What Is Your Leadership Battle Cry?

~ Frances Hesselbein

A couple of weeks ago, we asked if your leadership mission statement was simple enough to fit on a T-shirt. This week we are asking “What Is Your Leadership Battle Cry?”

The following three leadership “battle cries” are from Frances Hesselbein, the former Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of America and now Chairman of the Leader to Leader Institute (formerly The Peter Drucker Foundation). They are short and impactful:

  1.  Her blood type, which she proudly tells us ~ Be Positive!
  2.  Her vision, which she enthusiastically shares with all of us ~ Bright Future!
  3.  Her mission, which she exemplifies to us every day ~ To Serve Is to Live!

This week’s message is intentionally brief. Our hope is that these short “battle cries” will have an impact upon your career – not just leave an impression.

Take time this week to find your “battle cry.”


Source: Article from The Marshall Goldsmith Newsletter

September 9,  2021

Marshall Goldsmith and Frances Hesselbein

Page last modified December 20, 2021