Can’t be the new normal

Because of COVID, every day we hear about how we are now working in the “new normal” and must adjust our daily routines.  The articles and conversations are as if this is a given and we simply need to adjust.  However, I believe there are many impacts to people, society and business performance that we can’t simply accept as the new normal.

The aspect of the new normal that I am referencing here is that Work from Home (WFH) will now be the new standard.  I understand many people have been doing this for much of their careers and don’t understand why people consider the concept of WFH being a challenge.  My perspective is that there are certain positions or even people’s personalities that can operate in this model; however, it isn’t for everyone, every position, or every stage in one’s career.

My initial premise is that humans are social beings and need interaction with others.  During these prolonged periods of remoteness, people are being deprived of this basic human need.  We look to technology to help in times of this pandemic, but it should be used as a tool to bridge us to the non-pandemic future versus calling it the new normal.

Here are a few examples of why I believe this extended new WFH “normal” is negative:

Collaboration and Innovation – There is a lot of new technology that is being leveraged today in an attempt to personalize meetings; however, Zoom meetings and attempts to leverage online whiteboarding capabilities, don’t take the place of collecting in a room and having a collaboration/innovation session.  Personal interactions, stealing the marker from someone to enhance their ideas, and the energy generated can’t be replaced online.  In face to face meetings, people feel more compelled to be engaged.  When working in an online environment, people tend to multitask, address emails or other urgent issues during the time set aside for the dedicated meeting.  This occurs in face to face meetings as well, but the tendency has picked up during this period of isolation.

Casual Interactions – Impromptu casual interaction is nearly eliminated in WFH settings.  Random office chats that provide the much-needed break from the daily work are now replaced with the potential to engage with the family.  Though this family engagement is a positive aspect to WFH, it doesn’t provide the same level of psychological escape and can actually cause additional stress.  While these casual chats in the hallway may be distractions, the separation from sitting/standing at our desk, is important to close out issues that may not be considered critical enough to set up an Outlook meeting.   Spontaneous chats and random interactions provide reasons for periodic breaks.  These breaks are needed to keep your mind focused.  Separation from the computer provides a break from a particular work item and provides additional time for more creative encounters

Networking – I have always been a strong proponent of networking, especially for people who are early in their careers or new to their companies.  While I am much later in my career than others, it’s more difficult in today’s world for people to network and expand their visibility within the company.  For example, previously, you were able to take advantage of the casual interaction mentioned above to introduce yourself to someone that you believe can help with your success.  These impromptu encounters are very unlikely to happen in the WFH environment because the probability of getting 10 minutes on someone’s calendar for this type of engagement is unlikely.

Companies need to take every precaution to keep their employees safe; however, part of the balance needs to be on understanding the psychological impact and well-being of their organization.  Organizations need to encourage new ways of working in this current environment to address the underlying challenges; however, we can’t accept this as the new normal.  While this pandemic has impacted the way we will do business forever, we can’t allow ourselves to operate as if the pandemic is forever.  As I write this, there is encouraging information that vaccinations with start within the coming days, and life may get back to normal in the next 6 months.


I have written before about memories and their impact on your happiness.  But I wanted to share one quick anecdote.  People continue to strive for different material things that they believe will make them happy, but at the end of the day (or more importantly end of one’s life), memories are what you will always have.

Do a quick test of this hypothesis.  Think of something in the past where you bought something that you “needed” to have, e.g., that latest device.  How does it make you feel today?  Now, think of a time where you invested in an experience, like a trip to somewhere that you always wanted to visit, e.g., London or Europe.  Which one created the best memories?

This past weekend, I attended my 40th high school reunion.  My former classmates and I not only relived old memories but also built new ones that we can put in our memory lockers to pull out and experience again later.  While I was apprehensive going in, it was a great weekend.  The smiles and laughs were so contagious that I am sure everyone had a fantastic time.

Part of creating a memory is taking time to truly enjoy the experience.  You will hear some people say to mentally take a snapshot in the moment – meaning to truly experience the moment and not just let it pass you by.  In the future, there will be things that trigger your memory vault and you will be able to relive the experience.  The good news about technology and social media today is that posts, pictures, and stories automatically stimulate memories.  I can tell you that I have been reliving my reunion already based on all the pictures being posted.

