It is time for Leap Solutions’ annual “Staff Picks”; our wishes, recommendations, and commitments to you—our loyal clients, associates, and friends—for making 2024 a year of inspiration and growth!
In this issue of our newsletter:
- Office Dog
- For Such a Time as This
- Let the Gingerbread Games Begin!
- What Else is Possible?
- A Case for Discomfort
- The Sound of Silence
- Digital Mindset
- My Mentors
- Get Out of the Way… Your Own Way
Although my dog used to occasionally visit the office, in 2023, he has become a regular fixture as the office boy. His partner in crime had a stroke in late 2022, so I started bringing him along with me off and on. I would hear about it from the Leap team when I didn’t bring him, and what was an occasional visit turned into an everyday excursion. He has his routine from sleeping in one office or another to getting treats from the team and delivery people, and he even attends meetings in the conference room whenever he wants. He watches the door and gets excited or barks depending on who is coming in. I even have the luxury of leaving him here all day if I am away at client sites and the team keeps a watchful eye on him, or maybe it’s the other way around.
He is embraced by his teammates at Leap, which I would have never thought possible. Having a dog in the office is interesting, and sometimes, it takes a village to help when needed. The team will take him outside, take him for quick walks and he is excited every day to get in the car and take that ride to the office. He’s not yet billing any hours, but he gives love and affection to the team, which is good enough.
Not every office allows pets, but my boss allowed me to test it out and so far, so good! Thanks, Boss Man and Bolindre, for coming to work with me every day!
Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
I have a vivid memory of when I was a very little girl sitting in my mom’s lap as she read the story of Esther to my brother and me. It was Christmas time, and there were Christmas cookies stacked high on every flat surface in the dining room and kitchen in preparation for the church Christmas Bazar. My brother and I were each clutching one of these cookies in our chubby little hands as Mom read the story.
Every year, when I make Christmas cookies from mom’s recipe, this memory flashes back through my mind’s eye. I can see the old house, I can smell the nutmeg, I can taste the sweet buttery warmth of the cookie, and I can hear mom’s voice reading from the story, “Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” I turn this verse over and over in my mind every time I think of it. I believe that whatever my circumstances, my “for such a time as this” is right now, right here.
Each of us has been put on this earth at this time, in this place, and with these people for a reason, just as Esther was. In the story, the beautiful Queen Esther, orphaned as a child, had been raised by her cousin Mordecai. Esther was chosen by the powerful (and impulsive) King Xerxes to be his queen. Mordecai told Esther not to reveal her ethnicity to Xerxes, but when the fate of Jews under the reign of Xerxes was threatened, Mordecai knew Esther might be able to get the king to change his mind. Esther was courageous and stood for what was right even though she might have lost her position or even her life by doing so.
We will probably never encounter a moment as pivotal as the one Esther did. However, those simple words “for such a time as this” inspire us toward what we all long for: our chance to make a difference. What I have found is those moments come when I least expect them; they come in the midst of the humdrum, the hardships, and everything in between.
This Season, I encourage you to pause and reflect on how you can make a difference. What is your “for such a time as this”?
Senior Human Resources and Organizational Development Consultant
LET THE GINGERBREAD GAMES BEGIN!
According to tradition, decorating gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s. Certain researchers claim that the first gingerbread houses were the result of the well-known Grimm’s fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel,” in which the two children abandoned in the forest found an edible house made of bread with sugar decorations.Gingerbread house competitions are a real thing in our household! Since my two girls were little, we have been putting together houses, and yes, I am one of THOSE moms who go to the ends of the Earth looking for the perfect candy to decorate.
My kids are adults now, and things in the gingerbread world have really changed since they were little. Now I “Google” “Best Gingerbread House Candy,” scope out ideas for candy online, and am able to buy in bulk. One of my favorite things is you can buy pre-fab houses that look more like mansions, so the day can be spent decorating rather than trying to keep the house from collapsing all day from the weight of the candy. We have also discovered that hot glue guns really come in handy and help the process move along faster. This has been a real game-changer for us!
And to bump up the stakes, we have added a theme to our decorating. Last year, it was a movie theme. My oldest decided to go with the house from The Shining – complete with blood oozing out and down the windows, while I chose a more fairytale, traditional theme of Hansel & Gretel!
It is never too late to start this tradition. I highly recommend it, as it has brought so much joy, laughter, and fun into our home.
Wishing you a wonderfully blessed, happy, and healthy Holiday Season and New Year!
Executive Search Consultant
WHAT ELSE IS POSSIBLE?
“No, I can’t do that.” What else is possible?
“I don’t have time.” What else is possible?
“I don’t have the resources.” What else is possible?
“There is no money.” What else is possible?
Many of us just shut down or give up the minute we hear a negative statement. Asking yourself or the person you are interacting with, “What else is possible?” gives a little pause and can get your creative juices flowing.
The biggest benefit to adding this question to my daily living is not being afraid to ask questions because no matter what the answer is you are opening windows and doors to more possibilities.
So, go out, live life with less fear and ask yourself – What else is possible?
