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Blogscussions
Have You Ever Noticed…
yellow Labrador with his head tilted on a rocky beach
  • the better the surgeon, the messier the OR?

  • that as soon as you have a little money saved, one of your own pets gets sick or injured?

  • the smaller the dog, the bigger the attitude?

  • the nicest clients usually are unable to afford the medical care for their pets, but willingly sacrifice to provide for them?

  • the nastiest clients have the money to care for their pets, but want you to provide service for free?

  • you spend most of your day picking up after others?

  • when someone asks you to meet to discuss a problem, he usually means for you agree with him and keep your thoughts to yourself?

  • there are mornings you feel like you never left work the day before?

  • how easy it is to jinx yourself?

  • ends never meet?

  • best laid plans aren’t?

  • Murphy’s law really exists?

  • having a DVM or RVT after our name doesn’t grant intelligence, emotional maturity, power or authority? We still have to earn those!

  • even knowing it is almost time to end a four-legged friends suffering, it is still hard to do?

  • we can’t change people? Changing ourselves is hard enough.

  • you get “runs” on breeds, animal names or medical problems at your clinic?

  • the final word never is the final word?

  • time does heal all emotional wounds if you let it?

  • worrying is just a waste of energy?

  • when all is said and done, things work out?

  • that we work in the best profession in the world!


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments




Standard of Living
yellow Labrador 'Zoey' on snowy mountain

No one is perfect. Each of us would benefit from raising our standard of living. I am not referring to income or material things. I am referring to how we live our lives – change from the inside out.

Raise your bar. Character, integrity, emotional intelligence, empathy, respect, compassion, communication, humility, attentiveness, listening…pick a spot and start working.

Increase your standard of living. And then, watch how others react. You just might be surprised by how much influence your standard of living has on those around you.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments




We Don’t Let People Change
chocolate Labrador 'Maggie' and her cat buddy

We all have the capacity to change and become the person we want to be. Improving our self is a worthy goal and certainly required if we are to pursue the life we have always wanted.

As challenging as personal growth can be, the people in our lives can represent an unexpected hurdle. Our family, friends and co-workers complicate our ability to change. They see us so clearly as we were, they can’t see us as we could be. They will not let us change. They subconsciously label us based on our past results and are unable or unwilling to see our effort to grow. Their preconceived idea of who and what we were is so ingrained that it represents another challenge as we strive for personal growth.

This can be frustrating and we may begin to feel “I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t” as we work on ourselves. Our efforts and results aren’t recognized or acknowledged. And, quite often our efforts are sabotaged.

If we are known for being insensitive or argumentative and we are deliberately cooperative and empathetic 100 days in a row, but blow it on the 101st day, guess what is acknowledged? That we are insensitive and argumentative.

If we are known for laziness, but are industrious for several months in a row and choose to take a break one afternoon, we are perceived as “always” lazy. There are many examples we could use, but the point has been made.

Wouldn’t you agree that it is tough for others to see us in a new light even when the evidence is right before their eyes? Given that most of us have experienced being labeled to one degree or another, wouldn’t it be a good idea if we made sure we aren’t doing the same thing to others?

We need to give ourselves permission to grow and change as well as do the same for others.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Open Mouth; Insert Foot
black Labrador head shot

There doesn’t seem to be a way to get through life without saying some pretty stupid things. This is part of being human. Open mouth; insert foot. Frequently, we don’t even realize we are doing it at the time.

Remember, you are human. You are going to slip sometimes and say something insensitive, uncalled for, rude, arrogant, self-righteous, ignorant or mean. You are going to criticize, condemn or judge. It is inevitable.

Others will do the same to you. We all screw up now and then. It is to your benefit to learn to be accepting of this flaw in others as you hope they will be with you. A little tolerance goes a long way toward maintaining healthy relationships and decreasing stress.

Lighten up! You don’t have to become defensive every time someone says something stupid. Be gracious. Over time, others will learn to do the same when you say something unkind or insensitive.

Learn to let the occasional unkind word slide by. And, learn to think before you speak!

Hold the bar high for yourself and soon others will follow your lead.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments




black Labrador 'Sierra' aerial jump
Impossible?

"Impossible?" Who says?!

"It can't be done?" Really?

"Be realistic." Whose reality?

"I just don't want you to get hurt when you try." Seriously, that is your biggest concern?

I say hooray to those of you doing the impossible and shaping reality your way!!

Living a life of mediocrity or living intentionally for excellence: your choice!


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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black Labrador, Cooper
Responsibility

We can resent, complain, condemn, bellyache, bitch, obstruct, sound off, opine, castigate, excoriate, chastise, decry, whine, yammer, scream and yell all we want.

However, until we are willing to take responsibility for creating the change we want, we are just blowing hot air.

Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Weatherproofing
Sonny and Benji, a black & a yellow Labrador

Winter is just around the corner. Time to prepare for the wet and cold. Find all the cracks and chinks in the house. Caulk around the windows. Patch the roof. Inspect the chimney. Store the summer toys. Inspect for anything and everything that needs to be repaired or fixed before the winter weather arrives.

Weatherproofing your home is a great way to assure you are ready for the winter, but some people try to “weatherproof” the people in their lives. Dr. Richard Carlson points out that weatherproofing people isn’t such a good idea. Think about it. Looking for all the flaws and chinks in another person is a negative pastime leaving both you and the other person stressed.

