Women’s History Month and the Need for More Male Allies

I am pleased to share my latest post to the SHRM blog.

This month, we focus on the contributions women have made, including in medicine, law, business, and literature.

But we must do more than recognize these contributions. We must acknowledge that, at least in the business world, the talent women offer is grossly under-utilized and painfully undervalued.

Late last year, a study on gender and leadership conducted jointly by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. was published. According to the study, women account for only 19% of the C-suite executives (based on responses from 132 companies).

The numbers are even more distressing if one focuses narrowly on Fortune 500 companies. The percentage of female CEOs dropped in 2016 to only 4-percent. Yes, 4% (even though women are approximately 50% of workforce).

Needless to say, women are grossly underrepresented at the top. And, that hurts women more directly but men too, because companies indisputably do better when there is gender (and other) diversity at the top.

On the same day as the study was released, the Wall Street Journal published an article written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg “Women Are Leaning In—but They Face Pushback.”As almost everyone knows, Sandberg wrote (3 years ago) the ground-breaking book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

When Sandberg wrote Lean In, she acknowledged the obstacles women who want to lead face. She chose to focus more heavily on how women can navigate these obstacles.

In her WSJ article, Sandberg focuses on the wall women hit when they lean in (a meme for “go for it if you want it.”) Citing the McKinsey/LeanIn study, Sandberg states: “women who negotiate are 67% more likely than women who don’t [negotiate] to receive feedback that their personal style is “intimidating,” “too aggressive,” or “bossy,” and they are more likely to receive that kind of feedback than men who negotiate.”

This is consistent with what Sandberg wrote in Lean In:

  • “She is very ambitious is not a compliment in our culture.”
  • “Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty.”
  • “When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women.  When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.”
  • “But since women are expected to be concerned with others, when they advocate for themselves or point to their own value, both men and women react unfavorably.”

Sandberg’s article is a clarion call for companies to do more. In this blog, I want to narrow the focus: men must do more. And, women’s history month is a great time for men to kick into action.

Too often the burden of eradicating gender bias is left to women. This is wrong in so many ways.

Women and men alike are hurt by gender bias. Why should women alone tackle the problem?

Mentoring and sponsoring is essential, yet, in many organizations, the responsibility as it relates to women is placed almost solely on women. This investment in others diverts women in or near leadership from their own goals. Why should women bear this responsibility alone?

Also, men have a perspective that is needed to tackle the problem. Gender diversity is a “plus” and that includes in tackling gender bias.

We need more male allies. Of course, that means at looking at systemic issues. For example, men need to acknowledge the gender pay gap and work to close it. Denying the gap is as credible as denying labor pains.

But, guys, you can’t do that in one day. But there are a lot of things you can do every day “in the moment.” Here are but a few examples:

  • Continue to call out successes by men who work for and/or with you.  But make sure you do the same for women and with the same enthusiasm.  If you are aware that unconsciously this may not be your proclivity, you can consciously overcome the bias.
  • If you begin to think that a woman is too assertive, pushy, bossy (get the picture?), focus on what she is doing and then ask yourself:  how would I react if Jim rather than Jane were engaging in this behavior?  Again, with conscious awareness of the potential unconscious double standard, you can overcome it.
  • Use your voice to speak loud and often about the business benefits of gender diversity.  Yes, it is a moral issue, but money talks so talk money.
  • Speak up when you hear assertive women called “bitch” or worse.  To ignore is to condone.  There is no such thing as a passive bystander if you are a leader.
  • Engage in cross-gender sponsorship and mentorship.  Where men hold disproportionate power, this is necessary for women with potential to have access to power. Plus, you will learn as much as you impart. Don’t wait for a formal program. Time is of the essence.

Women’s history month is about men, too. It is an opportunity for men to commit to do more to increase equality, and with that, the profitability of their organizations.

Pal, will you make this commitment?

This blog is not legal advice, should not be construed as applying to specific factual situations or as establishing an attorney-client relationship.

The Oscars Tragedy and You

I am pleased to share my latest post to the SHRM blog.

I watched in anticipation Sunday night as the of the best movie of the year was about to be revealed. l was pulling for Fences or Lion so I knew they would not win.

And, then Bonnie and Clyde, also known as Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, announced the movie of the year. Beatty looked confused, knowing something was wrong. He showed the card to Dunaway, who blurted out La La Land.