So the next time you are thinking to yourself, “wow, I am having a really great time”, pause in the moment and enjoy the moment.  You will be able to relive it again over and over in the future.

How do you capture memories?



Listen with Appreciation

Have you been in a conversation where the other person (people) don’t seem to be listening?  Do they interrupt to make their point?  Are they simply missing the message you are trying to convey?  Of course, you have.  If we are honest, we have been on both sides of this scenario. However, if we begin to listen to understand and not to respond, our conversations will be a lot more enjoyable and effective.  Whether in your personal or professional life, establishing a level of appreciative listening will allow you to build stronger relationships and have more relevant conversations.

Appreciative listening starts with a basic understanding that we should want to listen to understand the other person’s perspective.  You are open to their thoughts and ideas.  You aren’t positioning your next statement in your mind, as doing this will cause you to miss a large piece of the other’s point and message.  If you truly listen to gain their perspective, your responses will be more thought out and effective.  You will be able to compare with your perspectives, have a more conscious thought process and maybe change your narrative.  However, appreciative listening doesn’t mean that you must change your view to be aligned, it simply means being open-minded and authentic.

While not the direct subject of this article, appreciative listening is also tightly aligned to Emotional Intelligence – the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions while also recognizing, understanding and influencing the emotions of others.

Since appreciative listening happens so rarely in our fast-paced world of always being connected where we communicate in short bursts of information (texts, tweets, etc.) needing to share thoughts, ideas and even pictures of our dinner, if you effectively listen with appreciation, you may surprise yourself and the other person.

While this seems like common sense and sounds easy, the actual execution is more difficult and takes time to build into your persona, but you can take minor steps each day and in every conversation.  Eventually, you will become a more appreciative listener.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • It should go without saying but disconnect from technology. You obviously won’t be able to truly listen with appreciation if you are checking text messages or emails during the conversation.
    • On a personal level, leave your phone in the car while out to dinner.
    • At a professional level, close your laptop and leave your phone in your pocket.
  • Assess how you participate in your next conversation right after it is over. Did you listen with an appreciation or still compile your response before the other person was done?  Write your thoughts down and reread later.  How could you have done better?
  • During the next conversation, be mindful of how you are listening. Quiet your thoughts.  If you feel yourself stepping away from being an appreciative listener, catch it and bring yourself back.  It’s kind of like meditation when you let go of thoughts coming into your mind.  Don’t punish yourself, just recognize it and let it go.
  • Ask for feedback from the other person. Ask them if they felt like you were attentive in the conversation and if they felt like your responses considered their perspectives.

Listen with appreciation and see how it makes you feel and improves your overall communications.



Collaboration Even Successful in Nature

In Shawn Achor’s latest book, Big Potential, he starts off with a story of lightning bugs in the mangroves of Southeast Asia.  This particular variation of lightning bug (Photinus Carolinus) synchronize their flashes to increase the likelihood of finding a mate.  Flashing alone, fireflies have a 3% chance of finding a mate, but by synchronizing, that probability rises to an astonishing 82%.  This is a simple example of how nature understands that working together collectively and collaboratively leads to greater combined success of the group and the individual.  This same phenomenon can enhance individual performance in organizations through collaboration that drives mutual success leading to personal growth.

By the way, in nature, this also causes a spectacular sight when the entire forest lights up at the same time with the lightening bug synchronization.

While, in this instance, nature figured out that collaboration produces better results than competition, it is counter intuitive to our beliefs or how we are raised that this could be possible for humans.  We continue to believe that we need to shine above everyone else to gain the spotlight.  This belief starts early in our lives and has been around for generations; however, it has been proven, through studies, that over time this obsession with being #1 has strengthened and has had a negative impact on true cooperation and ultimately both personal and organizational performance.

Companies continue to maintain “cooperation”, “collaboration” and “team work” in their corporate values slides; however, establish measurements that are counter to these statements.  For instance, it is very common for a challenge to be created along the lines of “the first team to achieve $100M in revenue receives a special bonus”.  On the surface, this may seem like friendly competition to drive both teams to strive harder to reach the $100M target.  But what if by cooperating the teams could have achieved $200M more quickly or even $250M by identifying additional synergies?

