My Internship – Part 2

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate Vancouver, BC

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate
Vancouver, BC

So I’m slowly approaching the end of my HR internship, it’s been more than ten weeks since I’ve been doing this. Though the drive between Whistler and Vancouver every weekend may be tiring but let me tell you, it’s really worth it. My experience so far has been very good and when you are so involved in what you are doing and learning along the way, time flies by very quickly. I can’t believe there’s only a few weeks left.

During these ten weeks, I have gotten the opportunity to take on HR project such as the Colleague Engagement Survey and initiated “Game of the Week.” Taking on the Colleague Engagement Survey, I was able to utilize my organization skills and persistent trait to execute the survey with 98% completion rate. I would have loved to help the hotel reach 100% completion rate but learned that a lot of factors play a big part in this big organization. In particular, with this location being a resort location so a lot of the colleagues are away during this time of year and a lot of them are casual. It was a very fun project!

To add some fun for the colleagues, I created “Game of the Week” to help the colleagues stay positive, engaged and involved during the slower season. Last week, I put up “Guess who?” for the colleagues. It was very fun to see the colleagues surrounding the game and trying to guess the person. Every day, I had colleagues coming in and emailing me with guesses. Though it is something very small, I really enjoy being able to create something to help the colleagues have fun while at work, which is what Whistler is about.

To help better understand the hospitality industry and the operations of this organization, I took on many opportunities to cross train in different departments. I cross trained from banquets, sales to front desk just to name a few. As I mentioned in my last blog article, the colleagues in this hotel have been helpful and great to work with. When I cross trained with them, they were very willing to help, teach and work with me.

During these ten weeks, I supported various HR professionals in different areas and now have an even better understanding and clarification in the area of HR I’m truly interested in.

I am very excited for the work I have planned for the next few weeks like preparing for the HR audit and job fair.

Managing Negative Attitudes in the Workplace

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “How do you manage negative attitudes in the workplace?”

Michelle Yao

Michelle Yao

As someone who is a positive person by nature I often find it challenging to deal with negativity and negative people.  This is particularly difficult when I face it in the workplace because it is an environment that I need to be in daily.  So when I am in a negative situation at work I tend to step back and assess what is happening, who is giving off the negative vibes and what their point of view is. I tend not to react right away to negative attitudes, I’ve found that taking a breathe and reminding myself of my own frame of mind lessens the impact of another person’s negative attitude.

Early in my career I worked with an individual who was constantly a “negative nelly.”  She would complain on a regular basis about how much she hated work, her role and her responsibilities.  While initially I didn’t react I found that over time her constant complaining crept into my own frame at work.  The old adage ‘you are who you hang out with’ comes to mind.  Not saying anything, combined with constantly being around this negative attitude was affecting me and my view of my workplace.  Once I realized this I made a decision to speak frankly with this colleague.  I encouraged her to get proactive about why she was feeling how she was feeling.

She was surprised that her attitude was influencing me and dragging me down too. She apologized and we talked through some options.  She ended up speaking to her manager, enlisted the help of human resources to connect with a career counsellor and identified areas in her work that were making her unhappy.  After a few months of seeking support and talking more frankly to her manager, she slowly but steadily became a much more satisfied and happy colleague.

The lessons I’ve gained from this experience are lessons that I’ve brought forward with me in my career.  I’ve learned that if you stand by and just listen to negative attitudes eventually they will start to affect you. We need to be proactive in fostering our own healthy attitude at work.  It takes effort, time and it’s an ongoing process, but it is well worth the reward.

Negativity happens.  It’s a reality, but it is up to us to manage its impact on ourselves and in our workplace.

Managing Negative Attitudes in the Workplace

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “How do you manage negative attitudes in the workplace?”

Sandy Arseneault, CHRP

Sandy Arseneault, CHRP

Negative Nancy and Negative Neil. I’m sure the majority of us can agree that we have come across one (or a few) in our careers. Now how do you properly manage their negative attitudes in the workplace? Before you answer “get rid of them”, as some managers commonly respond, let me ask you this: Are they really the problem? Nine times out of ten – No.

In my experience, a negative attitude is a result of one or more underlying sources. Of course, you cannot solve these issues without fully understanding them. How we do that is to dissect them. In our case, your first step is to identify the source. Your second step is then to develop ways in which to manage negative attitudes accordingly.