The winning team went on stage and happily accepted the award. But there was background noise. And, soon, the reason became clear.

Not all was la la in La La Land. A mistake had been made. The real winner was announced: Moonlight.

Now, we are not dealing with an amateur production. We are dealing with the Academy Awards. And, a big mistake was made on the biggest award on the biggest night in Hollywood.

What happened:

1. The Academy immediately corrected the mistake.
2. The La La Land team graciously announced the Moonlight winners.
3. The Moonlight winners graciously talked about sharing the stage with the La La Team

Our work lives are not choreographed like the Academy awards. We must respond “in the moment” without cue cards or rehearsals.

And, yes, we make mistakes, too. Most importantly, that includes those who work with us but, in their eyes, for us.

Some delighted in the Academy’s mistake. I delighted in the honesty and grace by which it was handled.

You might want to think about that the next time an employee makes a good faith mistake. Their mistake is a test of your grace.

Getting To NO in the New Year and Shark Tank!

I am pleased to share my latest article posted to TalentCulture.

We all know we need to say NO at times. Otherwise, every YES that should be a NO risks resulting in a NO that should be a YES down the road. But saying NO can be incredibly hard.

Saying yes all of the time, is not simply people pleasing, although that is a piece of it. It is also the fear of a lost opportunity, and all that could flow from it.

So before discussing some suggestions on how to say NO, let me tell you the 3 biggest mistakes I see:

1. Non-Responsiveness

Of course, you cannot respond to every e-mail or phone call with someone trolling for business. But what if you have a business relationship with someone and that includes an internal colleague.

Not responding, repeatedly, may feel like existential bullying. “You don’t even recognize that I exist.”

It may be even worse if there is selective non-responsiveness. It may be seen as cowardice or arrogance. I am uncomfortable responding so I won’t, or I will respond when I want.

Too busy to respond? Perhaps you need to think a little more about relationships and not just tasks.

2. Short Response: NO

Many of us have heard the expression, NO is a complete sentence. But whether it is an effective sentence is a different story.

Do you have to tell someone why? No.

Do you want to build or maintain a relationship? Then the “why” is important.

3. Too Much Detail

As bad as just saying NO is to explain all the reasons why is also bad.

I can’t because (followed by every possible reason).

Three problems with this:

First, it takes too long to read or listen.

Second, it may come off as whiny.

Third, it may invite negotiations. “Isn’t what I have asked you to do more important than….?”

So how do you say NO?

I was thinking about this as I watched Shark Tank. Pay attention to how you feel when each shark says NO.

Mr. Wonderful can be anything but. At times, his NOs are just plain mean.

Sometimes he attacks the idea. Other times, he attacks the person.

No negative consequences for him because the objects of his attacks leave the shark tank and connect no more.

But what if you want or need to work with someone after the NO? More lessons from Shark Tank follow.

While the other sharks are good at saying NO, particularly Robert Herjavec, none is as good as Lori Grenier, in my opinion. So, after many episodes, I have broken down what I call the Grenier approach to saying NO.

1. Acknowledges the Value/Need

Lori always, or almost always, says something positive about the proposal initially.

Let’s go outside the tank. Try this: Appreciate what you are doing and/or asking.

A few kind words never hurt. Kindness is under-valued.

2. Explains why it does not work for her

Lori does not attack the person or the product.

She explains why it won’t work for her.

Outside the shark tank, consider:

– I appreciate your need but we don’t have the money in the budget.
– I like your idea but I don’t have the time with other commitments.

3. Wishes the person luck

After saying she is out, Lori invariably wishes the person luck. Yes, you can be tough and kind!

Sometimes wishing the person luck works outside the shark tank, too. “I cannot participate but wish you luck with X.”

Sometimes you will need to go further if it is an internal colleague: “I cannot do this now but I would love to help when I can.”

Making NO Comfortable for You to Say

You need to say NO. But you need to do so in a way that does not antagonize or worse.

You want to say NO that conveys respect. Watch Lori Grenier on Shark Tank to hone your skills.

I appreciate your reading this short blog.

I have other commitments so I must stop.

But I wish you luck in saying NO to tasks in way that says YES to the relationship.

Love, Lust and Valentine’s Day

I am pleased to share my latest post to the SHRM blog.

There were times when I cautioned HR to keep a firewall between Valentine’s Day and the workplace. The reason for the caution is the initial purpose of Valentine’s Day.

