Monthly Archives: January 2012

Fire & Ice Again in Northern Nevada

I’ve been writing about resiliency, hope and optimism in this blog weaving in real life stories.  Here is another example of how our routine lives can suddenly be changed forever.  Here’s what happened.

Fire . . . just when we thought Northern Nevada was through with its share of community crises another huge wild fire hit Reno last Thursday afternoon, January 19th. The winds were blowing at 80 miles an hour with gusts of over 100 miles an hour – not terribly unusual for our upper desert.  But one accidental spark over in Washoe Valley was enough to begin a fire that burned 3,700 acres of rugged sagebrush; ranch land, horse pastures and 20+ houses.

As a wall of fire crested the ridge right above our local high school and just down from our house my husband and I zipped over to help our good friend, Yvonna Estep, evacuate her home.  Within minutes Yvonna, along with all her neighbors, was packing up her dog, cats and personal belongings into her car as the police were going door to door enforcing the mandatory evacuation.  We left a hastily scribbled note on the door saying the house had been evacuated – important for the final sweep.  As for us there was no time to waste . . .

Ice . . . the irony was that it was snowing so hard on the Donner Summit that it was difficult for the California Interstate Fire Services to make it over the mountains to help Reno.  After all, fire trucks usually don’t carry snow chains.  I never heard the end of the story but I’m sure they finally made it – they always do.

So later that night, over a glass of wine, we huddled around the news to learn that temperatures had dropped and with the beginning of a snowstorm down here in the valley the fire was being contained.  It took another full 24 hours for the highway between Reno and Carson City to be reopened up for local residents to return to their homes.  When I drove through on Sunday morning the rebuilding had already begun.

This is our 5th major community crisis for Northern Nevada in as many months.  We’ve been on national news too many times.  But no doubt Nevada is resilient and will rebuild.  That’s hope and optimism.  And there’s truly never a dull moment in Northern Nevada.


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“Resiliency” at Friday’s Beer Club

It’s Friday night at our regular beer club gathering and we’re having a lively conversation about a recent workshop I had given on “employee fatigue”.  Several people were weighing in on the complexities of today’s work world and the resulting stress of trying to keep up in order to keep one’s job.  Lots of ideas were being tossed out along with the rounds of beer.

I introduced the idea of teaching ourselves resiliency.  One of our colleagues, who had had a tough day at work, questioned what resiliency really was – did it even exist?  I assured him that yes, it does and what a gift it is for those that have it.

What is “Resiliency” Anyway?

Emotional resiliency is simply the ability to successfully respond and adapt to difficult life situations.  Resiliency is a subtle, quiet quality that one might not notice or appreciate unless they are looking for it.  Resilient people often don’t even know they possess that quality – it’s just the way they’ve learned to see and cope with life.  Resiliency is actually a learned skill that improves with age, practice and experience.

Learning How to be Resilient

The best way to learn how to develop your own resiliency is to watch others.  In my workshops, I ask people how  they learned to be resilient.  Almost always they say it came from watching someone close to themselves – maybe a parent, grandparent or someone in a mentor role. .They may have also learned by going through multiple tough times themselves.  Additionally, they do these five things:

  • Acknowledge the Reality & Move On
  • Expect Change & Be Ready to Adapt
  • Stay Connected with Others Everyday
  • Learn From Past Experiences
  • Find a Bigger Meaning & Purpose in Life

It sounds like alot.  How does one do this?  it takes self-awareness and the willingness to practice seeing and living life from a different perspective.  And a key component is emotional optimism.  A resilient person is an optimist person.  See my next blog for my favorite tips on how to self-coach yourself to be more optimistic and therefore, more resilient over the long run.




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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work: Simple Ways to Minimize Stress and Conflict While Bringing Out the Best in Yourself and Others, by Richard Carlson, Ph.D., 1998.

Many of us have read this book because it is truly one of the best books on stress management ever! It’s been around for years along with Richard Carlson’s first book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . And It’s All Small Stuff.

Both books deliver a wealth of simple, practical and “easy to do” tips on how to reduce stress and conflict in our lives every single day. Carlson is a master at teaching us how to reframe our thoughts, our perceptions and our behavior to achieve a more harmonious and healthy life style. Pick it up again for the new year – and a few copies for friends as well!

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Break the Habit of “Scrambling”

As January picks up speed, I’m committed to consciously use my time and energy even more carefully this coming year.  As an extrovert, it’s easy for me to get involved in lots of activities and projects.  But as I get older and a bit wiser, I realize that “less is more” when it comes to managing my time on a daily basis. 

Leaders, managers and worker bees all do it . . . scrambling about to get multiple tasks done at work and even at home.  It easily can become a habit – a behavior that we expect of ourselves and as a result, others expect from us as well.  But the consequence is that nothing really gets done well.  We make silly mistakes and waste precious energy redoing tasks because we weren’t paying enough attention or we “didn’t have time” to do it right the first time.  Sound familiar?

“Scramble” Less to Get More Done

So here’s something to experiment with . . . simply slow down both your thinking and your actions.  Catch yourself when you start to scramble and coach yourself to do or think of only one thing at a time.  Concentrate.  That’s often a big challenge because of all the noise in our lives.  But when you do you will be pleasantly surprised by how much more effective you are.  You actually get more done.  And there is a ripple effect of feeling more in control, relaxed and focused.  It’s a great feeling – try it!

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New Choices in the New Year

I caught the newspaper headline just as I was zipping out of the gym early this morning . . . “New Choices in the New Year”.  I like it!  That headline captures the spirit, hope and energy that as a professional coach I hope to bring to all my coaching and training clients.  It speaks to recognizing our own personal power in creating a future that we truly want at this time in our lives.

And that’s what we’re all thinking about this first week of January as the new year gets underway.  It may be a renewed commitment to a regular exercise schedule; healthier eating; more sleep; better time and energy management or a different career path.  This is a natural time to look back over the past year to see what has worked well and what hasn’t; what changes need to be made to move forward and then to use that wisdom to proactively plan for a “prosperous new year”.

The Power of Choice 

Let’s be honest and recognize that it’s all about choices . . . and it’s all within our personal power.  Everyday we make multiple choices – some move us closer to our positive year-long goals but other choices are made when we are hurried and stressed.  These are the choices that often distract or even derail us from what we really want in our lives.  It can be tempting to blame these poor choices on other people or outside circumstances but in all honesty we always have control over how we respond to these situations – even though we may not want to admit it.

Slow Down to Make Good Choices

So what’s the secret to making good choices for ourselves?  Bottom line . . . slow down and think about your choice before you commit yourself.  Make it a habit.  Push the pause button and think about how this choice may support or distract you from a higher priority goal.  That brief pause gives you a chance to think before acting.

But since daily life does move fast, don’t be too hard on yourself for making a few snap choices that you later find yourself regretting . . . it happens to all of us.   The good news is that as we get older and wiser that pause button gets much easier to push!



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