Remember when you were first getting to know your spouse? Remember the excitement, mystery and romance. Have you ever thought “where did the guy I married go?”

  • The half empty carton of milk…toothpaste left in the sink…the snoring! Forgetting your anniversary…chewing with her mouth open…using the wrong fork for the salad. Oy vey!
  • “I remember her being much more fun.”
  • “He leaves his dirty clothes on the floor.”
  • “She spends more time on work than with me.”
  • “As soon as we got married, he changed.”

Actually, your spouse probably didn’t change. You began weatherproofing - looking for all the flaws and things needing to be fixed.

How about your close friends?

  • She is always late.
  • He never helps pick up the check.
  • Never returns your books.
  • She lets everyone walk all over her.
  • He can’t keep his word.
  • She is all talk and no action.
  • He is bossy.
  • She dresses like a slob.

If they would just listen to your advice, they would be so much better off.

Really?

For some reason, there comes a point where we begin to weatherproof the people in our lives. We start to focus on the things that bug us or we consider flaws. Eventually, this is all we notice. Worse, we start trying to change the other person.

Stop.

Weatherproofing only makes you miserable and can lead to the demise of your relationships. If you spent as much time recognizing the traits and contributions you like, respect and adore, the other stuff would fade into the background. I am not suggesting you ignore major character flaws in the people you love, however beware of weatherproofing!

If you catch yourself weatherproofing someone, try this little trick. For every negative, identify 5 positives about the person. My nephew keeps his room a mess, but he gives awesome extra-long hugs; drops everything he is doing to help his mom; tells his friends, both male and female, that he loves them AND hugs them “hello” and “goodbye”, writes poems for his girlfriend; and includes a visit to his grandparents as part of his regular schedule. With all that going for him, why complain about a messy room?

Shut the door. Be a “good finder”. Seriously, learn to identify and appreciate each person for who and what they are, flaws and all.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments




Your Greatest Challenge
Mickey, a yellow Labrador and Skye, a poodle cross

Every day your greatest challenge isn’t the animals you care for but the people you encounter.

  • Doctors
  • Coworkers
  • Administrators
  • Managers
  • Clients
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Yourself

We deliberately work at expanding our technical skills and the knowledge associated with our professions. How many of us work as deliberately at expanding our ability to work with people? Not many do in my little corner of the world. I don’t think this is unique. Unfortunately, it probably is the norm.

Those who are able to work with and relate to people effectively are rare and prized. Are you one of them? If not, what are you doing to make your work relationships more effective?


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments




You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
 Golden/Labrador Retriever cross puppies

You don’t know what you don’t know because, if you did you would have what you don’t have. What you do know you are forgetting all of the time, so you know less of it every day.

If you want to have what you don’t have, you must learn what you don’t know and keep relearning what you do know. You know?

Read. Learn. Grow.

Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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It Is Not All About You
black Labrador puppy holding a shoe

Really, it isn’t…

Your client isn’t deliberately late just so she can mess up your afternoon.

Your coworker didn’t leave a mess on the counter because he thinks you are his personal servant.

The veterinarian didn’t ignore your suggestion because she thinks you are stupid.

Your spouse didn’t forget your anniversary because he/she doesn’t care.

Your child didn’t wake you in the middle of the night just to rob you of what little sleep you do get.

The dog didn’t choose your shoe to destroy because it was yours.

It isn’t all about you. It is all about them.

Look beyond the behavior of others.

Once you recognize the real reasons people do what they do, you will stress yourself less. A lot less!


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments




Clients
woman holding a 23lb Labrador puppy

Clients are the reason your clinic exists. Not the pets.

Seriously, pets don’t pay the bills or bring themselves in for an appointment. Pets don’t make the decisions. They don’t take your advice. They can’t be relied upon to follow through on the treatment plan. Pets don’t encourage their friends to choose you as their health care provider. Pets aren’t loyal to you and your team. Pets don’t pay your salary.

Clients are the reason your clinic exists and they don’t care about your rules or limitations. Clients want what they want and your policies, rules, hours of operation, prices, etc aren’t important to them. Clients either accept them or not, but the details aren’t important to them. Clients don’t really care how busy you are or that you have worked 80 hours this week. They don’t care that you haven’t had lunch yet and it is already 3pm.

What is important to them is how you make them feel. Since clients are the reason your clinic exists and clients only care about how you make them feel, then how they feel is important to you. This doesn’t mean you don’t have rules and policies. It doesn’t mean you cater to a client’s every whim.

However, it does mean you need to work on building relationships with your clients such that they willingly accept your rules and policies. Build strong relationships such that clients trust you and comply with the treatment plan. Build strong relationships such that clients actually care about your team and cut you some slack when you are exhausted after working three 14-hour shifts in a row.

Loyal, trusting clients are your single greatest assets. Plus, they just might become some of your greatest friends.

Never forget the reason your clinic exists.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments




Big Change Can Start Small
Clementine, a 5 week old chocolate Labrador puppy

Big change doesn’t require something catastrophic or dramatic to happen first. Most big change starts small.

Big change can start with something as simple as a change in attitude. Or, inspiration from a good book.

Big change can happen when you reach critical mass after years of putting up with something you find mildly irritating or unacceptable.

Big change can start with a little idea that is nurtured and grows over time.

Big change can start with a spontaneous idea that feels right.