Identifying the Source of Negative Attitudes

It can be very difficult to understand negative attitudes without first discussing why these feelings exist. I suggest you start by having an open and honest discussion with the employee exhibiting negative behaviour. At this time, it is important to remember three (3) things:

  1. Give specific examples of the negative attitude(s) or behaviour observed over time,
  2. Use probing questions to identify what is causing the negative attitude and how any unresolved issues can become resolved, and
  3. Use active listening skills to clarify both the employee’s and the employer’s responsibilities moving forward.

If you use the above approaches, it becomes much easier to understand negative behaviour, and opens the floor to collaborative problem solving. Here, you want to discuss how the source can be improved (or best managed).

As you can imagine, or have seen first-hand as I have, negativity in the workplace can have dramatic affects on employee performance, the performance of colleagues and the profitability of an organization. Some sources you may have uncovered in your workplace include dissatisfaction or unhappiness with performance evaluations, leadership or management, working conditions, organizational practices or personal challenges. A negative attitude can also be the result of a misunderstanding or lack of information.

Managing Negative Attitudes

Although there are many sources of negative attitudes, I can attest to the fact that your strategy in approaching them must start with communication and follow up. To be clear, managing negative attitudes and their sources highly depends on your commitment to communicate with employees on a regular basis, to offer timely actions that improve the situation (i.e. follow up), and involving them in the process.

During my 6 years of experience as a stand-alone human resources professional in both the construction and manufacturing industry, I have encountered a colourful array of positive and negative attitudes. By far, the most common issue is dissatisfaction with performance management – “the continuous process of identifying, measuring and developing the performance of individuals and teams and aligning performance with the strategic goals of the organization” (Aguinis, 2009). Contacts who work in other industries have also asked me how they should deal with or manage similar issues with performance management systems of their own.

It is important to note here that there are several advantages to having a performance management system. These include increased motivation, self-esteem, and commitment; clarified expectations and organizational goals; organizational change; and timely differentiation between good and poor performers. However, many disadvantages can arise if a performance management system is poorly developed, implemented and/or maintained. An inadequate system can result in increased turnover, the use of misleading information, lowered self-esteem, wasted time and money, damaged relationships, decreased motivation, employee burnout and job dissatisfaction, unjustified demands from managers and employees, unfair standards and ratings, emerging biases and unclear rating systems (Aguinis, 2009). Do any of these drawbacks sound familiar?

Finally; no matter how many cases I have come across, the number one complaint is that employees feel their performance is not being assessed or documented correctly, or being evaluated consistently (if at all). Without fail, those feelings caused many employees to exhibit negative attitudes in the workplace. My advice in improving these  attitudes was (1) to obtain employee feedback through communication, (2) to seriously consider employee feedback, (3) to make changes wherever possible, and (4) to involve employees in the progression of change. In time, my advice helped managers develop new assessment tools (using employee feedback), better training for evaluators and evaluation schedules, and held managers more accountable. To everyone’s surprise (but my own), turnover became retention, attitudes were more positive and employees showed higher productivity – making the organization more successful.

So, to answer the question “How do you properly manage negative attitudes in the workplace?” I say, make a commitment to communicate with your staff, to take action in a timely manner, and to involve them in the process.

An article by: Sandy Arseneault, BBA  CHRP

 

Works Cited

Aguinis, H. (2009). Performance Management (2nd Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

“Small business, Big vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-made Entrepreneurs who did it right” by Adam Toren and Matthew Toren (4.5 Stars)

Small Business, Big VisionThe Toren brothers are passionate about helping others achieve their professional dreams. Published shortly after their award-winning book “Kidpreneurs: Young Entrepreneurs with Big Ideas!”, “Small Business, Big Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who did it Right” provides an excellent guide for new entrepreneurs taking their first leap into business. Ok so yes, there are a ton of business development and management books out there, but this book is unique and offers a fresh perspective in a to-the-point manner with case studies of how entrepreneurs applied the techniques discussed throughout the book successfully.

After explaining the need for a big vision to provide the foundation for a “spark” to grow into a fully functioning business entity, we are taken through a number of business planning and development lessons in seven easy-to-read chapters. First they explain the danger in getting tied up with a lengthy, weighty business plan and suggest a one-page plan for self-reference. In Chapter 4 the Toren brothers turn their attention to the pros and cons of hiring employees and offer a convincing argument as to why outsourcing may be a better alternative for many small businesses.

