Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Thoughts for the New Year

Every year my son writes a new year's letter to family and friends sharing his past year's experiences and wishes for the year to come. They always blow me away in their depth and deep understanding of life, amazing for someone so young, yet, if you knew him you'd know it wasn't so unusual after all.

One thing about him that stands out so clearly is his desire to make a difference, to never settle and to get past anything that might stand in his way of getting to where he wants to be. Perhaps one of the things we have in common. So this year I decided to do the same.....to write of the past year and thoughts for the one to come....

Professionally it's been an insane year...hearing myself say too many times how I needed to clone myself. In the scheme of things, everything got done in the way I wanted. When I couldn't give 100% to a contract I said no and passed it on to someone else. And if clients didn't want someone else, many were happy to wait until I could give them 100%. And to many people's dismay, I refused the opportunity of hosting my own international radio show on Coaching. It would have been fun, however it would have taken me away from working one-on-one with clients and that's why I became a Coach in the first place.

Even in work I had to make sure there was a balance. It wasn't so much as hours at work and hours at play, it was taking those working hours and planning them carefully. It's all too easy to work more. I had to learn to work better.
So inbetween client hours, it was being an active participant in our international R & D group, teaching, speaking at conferences and constantly and consistently creating new resource material, reading up on trends and publishing.

I taught my model of Executive Coaching to practicing Coaches and learned that in teaching you have to be on your toes because you're challenged regularly. The best part of speaking at conferences was meeting some extraordinary people along the way. I learned how to Blog (blogging wasn't something I'd ever heard of a year ago) and have corresponded with some really neat people as they email me their perspectives on Perspectives : ) I've even started some email debates with a few who hesitate to post a comment that's public for all to see, but when they let loose through an email it not only helps them clarify their thoughts but through that, helps me see things from, yet again, new perspectives.

And in life I also made many changes....pruning my life of toxic relationships which might sound cold to some, but for me, it was a choice. In this hectic world when there is little enough time to play, I decided I was going to spend that precious time with those I chose to be with, not those who would suck me dry of energy and leave me exhausted. Those I'm with, energize me, help me grow as an individual and, in my opinion and most important, support me and accept me for who I am no matter what. There are those who live too far away to spend the time I want with, so I make sure I write and call and am still "there" for them in spirit if not in geography and always look for possibilities of closing the gap.

I've watched my son graduate from University and move to the UK to complete a post-graduate degree in Competition Law and Policy. I watch with awe and pride and can't wait to see where he ends up in life. I know whatever it is, it'll be something he's passionate about while making a difference in this world in his unique way.

All in all it's been an incredible year. Oh there are a few things I wish were different. But that's what the new year is for. Can't have everything at once or there'd be nothing to look forward to! And as this year also brings with it my 50th birthday, I have a lot of reaching to do, places to go, people to see....

As for my wishes for you, they start with a favourite quote:

"Integrate what you believe in every single area of your life.
Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else, too.
Don't let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth --
Don't let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency."
- Meryl Streep

Be yourself. Have a real understanding of how unique and rare you truly are.
Choose happiness no matter what. Fill your mind and heart with feelings of wonder and courage and all the possibilities that are out there if you just reach for them.
Cherish friendships as the treasures they are.
Find contentment within yourself, the kind that stays with you and never goes away.
Live this moment in time.
May you have feelings that are shared from heart to heart, simple pleasures amidst this
complex world, and wonderful goals that are within your grasp.
May the words you listen to say the things you need to hear.
May a smile look back at you when you happen to glance in the mirror.

I wish you the insight to see your inner beauty...to have times when you feel like singing and dancing and laughing out loud.....to be able to make your good times better and hard times easier to handle.
And to have millions of moments when you find satisfaction in the things you do so well.

Wishing the best......for you.
Donna Karlin

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Live as if this is all there is

"Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
L a u g h.
Choose with no regret.
Continue to learn.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is"

- Mary Anne M.B.L. Radmacher

Every time I read this something didn’t sit right with me. So I hesitated to complete this blog until I had figured it out for myself. Now how and what I think are my thoughts, not yours. And perhaps in sharing them, it will help you clarify those things that don’t sit well with you. And now that I read it again I realise it’s the last line. "Live as if this is all there is". For me it’s not settling. It’s striving for more. That’s not to say I’m not content in my life because I love my life. And yes there are a few things I’d love to change and if I just had that magic wand......

