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Weekly Wisdom

Weekly Wisdom

Weekly Wisdom

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I've recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.

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I saw the musical, Newsies, at the Seattle Paramount on Saturday.  It was inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899.  Young newspaper sellers, working for Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Heart’s newspapers, purchased newspaper bundles, 100 for 50 cents. In 1898, the publishers increased the price by 10 cents to 60¢. A large number of the newsboys refused to distribute newspapers at the new price. They demonstrated across the Brooklyn Bridge; requested support from the public; and when Pulitzer tried to hire older men to do the work, the men wouldn’t do it. They supported the boys. Eventually, while the newspapers didn’t lower the cost, they did agree to buy back all unsold papers, satisfying the Newsies and ending the strike after about 2 weeks.

Lyrics from Seize the Day

Open the gates and seize the day
Don't be afraid and don't delay
Nothing can break us
No one can make us
Give our rights away
Arise and seize the day 

Remember a movie where young men were encouraged to seize the day?  Answer: John Keating (Robin Williams) in Dead Poets Society.  He taught the Welton Academy boys about more than just poetry — he taught them about making the most out of life. 

Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that.  Break out! Carpe, carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.

I read an article this week about Sally Field, the actress. I’m old so remember her as The Flying Nun…7:30pm on Friday nights. In those days prime time began at 7pm!  The article was published in The Magazine, published by AARP (don’t judge!). Full article available online at http://pubs.aarp.org/aarptm/20160405_PR?folio=48&pg=50#pg50. She talks about her new film, Hello, My Name is Doris. The interviewer, of course, asks about roles for an aging women and aging in Hollywood.  The director of the film, Michael Showalter, says about Sally,

The cast and crew were in awe of Field…she established for everyone involved a bar about the kind of work she was going to want to do. She didn’t have a trailer; she sat on the floor between takes. She was all about the work she did in front of the camera. We were all really inspired by that.

Sally herself says, “Doris doesn’t see herself as older.” (Field) can relate to that perception. “I’ll be walking down the street in New York and I’ll get a quick mental image of me at 25 and go, What wait! Hold on! How old am I? I forget, and I will even go, OK, I’m not 25, OK, wait, I’m --- oh my God!  You forget because inside you stay the same.

May our age not define what we can accomplish. Seize the day!

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  

Staci Sleigh-Layman

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 he passing of Prince didn’t affect me personally as much as the deaths of other musicians in the last few months. Last Thursday, I was traveling to and fro from WSU in Pullman with HR colleagues when the news broke. I listened in on the conversations about times where Prince’s music provided the background…Prince was the first live concert for some.  It made me want to do some Internet noodling to learn more about him. 
 

From The Guardian:  www.theguardian.com/music/2016/apr/22/prince-obituary

Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis. His father, John Nelson, was leader of the Prince Rogers jazz trio, and met his wife-to-be, Mattie Shaw, when playing at community dances on Minneapolis’s North Side. The couple named their son after John’s stage name, though the boy was nicknamed “Skipper” when he was growing up. His parents’ musical leanings rubbed off on him, and at the age of seven he wrote his first song, Funk Machine, on his father’s piano.

His parents separated when Prince was 10, and he would alternate between living with his father and with his mother and her new husband, Hayward Baker. It was Baker who took the boy to see James Brown perform, an event that profoundly influenced Prince’s approach to writing and performing.

Wisdom from Prince:

“I don’t really care so much what people say about me because it usually is a reflection of who they are.” 

“A strong spirit transcends rules.”

“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.”

“As long as I do not take myself too seriously, I should not be too badly off.”

“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.”

 

From CNN:  www.cnn.com/2016/04/21/entertainment/prince-dead-    obit/  Prince's music transcended genres and generations. There were songs you could sing every word to, ditties that drove you to dance and ballads so poignant in their descriptions of love and life that anyone could relate.  Simply put, not that anything with the mercurial musician was simple, Prince had more hits       than most musicians have songs in their catalogs. Writing and producing music in five decades, he touched and inspired artists all along the musical spectrum, from Madonna to Beyonce, from Stevie Nicks to Foo Fighters, from Public Enemy to The Roots and from George     Clinton to The Time.

He stood out in other ways.

In 1993, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, which was also the title of his latest album. He became known as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," which he shortened to "The Artist," and his career underwent a setback after Warner Brothers dropped its distribution deal with Paisley Park Records.  According to Eric Deggans, NPR media critic, “He could talk very knowledgeably about the music business. And was very witty. Also a little shy. Had two twin assistants dressed exactly the same who trailed after him. And we met in a conference room that had doves in it, so it was quite an interesting experience."