Lauren Kress

Lauren Kress

First we are told that in the best-case scenarios “hiring the right employees can be the next best thing to cloning yourself”. Some sage advice on the need to consider the expense and risks associated with hiring in-house employees is provided soon after with an explanation on the required financial investment and the HR nightmares that can occur and could destroy a company. For resolution they suggest that outsourcing can be a great solution for many businesses enabling great advantages with reduced financial and managerial burden. They also give useful tips on how to avoid problems that can stem from the lack of control, ready availability and emotional buy-in that can occur from outsourcing work.

Another lesson provides an insightful overview of the world of social media and the four keys to utilising it successfully including strategic planning and the need to monitor measurements to adjust tactics accordingly. Lesson 5 focuses on achieving expert status by building an information “empire” whilst Lesson 6 encourages entrepreneurs to focus on their social responsibilities including ethics, sustainability and consideration to local and global community outreach. The final lesson provides sobering advice for when the going gets tough explaining the importance of embracing flexibility especially in a time of crisis in order to turn a business around, what to do before giving up and when to throw in the towel.

I challenge anyone to walk away from this book without greater drive, empowerment, understanding and appreciation for business in both real and ideal terms. Whilst this book risks romanticising the life of the entrepreneur the case studies featured as part of each chapter help to keep it grounded. The delicate balance between the big picture and the attention to planning and detail is maintained so that the reader is left feeling inspired and equipped with a nice juicy list of resources at the back.

Though this book is targeted at entrepreneurs, “Small Business, Big Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who did it Right” carries lessons within its pages for employers, employees and freelancers with all sorts of role and responsibilities from front desk service to middle management to company director and CEO. This book is a great read and a great resource for help with how to approach, tackle and resolve many work-related problems. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who has a big vision in sight for their future and is interested in better understanding the psychological, social and economical aspects and motivations of business entities and other organizations.

My Internship Journey – Part 1

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate

I have recently taken on my first HR job in Canada, an HR internship position with a luxury hotel and resorts. It is great timing to talk about my experience, especially following last month’s World Café topic “When entry-level positions demand that all applicants have work experience, how can recent grads and those seeking to enter the field land their first job” in which I suggested taking on internship as a way to overcome this issue.

It’s been five weeks since I started with this organization and it’s been an amazing experience. I don’t even know how to begin in explaining what makes this experience so amazing; there are so many different reasons. But in particular, the three that really sticks out are the organization itself, the culture, values and people and the ability to learn different aspects of human resources.

Let me begin by talking about the organization itself. This hotel and resorts is amazing, being one of Canada’s top employers. During my 5 weeks at the hotel, I’ve learned some of the reasons why the organization has been given this award. To begin, there are many opportunities given to the employees to grow and develop. The organization really cares about helping their employees grow professionally and gives their employees opportunities to cross-train and move within. This is speaking of not just about giving them opportunities to move within one location but throughout all their hotels and resorts around the world. I have met so many employees that have traveled and worked at various departments and locations within the organization. There are programs to recognize their staff, monthly award ceremonies to show appreciation for their staff’s hard work and social events to help bond their organization. I was even given the opportunity to plan a week of events to show appreciation and thank the employees. The week of events involved the executive teams rolling up their sleeves and serving their employees. I know a lot of organizations try to have recognition and appreciation programs but this organization actually make it a commitment and priority to do these things for their staff.

The second thing I really love about my experience so far is the culture, values and people. The values of the organization have built a very friendly culture where everyone works together as a team and respects each other. The values are also shown through the practices and through the people I’ve met. I almost feel like the organization has hired a team of people who actually breathe and live their values. It must be said that the HR and management team do a very good job in their recruitment and hiring process. When we spend so much time at work each day, it is so important to like and enjoy the culture and people we work with.

The last thing I really enjoy about my internship so far is the experience and the ability to learn about different aspects of HR. As the HR intern, I have been exposed to various aspects within this HR department where I have supported everyone from the HR coordinator, benefits coordinator, health and safety coordinator, recruitment manager, training manager to HR director. the HR team has been very open to teaching me their specific area and helping me learn as much as I can. It has been very exciting learning the various aspects of HR and getting a more hands on approach and experience to the HR department of a big organization. I have been given various supporting tasks, as well as different projects such as creating an employees appreciation week. From this project, I was exposed to and learned how this very big organization function. It was different than what I am used to but I was able to successfully learn, adapt and pulled off the week of events. During this internship so far, not only am I learning about the different aspects of HR but also learning a great deal about a big organization and a lot about myself. I cannot wait to see what is to come in the coming weeks.