Throughout my career, I have seen examples on both sides of this equation – individualism undermining potential success and true collaboration driving greater success.  While maybe not flashing in 100% synchronization as the Southeast Asia lightning bugs, the teams operate toward common success and support the value of team strength.

In one instance, I was lucky enough to be part of an organization that grew revenues 7X in 4 years.  Additionally, we went from operating at a loss to significant operating margins.  While there were many reasons for this growth – great people, strong market and a leading product, other regions had many of these same elements, but lacked the level of collaboration that we created in our region.  While the corporate culture was more cut throat, we were lucky enough to be a remote region and isolated from that divisive atmosphere.  We knew that we wanted to deliver the highest corporate results, what we often referred to as “big bags of cash” to corporate (in the form of operating margin), and we had our style to drive that success.  Being in the Americas region and part of a UK based company, we were considered “cowboys”.

Our team was built with diverse core capabilities that could operate in unison to continue to deliver sustainable successful weeks, months and quarters.  4 key elements of the culture we built were –

  • Respect – the foundational core value that everything else layered on was respect. We listened to each other’s inputs, exchanged ideas and accepted constructive advice for improvement. Once organizations lose respect within their teams, the core will begin to crumble and put it in a downward spiral.
  • Commitment – each member of the team was committed to achieving our greater purpose and ended up with seeing significant opportunities for their personal growth. The team also experienced personal joy of collaborating.
  • Team Results – by setting a collective team target, made up of a combination of the individual goals with clear responsibilities, the team worked together. Even if an individual focused solely on achieving their personal targets, they may achieve that particular goal, but wouldn’t be specifically recognized until the collective target was achieved.
  • Accountability – as we worked toward the team targets/goals, there was a level of holding each other accountable as well as ourselves individually. Based on having a core value of respect, this was managed in a professional manner, but the reality was that everyone wanted to perform to support the team.

As you build out the culture of your company and team, remember the phenomenal increase in success that the lightning bugs in the mangroves of Southeast Asia achieved by collaborating and operating in unison.  I know you will see significant results.

11 Things That Decide The Future Of Your Love Relationship

By Rachel Pace

Relationships are a key indicator of both your happiness and your success.

Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a few years or you’ve just had those first few slightly awkward but really sweet first dates and you’re hoping they’ll call again soon, there’s one question that most people ask about their relationship at some point.

Where is this going?

If you’re in the first flush of relationship fun, you’re wondering if this could turn into something long term. If you’ve been together for a few months or a couple of years, you’re wondering whether you’re going to be settling down and maybe even having a family together. And even if you’re married, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ve wondered what the future of your relationship looks like.

So, does your relationship have a bright future? Well, we don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have a handy list of things you can look at to give you a sneak peek at the future of your relationship.

Here are 11 things that decide the future of your love relationship.


  1. Whether You Share Values

Shared values are the foundation of a strong relationship. You don’t have to agree on everything – different opinions are absolutely ok! – but having core values in common   is vital for long term relationship success. If you both value the same things in life, you’re more likely to stay the course.


  1. Whether You Can Have Healthy Fights

Every couple fights sometimes. It’s just human nature. However, whether or not you can have healthy fights has a direct impact on the future of your relationship. You need to know going forward that whenever you and your boo don’t see eye to eye, you can resolve it amicably.


  1. The Way You Measure Intimacy

Intimacy is about so much more than sex, gifts, or romantic gestures. Sometimes life will throw challenges your way that put sex on the back burner or drain your bank account so gifts are out of the question. But true intimacy is measured in being there for each other and being able to trust and talk to one another. Couples who know this  could well have a bright future ahead.


  1. Being Able To Work As A Team

Being in a relationship means being part of a team. Your partner is not your opponent, and there’s no room in healthy relationships for holding grudges or scoring points off each other. Couples who tackle life as a team are setting themselves up for a happy life together.


  1. Having Good Communication Skills

Good communication is so important in relationships. Good communication means you can weather life’s storms together without getting caught up in misunderstandings. No matter what life throws your way or what each of you is going through, you can meet each other in a place of honesty and openness.