But I don't. So instead I think I would like to say to myself reach for the sky, and be happy with what you have. I will continue reaching and dreaming and doing my darndest to make those dreams a reality. And yes that may be tossed with a bit of wishing here and there, and letting my imagination loose with the possibility that anything can happen. I am a firm believer of serendipity. But I won’t live as if this is all there is, for to me that says stop right here.

I do what I love, appreciate my friends and hope I tell them enough just how much, continue to learn, never regret my choices as I can always make new ones if these don’t work out, laughter is constant in my life, I play often and with abandon, take good care of myself (though sometimes I need a reminder), listen to those around me....and practice mindfulness automatically (and I’d better if I’m going to be an effective Coach), walk to the edge and rarely set boundaries for myself unless it’s to practice wellness and safety, and I live with intention every day. Never again will I take even one day for granted, ‘cause I can never get it back (and here’s where some of my wishes come into play.)

And no...not sharing them. It’s like blowing out your candles on a birthday cake. If you tell they won’t come true.

Many make resolutions on New Year’s Eve. I make a wish on the stroke of midnight and the rest of the year make intentions every day, like mini goals, that I absolutely intend for them to happen ‘right now’ not later.

So I intend to live as if this isn’t all there is, that there’s tonnes more to learn and experience and jump into with both feet, eyes open.

What is your intention? Because if you intend for something to happen it will and nothing will ever stand in your way.


Donna Karlin

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Memories of Holidays Past

As I sit here looking out the window at the pines, spruces and evergreens I think of all the years we spent the holidays up in the country in the Laurentian Mountains around Lac Paquin with family and friends. The whole family would go up the moment school was out, sometimes aunts, uncles, cousins and friends would join us and we'd head up North, station wagon filled to brimming with enough food to feed an army and needlework to keep us busy when we weren't outside skiing, on a toboggan or, my absolute favourite, the flying saucer!

We didn't rely on TV, though we had one, an old black and white, and video games and computers weren't around then. We'd be outside most of the day to come in to a roaring fire and hot drink. My treasured pump organ was next to the fire and I'd have fun trying to churn out a song or two. There was always a jigsaw puzzle going on the dining room table....thousands of tiny pieces waiting to be arranged in their unique spots. We had a system. The puzzle was always there for anyone to walk by and look for that one missing edge or piece of a boat or tree and as dinner time approached my mother and I would carefully lay the tablecloth over the puzzle. As soon as the dishes were cleared, washed and put away, we'd gently lift the cloth, always amazed that the pieces were in the exact position as before. We'd do needlework, talk, play board games, do paint by number (d'you remember those kits?) and never heard the words "I'm bored". And books...there were a ton of books everywhere. And when one of us finished the next one would pick it up. The fire was always going and there was always someone in the kitchen making coffee or baking or getting a snack. It was unorchestrated peaceful chaos when all of us were there.

Long walks in the woods to the country store for milk to that extra few feet around the bend so we could see if the small waterfall in the creek had frozen over yet...wandering down to the lake to skate when it was cold enough and some of the snow had been cleared. We never had trouble sleeping, though my father, a firm believer of fresh air, would open the windows in our bedrooms at night. We slept like logs in the country air, but try getting us out to step onto the cold floor in the morning.

We all screamed at him. He kept doing it.

Mom would send Dad to town to the bakery to pick up TWO BREADS. He got the bread. Sometimes. Sometimes he forgot because he was so busy buying everything else in the place from mini hors d'oeuvres to cold cuts, coffee cakes and everything else he couldn't pass up because it looked so good, a couple of times he had to go back for the bread! The owners of the bakery must have made their monthly sales quota each time he walked into their store. And the freezer downstairs kept filling and filling....

The best times was when it was just us and we could gather around the black and white TV watching the Wild Wild West or the original Mission Impossible or one of my all time favourite movies, Harvey with James Stewart. Those were incredible times....which flew by much too quickly.