Evaluate Leaders Around You; Set Goals for your Future Self

“Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you’re waiting.” Joyce Meyer

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

I was speaking with a professional in a leadership position recently when this person said, “I don’t believe that email is a tool for communication, so I don’t answer emails.  It’s easier to delete 200 emails than to respond to 50 of them.”  This was shocking to hear because it showed me that this person proudly admits to ignoring client inquiries; it was a demonstration of just how ignorant a leader can be when they are out of touch with those they lead.

I am connected with a number of leaders in the public and private sector.  As someone at the beginning of my career, it’s fascinating to watch those in high positions manage unique situations from the sidelines.  Some actions are inspiring, while others make me question how I could have made the situation more positive if I was in their place.  Would I have had the gumption to ask a few more questions before making a decision?  If the onus of the decision was mine, would I have acted differently?

We posed a Coffee Shop HR World Café topic a few months back asking what entry-level folks can do to gain interviews. Essentially, what can you do at the beginning of your career to get your foot in the door?  Looking at this question in another way, I’ve begun to ask myself what I have learned from the leaders around me, and how can I best hold onto those lessons for the future.

Seeing the struggles and successes of various leaders, these are the attributes I hope to embrace:

1.       Listen and evaluate more than you speak.

Everyone has an anecdote about being in a meeting (often a lengthy meeting) and having zero engagement for the duration.  The speaker is there to deliver a message rather than engage in a conversation, and that’s infuriating because it feels like a waste of time.  When you engage in conversations with employees, hear what they have to tell you, evaluate their position and offer alternatives if they are seeking advice.  Sometimes employees just need you to recognize their point of view.

2.       Respecting staff means being able to communicate with them; know as many names and positions as you can so that you can respond thoughtfully.

I’ve always believed that the key to being a successful leader is being able to communicate.  That statement has become ubiquitous in our world of text messaging, and other forms of photo messaging, but the same is true.  Knowing the names and positions of your employees allows you to connect with them in a more thoughtful way because you can better anticipate how to deliver messages to them.

We all learn in different ways – some people need pictures, some prefer formal documents, while others require a conversation to gather their thoughts.  Recognize that some people respond to information immediately; others need to contemplate what they’ve heard, process the information and then respond.  Just because an employee who takes a lot of meeting notes doesn’t pipe up immediately after you’ve announced news to the group doesn’t mean that person is not engaged.  The opposite may be true.  Because that employee is engaged and has an opinion, he/she would prefer to choose the appropriate language to share with you later on.

3.       Provide alternative solutions each time you want to oppose an idea; own up to your choice of words.

I will always be an agent for change as long as the change supports what’s best for the business, with minimal impact to staff.  But it irritates me to no end when people respond with a resounding “no” without offering alternative solutions.  By offering options, you demonstrate that you understand what management was attempting to improve, have a solid understanding of the business, and can be counted on to support the change in the most positive way.

If you can foresee pitfalls that others can’t, why wouldn’t you communicate that?  While people are outraged and scared, be the source of information that they are seeking.

4.       Embrace technology.

This may sound odd, but remember that leader I mentioned who does not believe that email is a useful communication tool?  I understand this individual’s concerns with misunderstandings caused by tone, but in leadership roles, I believe you must possess a strong service orientation.  If those around you feel comfortable communicating with you via email, be grateful that they are willing to connect in the first place, and respond using the medium they chose.

By receiving an email and saying “I do not believe the use of email is conducive to communication” you are showing those around you that you can only support them on your terms.  Responding using the source that they provided is similar to shifting down to the height of a child when providing direction. 

In the future, who knows what the equivalent of email will be.  I’ve spoken with Gen Y leaders who outwardly say “email is useless, I use Google Docs to communicate with staff en masse, and it’s free.”  So when I’m trying to connect with staff at different levels who communicate using a technology that you can’t see or touch, I hope that I have the gumption to embrace it, and learn to use it well.

5.       Do not take criticism personally; be prepared to defend your work.

This will always be a challenge, and it should be.  The day that you have zero emotional attachment to criticism is the day you completely disengage or suppress your emotion.  But I think it is positive to control the emotions that you show to people.  The most positive thing you can do is respectfully and intelligently defend your work when criticized.  Take ownership and be accountable at all times.