Big change can start with the weather. A little too much rain and the clinic backyard becomes a mud pit. You get tired of walking the patients in the mud so suggest that a lawn be planted. The team gets excited about a lawn and start brainstorming ideas. Next thing you know, the backyard has a concrete patio, landscaped lawn and garden, two secure kennels, a laundry shed, and BBQ. I have seen it happen. Big change can start with the weather.

Become an expert on small changes so that you become the inspiration behind big ones.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments




Favorite Animal Quotes
yellow Labrador puppy holding a flower

Time for a something lighthearted! These are some of my favorite quotes about animals – some are serious and some are just downright funny.

“Ever consider what pets must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul - chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!”
Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist

“You think those dogs will not be in heaven! I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

“Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
George Eliot

“You enter into a certain amount of madness when you marry a person with pets.”
Nora Ephron

“Lots of people talk to animals… Not very many listen, though... That's the problem.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”
Woodrow Wilson

“Man is rated the highest animal, at least among all animals who returned the questionnaire.”
Robert Brault

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”
Anatole France

“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.”
Colette

“I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the ‘lower animals’ (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me.”
Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth, 1907

“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
Winston Churchill

“If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.”
Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe, letter to President Franklin Pierce

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Human beings are the only animals of which I am thoroughly and cravenly afraid."
George Bernard Shaw

“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.”
Alfred A. Montapert

“Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn't hiss or boo me.”
James Dean

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”
Charles M. Schulz

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”
Mark Twain

“People speak sometimes about the ‘bestial’ cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“The dog has got more fun out of Man than Man has got out of the dog, for the clearly demonstrable reason that Man is the more laughable of the two animals.”
James Thurber


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT


Vacation
yellow Labrador 'Sedona' looking at the sunset

Wouldn’t you agree that you work hard?

Wouldn’t you agree that you deserve a vacation?

So, what are you waiting for? Take time off!

What is that, you say? You don’t have the time to take a vacation because you are so busy working? If you take time off, you will come back to a ton of work waiting for you? You can’t afford to take a vacation?

You deserve a vacation. You NEED a vacation to restore yourself. But, you aren’t going to take a vacation. OK, now I am confused!

Everyone has an optimum amount of time they can effectively work. Once you become over-worked, your work begins to suffer. Plus your health and relationships will probably deteriorate. Looks to me like you can’t afford not to take a break.

Early in my career as a veterinary technician and supervisor, I discovered I could push my physical and mental limits far and I routinely did. Over time though, coming into work early, staying late and taking work home with me began to have a seriously negative impact on my life. I was tired all of the time. I wasn’t having as much fun at work. I couldn’t remember the simplest things. My temper certainly wasn’t anything to brag about. My husband learned to avoid me the first hour or two after I came home each evening. I never had enough time to spend doing the leisure activities I use to enjoy. I was quickly becoming a stick in the mud! And, I was only 24 years old. What would I be like by the time I was 50? Yikes!

Something had to change and change quickly before my current “life style” became permanent. The first step was to take some serious time off. I planned and organized at work so that I could be gone for a full month without things falling apart. I even trained a couple of the staff to take on some of my daily tasks so they could fill in while I was gone. I had accrued enough vacation time to take a paid month off.

1st rolled around and I started my 30-day vacation. I didn’t really go anywhere. I stayed home and puttered about in the garden, took day trips antique shopping, went hiking with my husband, played with my dog and read lots of great books. This was before cell phones and Facebook so there wasn’t anything to disconnect from. I took 30 days to rest and restore my brain and spirit.

Throughout the first week, I was feeling rather antsy and tempted to call work to see if everything was ok. I resisted!

By the end of the second week, the reflex to jump when the phone rang had disappeared. I was still waking up at my customary 5am, but staying up later because I was fully rested.

By the end of the third week I had gone a full two weeks without even thinking about work. I had read four books that inspired and uplifted me. I had spent many hours reconnecting with my husband and listening to him talk about things important to him.

By the end of the fourth week, I was looking forward to returning to work, but without any anxiety or pressure. I was refreshed and rejuvenated. I was ready to take on the world, but with a new commitment to living a life of priorities rather than obligations.

That was 20 years ago. I still take at least one full month off plus a few weeks scattered throughout the year every year. So far so good!

Vacation isn’t a luxury. It is a necessity. In order to stay sharp, healthy and happy, you must take time out to rest and relax. If you don’t, you are short-changing yourself, your job and your relationships.

Everyone is different. How much time and how frequently you need to take time off, is something you will need to discover for yourself. Just be sure you do and commit to doing a better job for your employer, yourself and your relationships by taking the optimum time off every year.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments




A Veterinary Patient's Bill of Rights

To expect expert medical care designed to promote
well-being and long life.

Butch, a Black Labrador, gives his doctor a kiss

To be treated, regardless of breed or species, as deserving of compassionate, expert care.

To be gently treated as an intelligent being who is capable of experiencing pain, fear, anxiety, and stress as well as joy, pleasure, and well-being.

To be comforted when frightened, ill, or in pain.

To be taught with positive reinforcement techniques and reward-based training.

To be provided the best possible care from each member of the veterinary team.

To be housed in a comfortable, clean and safe environment.

To be respectfully and compassionately relieved of pain and suffering at the end of my life.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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It Has Been Such A Busy Day
yellow Labrador Retriever, 'Jespah' lying on pillows

It has been such a busy day. Every minute filled with something.

Time to stop.

Just stop for a minute and breath.

Let the knot in your belly loosen.

Let your shoulders droop and relax.

