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To say that I am busy right now at work would be an understatement.  I have a list of things to do that is extremely long.  Anyone in HR with a compensation element to their practice this time of year knows exactly what I am talking about.  I have a commitment to client service which means delivering on commitments on time but being in a small firm, sometimes we are short on manpower and I need to focus and crank.

For the last couple of years I have been working from home more frequently. This actually works out OK for the most part.  I have a comfortable place to work where I can focus on analysis, reports and recommendations, and conference calls.  I save the time of driving to my office; and interesting enough it is often a shorter distance from my house to a client than from my office; giving more productive time during the day.  Modern technology itself is helpful; I can screen share and participate in video conferences whenever I need to.  The office is there when I need it and sometimes I do.  For the most part, I’m happy with my circumstances.

Things go swimmingly until they don’t.

Case in point, this past Monday.

During the day, most of the time my dog Mars is asleep on the couch beside me.  If I am careful, I can avoid being on the phone during his barking times (like when the mail arrives) so as not to startle those on the other end.  I’m mostly successful.

So imagine me coming back from a meeting; task list in hand, starting to get down to work right away, and discover Mars is agitated.  Whining.  Pacing.  Jumping on the couch and off.  Barking.  Something is clearly wrong.

Then I hear it. That clicking sound.  It’s the smoke detector, telling me that the battery is dying.  Every two minutes, a click.  I try to pet him and tell him it will be alright.  I text my husband to tell him he needs to buy a battery on his way home.  I look to see if I can get up there on my own to take it down and can’t unscrew it.  I sit back down and the next thing I know Mars is in my lap.  Cue the video.

Human resources professionals have all sorts of interruptions.  What are yours?

The Optimist

I know where I was the first time I heard about the Optimist Club. I was in an assembly in the gymnasium at Clarence Olsen Junior High School in Woodstock, IL and some local members had come to speak to us about optimism.

I thought they were ridiculous.  The subject was too light for a bunch of kids in puberty. Too smiley.  Too positive. In my 12 year old ways, too much optimism was, in a word, stupid. I’m pretty sure I made fun of them.

But they did leave me with a gift, and that was to consider optimism in life. And in times of darkness, I have.

The Optmists have a Creed.    When I started writing this blog post, I decided to look it up.  It is the following:

Cool, eh?


Mind Mapping Optimism

Lately, I’ve been using mind mapping more often in meetings to be sure that the flow of ideas that are coming get captured in a more organic way.  With that in mind, I decided to take the idea of optimism and map it out to see where it goes and it turned out to look like this:

What do you see?

  • There is obviously a wheel, suggesting that optimism is a process.
  • There are also two sides, showing that there are at least two facets to optimism.
  • There are also many paths to optimism, showing activities, or the lack thereof. There is a suggestion that optimism takes practice.
  • Sleep is a consideration.

From a workplace perspective, there’s also benefit to optimism, from both the improved state of mind of the HR professional and the workforces impacted by HR.

Since I write to HR, for HR, I want you to think about that for a moment—being selfish for you for the benefit of others. Infectiousness.

Let me leave this right here.  What goes around, comes around.  If you want a more optimistic workforce, you have a responsibility to be more optimistic yourself. While it is still resolution season, give yourself this gift this year.

Looking for Inspiration?

For about two years, I’ve been a member of a LinkedIn group called HRPositive!  The members are a bit like an optimist club for HR.  In their words, “This is a place to feel good about your profession and the people in it!”  You can find the group at:


On the Bright Side

It is lousy out there today.  Bitter. Cold.  It is the kind of cold that beckons me inside, to lie under a heavy blanket near a warm fire, and do a whole lot of nothing. I’m really bad about wussing out when it is cold, needing inspiration sometimes to snap out of it.

I’ve always thought it is interesting that when it is this cold outside, typically it is bright and sunny. It is a reminder that there is a bright side to everything.

Bright sides aren’t always easy to see in the face of bitter cold. After all, at this point in winter, it can be a very dark place for those in the HR Profession.

Our people are facing their credit card bills.

With daylight at a premium, it is insomnia season.  Sleepy people can be very grumpy. We bear the brunt of this.

Their kids are cooped up and fighting, or worse, sick.  And they are going to bring it to work. Ugh.

It is T4 season, RRSP selection season, benefits renewal season, performance review season, and all the paperwork that drives us nuts season. By the way, isn’t it also the “aren’t we supposed to be getting rid of paperwork” season?

Photo Credit: Tony Brown, Flickr

But then there’s the bright side.

It is a new year.  After last year, there’s truly optimism in the air.

The days are getting longer every day.

Some people got some sleep over the holidays and came back fresher.  They even say hello more often, or at least their e-mails start with the words “Hello” or “Hi”.  That’s something.

Even better, some people have worthwhile and inspiring resolutions.  They’re infectious. I love reading these resolutions.  The ones for 2017 seem to be less diet focused and more activity/balanced focused.

There is time to achieve new goals.

There is a new budget.

Family Day is just 6 weeks away.

There are a lot of good indoor activities that need doing.  You know, changing the furnace filter and such.  Maybe even re-organizing a closet or two.

If you’re looking for a few ideas to look on the bright side, look here:

Me personally?  I’m putting everything on that groundhog.