But some of the traditions live on. The kitchen last night was hopping as my son, his friend and I cooked up a storm, there will be many a fire lit in the fireplace over the holidays, a quilt in the works is close by so I can pick it up and sew a few more stitches and music is always going. And maybe if I'm lucky, Harvey the six foot three and a half inch rabbit will make an appearance at some point on the TV while I sit by the fire remembering such wonderful times. And as old traditions come to mind, the newer ones, also special take hold....like being with our Ottawa family tonight for Xmas dinner, most of us with kids who have come home for a bit so we can share all that's happened over the year.

All the best...
Donna Karlin

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Get Out of Your Way

Get out of your way and relax into who you are. If you try to emulate another person completely then who would be you? We all have talents and expertise, strengths and weaknesses. Celebrate your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses....work on them both if you like, though, in my mind, working on weaknesses makes your strengths more powerful while at the same time helps you pull yourself forward.

Many spend so much time fighting feedback. Instead of truly listening to what others are saying, both directly and indirectly, usually they fight back....spending an inordinate amount of time and energy arguing about the message rather than taking an objective look at it and doing something about it. Fighting blocks effective listening, breaking down communication and growth.

In the Johari Window (blog post October 5, 2003) I talk about the blind spot. Most people spend the greatest percentage of their time in this 'window'. We don't like to hear we're stubborn or never listen. We like to think we're perfect. If we see weaknesses in others so readily, why is it so difficult to see it in ourselves? And if we took feedback and used it to get stronger, what would be the downside?

If you don't trust direct feedback, do you pay attention to the subtleties of results when it comes to your leadership skills, interaction with others, and whether or not people gravitate to you or run the other way? Do you find others constantly asking for input and ideas, or negating everything you say? What do you think the root cause of this is?

Responses to you are feedback in themselves. Is there a trend? How large is your circle of influence? And is it growing or shrinking? Questions to ask yourself.

It's time to get out of your own way of leading and succeeding.

Donna Karlin

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Many people believe the past and future are more real than the present. So often I hear the past determines who you are and the future goals we set for ourselves determine what actions we take right now. So they're more powerful, right? Wrong.

I believe in setting goals to helps up move forward, however I also maintain that what we do right now is what gets us where we want to be. That is why I would much rather people set 'intentions' for the day rather than long term goals which may fall by the wayside. Bottom line is we live in the now or in the moment. Have you ever done anything other than right now? Do you control what might happen in the future or something that's already happened in the past? One of my favourite quotes is from Richard Carlson when he says "You can't have a better past....only the one you have". Alternatively some people live in the past because it's easier than facing what they're living right now, especially if their past is remembered fondly as "the good ole days".

And you don't live in the future. You live right now. Things don't mysteriously happen in the future without making choices. It's imagined. Your past activates memories, yes. And based on what you learned you might choose a different path. However the choices, the doing, the achieving is this moment.

It's time to get your head out of the clouds and live. Waiting for something to miraculously happen 'one day' won't make it so. And every moment you wait for the new job, winning the lottery, better dynamics, change in circumstance, more anything, keeps you from truly living the present in which case you're not really living at all. It's an existence where you give your personal power away to an intangible possibility with no foundation whatsoever.

Is that what you want? Some magical force which doesn't really exist to determine where your life will end up, or, to make the most of this moment in time and in some way make a difference....to you... to others?

One of my favourite movies is Pay It Forward. It's not about paying back someone....it's choosing three people right now, that you can inspire or motivate to make new choices in their lives right now.

"Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are the past and future only pale reflections of the light, power and reality of the present." Eckhart Tolle

Donna Karlin

Monday, December 22, 2003

Leaders and Victims

Leaders make mistakes and say "I made a mistake," and make up for it.
Victims make mistakes and say, "I'm sorry," but do the same thing the next time.

Leaders say "I'm good, but not as good as I can be yet."
Victims say, "I'm not as bad as a lot of other people."

Leaders get compliments and say, "Thank you."
Victims get compliments and make excuses or jokes.

Leaders affect others
Victims are affected by others

Leaders would rather be admired than liked, and wind up having an abundance of both.
Victims would rather be liked than admired, and wind up having little of either.

Leaders respect others and try to learn something from them.
Victims resent others and try to find their faults.

Leaders stand for something and are willing to fight for it if necessary.
Victims stand for nothing and either fight about everything, or nothing.

Leaders are always a part of the answer.
Victims are always a part of the problem.

Leaders always have a program.
Victims always have an excuse.