Is There a Right Way to Leave Your Job?

Bonnie Milne, PhD

Bonnie Milne, PhD

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Is there a right way to quit your job?”

Oh my gosh – I hope so.

That’s my first reaction to the question. Like most HR people, I’ve been on both ends of resignations – the receiving and the giving. I was always surprised to receive a resignation because the people who were resigning had been very quiet about their plans until they materialized – that is until they were about to relocate or take on a new job.

I am not sure if I, on the other hand, was that discrete. I don’t have a ‘poker’ face so my intentions are usually quite easily read.

It is very difficult to leave a position without another one in hand so it is difficult to give your employer more than the required notice. I have also seen that those who are too open about their intentions are sidelined early. They are slowly, or sometimes quickly, excluded from the decision making process. Their colleagues disengage from them almost as a defense. After all, when you decide to leave an organization, it is the people you are leaving, and they will have an emotional response. While they may be happy for you, they may feel abandoned.

I remember one time when I resigned from a small organization to take on a new position and right after I announced that I was leaving, my colleague, who didn’t have another position to go to, also resigned. It turned out that she was fed up and thought leaving was the logical thing to do.

Unfortunately, although she felt fantastic at the time, it took a while for her to find work.
Something to think about is your letter of resignation which needs to stress the positive aspects of the job you are leaving. Sometimes a humourous resignation letter is in order, but only if you are on good terms with your supervisor!

Nathaniel Koloc, co-founder and CEO of ReWork, cites three reasons to leave your job, which I’ve elaborated on.

1. It just isn’t sustainable –it takes too much time, you don’t get paid enough or you simply hate going to work every day. I had two colleagues, in different organizations, who told me that every day before they could muster up the courage to go into their offices, they sat in their cars and cried. Can you imagine? One of them toughed it out and her boss eventually retired, the other one asked for a move and she is much happier now. Interestingly neither of them resigned.

2. It Isn’t Furthering Your Professional Development – our work should stretch us – not diminish us. We should have opportunities to learn and to expand our professional horizons, build communities of practice and mentor others. If these opportunities are not available, or our salaries don’t allow us to pursue, them then it is time to think about looking for something new.

3. Something Else (Way Better) Comes Along – Hmm – give your head a shake. This one should be a no-brainer, but many of us procrastinate, ‘Oh my resume isn’t quite ready!’ That’s my favorite! We let the opportunity pass by. Really, what is the worst that could happen? Take a chance, submit a gracious letter of resignation and move toward your dream!

Molly Ford has some great ideas for when the time comes for your to tender your resignation. Her advice includes: tell your boss first, and then your colleagues, all in person. Have a transition plan – make sure those loose ends are tied up, and prepare your reason for leaving. Keep it positive, as she notes; your colleagues are staying and there is no reason to make them feel badly about their work place, or, for that matter, about you! Her last piece of advice is to stay in touch.

I have resigned from a number of jobs and amazingly returned to three different organizations after resigning, including the one where I’m currently employed. So I know the value of staying positive and staying in touch. I usually update my former colleagues on my career and depending on how close we are, on my personal life as well. I follow up on their moves and provide encouragement.
I read recently that people have become commodities and we have to treat ourselves as a product. While I find that a very callous way of thinking about myself and my life; I do find that relationships often provide unexpected opportunities and that staying ‘up to date’ and ‘in the loop’ makes a positive difference in my career.

Food for thought, when it is time to tender that resignation!

Welcome Lauren Kress & Sandy Arseneault to Coffee Shop HR

I’m happy to welcome Lauren Kress and Sandy Arseneault to Coffee Shop HR.  Lauren will be posting book reviews and Sandy joins our team of HR Writers.

Lauren KressLauren Kress is a project manager and medical writer in the health services industry by day and a blogger and creative writer by night. She enjoys the challenges that come with combining science, health, marketing, creativity and management together and imagines herself running her own business in the future. In the meantime she has been traveling the world, learning new things and undertaking a Masters in cross-disciplinary Art and Design. After arriving back in her hometown (read: home city) of Sydney, Australia she is very excited to begin taking on more challenges that enable her to explore and develop her skills in business development, management and interpersonal relations. As the creator of http://outofink.org she seeks to uncover more about people and the world around them through sharing interviews, thoughts and creative endeavours that stem from life, travel, music and books.

Sandy Arseneault, CHRPSandy Arseneault is a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) with a genuine concern for the ’employee experience’.