For me, it’s another life ended too soon…another talent gone.  It makes me sad to think about celebrity and isolation, about our culture and how those we idolize sometimes die alone.  I hope he’s at peace.

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  
     Staci Sleigh-Layman

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The last few days have been glorious…sunny, about 80 degrees, and no wind (shhh…!).  Exposure to affects our moods and our health, both positive and negative.  According to healthline.com,

…too much of the sun’s warm rays can be harmful to your skin, (but) the right balance can have lots of mood lifting benefits.  Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin…associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.
At night, darker lighting cues trigger the brain to make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping a person feel sleepy and go to sleep.
Without enough sunlight exposure, a person’s serotonin levels can dip low. Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that is triggered by changing seasons.
A mood boost isn’t the only reason to get increased amounts of sunlight. There are a number of health benefits associated with catching a moderate amount of rays.
The sun’s benefits also include helping you fight stress, increasing your vitamin D levels to assist with bone health, preventing some forms of cancer, and healing skin conditions…more research needs to be conducted before sunlight can be a conclusive treatment for these and other conditions.

I Walk in the Sunshine

Adeline Foster
I Walk In The Sunshine
You live in the night
You're not where I'm going
My future is bright
I'll live in the sunshine
I've chosen the light.

Take a walk!

Getting away from your desk or workplace can boost your mood and prepare you for the afternoon ahead. And researchers from the University of Edinburgh say that taking a walk in the park—or any green space you can find in your area—can lessen your brain fatigue and frustration.

On these great sunny days, get out and take a walk!  Brighten your mood!  Get some sun!  Enjoy the day!

http://www.fastcompany.com/3034661/the-future-of-work/the-new-habit-challenge-take-daily-walking-breaks-to-refocus

 

 

  

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  
     Staci Sleigh-Layman

PDF version:

 

The First 10 Minutes

Experts say that how you handle the first 10 minutes of your workday can largely determine how productive and effective you'll be the rest of the day.  "Getting off on the right foot isn't just important with relationships. It's important with the start of any workday, as well — particularly busy ones," says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker.  He attributes your overall tone and attitude to the first 10 minutes of the day. 

Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author says basically the same things: "Those brief moments can predict your all-important mindset because they're the first impression of your day ahead."  E-mails, last minute meetings, a cranky coworker, a rushed morning at home.  All of these can lead to that early morning anxiety. 

Kerr says that successful people tend to thrive on routine and habits: "Creating consistent habits is largely what makes them successful. And a key time for habit-forming practices is at the start of the day."  Check out 19 things most successful people do in the first 10 minutes of their workday at http://www.businessinsider.com/what-successful-people-do-when-they-get-to-work-2016-3.  My favorite: 

No. 13. They block out negativity.

Successful people don't dwell on any challenging events that occurred the previous night, the morning commute, or other frivolous thoughts.  "Compartmentalize by putting them in a separate 'box' as you start your (day)," Taylor says.


From the Rant and Rave section in Sunday’s Seattle Times:

RAVE  To all the kind folks who assisted in the search for my 86-year-old neighbor with Alzheimer’s who wandered away from home, including the construction crew who immediately fanned out to search, a runner who ran for blocks searching, and officers from the SPD.  Luckily, she was found safe.  A heartfelt embrace to those who shared that a loved one is suffering from this illness.  These wonderful folks showed we’re truly all in this together.


I’m always reading several books at one time.  Here’s a quote from
The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace, by Cy Wakeman:
Rule #1: 
Your Level of Accountability Determines Your Level of Happiness, so DON’T HOPE TO BE LUCKY.  CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY.

People who are accountable have an internal motivation to succeed, no matter what their obstacles.  It starts with a commitment to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  
     Staci Sleigh-Layman

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The Margins

What does it mean to live life in the margins? 

·   When I write a check for $19.46 and balance my checkbook (does anyone else still do that?), I enter it for an even $20. Margin.

·   In planning a dinner for six, I throw in an extra couple of chicken breaks, just in case.  Margin.

·   I give myself five extra minutes to ensure I make it to a movie on time.  Margin.

·   I do a lot of extra doodling taking notes during a meeting.  Margin.

     

From Anthro classes I know that living in the margins has to do with those in society who have a tough life. There isn’t leeway for times when things go wrong. Think subsistence farmers who only manage to grow enough food this year, there’s nothing left to build a reserve.  Or full-time fast food workers who earn so little they are vulnerable to illness or car trouble.

 

      Living in the margins can also mean that you take unreasonable risks in your life. Skateboarding and other extreme sports are seen as activities in the margins.