Leaders say, "Let me do it for you".
Victims say, "That's not my job."

Leaders see an answer for every problem.
Victims see a problem in every answer.

Leaders say, "It may be difficult but it's possible"
Victims say, "It may be possible but it's too difficult."

"There are essentially two categories of people in the world....leaders and victims. Leaders are those whose purpose seems to be to inspire and motivate victims until they become leaders. Victims are those whose purpose seems to be to criticize and resist leaders until they become victims".

Which one are you?

Donna Karlin

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Coaching Clients Through Change

"People can't live with change if there's not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value."-Stephen R. Covey

One of the things I work on with my clients is Defining Success. It's more than a personal mission statement....it's success as you know it according to your personal ethics, values and integrity, taking into account competencies, talents and strengths and when you see the results it's extremely powerful. It's who you are according to you. This is your personal contract, the core of what you are working towards, in your personal and professional life what you aspire to be. It gives focus and vision and a vehicle with which to move forward no matter what the circumstance.

And to take into account for a moment, Stephen Covey's quote about a changeless core. If you are in sync with what you're about, you're as steady as a rock no matter what.

Change is constant....a paradox of life, more so in this day and age than any other time. If we're always reacting to it, we run in circles always trying to catch up. And if we remain true to our selves and our personal contract, we always find a way to accomplish what's most important even in the chaotic time of change. It definitely means a new paradigm and perhaps a sounding board to help you focus in a different direction. But possibilities are still endless and when you do embrace change and accomplish more because of it, the level of energy and strength within you grows exponentially making you a force to reckon with.

Speaking from a Coach’s perspective, the most valuable thing we can do is help our clients figure out those paradigms and fly with them. Then we step back and watch success happen. Remember....if you were able to come up with solutions on your own, you would have already. Sometimes it takes that extra input from "outside the box" to push a few buttons, help you pull yourself forward and look at the situation from a different perspective.

"Today's managers, professionals, and entrepreneurs are hiring coaches to help them with time management, a change in career, or balancing their work and personal lives. People are looking to coaches as sounding boards and motivators who can offer a fresh perspective on career and life problems — but without the conflicting agendas of a spouse, family member, or even a mentor." -- Fortune, 9/28/98

When life is in balance, it gives you reserves and the ability to handle more proactively. When it's already out of sync it can take the smallest detail to upset whatever equilibrium remains.

Every publication you pick up has something written on Coaching. Having a Coach is like having a personal trainer for your life. The reason it's so powerful is because it empowers the individual to take responsibility for change in a way that works for them. It's not advice, it's not pushing a client in a direction they don’t want to go. It's helping them see the value in changing what isn't working and collaborating with them to come up with what does. And once you're in a place that's where you should be, nothing will be able to knock you off kilter.

One executive (Bradford) who was coached says her year of coaching "was like a grenade in my life that's still going off." It taught her, she says, that 'people have to take more responsibility for their own growth and development. They can't depend on human resources. Coaches can help people come to grips with huge changes in the way we do work, in getting through big transitions.' --Betsy Morris, "So You're a Player. Do You Need a Coach?" Fortune, 2/21/00

I am regularly asked what it is that I do. I help people become aware of, develop and experience their own greatness and then go out in the world and make a difference in their unique and wonderful way. I want them to wake up every morning anticipating the day with enthusiasm and wonder, not for what the world with bring to them during the day, but for what they will learn and discover and how they will ultimately grow because of it. And, when the day is over, knowing they've lived it to the fullest. It's not coaching 'work stuff', or 'relationship stuff'. It's the person and how they deal with 'stuff'. It's about them not me.

Ask yourself "what did I learn today?"

Donna Karlin

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Perspectives of Sharing

The title of my blog is Perspectives. That's what it is....perspectives of people and experiences which give new (or better) perspectives. One thing I find myself saying through the day, too many times to count is "His or her perception is their reality. And if that's how they feel, then that's the reality they're living. It's not about you, it's about their feelings, thoughts, emotions. And, if you want to find a way to have a relationship with this person, whether in your work or person life, then it's not a matter of putting yourself in their shoes, it's a matter of asking them what it is that lives in those shoes".

Every action (or inaction) brings reaction. That is human nature. What one's intention might be (or so they say) doesn't necessarily translate to the results of it, usually because of mis or lack of communication.