Feel your back become soft.

Breath.

Quiet your mind and focus on relaxing your body.

Just be quiet for a few minutes.

Everything else can wait.

Relax.

When was the last time you just sat and did nothing but relax? No book to read. No movie to watch. No one to talk to. Just sitting and relaxing. Listening to your own breathing. Staring without seeing. Calm.

Our lives are filled with busyness. Time flies and before we know it the day is done. Months have passed. Years speed by. And we are so busy that we forget to relax and restore ourselves.

Give yourself a few minutes every day to quiet your mind and body. Find yourself restored and ready to take on the rest of your day.

Practice relaxation and you will become an expert. Start with one minute at a time working up to at least ten minutes at a time several times a day. You have the time. Give yourself the time. The busier you are, the more important restoration becomes.

Treat yourself to quiet time.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Purgatory
poodle and labrador sitting together

It is so easy to judge others and even easier to condemn them. Someone doesn’t fill our preconceived ideas or expectations, so we condemn them to purgatory forever. Without a thought of looking for the value inherent in each person, we make a decision and don’t let new information change our mind.

If someone did this to us, we would consider them a judgmental, narrow-minded jerk. Double standard? You bet!

Guess what? Others probably are doing the same thing to you. They may just be following your lead.

  • Find yourself irritated with a co-worker?
  • Frustrated with a client?
  • Angry with the boss?
  • Don’t like the new Vet Tech?
  • Have a beef with the administration?

Sending them all to purgatory? Often less said is better. Keep your opinion to yourself. If you find it challenging to keep your opinion to yourself, try breathing through your nose. You can’t talk while breathing through your nose.

Better yet, change your attitude and give them a second chance.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Integrity and Character

There really is a difference between integrity and character. You can have integrity without character, but you can’t have character without integrity and courage.

I have actually seen the first five scenarios. I have seen integrity in action in each circumstance, but not character. As a person, this makes me sad. As a professional, it makes me very sad.

Labrador dog brothers

Scenario

Integrity

Character

You are in the presence of gossiping people.

You don’t join in.

You call them on it and require they stop.

You see a coworker steal a few inexpensive items from work.

You never steal.

You call the person on it and tell them to put the stuff back or you go to the boss.

A coworker tells you she was late returning from lunch because she wanted extra time, but tells the boss she had car trouble.

You never lie.

You tell the coworker she has a choice. She either tells the boss the truth or you will. Up to her.

A coworker is always disappearing when the clinic gets busy.

You are always in the middle of things helping everyone get the work done.

You track down the coworker and give them a choice. Either she routinely pitches in or you go to the boss.

A coworker throws a patient’s meds in the trash so she doesn’t have to administer them.

You follow doctor’s orders to the “T” assuring each patient receives meds in a timely fashion

You call the coworker on it and give her a choice. Either she tells the boss or you do.

When you were a kid, you saw a group of children bullying a classmate.

You didn’t join in.

You stopped the bullies or got a teacher to do so.

Integrity is not doing the wrong thing. Character is coming forward and doing the right thing. Easier said than done? Maybe, but I don’t believe so. Do the right thing and you grow stronger.

Character takes courage. Integrity? Not so much.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Choose Your Battles
2 dogs fighting over a stick

There was a time long, long ago when I was uniquely talented at staying angry for hours over minor, inconsequential events. Someone cut me off in traffic? My car develop a flat tire? Someone took too long in the grocery checkout? Aaaarrrrrrgh! I wouldn’t just get angry. I would be livid, plus I had to tell everyone about it, spreading my poison all day long.

Funny thing though. By the next morning I had forgotten all about the event – literally. So, why did I make it into such a devastating situation the day before?

Thankfully, somewhere along the line, I decided to stop reacting with so much fury. I deliberately set out to learn to let things go and do so quickly. It took serious, deliberate practice. First, I only allowed myself to be angry for 15 minutes. Then 10. Then 5. And, finally only 1 minute. Diligent practice with committed intention worked. Things that use to infuriate me don’t even raise my heart rate now. If something isn’t going to matter in 10 years, why should it upset me now?

Choose your battles carefully. If you spend too much time on battles that are truly only minor distractions, you will not have the energy to fight the really important ones.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Worry
Labrador puppy with worried face

“We allow past problems and future concerns to dominate our precious moments, so much so we end up anxious, frustrated, depressed and hopeless.”
Richard Carlson

Why do we allow ourselves to get caught up in the continuous loop of worry? It keeps us from falling asleep. It wakes us in the middle of the night. It fills our mind with dread and anxiety, while it fills our stomach with knots or butterflies. We are run around in an ever-tightening circle of worry.

“Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.”
Glenn Turner

Worry can become a neurotic habit. The mind spins out of control. It slips and slides from one frightening scenario to the next and back again. When has worry ever been productive?

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
Dalai Lama XIV

Planning for tomorrow, evaluating yesterday and assessing today aren’t forms of worry. These are activities done with constructive intent. Worrying is the continual emotional rehashing based on negative reaction and fear.

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.”
Mark Twain

When worry creeps in, gently tell yourself “enough” and instantly replace the worry with thoughts of what has gone right and what could go right. When worry slithers in again, acknowledge the fear and replace the worry once more with positive thoughts. Develop the habit of replacing worry with positive thinking and eventually, we can overcome the addiction to worry.