Human Resources Associate
A CASE FOR DISCOMFORT
I grew up in Sonoma County, but like many, I only experienced select portions. We were mainly a lake family and a local park family. We would take the boat to Lake Mendocino every summer, ride bikes around Rohnert Park, and eat lunch at the nearby park on Sundays. All beautiful and wonderful memories that I would never change, but it wasn’t until adulthood that Sonoma County opened up to me even more. What I knew of our outdoors was only a tiny fraction of what surrounds us.
Even though the 76 miles of Sonoma County coastline is a short 30 minutes away, more or less, my experience of the beach the few times I went in my first 20 years of life was wind and cold. Pretty? Yes. But I could not get over the wind slapping my face and never seemed to be dressed correctly. Then, I married into a beach family. We camp at the beach several times a year, and now, my husband and I take our children to the coast almost every weekend. What changed? My mentality, my preparation. I would not be caught dead in jeans at the beach unless it is an unusually warm forecast. And even then, I wouldn’t trust it. My formula for the perfect beach outfit is layer after layer. Sure, that’s a given, but there is a reason my husband asks, “How many pairs of pants this time?” when we get in the car. If you’ve seen the show Friends, think of Joey shuffling around in Chandler’s entire wardrobe. That’s me at the beach. But I am warm and happy and prepared for any temperature Bodega can throw at me. As a reward for bundling up, I get to experience the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, explore the tidepools with my kids, and ground myself after a busy week.
The series of hiking trails around Sonoma County held the same discomfort. I recall feeling winded and my legs burning as we climbed. It wasn’t until I started my fitness journey that I learned that discomfort is worth the reward of feeling better and learning that I am capable of the climb. Once I put in the work to build my strength and stamina, a whole new Sonoma County world opened up to me. The trails are never-ending, winding through redwoods, on bluffs looking down on the coastline, alongside vineyards, and up mountains overlooking our fields and wildlife. Views I never would have seen if I had remained in my bubble of comfort.
What am I trying to share with you? That you should visit Sonoma County, say hi to us at Leap, and take in all the outdoors has to offer? Well, definitely, but not exactly. This version of Sonoma County that I may sound like I am trying to sell you on (have you booked your flight to Sonoma County Airport yet?) is not one I came to know until I was open to leaving my creature comforts behind and experiencing some discomfort along the way. Many of us are creatures of habit. Routines are comforting, and we like what we like. But on the other side of initial discomfort is- surprise, more comfort! In new and different experiences and locations.
Get to know the landscape of your city, your county, and your state. It may surprise you what more surrounds you that you didn’t even realize. Experience some discomfort, adapt, and find something beautiful in your own backyard.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
On a beautiful morning in early May this year, I stepped into my bathroom to take a shower, turned on the fan, and heard nothing. I spoke out loud, “Hello, hello, hello,” and heard nothing. I turned on the shower and heard nothing. The nothingness was deafening.
I lost the hearing in my right ear probably 35 years ago. It started off feeling like my ear was plugged. The hearing loss continued over several years until I couldn’t hear anything but very loud noises. No one could explain the loss. Then I got vertigo, which started affecting my ability to walk and drive. I received an injection in my ear to kill the remaining hair cells, which made me completely deaf in that ear, but the vertigo was gone!
About two years ago, I experienced a sudden loss in my one good left ear of about 25%. Devastated, I was fitted for a hearing aid, and life moved on until that fateful May morning.
Life being deaf is very isolating. It instills fear and anxiety, and it’s frustrating for both parties to try and communicate, which negatively affects relationships. Accessibility apps have a long way to go to make communication better.
Thankfully, there are artificial devices called cochlear implants that can simulate hearing, and in August, after three months of isolation, I had surgery to get one. Amazingly, my audiologist encouraged me to get my implant in my right side, the ear where I had been deaf for 35 years! After a week of recovery, the processor was turned on, and to my astonishment, I could hear sound! Even more astonishing, I could comprehend some sounds as being words! This is not typical so soon after an implant, and especially from a dead ear, so my expectations were exceeded by miles. With continued rehab, I should be able to hear to my full potential within 12 months of that surgery.
I appreciate all of our clients who have worked to accommodate me through this process by doing Zoom calls with closed captioning instead of phone calls, and I especially want to thank the Leap team for their love and support by accommodating my surgery and recovery absence, accommodating a schedule change from full- to part-time, taking on a heavier workload, and for making me feel included when I felt so all alone. Cheers to an incredible team, and a happy Leap Year to all!
Senior Human Resources Consultant
In the healthcare arena, I saw several advantages: the ability to analyze data in real-time, which improves diagnoses, and wearable technology is improving the health of many with chronic illnesses.
Even though AI is still in its early stages, we are beginning to recognize what is possible. How can we prepare our business or organization? AI plays a critical role in business by enhancing efficiency, automating tasks, and providing data-driven insights. It can be used in areas like customer service, data analysis, and improving decision-making.
