Saturday, January 30, 2010

Authentic Endorsement 2 - Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

This is most likely my most anticipated post of the year so far.

You see, I've had the pre-release galley (yeah - even love the terminology) of this book since September. It clearly states on the cover, "Please Do Not Quote, Blog or Review until January 1, 2010"

I have been exercising TREMENDOUS self-control to keep it under raps so long. I read it once back then and read it again over the last month in prep for this post.

First of all, I have to say that I was not super familiar with Chip and Dan Heath before I saw them at the Leadership Summit (hosted by the Willowcreek Association) 2009 last August. As a marketer, I'd heard about their bestseller "Made to Stick" but had never gotten around to reading it. Their session at the Summit was so good, entitled "Switch" and captivated me from start to finish, even as a right after lunch offering.

From the first page - I was hooked on this practical guide on what fuels change in many different situations. Since I am personally embarking on a change mission - this was like a one-on-one lesson for me designed precisely for this point in my life. The concepts that the Heath brothers teach are as intuitive as they are easy to explain and grasp. The connection between our emotional selves (Elephant) our rational selves (Rider) and harnessing them to reach a common goal is clearly something we all can relate to - no matter what we are attempting to change. The piece that I'd never seen expressed so clearly before which is, quite frankly the best part of the equation that the Heath brothers observed and teach about - the concept of the Path.

As a change agent by DNA - this resonated with me instantly. I could easily look back over the course of my life and all the change I'd led and could see where I'd "motivated the Elephant," "directed the Rider" while simultaneously "shaping the Path" to the change . Over and over in this book, you read about clear opportunities for change and each situation had the same three pieces of the equation working regardless of budget, timing or who was leading the change. That's powerful.

My favorite story of change was one I'd heard them share at the Summit and was in Chapter 2 of the book - the story of Jerry Sternin who worked for Save the Children in Vietnam in 1990. In an effort to understand and fight malnutrition in Vietnam, Jerry did a very basic yet often missed technique to impart change - he found a bright spot and capitalized on it. With little to no budget to help fight malnutrition and no Vietnamese language skills - Jerry observed how some children in one remote village were healthier than others. Most all Vietnamese families in this village had the same amount and type of food to eat - rice, shrimp, crab. Most fed their kids two times a day. The "conventional wisdom" among this group was that shrimp and crab were for adults and not really "appropriate" for kids. Additionally, there were sweet potato greens available but they were considered "low class" food.

When Jerry observed how the healthier kids were fed versus the others - he found a clear bright spot. The mothers whose kids were healthier - served their kids four meals a day (using the same amount of food as the other moms just rationing it differently). They also added tiny shrimp, crab and sweet potato greens to each serving. Sternin was amazed and right away had an answer to fighting malnutrition by enabling these model families to teach the others how to help their fellow villagers. There is so much more to this story - you'll have to read it but think about change in your own life for a minute... How often do we concentrate on wanting to change what's not right vs building on what is? Heck - we struggle to even ACKNOWLEDGE the good in most situations. This is just one of many practical applications that you will find throughout the 296 page book.

Most people will devour this in one sitting. As a working mom with many outside interests it took me a few weeks but it is written so well that either way - you will learn and retain the concepts and start applying them immediately.

The book will be on shelves on Feb 16, 2010 and I know at least Dan is doing a book tour to promote it - I am trying to work out seeing him when he breezes thru Chicago this spring. Go get this book. Even if the only change you are considering is personal. I am certain you will be "changed" after you read it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Joy... a habit worth having