We all know that the initial purpose of Valentine’s Day was for individuals to express their love to those whom they love in a non-platonic way. I was tempted to say romantic, but I once had a manager deny there was any romantic relationship because “it was only sex.”

Over time, however, the meaning of Valentine’s Day has changed. Just look at cards to parents, grandparents, kids, etc. There is no sexual message.

Many employees acknowledge the day too by simply saying “have a nice Valentine’s Day.” I don’t think they mean: “I want you here and now.”

And, some managers will bring in Valentine’s candy or other treats. I don’t think they have any predatory motive.

So, I am not sure it is reasonable to say Valentine’s Day has no place in the workplace. Does that not make an employer seem excessively restrictive? And that may have an unintended effect of undermining critical restrictions.

But here are 8 guard rails to consider as we approach Valentine’s Day:

  1. Okay to say Happy Valentine’s Day. I would avoid happy V.D.
  2. Better to say Happy Valentine’s Day to a group than an individual. You don’t want anyone to feel singled out.
  3. Be thoughtful not only on what you say but also how you say it. An accompanying wink can make earnings disappear in a blink.
  4. Managers should be more careful if, when and how. Perhaps respond only but don’t initiate.
  5. Managers should never send a card, e-mail or social media message to a subordinate over whom they have direct or indirect authority. Most certainly the card should not include an audio of I Honestly Love You.
  6. Never ask anyone who their Valentine is or whether they have one, unless you want to be a defendant.
  7. Any food you might bring in can be shared without fanfare. Don’t need to say anything. The food will speak for itself.
  8. Remember, not everyone has a “Valentine” in the traditional sense. While not having an intimate partner is not a “protected group,” such individuals are human beings who matter. Be thoughtful on how such individuals may feel when we share what is a common bond to most but not all.

The business world is becoming painfully competitive. Sometimes businesses get lost in defining and crowing about their cultures without genuinely caring for people who compose it.

No, HR does not need to coddle employees, but we need to help bring back some of the warmth in our workplaces that has been replaced by an increase in harassing behaviors, bullying and political infighting.

That we need to be careful on Valentine’s Day not to send intended to unintended romantic messages does not mean that our workplaces would not benefit if our words and actions manifested the love we feel in our hearts.

If you share metaphorically a little love in your heart:
And the work world will be a better place
And the work world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Protect Employees From Trump’s Immigration Executive Order

I am pleased to share my latest post to Entrepreneur.

On Friday, President Trump issued an executive order that:

  1. Suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days;
  2. Bars Syrian refugees indefinitely; and
  3. Blocks entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. The countries are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen

Four federal judges have blocked implementation of at least parts of the Executive Order. Even so, it appears the Administration will continue to enforce the Executive Order.

This is not a political but a business blog, so I will not focus on the issue of refugees, but focus solely on what the Executive Order means for employers relative to employees who have green cards or other foreign nationals who are lawfully working for them.

On Sunday, the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the Executive Order is not intended to apply to green card holders. Even so, it is not clear that this is the President’s position. Nor does it appear consistent with ongoing enforcement actions. Even if the Executive Order does not apply to green card holders, there are other foreign nationals lawfully working in the United States on temporary visas. Among the issues for employers to consider are the following three:

1. You can’t be certain employees who travel will be allowed to return.

Employers should not require (or even permit) employees with green cards or other visas from the seven designated countries to engage in business travel outside of the United States. If an employer requires or permits work-related travel outside of the United States as part of their jobs, at least two bad things may happen.

First, on a strictly business level, these employees may not be allowed to return to provide service to their employers. On a more personal level, these employees may be separated from their families and other loved ones. Caring for employees must go beyond work.

2. Educate affected employees about the risk of personal travel.

Employers cannot prohibit personal travel and you wouldn’t want to anyway. Indeed, a foreign national from one of the seven nations may have the legal right under the Family and Medical Leave Act to return to Iran to care for a parent with a serious health condition.

However, employers should consider talking about the risk of traveling outside the United States for those who hail from the seven countries covered by the Executive Order. But employers need to be careful how this is done. Even if well intended, a “rounding up” of employees from these seven countries to discuss the issue can lead only to greater anxiety and more. Plus, employees not from the seven countries may care about the issue, too.

Consider a communication to all employees. Analogy: if there is a new child care benefit, you would not announce it only to those known to have children.