  1. Your Levels Of Commitment

Relationships with strong futures are ones where both parties are committed to staying the course. If one of you isn’t all in, you’ve got much less chance in the long term. After all, why stay with someone who isn’t as committed to staying with you? Make sure you’re both on the same page.


  1. Whether You Make Each Other Laugh

Life will get rough sometimes. Jobs will fall through, someone’s health might suffer, families will bring stress and heartache. It sounds gloomy but these challenges are just part of life! If you can make each other laugh no matter what is going on, your relationship will be an oasis for both of you.


  1. The Ability To Make Compromises

Compromises are just part of being in a relationship. Of course you don’t have to give up yourself and your dreams – your needs and goals matter – but when you share your life with another person, you need to compromise at times. Learn the art of compromise and your relationship will have much better odds.


  1. How Much You Trust Each Other

Trust is key to long term happiness. It’s hard to build a future with a partner that you don’t trust. If you find yourself questioning what they say or where they’ve been, it’s time for a serious talk and perhaps a look at your attitude to them.


  1. Your Attitudes

Talking of attitude, it makes a massive difference. If you both approach your relationship with an attitude of positivity, appreciation, gratefulness and commitment, it will be much easier to keep it strong in the long term.


  1. Being Friends As Well As Partners

Look for a partner who is also your friend. Someone you can share anything with, confide in, talk to and laugh with. Someone you look forward to catching up with and sharing all your news at the end of the day. Those relationships are special, and likely to last.

There are many things that can decide the future of your love relationship – and several of them are in your hands.


 Author bio:- Rachel Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.


Happiness Hack #72 – Talk About Your Feelings of Shame and Rejection



We evolved to be social.  In groups we were able to find more food and protect ourselves from threats much more successfully than we could do alone.  Survival was based on our ability to remain a part of a group. If we did not fit in or were not a contributing member and were kicked out of the group, then we literally might not survive alone.  That now plays out in our modern brains as a need to fit in and be liked. When we feel like someone might not like us or might not see us as valuable, our survival instincts kick in and we literally feel fears and emotions that are usually reserved for life-threatening situations. We are able to intellectually understand that being rejected shouldn’t be a big deal, but our subconscious is screaming at us that we are in danger of not being able to survive.  Those two competing forces cause us to have feelings and take actions that don’t always make sense to us and can often derail our calm façade.

The good news is there is a solution. By just becoming aware of what is causing this conflict, we can become better at managing it.  If we understand and admit that we are feeling rejected and fearful, we can start to deal with the real feelings we are experiencing, even if we intellectually believe it shouldn’t be that big of deal.  Recognize the panic and the shame you feel when you are left out or not appreciated. Admitting those feelings is not a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of strength and your ability to deal with the deep seeded emotions we all feel.

Be vulnerable. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings of shame and rejection.  Share and work through these feelings that are real and impactful in your life. Be your true self and admit your true feelings, and you will be happier and more successful.



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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Are You Chasing Pleasure Instead of Happiness?

The Pleasures that you seek are not happiness at it’s Peak, for it is contentment that gives true fulfillment.  – The Coach

The first concept in connecting happiness and success is understanding the difference between pleasure and happiness. Are you chasing immediate pleasures like sex, decadent foods, couch time, and video time; or are you nurturing relationships, maintaining your health through diet and exercise, finding ways to improve yourself, and being thankful for what is working in your life? The pursuit of pleasure involves feeling good in the short term, and if overdone it can create a risk of negative long-term outcomes; in contrast, the pursuit of happiness consists of intentional activities and habits that promote long-term health and well-being.

Many people mistakenly chase pleasure, believing they are chasing happiness. They often end up unhappy and confused. They become victims of the Hedonic Treadmill: they experience pleasure and then the feeling fades; so they do more to experience more pleasure, but the feeling fades again. No matter what level they take their pleasure to, it only gives them short-term joy; and they eventually end up back at the same level of happiness where they started. By distinguishing between pleasure and happiness, we can help people find something that lasts, a happiness they can call on in good times and bad. We can help them get off the Hedonic Treadmill and create habits that can productively lead to the happiness they are searching for.