Navigating the future and embracing AI
In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, it is becoming a necessity that we integrate AI into business operations. How can you adopt AI in your business:
- Educate Stakeholders: Provide a comprehensive education and clarify any misconceptions about AI.
- Identify Business goals: Clearly define goals and aim to achieve them using AI.
- Assess Readiness: Assess your organization’s current technological infrastructure and your overall readiness for AI implementation.
- Start with Small Pilots: Encourage a phased approach to AI implementation. Allow your business to test the waters, learn from initial experiences, and then gradually scale up AI initiatives.
- Collaborate with AI Experts: Whether through a partnership, hiring, or consultancy, having a well-versed professional will accelerate the learning and implementation.
- Address Workforce Concerns: AI is a tool used to augment human capabilities, not replace jobs.
- Ensure Ethical Practices: Be transparent, accountable, and responsible for AI practices.
- Seamless Integration into Existing Systems: Monitor, regularly assess performance, and gather feedback.
Following these ideas should help your business navigate the complexities of AI adoption, using its potential to drive innovation, efficiency, and growth, moving into a digital mindset for 2024.
How do you think the integration of AI will impact your business operations and overall strategy?
Harvard Business Review article: Reskilling in the age of AI; September 2023
Senior Consultant, Leadership Coach, and Mentor
Shortly after starting my career in Human Resources, I met someone who inspired me to go to college to get my degree because I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She had her PHD! She was smart, kind, warm, and made it look so easy when she got up and spoke in front of people. She inspired me to keep learning and to be genuine in my interactions with colleagues and employees.
After 34 years in Human Resources, I have a new mentor. She has done amazing things in her career and now she spends her time teaching others to be the best they can be, volunteering, and going on a lot of vacations! I want to do that when I grow up! My advice to my younger self (and my children) – Save for your retirement! If your company offers a 401(k) with a company match, put enough into your account each payroll to get the full company match. Every time you get a raise, put at least half the raise into the 401(k) until you have reached your annual maximum amount. We somehow learn to live on whatever that net pay amount is, so put it in the 401(k) before you ever see it.
Be happy in all you do! Life is too short not to be fabulous!
Senior Human Resources Consultant
GET OUT OF THE WAY… YOUR OWN WAY
While coaching a client not long ago, I listened to their story with fascination. They spoke about how little was making sense, how frustrated they were, their uncertainty in a new leadership peer relationship, and the pressure to make significant decisions. I was intrigued.
As Brene Brown has shared in her book, “Dare to Lead,” I was listening to the coachee’s “Shitty (or Stormy) First Draft” (SFD). Brene describes the SFD as a story we tell ourselves about whatever is going on with us. It can be about a specific situation, someone in our life (work or personal), a circumstance, something said to us, or even a series of these occurrences over a period of time. The SFD is produced in our mind based on our interpretation of this event. In most cases, the SFD is not very accurate and tends to exaggerate our fears, insecurities, and/or shame.
In the conversation with my coachee, I asked how the SFD was informing their current state and their strong reaction during a 3:1 with their boss and peer leader. I wondered aloud with them if their SFD narrative was “getting in their own way?” We had come full circle in the discussion as the question hit a major chord for them. We had recently discussed how they coached one of their direct reports to “get out of their own way.” Their advice was coming home to roost with their current situation.
The SFD was keeping them from connecting the dots. It inhibited their ability to sort through what was not making sense or allowing them to feel safe in a key work relationship. It was their attempt to fill in the missing pieces of the story they were telling themselves, but unfortunately, in the moment, it only fed their feelings of fear, anger, and/or pain.
Realizing they were getting in their own way, we stepped back together to dive deep into the situation and dissect the true story they were telling themselves, not the SFD. As we progressed in the discussion, the coachee brightened up, and a clear solution and path emerged. When we wrapped up, the SFD was gone, and in its place, the coachee was set to speak with their colleagues and work closely to address the situation. They were getting out of their own way—away from their SFD.
We have all created a SFD and allowed the story to get in our own way. Unfortunately, our brain is lacking some key pieces of data and, via the SFD, fills in the missing pieces based on past experiences. Essentially, the brain creates its own story, its SFD. While we can believe the SFD at the moment, its impact influences our actions. We build a solution to create the “happily ever after ending” that, deep down, we know will not work for us. We allow the SFD to get in our own way and not create a viable solution for ourselves. Our negative beliefs about ourselves or past life experiences inform the SFD. This is how we get in our own way.
When the SFD is identified, get out of your way by building the second draft improved through introspection, clarity, conversation, and learning from what has not worked for you. From my varied coaching experiences, raising the question about how the coachee is getting in their own way helps reveal the SFD and move them to the improved second draft.
Leap Solutions is a diverse group of highly skilled management, organizational development, and human resources, and executive search and recruitment professionals who have spent decades doing what we feel passionate about helping you feel passionate about what you do. Our HR specialists can help you get a handle on the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines, programs, and legislation that may impact you and your employees. We are available to work with you to develop practical solutions and smart planning decisions for your organization’s immediate, near, and long-term needs.
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