Before obtaining a Bachelors Degree in Human Resources Management from Kwantlen University, Sandy graduated from BCIT with a Diploma in Financial Management. She also pursued a Diploma in Business Administration from Douglas College before falling in love with Human Resources.

Early in her career, Sandy worked as a(n) Receptionist, A/R Clerk, Office Manager and Accountant. Now, with 6 years of experience in the construction and manufacturing industry, Sandy is excited to pursue new challenges and industries while working towards future goals including her aspirations of being a highly regarded mentor for other HR Professionals and an inspiration to friends, colleagues and strangers.

Tips for Leaving the Right Way

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Is there a right way to quit your job?”

Michelle Yao

Michelle Yao

Most of us have been there, finding the perfect job for you, while still working in your current job. We face the dilemma of what to do. Now there are good and bad ways to leave your job, but the preferred way is always to leave on good, or at least neutral terms. It’s always important that a former employer doesn’t have a bad impression of you. You never know who they know or who they might have a connection to. So in the spirit of leaving a job the right way, I thought I’d share some tips with you.

1.    Don’t let others know before you tell your boss

News travels fast, especially interesting, new news. It’s always professional courtesy to let your supervisor know what is happening first.

2.    Block off time to tell your boss in person

Letting your boss know in person is the most respectful, mature way to approach this matter.

3.    Give appropriate transition time

Two weeks is the general timeline. This gives you time to close off files and hand off projects.

4.    Make a transition binder

Sometimes you may not have time to do this, but leaving your replacement with a binder/guide enables them to understand your roles and responsibilities and shows your former employer that you are trying to proactively ease the transition.

5.    Ask for an exit interview

This will enable both you and your boss to discuss the challenge, successes and opportunities related to your job

While this is not an exhaustive list, it provides a frame when approaching this situation. Remember respect is key, as is courtesy. You want to approach leaving a job with the idea in mind that you should act as you would like others to act in this situation. When in doubt it is also very helpful to consult with a former Manager/Supervisor, or even a career coach, and to discuss any other suggestions/thoughts with them. It is also important to keep in mind that what works for some, may not work for you. So compile your own list of tips and tricks – decide what you are comfortable with when making your decision public.

Do Something That’s Just For You

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

I’ve recently discovered a love of yoga.  Roll your eyes all you like – I was skeptical of the practice too!  I live in Vancouver where yoga pants have become synonymous with the image of a local woman, somehow.  I’m one of those people who becomes skeptical when large groups of people fall absolutely in love with one thing.  But after giving it a try, I’ve been converted – I love yoga.

I wasn’t interested in yoga for many years because it didn’t seem that strenuous.  I enjoy pilates, but I envisioned yoga as a less challenging version of pilates.  Boy was I wrong!  Yoga is dynamic, and the best teachers are supportive and reflective.  It’s a wonderful practice, and I will certainly continue.

Last night I attended a really wonderful class.  I’ve been stressed at work, and people are starting to get sick all around me, and so I’ve been avoiding physical activity in exchange for sleep and rest.  But a friend convinced me to attend our yoga class last night, and I’m so glad that I did.

The instructor emphasized that we give away our power in different forms all day.  When people are stressed around us, we mobilize, and we move faster.  When a situation arises, we assess, make plans, and execute.  We’re very giving of our time and energy – particularly in the workplace.  But it’s important to realize that you need to do things that bring you power also.  It’s not about reclaiming your strength – because you should give of yourself freely – but you should put yourself into situations that bring power to you, and you alone.

When you commit to going for a run, taking a yoga class or skiing for a few hours, those moments are meant to bring you joy and freedom.  They’re moments that you create for you alone, and that’s powerful. image

You earn money all day that you ultimately distribute to different parties.  You may deal with situations that affect others more than you.  Certainly each conversation you have at work is an exercise of giving your time away to someone else.  But you need to commit time that can only be spent on yourself – you deserve it.

Before saying goodbye, my class instructor asked us to sit up one more time with our shoulders back.  She joked that she wasn’t asking us to sit with our shoulders back because that’s yoga gospel, but because it’s a reminder of your body’s intrinsic power.  You have chosen to sit with your shoulders back, which lengthens your spine.  You control your body, and every action is a choice.

Make sure that you take some time that’s just for you.  Whether that means physical activity, reading for pleasure, or sitting perfectly still on a park bench and admiring the view, commit to doing something that brings power and strength to you.