It is said in many places that 21-30 days represent the magic numbers with habits.
21 days break a bad habit.
30 days to form a good habit.
Since the start of the new year, I have been practicing the "habit" of being joy filled. Now interesting enough, when I went to looked up the definitions of happiness and joy, at first, they appear interchangeable.
Dictionary says happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.
Joy, it says, is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.
Then I found this definition...the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight.
The emotion evoked by well-being... that is my definition of joy.
Joy is not affected by circumstances.
Joy is not hinged on what someone does or does not do.
Joy is not about my satisfaction.
Enough about what joy is not...
Joy is powerful. It is larger than life to me.
Joy is the still small voice that reassures me of the long term goal.
Joy is the steadfast belief in myself and never wavering faith in my own talents.
Joy is looking sorrow in the face and letting it know - it is not welcome to stay.
Joy is knowing that my well-being, success and/or good fortune is in no human hand.
It's been 23 days and I have to admit - I've had some shocker days in that time but for the most part I have been joyful. And when I was not very joyful this past week, a co-worker reminded me of the source of my joy. How cool is that?
You see, when you practice living a joy filled life, others notice and are impacted by it. So much so that they take exception and help get you back on track when you fall off.
There is still time to pick up a new habit this year.
May I suggest living a joy filled life?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Authentic Inspiration

The past week was brutal on me.

Work was... well it was work. Particularly frustrating this past week, more so than usual.

The disaster in Haiti just crippled me several times. Story after story of triumph and heartache.
An 11 year old girl who's last words to her mom were, "Mother, don't let me die." Hour after hour of the images, it's just too much.

Yet it inspired me. Inspired me to take a cold hard look at myself and my life.

Inspired me to take advantage of every opportunity to impact the world I live in. Big opportunities and little ones just the same.

Dictionary says inspiration is "the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions". Inspired is the adjective from the verb inspire which means "to exert an animating, enlivening or exalting influence on" or "to infuse" or "to spur on"

One year ago today, I walked into the village hall in Lake in the Hills to file my paperwork to join the Trustee Board race. You all know the outcome of that tale. Inspired by a lifetime of political interest and working on many victorious political campaigns for others, I mounted my own campaign, won and joined the ranks of elected officials and public servants last April.

Today, I tell you that I am going to lead a national conversation on how we change the way we look at relationships in our lives. We are going to change the way we support each other in relationships. We are going to INSPIRE people to pro-actively work on the relationships in their lives and guide them to the tools necessary.

I have been formulating plans since August. Holding productive meetings with that tight group of confidants since late November. Moving forward little by little, carefully calculating the next move.

Last week, the day after the earthquake, I applied for a grant from the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project to start

I am also applying to be in the Clever 1000, a network of social-media connected natural networkers and influencers who want to have a voice in engaging with and enhancing brands.

You see, inspiration is lost and/or wasted if there is no action to back it up. Of course, I'm making a donation. Today, in fact. Even thinking about joining a rebuilding project when they start. But that, for me is not enough. Because as my pastor said yesterday, "Anderson Cooper will fly to another location soon" and all eyes will turn away from Haiti.

What will be the fruits of the inspiration you've felt in these days?

Perhaps you will be inspired to hug your loved ones more tightly. Tell them you love them at every chance.

Perhaps you will think twice about how use the resources you've been blessed with.

Or maybe you'll read about the history of Haiti and learn more than the sound bites the media is feeding us.

Whatever you do - don't lose this opportunity to be authentically inspired to action of some kind. Make sure you convert the hurt and any energy you have felt by this disaster into something good.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tune In

For the second time in less than 7 days I have been completely without my Coach wristlet.

Last week, a walking angel picked it up at the local Meijer grocery store and returned it to the service desk with all $143.92 cents + cards/id.

Tonight, after music lessons and paying for new music books - somehow I dropped it in the middle of the parking lot and did not discover it until I made a stop to buy something a few minutes later. Miraculously, it was there laying 100 yards from the door of the music studio on the ground in the 8 degree cold.

Of course, I'm thankful that I was not forced down the "I lost my wallet and I want to die" road but I started to think WTF? Why am I all of a sudden losing things?
I am the epitome of the above picture. Queen of Multi-tasking. Too much on my mind and too little time paying attention.

A few weeks back, a very good friend surprised me with the news that she was ending her marriage and moving back to California via text. I was floored. I had no idea there was trouble.

It's because I was not tuned in. There were clues, subtle and not-so-subtle and I missed them all. Sure, I was so focused on attending to another woman in our group of friends and ensuring that I gave her birthday cake for her birthday, which I am sure meant a lot but had I been tuned in, I would have prioritized reaching out to this other friend. No question.