3. Do you take a position?

We often have heard it said there are two topics we should try to avoid: politics and religion. Well, they are now the elephants in the corporate living room, and I am not sure employers can or should entirely avoid them.

A number of large technology employers have condemned the Executive Order. What should you do? Regardless of your politics or presidential vote, this Executive Order may negatively affect you as an employer. It already has increased anxiety among foreign nationals from the seven-targeted majority-Muslim countries.

At a very minimum, leaders are well advised to make clear that they will do what they reasonably can to protect their employees. An example of this may be, not putting employees at risk by sending them out of the country until this issue is resolved. Do not expect a quick resolution.

Some employers may want to go further and express their personal views. In doing so, employers are best to focus on the Executive Order and not the President who signed. it. Said otherwise, focus on the business issue. Some may conclude silence on the “political” issue is best. Fair enough. But sometimes the sounds of silence echo the loudest.

What Trump’s Immigration Executive Order Means for Employers

I am pleased to share my  latest article posted to Philadelphia Business Journal.

Last Friday, President Trump issued an executive order that:

  1. Suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days;
  2. Bars Syrian refugees indefinitely; and
  3. Blocks entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. The countries are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen

Four federal judges have blocked implementation of at least parts of the executive order.

Even so, it appears the Trump Administration will continue to back the order, causing questions to arise for employers and what it means for their employees who have green cards or other foreign nationals who are lawfully working for them.

Does the executive order cover individuals with green cards or other foreign nationals with the right to work in the United States?

The answer to this question is unclear. Members of the new administration have said it does not apply to those who hold green cards. But these statements are not law. Plus, even if the executive order does not apply to those with green cards, what about those who hold other visas to work in the United States? Until there is greater certainty, employers should assume the executive order may apply to all employees who are citizens of those seven-designated countries.

Should employers make clear that foreign nationals from the 7-designated countries do not have to travel?

Yes – employers should not require employees who are citizens from those seven affected countries to engage in business travel for them outside of the United States. Why not? We don’t know if they will be able to get back in! Such employees should be assured the absence of such travel will not have adverse impact on their employment status.

What if an employee who is a citizen of one of the seven impacted countries wants to engage in international business travel notwithstanding the executive order?

In these cases, employers may be tempted to say no to protect their employees from the unknown. But the courts have generally rejected “paternalism” as a defense to discrimination and this could be deemed discrimination based on national origin.

In these cases, employers should explain the personal risks the employee is voluntarily undertaking and ask him or her to acknowledge same in writing.

Can employers prohibit personal travel to their homelands by foreign nationals from the 7-designated countries?

This probably is overreaching and could be discriminatory. Is relying on an executive order the scope of which is unclear a valid defense to a national origin discrimination claim? I don’t know the answer and would not want any client to be the test case.

However, employers can and should communicate the risks of personal travel for some. At the same time, we don’t want employees from these countries to feel targeted. The reality is that many already do. So make sure the communication goes to all employees; also, employees not directly affected by the executive order care about their colleagues, too.

What will happen next?

I have no idea. I do know the situation if fluid, and that employers need to communicate with their employees. The level of fear and anxiety that can be found on social media does not remain there. It is in your workplaces, too

This is not legal advice pertaining to specific factual situations.

Mary Tyler Moore and Single Women

I am pleased to share my post to the SHRM blog regarding the legacy of Mary Tyler Moore.

A lot has been written about the passing of Mary Tyler Moore. Perhaps we did not know at the time how ground breaking the Mary Tyler Moore show was. In retrospect, it is clear to us.

There are so many episodes that dealt with gender equality, including when Mary was paid less because she was a woman and denied opportunities because she was not a man. With a wonderful combination of strength and humor, she leaned in….and prevailed.

But there was something else about Mary Richards that is getting less attention: the fact that she was single. No, it was not because of a death or divorce but rather a choice.

I have spoken with many single women about workplace issues. A blog on this issue was slated for later this year but the timing unfortunately feels right now.

Single woman have shared with me:

1. They have been asked why they never married. Are married women (or men) asked why they choose to marry? The often unspoken assumption: it was a result, not a choice.

2. They sometimes feel excluded from discussion on managing work and life. While many single people have children, many others don’t. Our respect for life outside of work cannot be restricted to those of either gender who are married with children.