My thinking about margins started with this article:

The Biggest Mistake Made in Employee Engagement! 

By Marshall Goldsmith

www.linkedin.com/pulse/biggest-mistake-made-employee-engagement-marshall-goldsmith

Employee engagement is defined by marginal effort. In other words, what are employees doing that they don’t have to do? How hard are they trying? Compare two employees – one is working very hard, putting in extra marginal effort; the other is not. It would be a mistake to think that the second will perform as well as the first. Even so, this is not the biggest mistake made in employee engagement.

…Most flight attendants do a great job. On the occasional flight, there are two flight attendants, one is positive motivated upbeat and enthusiastic – while the other is negative, bitter, angry and cynical. I’m sure you have been on this flight before.

What is the difference? The difference is not what the company is providing. Both flight attendants may be making the same pay, with the same uniform, with the same customers, on the same plane, with the same employee engagement program.

What is the difference? The difference is not what is on the outside. The difference is what is on the inside.

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over.  Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

                              - Kurt Vonnegut

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  
     Staci Sleigh-Layman

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Last Friday, 3/25, was my birthday. It’s official. I’m getting old. I turned 58. I’ve been at CWU since I was 27 years old. That’s strikes me as sort of amazing.  Here‘s some food for thought about time and aging:

 

From The New Yorker, What is Old Age Really Like? by Ceridwen Dovey. 

Old age is perplexing to imagine in part because the definition of it is notoriously unstable. As people age, they tend to move the goalposts that mark out major life stages: a 2009 survey of American attitudes toward old age found that young adults (those between eighteen and twenty-nine) said that old age begins at sixty; middle-aged respondents said seventy; and those above the age of sixty-five put the threshold at seventy-four. We tend to feel younger as we get older: almost half the respondents aged fifty or more reported feeling at least ten years younger than their actual age, while a third of respondents aged sixty-five or more said that they felt up to nineteen years younger.  (http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/what-old-age-is-really-like)

From a blog by Susanna Conway, The (Delicious) Truth About Getting Older.

The fact is, I love being older. I love this feeling of wholeness that’s deepening with every new year. I feel rooted in who I am, and while I still get tossed around on…tidal waves, at my core I know myself. I know what I’m capable of. I know my worth. (http://www.susannahconway.com/2014/02/the-delicious-truth-about-getting-older/)

 

I found this at Slate, The Pensioner's Playlist: The 25 Greatest Songs about Aging and Mortality.

by Jody Rosen.

"Hope I die before I get old," sang 21-year-old Roger Daltrey in 1965—and 43 years later, he's still singing it. Rock 'n' roll has always been invested in a Byronic cult of blazing youth and beautiful corpses. But as tyros have turned into reunion-tour warhorses, rockers have had to come to terms with the ironies—and the indignities and the glories—of old age.  (http://www.slate.com/articles/life/geezers/2008/09/the_pensioners_playlist.html)

I know most of the songs; think it’s a shame that Willie Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips Away didn’t make the list.

Harry Chapin was one of my favorite singers in the 70s, actually continues to be. He died in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway in 1981.  He was a gifted songwriter, writing songs about life and love and time.  A couple of my favorites are Let Time Go Lightly and Cat’s in the Cradle.  Harry Chapin was a humanitarian, one of those people who cared about the earth, common folk, and relationships. Seems as though every birthday, I revisit his epitaph, taken from his song I Wonder What Would Happen to this World:

Oh, if a man tried

To take his time on Earth

And prove before he died

What one man's life could be worth

I wonder what would happen

to this world.

                                                                      I hope I can do justice to the time I have left.

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  
     Staci Sleigh-Layman

 

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Mindset is an interesting thing.

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  
     Staci Sleigh-Layman

PDF version:


From the Rant and Rave section of The Seattle Times, Sunday, March 6, 2016:

RANT AND RAVE: Rant to the bus rider whose 20 minutes' phone conversation at an astounding decibel level told all of us way more than we want to know: that she’s in orientation this week, she’s disgusted with her ill mother for being scared, her underperforming children aren’t working, and she has no awareness or regard for her fellow passengers. Rave to my Metro-mates for not grabbing this woman’s phone and tossing it out the window.

Take-away: Just because you can use a cell phone just about anywhere, doesn’t mean you should. 


From a press release on the new SAT test which will focus less on obscure vocabulary: “The abstruse vocabulary words of the SAT have engendered prodigious vexation in millions…The new SAT will be more trenchant and pellucid, and the format will no longer pertinaciously reward student who punctiliously engage in the antediluvian praxis of committing idiosyncratic words to memory.”
www.collegeboard.org/releases/2016/college-board-elegizes-anachronistic-verbiage-recondite-panegyric-celebrates-final-administration-extant-sat-jan-23

Take-away: Phew! Really? Thank goodness SAT takers don’t have to understand that press release!