When I get home from work - my kids want to talk to me and I find myself irritated to stop and listen as I rush to get dinner on the table.

At work - if the person who walks in my office has the unfortunate luck of not being a succinct communicator, I am checking the email that just came in and glancing at my computer instead of listening fully to what they are saying.

That all ends today.

I have an impromptu objective to add to my list for 2010.

I need to tune in.

The guilt and re-tracking back to make sure I got it all is killing me.

So starting now, I am going to work to multi-task only when appropriate. Because that is so vague, squishy and such "a recipe for failure", here is quick list of when it's clearly NOT ok to multi-task:

  • Anyone in my immediate family is talking to me or vying for my attention
  • When I am catching up with friends - no more commuting only calls. For every commute call, there must be a non-commute call to match it. {MHH we are in trouble -Big Time}
  • If someone walks in my office to discuss work issues. When the time is pressing, I will say so and politely move to get back to what I was doing
  • When I am entering or leaving establishments - no calls or checking email.

That's good enough to start. I want to challenge everyone to do the same - tune in more in 2010.

Gotta go - being summoned to join a family Wii game.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 Objectives

For those who need a reminder or are just joining my journey, here's my explanation of why I have objectives vs. resolutions. Last year, I accomplished 55% or 5 of my 9 2009 objectives. I count accomplishment only on the objectives that were completed 100%.

That said... here goes the 2010 list:

1. Partake in monthly manicures for Emma and I -at a salon. It is officially a line item in the family budget so it is going to happen.

2. Book FIVE regional/national speaking engagements. This one is going to be tough. Last year, I wanted to book one and it finally happened at the very end of Q3. There are a few things I have going for me this year, one, I've enlisted help in booking gigs. I have also narrowed my scope to either partnership marketing or motivational/personal branding/give your dreams some love talks. Last year, I had no prepared presentations or any leads on events. This year, I am further down that road. I even bought 5 extra vacation days to make sure I can accommodate this and my normal vacation.

3. Participate in Quarterly marriage enrichment activities with my husband, Isael. We had a blast in 2009 but did not come close to the monthly date nights. Now this year we do have some help with babysitting, but I just don't see it happening every month so I am committing to Qtrly activities, that hopefully involved 24 consecutive hours of just us. We did do that twice in 2009 so I am confident we can lick this one.

4. Experiment with color on my groovy afro. This one is huge for me. Been saying it since I went natural in August of 2008 and have not put one drop of color in my hair. I need to muster up the courage and a great colorist (who's down with my do) in the NW burbs of Chicago. Any suggestions are welcome.

5. Self-publish a book on Relational Wellness, my life's passion. Relational Wellness is loosely defined as proactive care for all relationships in one's life. I plan to tackle this issue with a vengeance in 2010. You will most definitely see more on this topic throughout this year. When I say self-publish - I plan to use and want all my friends and connections to buy the book when it is finished :)

6. Teach my kids to ride their bikes. Actually, first buy them new bikes. Yeah, I know. Both Emma and Evan need bikes again. This was on the list last year and we failed miserably. This time - I will be doing this as soon as it thaws. Even if it is just a few minutes during the week, with more extensive lessons on the weekend - the Barreto kids will be riding bikes independently by July 4, 2010.

7. Book and keep a bi-annual overnight GNO with some of my girls. You know who you are and I'm coming for you. It will be a mixed group of my girls through the years but I am doing it. We will start small and local but this will be a bi-annual ritual to keep up with my friends! I want to look back when I'm 89 and write books about our great GNOs.

8. Read and review one business book a quarter. Last year, I reviewed one - Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and am in the process of reviewing the new book by "Made to Stick" authors, Chip and Dan Heath. I need to identify three more and get them reviewed for publication on a blog or magazine website.

9. Village of Lake in the Hills Trustee objective see here for details.

There you have it, the Denise Wilmer Barreto Objectives for 2010.

I need to boogie and get started. Tune in for the quarterly updates!