Are there any clairvoyants reading this? Because that's what many people expect, that others should read their minds and that just isn't the way life works.

Another line which many years ago pressed every button that exists in me (yes I got over it, and finally agree with it (thanks Jim)) is "Intentions equal results". If you intend for something to happen, then it will and nothing will stand in your way. Oh there might be a few detours, but the ultimate result will be what you intended all along. And if it's something you're passionate about and want with all your heart, then for sure it will happen. Another quirk of human nature (I haven't quite figured this one out yet) is how most people talk themselves out of why they want something, or feel they don't deserve something or someone so special they sabotage the possibility of achieving their dreams. Instead of taking all the intelligence human beings have been given to make something happen, it's turned around into nixing it.

And if any of you have an answer to that one, I'd love to hear it. An answer that makes any sense that is. Because I haven't been able to come up with one yet.

So to get back to perspectives on sharing....the first step might be to share. And I'm not being sarcastic. Communicating is the first step, collaborating the second and using that great mind you were given, combined with the passion in your heart will add that extra little bit of magic? to make it a reality.

Perspectives getting better all the time....
Donna Karlin

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Time of year for sharing

As life seems to get more and more hectic with the upcoming holidays, added to the pressures of every day life and work, I watch people become less and less connected to the reasons why they celebrate the holidays in the first place. Feelings are shown with gifts....many of which are more in tune with the givers than the receivers. I was just talking to a friend last night about how people over extend themselves this time of year and then spend a great deal of time through the new year dealing with the hardship that creates.....many a time bringing depression and feelings of inadequacy that they couldn't give 'more'.

This is the time of year for sharing thoughts, feelings, emotions. If you could give one gift in these days of chaos and stress, (actually this should apply for the entire year) it should be a true expression of what's in your heart, not your wallets. And equally for those on the receiving end, is the gift of giving the senders the time of day to express what's in their hearts....to listen, to be interested in what's happening in someone else's life other than your own. It's about giving not getting.

There's an expression "talk is cheap". That doesn't relate to sharing from the heart....just sharing platitudes and words that have no basis in heart or soul. Those are just words. And if someone is special to you, then tell them. Not in expectation of getting anything in return, but for the sake of their knowing what's truly inside you.

And if it's the gift of time, then it can be more precious than anything in the world. And if it's a hug, your presence if you're far away.....that in itself is a gift of self....of a lifetime.

Oh I love getting presents like the rest of you....especially if much thought went into the choosing and giving. But I would give my eye teeth for one-on-one time that can't be bought or measured......time with which memories of a lifetime are created like magic.

Oh you know what to do and who to pick up the phone to call. Even better...who to call to make reservations to get on the next plane or train. A call is a perfect first step and who knows where that will lead? I can promise you, the expression on the receiver's face will be one you'll never forget. Those pictures will stay in your heart forever.

All the better : )
Donna Karlin

Monday, December 15, 2003


There's a chapter called "The Winter of Listening" in "The House of Belonging" (David Whyte). I've reread this passage many times and each time look at it from different perspectives. There are three short passages in that poem that have stuck in my mind more than the rest....

"All those years
listening to those
who had
nothing to say

All those years
how everything has
its own voice
to make
itself heard

All those years
how easily
you can belong
to everything
simply by listening"

I wonder if we look at "all those years listening to those who had nothing to say" and see ourselves within that sentence. How many times did we speak for the sake of hearing ourselves talk, with no substance whatsoever? Or how we automatically take what someone in a position of power says for virtue of their level or position, and not knowledge or expertise? And, yet from another perspective, do we listen because it's what we want to hear even when the words don't seem to ring true?

So isn't it time we just listened? To others....to what's in our hearts......to the world around us just as it is?

Over the past few weeks I've heard so many tell me of people in their lives who are "wired"....who never stop, always looking for another way to do things, or do more, when they'd be better off to just "be", experience silence and let the world in?

"All those years forgetting how easily you can belong to everything simply by listening...."

Stop. What do you hear? And when is the last time you became one with the world rather than fighting life every step of the way?

<----a listening
Donna Karlin

Friday, December 12, 2003

Do you talk too much?