“If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”
Dale Carnegie


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

Comments


Increasing Your Income
yellow Labrador hunting thru thru the grass

Time to talk about increasing your income! Before we begin, don't forget this critical step to your financial success. Financial stability requires both offensive and defensive game. If you haven’t taken effective steps to decrease spending and increase savings, increasing your income will not make one bit of difference to your financial status. You will continue spending more than you bring in every month.

That being said, increasing your income is going to require time and effort on your part. Nothing ever comes easily, and money is no exception. Creating financial stability isn’t easy, but it is worth it!

It is not within the scope of this short article to present a comprehensive list of options for increasing your income. However, the few shared here are some of the more common. If nothing else, maybe one or two will spark a unique plan in your own mind. All of them require that you become financially educated in order to decrease the chance of failure. Each one has its own hazards so researching details on the option(s) you choose is critical.

When faced with the need or desire for increased income, most people immediately think one of two things; get a second job or earn an advanced degree. I am not knocking either route, but be sure to weigh the pros and cons.

A second job is going to take up more of your precious time, increase your tax bracket as an employee, and leave you stuck between two masters. OK, so I lied! I am knocking this one as a long-term plan. However, it is an excellent short-term plan if you are digging yourself out of debt. Taking a part-time second job for a year or two while you are paying down debt just might be the quickest way to decrease financial hemorrhage. Go for it if this is an effective short-term plan for you. A long-term second job would present major wear and tear on your health, relationships, and life.

If you are thinking about increasing your income by earning a higher degree, this could be a decent option. Before you commit to this, study the return on your investment.

  • How much will you need to fund your new degree both in money and time?
  • Once you have the degree, what can you expect as a realistic increase in salary the first year? The fifth year?
  • How long will it take you to pay off your new education? A great resource for current salary as well as job market information is the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I am not a big fan of pursuing an advanced degree unless it is to pursue a topic you are passionate about – with or without increased income.

Now that I have burst your bubble regarding a second job or advanced degree, let me share other options.

Presumably, you are already skilled as a veterinary technician or veterinary staff member. You are a knowledgeable member of the animal care profession. Your knowledge presents opportunities for increasing your income. Let me share a few of them.

I bet you are responsible for coaching new staff and/or educating clients as a part of your responsibilities where you work. Have you ever given any thought to lecturing or teaching as a self-employed person? There is a ready market for skilled, knowledgeable veterinary technicians locally, nationally and internationally. I know many licensed veterinary technicians who offer on-site training for veterinary staff on a large range of topics including, but not limited to management, infection control, scheduling, team work, communication, client services, emergency/critical care, radiology, laboratory set-up and surgery support. Pick your special interest and share your expertise. By the way, this is one of my sources of income plus I get paid to travel! Bonus!

Alternatively, you could develop a business offering lectures/demonstrations to pet associations (breed groups, etc), dog training associations, pet owners, etc. Or you could be an instructor with an online veterinary program. You have expertise to share. Now find who needs what you have to offer. Or identify a need and become an expert at filling the void!

If you have a talent for writing, blogging may be an option for you. Advertisers will pay to be on your site if you develop a big enough following. If you are considering this option, beware! There are many people trying to do the same thing. Study blogging from all angles carefully before you jump in with both feet!

Another option available to you due to your expertise is specialty in-home care of animals. Pet sitting for animals with health issues is very valuable to the pet owner. Most boarding facilities will not take on an animal with major medical issues. Pet owners much prefer that their beloved pets are cared for in their own home by a trusted expert.

Along the same line as in-home pet sitting is a new business just starting to spring up around the USA; in-home hospice care for terminally ill pets. This is a new market driven primarily by baby boomers who treat their pets as valued family members. Licensed veterinary technicians are in a unique position to start up self-employed businesses focused on filling this need. There are several excellent websites as well as an association for this niche.

If you want to step outside of your profession for an additional income, consider what you do at home in your spare time. Could it become an income generator? Your hobbies just might be a source of additional income if the product/service has a market.

  • Do you love to garden? What about offering gardening services to the elderly or people who don’t have time to care for their own garden?
  • Love to shop? How about offering a “gopher” service to elderly or busy clients? Do their shopping for them! I know a veterinary technician in California who does exactly this. She has regular clients for whom she does grocery, gift, clothing and supply shopping for every week. She spends about 15 hours per week running errands earning an additional $3000 per month. She has one client who is a very busy attorney. The attorney relies on her to do all her errands and has even given her a key to the house plus a credit card to use. This is truly a win / win.
  • Do you love crafts? Is there a market for what you create? Every crafter who is good at what they do dreams a making it big on eBay. Beware! Less than 1% of those selling on eBay make a profit. That being said, you just might find a unique market to fill. Remember though, if you don’t identify a need and fill it, you will just be one more person selling something nice, but not needed. Find a need and fill it is the motto for anyone developing a self-employed business!

These are just a few ideas for you to consider. Please remember that it is critical to study your options carefully. Take into consideration your temperament, lifestyle, and commitment. If you decide to start your own business, study credible resources first. I highly recommend you take advantage of all the free courses offered at sba.org before embarking on the adventure of entrepreneurship.

It is my greatest pleasure in life to mentor and coach people on money and business development. I have managed to turn this passion into a fun, wonderful business of my own. If I can ever be of any assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at moira@vettechlife.com. I will not give you a fish, but will passionately teach you how to fish for your own financial stability!


