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Archive for April, 2009

The timeless, ageless Jones is one of those grandfather types that appears just when you need him most…even when you didn’t know you needed him. Andy Andrews takes us on a journey to remind us to be grateful and appreciative through gaining new perspective.

In his new book, The Noticer, we weave in and out of the lives of ordinary people who cross paths with an extraordinary human. As he taught Andy lessons, he taught me. Everyone has a Jones somewhere they’ve not appreciated or given thanks to. I know I do.

I am inspired and love a book that I can read in one afternoon and put into action the next. I felt myself crying as I related to the characters in the book—even Andy, homeless and weeping in grief…I felt it. I’ve been where they are and I’ve gained new perspective, at times…at others, not so much. The story seemed familiar, but mostly I enjoyed it because I was comfortable in Andy’s storytelling and I felt he was talking to me. I’m sure he was.

This book is a great gift to yourself and even a greater one to share. I loved it. I need more Andy and more Jones in my life…to realign my perspective and jerk a knot in me every now and again. This gives “pay it forward” a new, well, perspective to consider.

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I know, 80 degrees, late-April is SO not that season, right? Wrong…I’m learning that every day of every season truly needs to be that time of acknowledgment. I’m reading The Noticer by Andy Andrews and while I’m only on chapter 4, some of what I’m reading is telling me not only to stop and smell the roses, but to let the roses know how much I appreciate them. Man, do I have things in my life that I need to appreciate. There are people in my past that have no idea how much they affected who I am today…because I never told them. I’m not making that mistake again.

I’m all over social media these days and having fun with it. Anyone who says they don’t have time for it or just thinks it’s silly has never really taken a stab at it…because it’s new, it’s change, it’s unknown territory…I say get over it and dive in! I’ve rekindled relationships and been given the opportunity to find old friends, share memories and let people who never knew how I felt that they mattered.

Ironically, I received a DM (direct message) on Twitter today from Andy’s manager Robert that said: “Noticer Project is a global movement 2 ‘Notice’ the 5 most influential people in your life!” You have to check it out: http://www.thenoticerproject.com/.

Serendipitously, my Facebook “status” reads: “Chrysty Beverley Fortner encourages everyone to pay something forward today: a nice gesture, an overdue phone call, or old-fashioned thank you card dropped in the mail to someone who changed your life. Don’t wait.” Either I’ve got ESP or the Universe is trying to tell me to appreciate, appreciate, appreciate! I’m listening!

There has to be something to it when four people in one day cause you to stop and take notice. My friend John mentioned to me yesterday about tree-climbing and how it compares to life and jobs and friends. I think he’s spot on. Let’s see if I get this right: you’ve got to make the decision to climb at some point, you’ll make mistakes and get scratches and bruises now and then, but then you get to stop and sit and marvel at the progress you’ve made. You take risks and climb higher, you lend a hand to a friend who is struggling to catch their footing, and you stop and sit and marvel the view now with a friend by your side. Nice view, but it might be better from the top, so you reevaluate your climb and decide in order to provide stability you’re better off staying where you’re at. You make sacrifices and you even settle for less sometimes. Eventually, you can’t stop the itch and one day go out on a limb, the limb breaks and you crash to the ground, your friends are there to dust you off and give you a leg up.  You’re resilient and strong so you not only make it to where you were perched before, you climb higher. Later the wind comes up and shakes the branches but you’re confident your foothold is solid. You look around and appreciate the people not only that helped you climb, but the ones that picked you up and got you back on track…the analogy can go on, but the tall and short of it is that we all have those people we forgot to thank or forgot they even helped. Today’s the day for all of it!

Pay it forward, take it back, make amends, say you’re sorry, whatever it takes to make peace and give thanks for the many wonderful people who made time for you in their busy lives. Give your thanks unconditionally today and maybe tomorrow you will have changed the world. I think today’s article coincides with administrative professional’s day…maybe this is YOUR sign to stop and take notice of the people that support you as you dangle from your tree.

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I never imagined using the words Feng Shui in a sentence, much less in a sentence concerning work.  We sometimes get into a pattern that is not terribly uncomfortable, but nothing extraordinary either.  I know because I’ve been there more than once…sometimes it’s a home rut and sometimes it’s an office rut, and sometimes it’s a combination of both.  It’s nothing tragic and it didn’t happen overnight, it’s just a gradual shift from the road to the rut.

I thought I was motoring pretty well until I woke up one morning and just instinctively felt less than or lacking, if that makes sense.  I decided I needed a little “Feng Shui” in my life.  Not knowing exactly what that meant, I Googled it to learn how to increase the positive energy in my office.  Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese philosophy that translates into “Wind, Water.”  It is a systematic approach for increasing positive energy, or chi, and decreasing negative energy (sha) in your life.  Chi is all around us.  You don’t have to believe in ancient Chinese anything to know when you’re in a rut.  Feng shui is related to the very sensible notion that living with rather than against nature benefits both humans and our environment.  Why didn’t I think of that?  Here are some of the basic “rules” I had to ponder:

1. add color

2. de-clutter space

3. get live plants

4. use rich fabrics

5. add water (fountain, fish bowl, etc.)