When you talk too much you can do many things; lose your target audience completely where they shut you out not hearing a word you say, convince the person or persons you're talking to that you're not interested in their input whatsoever, or, even more damaging, convince your audience that you're really not sure of what you're talking about in the first place, hiding behind volume of information rather than quality. (get the picture re: rambling?)

Not only do others begin to avoid you like the plague, but in turn will not share their ideas and insights with you because they feel you're not interested.

If you even think you're rambling, then you are. If you find yourself struggling to keep quiet and listen, then stop the struggling and open up to the possibility that you don't know everything there is to know and the only way to counteract that is to practice effective listening.

Use the one minute concept. If you need more than one minute to get your point across, then you need to learn focus and prioritizing. If at that point the listeners want more information it gives them the opportunity to process what you've said and ask clarifying questions.

And if you know someone who does ramble, then don't automatically assume they're aware of it. Only through constructive feedback can they learn to recognise when they, are and make appropriate changes in their communication patterns.

You are doing them a favour in pointing it out in a respectful, constructive way.

Remember, people ramble for many reasons....if they're excited or nervous about doing a presentation in which case practicing those skills will combat the problem. They can be unprepared or not sure of the reason why they were asked to make the presentation trying to please everyone at the same time, therefore waffling back and forth.
It can be to cover embarrassment, being cautious, clarifying thoughts out loud or needing the interaction. For many it's because they live with "talkers" at home, can't get a word in edgewise so make up for it big time at work.

First step in improving is to be aware, to be mirrored and given constructive ideas for change with lots of practice in the (what I like to call) "short, sweet, to-the-point" methods of communicating.

It doesn't matter how knowledgable or intelligent you are. If you've lost your audience, no one will ever know.

Donna Karlin

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Tips for Leaders

Congratulations....you’re a manager!

Now what?

You’ve gone from being managed to doing the managing without benefit of the “how to” book (and no...manuals rarely work. As an executive coach you know I’m going to say experience beats any book, and if you don’t believe me, believe statistics. www.abetterperspective.com/coaching_statistics.htm )

So how do you make that transition? The speed with which organisations change put people into roles they’re nowhere near ready for, breeding overwhelmed, under-qualified people with power. And it’s not that they’re not capable. It’s just that they’ve been put into positions without the proper training and told to “just do it”.

Large companies wouldn’t hear of letting someone loose with a piece of heavy equipment without the proper training, but they’d let the same people loose on unsuspecting hopeful staff with no training at all.

So here is my short, sweet, to the point list for starters. And then, before things turn reactive instead of proactive and you’re always trying to keep your head above water, call in a Coach, preferably a Shadow Coach who can translate awareness of skills into action and make you aware of your shortcomings so you can improve and learn from them. A leader doesn't necessarily have to know everything there is to know about the doing. He/She needs to have the skills to recognise these talents in others and lead them. Then they'll be starting off from a position of power rather than fixing what’s quickly broken.

Here’s my list:

1. Never do what you can delegate. And once you delegate, empower them to do it themselves and trust that they will.

2. Never forget where you were before you got there.

3. No one likes a know-it-all. Everyone has more to learn and much to listen to. One has power WITH people, not over them. And the first step is to harness their expertise and share yours with them to help them grow.

4. Lead each one individually according to their strengths. A team is not unique, but the people within the team are.

5. As unique as each individual is, so is their talents. Harness them in such a way that you have groups of people who work as cohesive teams, each with its own strengths. Through this you’ll not only get the job done, but create a strong vision for the future. This is because they take ownership in creating it.

6. Just because you’re asked to do something doesn’t mean you have to,. Pick and choose what you spend your energy on and you’ll always have enough to do what needs to be done with plenty left over to explore what you’re passionate about.

That's about it....for now.

Donna Karlin

Saturday, December 06, 2003


I've written a great deal about leadership lately, as it's an issue that comes up with many of my clients. Leaders create an environment in which everyone has the opportunity to do work which matches his/her potential capabilities.

As Claude Taylor puts it "Certainly a leader needs a clear vision of the organization and where it is going, but a vision is of little value unless it is shared in a way so as to generate enthusiasm and commitment. Leadership and communication are inseparable".

A leader translates the skills of his/her staff into achievable results by sharing and enabling ownership of a common vision for success.

A manager maintains his/her way is the only way, ruling by influence of power rather than empowerment of others.