Something to note: pleasure is not inherently bad. Pleasure is actually one part of happiness. The goal is not to avoid pleasure. As a matter of fact we should seek pleasure. The challenge is moderation. How much pleasure is too much and when is pleasure connecting us to happiness vs. disconnecting us from happiness? To answer these questions, we need to know the difference between pleasure and happiness.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #71 – Find Ways to Matter


We all want to matter and make a difference in the world. The best way to do that is to make an effort to help someone else.  Whether it is a working with a charity, helping a friend move, or just helping a co-worker get through a tough day, being able to make a small impact on someone’s life has a big impact on our happiness and how we feel about ourselves. Because of the chaos of life, we get caught up in our own challenges and what we need from others in order to be successful or happy. We lose track of what really gives us a deep sense of fulfillment and what really makes a difference in our lives. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, we don’t become fulfilled by focusing on and meeting our own needs. Rather than content, that leaves us empty and hollow. We evolved to be social and contributing members to our tribes, so our brains are wired to gain satisfaction when we help others improve their lives.


How can you help someone else? How can you reach out and make someone else’s day a little better? Find ways to matter and make a difference for someone else and you will be happier and more successful.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #69 Strengthen Positive Relationships with Creative Gratitude

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Two of the strongest recurring themes in happiness research are showing gratitude and positive relationships. You can engage both themes at once by improving your relationships through creative expressions of your gratitude.


5 Ideas for Creative Gratitude:


  1. Send a picture or video. With today’s smart phones, taking a quick photo or video with you showing your appreciation can be done in less than a minute. The recipient will be excited and will most likely share their joy with someone else nearby.
  2. Write a personal note on the nearest writing surface you can find. For example; a napkin in a restaurant, a whiteboard in their office, or a post-it note. They will appreciate the spontaneity and especially like the idea that you are thinking of them as you go through your busy day.
  3. Share your talents. We all have a hobby or something we are good at or known for.  Share some of your famous brownies or help them fix something around their house or office.  Use your special skills to show appreciation.
  4. Share your story. Explain to them why you appreciate them with a personal story of how their presence has impacted you. Knowing specifically how they were able to make your day a little better will create a special kind of confidence and happiness.
  5. Pay it forward. Tell them how they inspired you to share your gratitude with a 3rd Let them know that their good deeds are spreading into the world and helping others be happy.


Showing gratitude in even the smallest ways improves happiness and builds stronger relationships for everyone involved.  Find ways to creatively express your gratitude and you will have stronger relationships that help you become happier and more successful.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Lesson #45 – Offer Your Gift of Leadership to Those Who Might Get Left Behind

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.



Today has been quite a day! I woke up this morning with a horrible headache so I went back to sleep for a bit. I then got up and got some more of my project done before heading off to class. I then had SD office hours where I went over my SD Scorecard with Rachel and had a very productive conversation! I also spoke with Tina some more. She should have reached out to you tonight. She was hoping to sit in with our meeting tomorrow after PLP but I told her to email you and get your okay as well. That way, like you said, it really is her making the first step. After office hours, I went with a friend and got a massage, which was very helpful in alleviating my headache! I then came home, worked the front desk, did a little work out, showered, and am now off to bed feeling great about an all around productive day!

Can’t wait to meet with you tomorrow!



Lesson: Offer your gift of leadership to those who might get left behind.

Alexia made sure everyone was taken care of. One of the girls in her group, Tina (I changed the name to protect her privacy), was struggling with time management, participation, and concern about what happens after college. She was overwhelmed by school and all her activities. Alexia took special time to work with her on her goals, and assembled a team of mentors and friends to consult with her, and then Alexia coached her on a daily and weekly basis. She kept the team informed of Tina’s progress and made herself available until Tina was able to successfully graduate.

As a leader you won’t have time to take care of everyone and various followers will drop out of the team for their own personal reasons; but it is worthwhile to evaluate whether someone can be helped, and with a few nudges from you, get back on track. Reach out for help from others and don’t try to do it all alone. Offer to help the person in need, but don’t try to force them to do anything or even expect they will respond. Your leadership is a gift. They may or may not decide to accept your gift. They may not want to take advantage of the opportunities you provide them. But offer your gift of leadership any-way. Helping one person get back on track will make it all worthwhile.


Opportunity: Think about who needs a little nudge and a little help from you to be successful.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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