I like that, just add water!  Well, it rained all day in Tennessee so for now, that will be my water.  And since I attended the Earth Day celebration yesterday, I think I’ll start with green.

Lime green, muted green, bright oranges…in! Uber cute organizing bins, matching paper clips…in! Super fluffy bench cushion with matching ottoman…so totally in! It didn’t cost me very much and I even robbed colorful items from around my house, but my Feng…or is it my Shui is flowing rather nicely tonight.

Yep, sometimes getting rid of stale photos, stiff décor and boring office accessories then adding a splash of color is good for your soul. I put multi-colored canisters filled with binder clips on my shelves, hung a cool peg board with bright, over-sized push pins for brainstorming ideas. I even bought a bright green mouse for my laptop. I was energized.

At least until I got to the “cabinet” which was just a dungeon behind a door that hid everything I was avoiding…it wasn’t pretty. I pulled it all out and put it in the center of the room.  I began shredding paperwork and discarding stuff, that’s all it was…stuff and it was time to purge.  The cabinet ended up not being so bad and I’m not completely finished, but I am inspired to take a look around and see what else might not be “flowing” as it should.

There’s something to be said about spring cleaning—and Feng Shuing for that matter because if you’re stuck, there is no time like the present to dig out.  It doesn’t always have to be about paper towels and windex (thankfully), it can be about cleaning out old mental and emotional clutter as well.  I discarded old sympathy cards, receipts for lawn work, deposit slips for an account that’s closed, HR guidelines from 2003 (for a job I haven’t had since 2006), a volunteer roster from a charity event, crazy stuff I have no reason to keep…the cleaning went on and the poor shredder purged…but so did my soul.

Sometimes you just gotta lighten up your physical and emotional filing cabinet, brighten your space and be willing to take a look at how you’re life is flowing.  I am excited to get to work tomorrow!  And for those of you who read, “Laughter is Serious Business,” maybe it’s because I instituted the daily laugh that I found the energy to change my energy…I’m just saying.

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If you make me laugh–odds are I’ll do business with you.  It’s not scientific nor is it intentional but as I look back at the largest business transactions in my career they were a result of somehow making someone laugh along the way and vice-versa!  There are plenty of successful people that are serious and rigid, so I figure there’s room enough for someone like me.  I guess I’d say my challenge to sales people everywhere is–if I’m laughing, I’m buying so make me laugh!

I decided to do some research on laughter in business and found a firm that actually hires themselves out as laughter coaches.  I want that gig!  Here are some of the results companies that engage in laughter therapy promise.  And while I don’t need scientific facts for my conclusion, I liked what I read about their claims for laughter:

  • Reduces mental and physical stress
  • Increases energy levels & productivity
  • Increases emotional intelligence
  • Improves communication & teamwork
  • Improves leadership skills
  • Enhances innovation and peak performance
  • Stretches muscles, burns calories and serves as a natural energy booster

Here are some more facts that made me realize just how important laughter really is for our health and our pocket books:

Up to 90 percent of the doctor visits in the USA may be triggered by a stress-related illness, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today’s business demands have put a tremendous strain on our global workforce. Longer hours coupled with fewer resources are pushing more and more management and employees to their breaking point. Combined with the need to achieve work-life balance stress is taking a tremendous financial and personal toll on US business profitability:

  • $300 billion per year or $7,500 each employee is paid out for stress-related compensation claims
  • 1 million workers went on stress-related disability in 2004
  • 75% of doctor visits are for stress-related conditions
  • Eight of the top 10 prescription drugs marketed today are for stress-related conditions
  • Stress is directly associated with depression, anxiety, asthma, alcohol/drug addictions and other conditions that affect the nervous and immune systems.
  • Approximately 100 million Americans suffer stress related from chronic health conditions: heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

Job stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workplace, leaving few workers untouched.

So if laughter can prevent some of these illnesses or at the very least reduce stress, why aren’t we laughing more? THAT I don’t know the answer to, but here’s my call to action–let’s start laughing.  What if every day at noon you put a reminder on your calendar to pop up and say, “remember to laugh.”  Then you’ll have permission (and an appointment) to laugh.  Or smile or something to change wherever your mind might be to a softer, happier place.

I’m committed.  I’ll flag my calendar every day for 30 days; the only time I won’t laugh at high noon is when it would be inappropriate (the restroom, mass, funeral…you get the idea).  If I’m at lunch with a client, I promise to laugh.  I’ll report the results, but most importantly I encourage each of you to conduct your own experiment in laughter.  It can’t hurt…unless of course you do so much your sides ache.  Either way, if laughter is good for your mind and body it has to be good for business.  And in these times ANYTHING that’s good for business is, well, good for business!

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