Ever watched Sunday Morning, CBS news magazine available locally from 7-8:30am on (duh!) Sunday mornings?  If you sleep in on the weekend, you can watch individual episodes on-line at

www.cbsnews.com/sunday-morning. It’s anchored by Charles Osgood (anchored for years by Charles Kuralt until his death). 

I’ve enjoyed recent stories on:
Meghan Trainor: More than just the bass. This 22-year old singer/songwriter doesn’t have the svelte body that so many singers have. She’s having a positive impact on young people.

Celebrating 100 years of our National Parks. A couple times each month the show airs a story about one of our less known national parks.
Kid Rock: For the Record. He lives in Detroit where he grew up. Born Robert Richey, he was known as “that white kid who rocks,” hence his professional name. I gained respect for this guy and his love for Detroit by watching this story.
In the Dark over Power Grid Security. “When the lights go out, we usually know why: Mother Nature is at it again...But what if the power went out in a number of states affecting millions of people for weeks, even months?”

Check it out Sunday Morning if you get a chance!

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Cyrus the Great?  What can I learn from this old guy?

Last week, a couple people from HR attended the excellent Leadership Conference sponsored by the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement. One of the takeaways Katelyn Jones shared was a quote from Cyrus the Great:  “Unity in command; diversity in counsel.” I’ve always believed that better decisions are made when broad discussion is encouraged. When people believe their ideas and thoughts have been truly considered, they’ll support the decision even it isn’t exactly what they wanted. There’s a lot packed into those six words!
So, I’m hooked.  Who was this Cyrus character? What did he do and why should I care?
Cyrus was a Persian King 2500 years ago (reigned 550-530BC). He created the largest empire the world had seen. He is remembered for being different. In comparison to other rulers during the era, he respected the cultures and beliefs of others. He incorporated his enemies’ cultures and customers into his empire. In a book written by Xenophon , a student of Socrates, the following leadership lessons are attributed to Cyrus:

1. Be a Force for Good. This goes without saying doesn’t it?\

2. Be Loyal. Be faithful to your commitments.

3. Be Self-Reliant.  “You’ll always be on better terms with your allies if you can…give them all they need and your troops will follow you to the end of the earth.”

4. Be Generous. Most people who have success take on more greed. This is the opposite of what a great leader does. Success calls for greater generosity.

5. Be Brief. “Brevity is the soul of command. Speak shortly, decisively and to the point.” Use logic and move on.

6. Be in control. “…discipline always brings rewards.”

7. Be Fun. Share food and drink. “No kindness between (people) comes more naturally than sharing food and drink…” If you have leftovers, share them.

8. Be an Example. “… (people) who respond to good fortune with modesty and kindness are harder to find than those who face adversity with courage.”

9. Be Courteous and Kind. This seems to be one of those things that everyone desires. Often though, selfishness is the trait most exhibited. “…one fine instance of generosity can inspire dozens more.” 

All of us lead from where we are. Perhaps you’ll find ways to think about and reflect on these leadership skills. Have a great week.

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Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

Working in HR (well, probably working anywhere) requires that you understand that there are two sides to every coin, that everyone has their story to tell, that your perception is your reality, So many times we get caught up in our own dilemmas and drama that we forget that many of our own truths that we subscribe to are based on our point of view; our perspective.  This story helps to illustrate the point:

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.  Her grandmother took her to the kitchen and filled three pots with water.  She placed carrots in one, eggs in the second and ground coffee beans in the last.  She let them sit and boil without saying a word.  In a short time, she turned off the burners and fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.  She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.  Then she ladled the coffee into a bowl.  Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?”  Of course, she said she saw carrots, eggs, and coffee.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.  She did and noted that they were soft.  She then asked her to take an egg and break it.  After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.  Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.  The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity– boiling water – but each reacted differently.  The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting.  However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.  The egg had been fragile.  Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior.  But, after being through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.  The ground coffee beans were unique, however.  After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter.  “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?  Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

How do you respond to adversity?  Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, you wilt and lose your strength?  Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did you have a fluid spirit, but after death, a break up, a financial hardship, or some other trial, became hardened and stiff?  Does your shell look the same, but on the inside you are bitter and tough with a stiff spirit?  Or are you like the coffee bean, which actually changes the hot water, releasing improved fragrance and flavor?  If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.  
     Staci Sleigh-Layman

PDF version:

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