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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The Money Strategy Game
yellow Labrador crouched, waiting for a ball

We have discussed a couple of key points about money over the last few weeks. To summarize:

  • Money isn’t money - it is time. Our time!
  • Money is a lot like air. We all need some.
  • When we don’t have enough money, we think about money all the time.
  • Our money mindset will make or break us financially.
  • Change how we think about money and, eventually we can change how much we have

If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always gotten. You have to change something to have change happen. The only thing within your power to change is how you think and behave. Change those and you can change your financial picture.

To have a great game of football, the team must be great at both defense and offense. This also applies to personal financial stability/success. Improving personal financial stability requires applying both approaches – defensive and offensive game.

DEFENSE

Defensive personal finance is defined as protecting and conserving our income. This requires you watch your spending very carefully. The big, burly linebacker bowls over any potential drains to your money.

  • Do you really need the latest, greatest smart phone – isn't your old phone working fine?
  • Couldn’t you skip the expensive trip to the Caribbean this year and take a “staycation”?
  • Does Christmas really require gifts purchased on credit?
  • How about buying a less expensive home instead of the one with the big monthly mortgage?
  • Couldn’t you make a small pot of coffee at home each morning rather than spending 300% more on a cup at the local shop?
  • Really? You need that RV?
  • Seriously? You are going to adopt an additional pet even though you know this will mean more monthly expenses?

Spending money today is about making choices against tomorrow. I am not suggesting you become a miser or deny yourself completely, but I am suggesting that you spend less than you are earn. Set a financial goal and give it laser focus. Start right now because one thing you will never have enough of is time.

Making more money isn’t going to make a bit of difference if you aren’t diligently employing the defensive plays. But it takes both a great defense and a great offense to make a great game.

OFFENSE

Offensive personal finance is defined as increasing our income. Beware here! Remember, if you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always gotten. That’s why a quarterback mixes up plays on the field. Repeating the same play over and over again destroys his offensive advantage, leaving him open for an interception or sack.

How do you increase your income? There are several key books you need to read to help you understand your options for increasing your income. Don’t read just one of them as each is a small piece of the puzzle. Reading all of them will help you put all the pieces together for your own financial future. I don’t necessarily agree with every point in every book, but each will contribute to your financial education.

  • “Cashflow Quadrant” by Robert Kiyosaki
  • “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley
  • “The Business School, Second Edition” by Robert Kiyosaki
    (While Robert Kiyosaki’s other materials are helpful, hold off on those for the time being.)
  • “One Minute Entrepreneur” by Blanchard and Hutson

If your goal is financial stability, you need to play a strong defensive AND offensive game on a daily basis. Next week I will play around with ideas for your offensive game (increasing your income).


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Money is Like Air
chocolate & yellow Labrador in snow

Money isn’t the most important thing in the world, but it’s a lot like air – we need it to survive.

Well-managed money doesn’t make you happy, nor does having a lot of money. However, when we feel as if we don’t have enough, it seems to be all we think about. Remove the money challenges and we can focus on the truly important things in life.

We are conditioned to believe that we must have “stuff”. We continue to buy stuff we don’t really need with money we don’t even have yet. Debt becomes accepted as the norm. Unfortunately, when we do want something that actually contributes to our overall well-being or happiness, we can’t afford it due to all the “stuff” we have accumulated already.

Is life really all about working to pay for yesterday’s purchases? Instead, figure out what you really want, calculate the price and budget for it over time.

Next week I will share ideas with you about offensive and defensive approaches to personal finance.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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One Venti Latte…That'll Be 17 Minutes, Please.
Labrador looking out over the water

Veterinary technicians as a group are at the lower end of the pay scale in the U.S.A. All the more reason to become money wise!

Financial stability is a process. It doesn’t happen by accident. Not even when someone wins the lottery! Most lottery winners are not only broke within 5 years, but are quite often bankrupt. Why? Lottery winners do not have the experience to manage a large chunk of money so they lose it all and then some. Financial stability comes from making a commitment to learn about money and staying the course.

Your money mindset is what is holding you back from or propelling you toward financial well-being. If you aren’t moving toward financial well-being, it is time to change your mindset by accessing new information. First, let’s look at the basic steps everyone needs to take to ensure a good financial foundation and the mindset that goes with them.

Budget:

Money isn’t really money. It is time. You exchange time at your job for money. As long as you exchange time for money you are limited by the number of hours in a day/week. So, that new pair of running shoes just cost three hours of your time. The cup of fancy coffee cost 17 minutes. Lunch at your favorite fast food restaurant cost 32 minutes. Own a horse that you board at the local trainers? How many hours does this cost you? Own three dogs? How many hours of work will support these wonderful companions? Have cable? How many hours does this cost? How about that fancy new 4G phone? It cost you hours for the purchase and hours for the monthly fee.

Budget is a 6-letter dirty word! Not really. Have you ever asked yourself “where did all my money go?” A budget is one of the foundations to understanding money. If you don’t know what you have and what you buy, it is impossible to develop financial stability. What mindset creates angst when we hear the word “budget”? A budget sounds too much like having to delay gratification or go without. “If I have a budget, then there are things I can’t have because they aren’t in the budget. But, there are already things I can’t afford because I have no budget.” Hmmm, sounds like a vicious circle to me.

Sit down and create a financial picture of your current status. Identify your normal monthly expenses as well as those that occur randomly throughout the year. Write all of it down. There are tons of great books and online resources to help you create your financial picture / budget. After you have a handle on what your expenses are, you can figure out how to manage your income.