3. They at times feel marginalized when invitations to employer events include spouses, partners or significant others. I know some men who feel the same way. Why not just “adult guest?”

Yes, some state laws prohibit discrimination based on marital status. And, I don’t believe many women (or men) are denied jobs or opportunities because of their single status.

In fact, sometimes they may be given extra work, particularly if they don’t have children. The conscious thought process or implicit assumption: they don’t need to go home.

The dialogue about intimate relations has become refreshingly more inclusive. Yet, we sometimes fails to recognize those who are not in them.

Do single men face the same issues? I am not sure.

I think single men are often seen as having made that choice. Well, this is a choice more and more women are making, too.

So when we remember Mary Richards, we can remember her “spunk.” Lou Grant, I love spunk!

And, we should remember what a pioneer she was for women generally. But I suspect she holds a special place for single women everywhere.

In our workplaces, let’s continue to challenge ourselves to be more inclusive. It’s the least we owe Mary!

IT and HR Must Work Together to Improve Security

I am pleased to share my latest article for SHRM regarding the role of HR in cyber security.

Cyber security is a significant concern for businesses, and it is only going to get bigger.

In 2016, many companies of all sizes were affected by cyber attacks from outsiders.

But some cyber security breaches are inside jobs. Sometimes they are deliberate. Other times, the breach is due to human error. Either way, these attacks can have disastrous effects.

The National Cyber Security Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, reports that a data breach can shutter a small business. And a survey by Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, 2016 Corporate IT Security Risks, stated that the average amount of damage caused by one attack may cost small and medium businesses up to $99,000.

The practice of cybersecurity carries with it legal and reputational implications. So the question becomes: Who owns these responsibilities?

However, I bristle at the notion that a single function “owns” an issue because then employees in other functions may believe by negative implication that they do not need to do anything. In this case, while IT plays a central role, ownership of cybersecurity must go beyond IT and include HR, among other departments.

Let’s divide HR’s role into five categories.

HR as the Problem 

Sometimes in HR we feel like we are the policy or procedure police. Well, sometimes we are the culprit, too. As you well know, HR has access to highly sensitive information, including employees’ Social Security numbers and some medical information. HR needs to evaluate whether the background check procedure for those seeking positions in the HR department is robust enough. In some organizations, criminal record and credit checks are done for some employees in finance and IT but not for employees in HR. HR needs to consider this gap.

HR Policies

HR may want to consider including in the employee handbook or other policies a summary, developed with IT, of do’s and don’ts relative to cyber security. This is not in lieu of but in addition to mandatory employee training.
Here is but one example: Employees must report immediately the loss of any device, including a mobile phone, that contains their employer’s confidential information. Immediate reporting and rapid wiping can mitigate the risk materially.

HR and Employee Training

As noted, employee training is essential. IT can develop the training program, but HR plays a key role, too. For example, HR can listen to the proposed program and make sure it works for the intended audience. Simply telling employees not to fall for phishing schemes is meaningless unless you define phishing and give concrete examples.

HR and a Rapid Response Plan 

In the event there is evidence that someone is appropriating confidential information, HR needs to be prepared to work with IT in questioning the employee and taking corrective action as appropriate. These are not IT investigations alone. IT should not be expected to have the expertise necessary to handle employee rights issues in the context of these investigations.

HR and a Business Continuity Plan 

If there is a cyber attack or an internal breach, whether deliberate or as the result of carelessness, the company is going to need to move quickly in response. How will the organization work if its systems are shut down? When must employees be paid if they cannot work? Legally, what notification requirements exist if certain employee information (or that of patients or customers) has been exposed? As with any other crisis, whether it be a weather disaster, an incident of violence or a pandemic, the role of HR in the business continuity plan cannot be underestimated.

The Problem With Saying Women Are Better At…

I am pleased to share my latest post to Philadelphia Business Journal.

A recent study at Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health concluded that hospitalized patients treated by female physicians show lower mortality and readmission rates.

This study is getting a lot of media attention, and in many cases, the conclusions drawn go beyond the findings of the study.

Take, for example, the NPR headline: “Patients treated by Female Doctors Fare Better Than Those Treated By Men.” NPR is but one example. Here’s one more.

On a national TV program, the question was asked: who makes better doctors, women or men? Citing the report, the on-air talent said “women.”

But it is not just about doctors. The internet is replete with articles that report on studies that ask if or conclude that women are better leaders than men.

