Wednesday, June 25, 2003

What is Your Personal Motto or Credo?

Years ago when I was taking a course that made me take a good long look at myself and where I was going in my life, the facilitator shared the rule by which he lived his life. I loved it and adopted it for my own. "I live my life in direct proportion to the commitments I make and keep" (James Quinn). It changed the way I approached life, definitely helping me work towards making it "toleration free".

I no longer make commitments I don't want to make or have any intention of keeping. I give of myself because I choose to, not because it's expected to. And those who are recipients of that, know instinctively that's true and appreciate whatever it is I did for them all the do I.

When we give because we're expected to, regardless of whether or not we want to, there's a slight edge to it along with a touch of anger that we were put in the position (truthfully it's allowing ourselves to be put in that position) of doing something against our wishes.

When we give of ourselves with no expectations of anything in return, both benefit.

It can be as basic as asking another how they are because you really want to know, not because you have or want an expectation of them asking you back. And how many times have they not, which bothers you? How many keep score of the number of times they called a friend, waiting for the return call because it's "their turn"? What ever happened to calling because you wanted to talk and find out how they're doing?

Small things that add up over time....serving to nag at you, breaking down a relationship.

What personal motto do you have to help you keep things in perspective?


Donna Karlin

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Merging Past and Present

The other night I was sitting in the National Arts Centre listening to the exquisite music being played by the orchestra, while at the same time watching old friends on stage, totally immersed in their playing, focused on doing the best performance they could and came to realization that this is team work at its best....getting past emotions, egos and individual likes and dislikes to produce the best possible results.

It's not about the individual and how incredible a performer they might be in their own's about getting beyond the self, the artistic temperament...putting it all aside to create something more than themselves.

For me, that was merging what I call my "past life" and present one.....taking skills I learned as a concert musician way back when and using them in my work as an Executive Coach, building teams that work as one. When we apply that same concept to the workplace, just think of all the water cooler conversations that wouldn't happen, and detrimental gossip and tempers would be set aside to achieve goals by working towards a common vision and purpose. That's transcendence.....getting past 'it' and 'you'....and focusing on what would truly make a difference.

Now that's powerful.


Donna Karlin

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Looking back and wondering....did I tell you

This afternoon is a milestone in my life and that of my son’s...his graduation from University, and a stepping stone for him as he soon leaves for grad school overseas. We briefly spoke about parenting last night and a comment he made was "A parent should inspire and mentor their kids". I believe in that and, hopefully when he has children of his own, he’ll remember that conversation. And as I look back I remember something I had read long time ago, altered here and there and used as a reminder to me, and, I believe something every parent should ask themselves. I think is fitting to the occasion....

"Did I tell you?

Now that you are grown, I look back and ask myself...
Did I tell you?
Did I tell you all that I meant to tell you, all that I felt was important.
Did I tell you or was it lost in the shuffle of our everyday lives. The busy full days when I taught and didn't know it.
What did I teach? Was it strong? Was it good? Did it root you in something real that will allow you to grow with a firm and sound foundation?
Did I tell you.....

Did I tell you to love, not with a fair weather love, but with a love that accepts and cherishes unconditionally. Love not with a quick and passing love, but with a love that is a quiet peace within your heart.
Did I tell you to be thoughtful.
Not to be a martyr or doormat to be trod upon, but to be aware of other people and their needs.
To meet others with awareness and within your own framework be able to meet them halfway and on occasion go the other half joyfully.

Did I tell you to be courteous ....not to display empty manners with no meaning but to live the courtesy born of caring. And to express this caring through the small formalities and customs born of the years.

Did I tell you to be bold...To be not afraid of the unknown, but to live life to the fullest, and meet each new experience with joy and anticipation.

And did I tell you to be cautious. To temper you daring and sense of adventure with good judgement and consideration.

Did I tell you to serve other people if only in a small way.

There is growth and satisfaction in being part of something larger than yourself and your life will be richer for knowing this.

Did I tell you to maintain a sense of the past. To recall and uphold all that is best and meaningful in our country and in our society. But, never be afraid to speak out where you don't believe or where there is room for improvement. Work for what you believe, but work in a positive way within a structure of order and reason.

Did I tell you to find a part of nature that speaks to you. Then know it intimately and well. For some it is a mountain peak, for some a windswept beach. Find your own and in it find your restoration.

Did I tell you to laugh, to dance, to sing. There is a lot in life that is hard, but take it as it comes and find the good..... and make time to dance.

Did I tell you to be creative to explore the seed within you. Find your creative spirit and let it grow.

And did I tell you the challenge of being a man - the challenge of balancing your world -
The need to achieve and the need to nurture -
The need to be strong and the need to be tender -
The need to meet the tests that life brings, yet always keep love at the centre -
Letting it be the star by which you set your sail.

Did I tell you these things as we went along the way?
If I did, I am humbly grateful. If I did not, then you must choose for yourself if it has meaning accept it and make it your own. If it does not, discard it. Your life is yours to build as you choose.

