Learning for Life

It is a significant achievement and a reason for every Niagara resident to stand tall and proud.

Although I no longer work there, I am delighted that Niagara College has again won the distinction of being number one in overall student satisfaction among all colleges in Ontario. 

According to the results of this year’s survey, administered at 24 Ontario colleges by an independent research firm, 86.1 percent of Niagara College students said they are satisfied with the education they’re receiving. Additionally, it’s clear that employers are satisfied with their graduates.

Shortly after hearing this news, I happened to end… More Posted on 04-20-08

Vacation Vision and Values

Whew! If I were any more relaxed I’d be in a coma.

My husband and I have just returned from a pretty-much-perfect week’s vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

We stayed in a resort built, as one might imagine in Mexico, with the prerequisite stone, ceramic tile and wrought iron railings. Our particular condo was perched four stories above the street on a steep hill at the edge of town.

In addition to the daily exercise provided by climbing the 120 stairs to our balcony, built-in active living was also provided by a lovely and quiet pool located two… More Posted on 04-13-08

Letting Go of Judgements

When two seemingly unrelated incidents collide in my life, I’ve learned to pay attention.

That’s what happened this past week.

Our youngest son called to tell us he was hired as a server from among the over 600 who applied at a new Toronto-based upscale restaurant. While it’s sure to generate the healthy income he will need to return to school to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher, he was much more excited about the one-on-one volunteer work he is doing with a little boy who is autistic.

The mother and father of the little boy, wanting… More Posted on 03-30-08

Men and Women Really Do Communicate Differently

I like to think I’m a good communicator but after last week I might just need to rethink that a bit.

However, the fact that I’m shouldering the responsibility for any tension is probably a typical female reaction. Chances are though that it has less to do with me and is more about the fact that men and women simply communicate differently. They also use differing processes for decision making and leadership. 

Until recently, the team I’ve been working with has been predominantly female, albeit quite diverse in terms of personalities and skills. Their passion for the work we’re… More Posted on 03-23-08

The Importance of Integrity

Billionaire Warren Buffet says he looks for three things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. “But”, he went on to say, “if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.

Eliot Spitzer, governor of New York, proved him right last week when he was forced to resign as the result of his involvement in a sex ring.

By all accounts, Spitzer had a lot going for him in terms of intelligence and energy. Ultimately though, it was his lack of personal integrity… More Posted on 03-16-08

A Good Enough Vision

It wasn’t a perfect vision but apparently, it was a good-enough vision.

I recently had a rather lengthy conversation with our youngest son trying to provide more explanation for why I had moved across the country. He was genuinely perplexed and likely feeling somewhat abandoned, even though he’s been living on his own for several years. After all, as he reminded me, hadn’t I always said, “Family first”?

I struggled to find the words but started by assuring him that my family is, and always will be, my most important value.

I then went on to explain that… More Posted on 03-09-08

Building Teams that Trust

I would have suggested there were woodchips in the windmills of your mind if you had told me I would enjoy a week that included three solid days of meetings that were all about planning. And yet, that’s exactly what happened this past week. I enjoyed it. I spent three days with an incredible team that is working to build stronger, healthier and more creative communities.

The meetings were anything but boring. We covered a lot of ground, made significant decisions and delegated responsibilities.

Along the way we clearly refined the map that would move us closer to… More Posted on 03-02-08

The Importance of Emerging Leaders

Their successes should have been cause for community celebration.

Yet praise for the successes ignited by the emerging leaders in their towns weren’t always unanimous. Too often those in senior positions seemed more intent on reminding them of their place within their respective hierarchies. 

Unfortunately, this seems to be a recurring theme in much of the community leadership coaching I’m involved with these days.

One such initiative is focused on using parks and recreation to create the places, spaces, and culture that will encourage people to get physically and socially engaged in their communities.

This particular initiative issued… More Posted on 02-24-08

Being Kind Brings Its Own Rewards

I’m the first to admit I’m a big fan of retail therapy. On the other hand, I don’t consider shopping for groceries to be fun at all. For me grocery shopping is definitely a chore.

However, as I was buying groceries today, it seemed the clerk at my checkout was even less of a fan.

She just looked so miserable I felt compelled to find something positive to say.

Glancing at her I smiled and said, “You’re definitely a good packer”.

Honestly, it’s not as inane as it sounds. After all, she really was a good… More Posted on 02-17-08

White Bikes - A Solution for Inner Community Travel??

It seems to me that the secret of creative thinking might just be starting with good problems.

Then, before you can even think about generating ideas, that problem needs to be turned into a challenge.

My current work includes working with a community of approximately 500 full time citizens augmented by seasonal cottagers, who live within a serene and natural resource-rich environment. They care for their community and one another, work hard, speak honestly and directly, and share a distinct and often wacky sense of humour.

As with many small communities, they are dealing with the challenge of transportation.

More Posted on 02-10-08

Shifting to Wellness

Last week, an Alberta provincial minister did something a bit unusual and perhaps even somewhat courageous.

Dave Hancock, Minister of Health and Wellness, hosted a provincial forum for some two hundred senior policy and decision makers from across the government, voluntary and business sectors.

Similar to other provincial statistics and as he discussed in his opening address, 40% of the population is considered to be overweight or obese, cases of type 2 diabetes have doubled in the last 20 years, and health care costs have risen by an astonishing 12.2% over the past year to the point that it… More Posted on 02-03-08

Stretching to Touch the Future

Last week while shopping for a gift, I came across a poster with a picture of a rock climber reaching upward along a sheer face of mountain. The caption below read, You gotta stretch to touch the future.

It struck me that the initiative I’m focusing most of my energies on these days is about that kind of stretching. Those involved are working hard to find new ways of working with community leaders to build healthy, vibrant and creative communities.

The blessing and the curse is that the leaders are sprinkled across the province as are the staff and… More Posted on 01-25-08

Joy on the Job

This week a family connection resulted in me landing tickets to see Michael Bublé’s sold-old concert.

The big band/jazz/pop crooner, often compared to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, put on a magnificent show. His music literally had people dancing in the aisles. He was funny, irreverent, and surprisingly authentic….kind of made you proud that he was Canadian. 

Of mostly Italian heritage, Bublé was born in British Columbia and grew up listening to his grandfather’s collection of jazz records. In listening to the romantic and meaningful lyrics of those songs, it became clear to him that he wanted to… More Posted on 01-20-08

Mistakes Were Made

When I write a column I think my dad might find interesting, I make a copy and send it to him. He called me this week after reading several I had sent that referenced family members.

While he said it a bit in jest, there was an undercurrent of sadness when he suggested that it might be nice if I were to write a column about him some time. 

He is right of course, I don’t write about him.

For a moment, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond as I really didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Besides,… More Posted on 01-13-08

Relationships Needed for Change

A long time ago I worked for a guy who was something of a leadership junkie. Every time he got back from a conference or read a new book, we would brace ourselves for what we referred to as his new flavour-of-the-week management theory.

Inspired by his enthusiasm, we would initially adopt a gung-ho approach to implementing some new thinking or approach.

Without fail, it would ultimately die a slow death and we would then hold our collective breath waiting for the next new great idea to be sent our way.

Given that it’s January and we’re… More Posted on 01-06-08

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