Savings:

Saving money is at an all-time low in the U.S.A. “I can’t afford to put any money away right now” is the mindset. In reality, you can’t afford not to put money away right now. And, yes, you can afford to put something away every month. I will prove it to you. Keep a running list of every penny you spend for one week. Just one week. Did you buy a soda at the gas station when you filled up the car? How much did the impulse items you purchased at the grocery store total? Did you buy lunch? How about the morning coffee run? We humans are really good at nickel and diming ourselves to destitution because we go through our day in a financial catatonic state. Saving will give you options down the road.

Still think you can’t afford to put anything away? Completely stop spending your change. Put it in a jar at the end of each day. I bet at the end of each month you have somewhere between $30 and $40. At the end of the month, deposit the total amount in a savings account. Sure, this is slow, but it is steady. Slowing building your savings using this method is “nickel and diming” yourself to good financial habits and serious savings.

We already have the spending habit. Now, deliberately develop the saving habit. It is often easiest to have money automatically taken from your paycheck and deposited in a savings account. If you can’t arrange for an automatic deduction, then saving will take a little more effort on your part. Based on the budget you committed to, put away a flat dollar amount or percent of your monthly income as soon as you receive your check. I know you have heard it before – pay yourself first!

Be absolutely diligent in developing this habit. It will reduce your stress when you realize that you have, over time, saved enough to deal with being laid off your job, the car breaking down, the emergency root canal, or any of life’s other surprises.

Next week, we will talk about where debt comes into the picture for developing a mindset for financial stability. Patience! Eventually, we will get to the part where you have enough money so that money is not always on your mind!


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Money Mindset
happy yellow Labrador head shot

Continuing our conversation about money, let us agree that veterinary technicians could be paid a more equitable wage. However, given the current economy in both Canada and the U.S., I would not count on a significant change in wages for a while.

I completely understand that this economy is hard on people and has placed undue stress on those experiencing financial hardship. Worrying about paying the bills and affording the necessities in life are very real sources of stress for millions of people in North America. However, those who keep their wits, think hard and develop the right mindset about money will be the ones who not only survive, but thrive – despite the economy.

Someone asked me recently how to change how we think about money so that we can improve our financial well-being. I hope to offer concrete tools for doing just this. But, let me start by sharing where our money mindset originated.

We have been taught our current money mindset by the example of our parents and grandparents, in our schools, through our government and by the media. Most of our sources of information are naïve, but well-meaning. The media and the government – not so much. Here are a few of our money mindsets.

  • Go to school. Get good grades. Get a good job. Be loyal to the company and the company will take care of you at retirement. (Really? How many companies have either closed their doors, frittered away their employees’ retirement funds, or routinely terminate employment before someone can access retirement funds?)
  • Invest for the long term. (Cross your fingers that your investment long term coincides with your retirement date.)
  • The government will take care of you in your old age. It will all work out somehow. (Since when?)
  • Working hard is all it takes. And, you must work hard all your life. (Sounds like company propaganda.)
  • Only the lucky get rich. (Who benefits from us believing this one?)
  • Coaching from high school counselors: Choose a career. What do you want to be when you grow up? (Rather than “what lifestyle do you want and what legacy do you want to leave”?)
  • You deserve to have a nice car, house, trips, and things right now, so just put it on a credit card. Debt is normal. Play now. Pay later. (Who benefits from this one?)
  • If you have more money, life will be easier and stress free. (Not unless you learn how to develop a different attitude about money and priorities.)

There are many more common money mindsets. It’s a good idea to figure out yours. For, you see, your money mindset is what is holding you back from or propelling you toward financial well-being. The information you have had to date is what you have built your money mindset upon. Change the information and you can change your money mindset.

Study your priorities, belief systems, goals, attitudes, and the reasons why you believe what you believe. Study how the truly wealthy think – those that have built a legacy worth duplicating in spirit and material. Remember that the wealthy aren’t lucky. They just think differently about life and finances. Food for thought!

Next time, I will go over the basic steps everyone should take on their path to personal financial well-being.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Does Practice Make Perfect?
yellow Labrador balancing on a beam

You’ve heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”? The phrase is very accurate, but in a way most of us don’t think about. If I practice dribbling a basketball 4 hours a day, I will become expert at dribbling the ball, correct? Hmmm, not necessarily. If I am using poor technique when I practice, I will become perfect at poor technique. Practice does make perfect!

We are practicing even when we don’t realize that is what we are doing. For example, every time we lose control of our anger, we are practicing losing control. Every time we give into poor eating habits, we are practicing poor eating habits. Every time we procrastinate, we are practicing procrastination. And, the list goes on!

This is why a coach, mentor or just another friendly pair of eyes is critical. We can’t see our blind spots or bad habits. Someone with credible experience can provide us with another perspective and help us achieve perfect practice.

Want to improve in something? Practice – but make sure you are practicing the right way because you will “perfect” what you practice – good or bad.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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What is it like to be a Veterinary Technician?

Rarely boring.

Intermittently heart-wrenching.

Scientifically intriguing.

Happy Labrador

Frequently fun.

Emotionally demanding.

Consistently challenging.

Sporadically frustrating.

Always heartwarming.

Periodically mundane.

Sometimes hysterically funny.

Often inspiring.

Occasionally triumphant.

Uncommonly fulfilling.

Never, ever routine.