And did I tell you..... I hope it will be a good life"

Tuesday, June 10, 2003


My quote that seems to have made its way around the Internet world was this "True leaders are those who lead by example rather than by intimidation. The whole point of leadership is having power WITH people --- not lording it over them."

This is an example of what happens when people look for internal satisfaction rather than external affirmation. Everyone has leadership capabilities, and a true leader is one who encourages others to discover and utilize their talents. Many of those I work with do exactly that. Their job titles range from CEO to assistant, but my advice remains the same: If you can successfully find balance in your life, you are on the road to becoming a leader. If you define yourself by your whole person and not just by your job description, you are more apt to make a difference. CEOs, and presidents are first and foremost people. Whether or not they are true leaders remains up to them.

Donna Karlin,

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Teaching/Learning by Example

Back in 1999 I was published in Fast Company Magazine which was the vehicle to create many lasting relationships and choices which would eventually change my life. In '99 I was an associate of a large firm based out of Edmonton, Alberta....a collaborative of trainers in every field you could ever think of. An amazing group of people to be in company with and when the founder asked me to join I was on top of the world.

And then the article in Fast Company....a call from someone who I think is an extraordinary man, Paul Wieand who, after we brainstormed for a while asked me "Why are you with that firm? You need to be out on your own, because that's how you're going to put your mark on the world". And I did. The very next day I began the process of creating my own company and network of Coach/Trainers with whom to collaborate with.

From that point on, I never looked back.

A few days ago, I accompanied my son to the loan officer at the bank to apply for a loan for grad school and was amazed when he told her something to the effect that "most entrepreneurs start out and don't make it past the first year. My mother went out on her own and people are knocking down her door to work with her".

I never thought otherwise. I truly believe that if you start out thinking of all the reasons why your business or company might fail, it will....just as if you believe you'll make it happen it will.

More important to me was the validation that my son was learning by example. Even if I wasn't successful, I put myself out there and he too is beginning to follow the same path. I'm not telling him what to do, he's watching me, how I go about things, the people (as he says) I accumulate in my life which makes it so rich and full....and how there's always a way to make things happen.

When we stagnate, not only do we feel it but all those around us see it as well. It's not easy to go after our dreams, especially when many in our lives are experiencing some kind of difficulties. Human nature tells us we shouldn't be doing so well and talk about it if the important people in our lives are experiencing challenges. But when you stop to think you teach by example....what bigger gift can you give than that of the spark of possibilities in their minds and hearts so they too take that first step?


Donna Karlin

Friday, June 06, 2003

What are You Tolerating?

How many things do you tolerate during the course of a day?

Behaviours, circumstances that drain you of energy. It's not a matter of 'picking your fights' it's a matter of choosing what environments will surround you....whether people or objects, if you can't look around and say 'I love you' to everything and everyone in your life, it's time to make prune your life of all that's toxic....and replace it with those that energize.

Tolerations will drain you dry of energy, giving you the feeling that somewhere along the way you've lost control of your life. And when you can turn around, look at everything in your environments, both at home and work, choose to spend your time with those who stimulate and energize you, and end up with a smile a mile wide, both inside and out, you know you're well on your way to that "toleration-free zone".

So what's your first step?

Donna Karlin

Wednesday, June 04, 2003


Definition: 1. To desire with expectation or with belief in the possibility or prospect of obtaining
2. Be optimistic

Hope is often used colloquially regarding uncertainties, with no reference to the future.

Hope gives a spark....chance........possibilities....which in turn gives energy. As long as we have hope we attempt new things, some totally outside our comfort zone. But we try, and if it doesn’t work, we try something else until it clicks.

Hope isn’t tangible. It’s an inkling. It’s just there or it’s not. Victories very often come from attempting the unknown. It’s not necessarily in the succeeding. The victory begins when we try, especially when we didn’t take that extra step before.

If you don’t try you won’t know what’s possible. And you’ll never regret the attempt. You will regret however, not trying, especially when change doesn’t happen and the feeling of apathy takes over.

Take a step outside your comfort zone.

It doesn’t have to be a huge step....small ones work just as well. And when you succeed at something new, the feeling of elation won’t go away any time soon. And I promise you, you’ll hesitate less the next time around and before you know it....your life will go exactly the way you want it to. The best way to predict the future is to invent it, one choice at a time.

Donna Karlin

Monday, June 02, 2003

A Reminder

This is a chaotic time for many and paradoxically, the only constant seems to be change....most of which is totally out of our control. During these times, it’s very easy to lose focus of what’s truly important in life. Very often, especially during change or crisis at work we have little choice in the hours we put in.

Where there is choice is where your mind and thoughts go to take a quick mental break during periods of chaos. And if it’s to pick up a phone and call someone who will ground you and remind you of what’s there for you (and for them to know that no matter how crazy your life may be, you took precious time to share a moment with them), it will take your mind away from the challenges and replace it with the magic that exists in your life.

That will keep you centered and an eye in the centre of a storm, where the whirlwind swirls around you, but for that minute, you’ve made a choice to stop, take a step back and remember what matters before it disappears....not necessarily from your life, though too often it does....but before you lose yourself.

Enjoy your day...
Donna Karlin