I understand why the Harvard study is vitally important. Women still face very real bias in medicine (actually, everywhere), and we need to increase our focus on the contributions of women that are often under-appreciated and profoundly unrecognized to combat that bias (including pay to which I will return).

But would we ever ask: who makes better doctors, white people or people of color? Hispanics or African Americans?

Of course not! But why is it okay with gender? Well, it’s not.

It’s no more okay than the surveys that ask would you rather work for a male or female boss? In some cases, the majority answer “men.”

Would we ever ask if you want to work for a person who is white or a person of color? The question indulges in bigotry and so does the question on gender. If someone want to choose the gender of their boss, let them start their own business and work for themselves.

We need to sell the benefits that go with diversity to increase support for smashing conscious bias and bringing to conscious awareness implicit bias. Stated otherwise, if we want to cream the crop, and who doesn’t, we need to harness the talent women bring to the table and not nearly enough is done to do just that.

But we need to be careful not to stereotype in our efforts to eradicate bias and increase inclusion. There is no such thing as “benign” stereotyping and here’s why.

First, the stereotyping creates higher expectations for its intended beneficiaries. It is not enough for women to be competent doctors, leaders, etc. No, they must reach our inflated expectations.

Let me give you an example. Let’s assume that the average male is a “5” on a scale of “1” to “9” in terms of core competencies. If we assume women are stronger, we may expect a “7.”

Now, we interview a woman who is a “6” and a man who is a “5.” She is the stronger candidate but he may appear better because he meets our expectations and she does not meet our inflated expectations.

Second, the stereotyping may result in discrimination against men of talent. This is both a talent and a legal issue. Under the law, gender bias knows no gender.

Finally, by focusing on gender, we don’t get at the root cause of what makes someone more effective. Our focus should be on competencies.

For example, in both leadership and medicine, strong communication skills are critical. That explains, in part, the results of the Harvard study.

So our focus should be on the communication and other skills that have resulted in women outperforming men. And, then we should make sure that, when we, hire, evaluate, promote and pay, we consider those key skills.

When we focus on competencies, as we should, it very well may mean that more women than men will thrive but we are recognizing a core skill and not unwittingly engaging in gender bias. In medicine, the failure to understand the difference literally can have life and death consequences.

Lost in the headlines beyond which many do not go is another key finding. The story within the story is that, while the women performed better than men in this study, they still made materially less money.

The gender pay gap is alive and well in medicine and virtually every aspect of corporate America. Of course, there are legal reasons to address it.

But the business imperative is just as great. Imagine if those gifted doctors who are women leave the profession out of frustration for being paid less, even where they not just meet but exceed the performance of their male peers? That, too, is a life and death issue, literally.

Swinging for Singles

I am pleased to share my latest post to The SHRM Blog regarding goals in the new year.

As we start the New Year, many of us have made resolutions for personal growth in the professional space. After a few days off and the excitement of the promise of a new beginning, many of us set bodacious goals for ourselves. When we do so, we set ourselves up for failure.

To be clear, I am not talking about business goals. We need to stretch ourselves and often are stretched by the business needs beyond our own stretching. I am talking about how we handle ourselves in reaching those goals. That’s the kind of personal growth about which I write.

Many opportunities for growth are our strengths taken to the extreme. For example, we are driven but sometimes lack the patience with others who don’t drive at the same speed. This may leave them feeling less than so they deliver less than we expect of them.

The bodacious goal is to become as copacetic as the colleague who is deeply driven but also has breathtaking patience. You may not be wired that way. I for sure am not.

The more realistic goal is to try to be more patient (not patient) and think of specific situations where it is attainable. Not sure of what they are? Ask a trusted colleague. Or, think of times when you did not get the response you had hoped for and ask: what was my role?

When I was a little guy, I loved playing baseball. I had a great eye but was not very strong. So, I swung for singles and did rather well. When I swung for the home run, I missed every time. Actually, the same is true for doubles.

In life, I try to swing for singles. And, that includes in personal growth. I think if we are realistic and gentle with ourselves, we are more lucky to be successful and gentle with others.

So happy New Year and may the year be full of singles. And, if you miss the ball, keep swinging. If you improve by “only” 30%, you are batting 300. Not bad, huh?

This blog is not legal advice, should not be construed as applying to specific factual situations or as establishing an attorney-client relationship.