A huge difference.

When one believes in a leader's vision, he will do his utmost best to make it a reality. And when one does not, collaboration is not there, disconnect happens and there is a breakdown in process, compromising the possibilty of success. Are you a leader or manager? The proof is in the "what is" not what you perceive it to be. And the level of success is a direct measure of that. The first step is to take notice of what is standing in your way of performing and leading. Most of the time it's getting out of your own way.

Donna Karlin

Thursday, December 04, 2003


1. Mythology. A bird in Egyptian mythology that lived in the desert for 500 years and then consumed itself by fire, later to rise renewed from its ashes.
2. A person or thing of unsurpassed excellence or beauty; a paragon.

As legend has it, the Phoenix is a mythical bird-like creature that rises in triumph from the ashes of its destruction. The story of the Phoenix captures the story of resurrection and carries with it a connotation of life, death and rebirth that was an integral part of the ancient mythologies of both Eastern and the Western traditions.

Its story can parallel the life of many, mine included. How often I hear how a person was inspired by another, enough to enable them to turn their life around and make it into something of their choosing, not a mere existence. The mental picture of a phoenix is one of strength and beauty that can soar high in the sky. When you meet that special person, who, in a word, or, sometimes in silence, validates you your whole paradigm changes. You begin to look at yourself through those eyes as one with value and something to contribute to the world. Your energy increases and, to use another analogy, you soar and nothing can bring you down.

Some of us are lucky enough to have been touched in some way by someone such as this to the point where you leave your past life, one of mere existence and stagnation to one of joy and purpose, rising from the ashes to fly. And then look out. Nothing can stop you. And, with that, you can turn around and make a difference in someone else’s life. The biggest gift you can ever give....helping someone truly live their lives and make something special from every single day.

Donna Karlin

Monday, December 01, 2003

Managing Energy

One of my favourite quotes comes from my mother and goes something like this "As we get older, God in his infinite wisdom, let our eyesight fade so we shouldn’t see the wrinkles and lines that appear. Man in his infinite stupidity invented glasses which just magnifies them all". I love that one Mom!

So what I learned from that as I creep closer to my 50th birthday is to not wear glasses when I'm anywhere near a mirror. Works for me! Seriously....it's one's energy that's apparent to others more than wrinkles (and by the way, I've earned every single one).

Most of us take a great deal of pride in multitasking. Speaking to a client just the other day, he remarked that doing a million things at once is "a woman’s thing". Well, I'm not so sure about that, even though mothers do tend to have to learn to have 10 sets of hands and eyes in the back of their heads while doing at least 5 other things at the same time. That I do agree with. Been there, done that.

My son used to tell me that I'd come home from work both wired and "green" (or exhausted) at the same time. He was right. So it was time for me to restructure my day, my work and the scheduling of client and prep time. When demand exceeds our capabilities, we either have to find a way to clone ourselves (which hasn't been done yet) or figure out another way. Either that or we start burning out. We are forever starved for time and try to cram more and more into each day. It’s not a matter of managing time as much as energy, especially as you get older. And this takes into account the four areas of life; physically energized, emotionally connected to those around us, focused and mentally aware, and spiritually in alignment with our vision or our purpose in life.

Without achieving this balance, we become short tempered, and unfocused. We go home at the end of the day to collapse on the sofa or easy chair with very little patience for life, feeling overwhelmed with the smallest of things. Our sense of joy has all but disappeared and now we’re into coping mechanisms to "get us through one more day".

Does this make sense? Is anything worth that kind of sacrifice?

So it’s time to shift paradigms. Instead of managing time (and yes, there’s definitely a place for that as well) it’s managing energy....changing eating patterns, limiting coffee and increasing water consumption, not relying on drugs (and yes, caffeine is a drug) to keep us going. Instead of trying to avoid stress, looking at it as an energizer...a challenge, one to rub your hands together with glee and jump in with both feet. It's grasping life and getting rid of "bliss-blockers"...pruning your life of what’s toxic and truly living it instead of finding a way to get through it.

It's taking time for what's important...an energizer in itself. And if you notice I didn't say making time, I said taking it....it's choosing how you spend your time, a different mind and energy set in itself.

You know how energized you get when you take time to "play". So what’s stopping you?

Donna Karlin