Lifelong passion.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Money
Labrador puppy holding his bowl

A recent dialogue on our Facebook page started with a question about a fair wage for veterinary technicians. The premise was that veterinary technicians aren’t paid well enough. The ensuing dialogue was quite interesting and many good points were made.

However, there was an underlying belief that is quite common across this nation. The belief is that if we have more income we will have less financial stress. Unfortunately, studies indicate this just is not so. In fact, the more income, the more spent. Until we learn to manage the little money we currently have, we will not do any better with a higher income.

We have to stop telling ourselves we can’t afford to save any money because we don’t make enough. We must change how we think about money. We have to learn to manage a little before we can manage more.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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According to Einstein…
black Labrador on the dunes

In last week’s article, I brought to your attention the difference in power between your conscious and subconscious brain. The subconscious brain contains 4 billion neurons. This is where vision, creativity, intuition, emotion and imagination reside. The conscious brain only has 2000 neurons and houses logic in all its forms.

Most of us do not intentionally utilize the subconscious brain. What if we did?

Albert Einstein is one of the most brilliant men in history. He firmly believed in the power of the subconscious brain. He believed that his remarkable intelligence was due to his deliberate daily use of his subconscious brain.

“When I examined myself, and my methods of thought, I came to the conclusion that the gift of
fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”

“The only real valuable thing is intuition.”

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created
a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

If someone as brilliant as Einstein encouraged us to deliberately utilize our subconscious mind, wouldn’t it be a good idea for us to begin to learn how? I recommend you start with Vince Poscente’s “The Ant and The Elephant”.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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The Back Burner
Labrador puppy dreaming

I don’t know about you, but I find it frustrating when I can’t remember information when I need it or come up with solutions to problems at the time I am faced with them. And, the harder I try to remember, the worse it gets!

Why is it that I can’t remember where I left my car keys until after I give up and borrow my husband’s keys? Why is it, that as hard as I may try, I can’t come up with the solution to a problem at work until I am halfway home that evening? Why do I wake up in the middle of the night with tons of great ideas but frequently can’t even come up with one during the day? Why can I never think of a witty come-back in response to someone’s comment until hours later when I am busy working on a patient?

No, it isn’t early onset of senility!

The explanation is simple. Dr. Richard Carlson, psychologist, lecturer and author coaches us to put some things on our “back burner”, the subconscious mind. This allows our mind to solve a problem while we are doing something unrelated at the moment.

When we have a problem we can’t solve, why do we awaken in the morning with clarity? How many times does the solution or inspiration come to mind after we have “slept on it”? Again, the back burner has come into play. Sleeping quiets the conscious mind allowing the subconscious mind free rein.

We have 4 billion neurons in our subconscious mind and only 2000 in our conscious mind. While we are busy sleeping, playing, working, reading, etc. the back burner is at a slow simmer working on whatever we have asked it to do. As a matter of fact, expending less conscious effort often improves the results.

When I was a kid, my mother used to say a prayer to St. Anthony anytime she lost something and then she would immediately quit thinking about the lost item. Eventually, St. Anthony would answer her prayer and she would remember where the item was left. No insult intended to St. Anthony, but Mom was probably activating her back burner without realizing it.

The back burner is not a tool of procrastination. It is a powerful tool for creativity, memory, vision and clarity. By intentionally honing the subconscious mind, we become faster and faster at getting the results we want.

4 billion neurons versus 2000 neurons. Tap into the most powerful personal computer you possess, the “back burner”!


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Teachable Moments
black Labrador 'Champ' Testing the Waters

There was a time in my life when I quite often found myself frustrated with others or with situations beyond my control. Frustration took many forms from mild irritation to full-blown fury. As I look back on my younger years, I realize that frustration was a deconstructive use of my energy and prevented me from gaining value from the situation.

Value instead of frustration? How? If I look at each person or situation as a teachable moment, I gain value from the circumstances without losing my emotional intelligence. Rather than wasting energy becoming frustrated by the long line at the grocers, I could look at the situation as an opportunity to learn more patience. Or, to learn more about reading people. Even to learn more about developing a relaxed attitude. The possibilities for learning are there if only I look for them.

Examples from the last thirty days:

  • The clerk at a convenience store happily chatted with a customer keeping those in line, me included, waiting an inordinate amount of time. This one is easy. Patience! However, I frequent this store so I have had plenty of opportunities to study the clerk as I waited. I have come to realize he is probably just gregarious by nature and has no idea anyone might primarily be interested in completing their transaction and getting out the door. He has made me more conscientious about not monopolizing people’s time. Lesson learned!
  • I watched a driver on a narrow country road dangerously weave in and out of traffic for three miles. In a hurry to get nowhere fast. Funny thing is, the guy ended up pulled over by our trusty county sheriff department. So much for being in a hurry. Teachable moment? Yup! First, I learned to pay closer attention to other drivers because they may cause accidents and be long gone before they even know it. I learned to stay more alert even while on a familiar road. Also, I again gave thought to the need for greater patience. Letting impatience rule could lead to great physical harm – for myself or others!
  • The fan in the car wouldn’t work. I have a long, long history of bad relationships with vehicles. I used to take each breakdown personally as if the car chose to fail me. OK, I know this isn’t rational, but there it is. When the fan wouldn’t work leaving me without air conditioning, the old me would have had a fit. However, I have learned to not take it personally. I tried to figure out what was wrong. As I was driving along, I kept trying the switch while evaluating the possible causes. I practiced patience and remained coherent enough to realize the problem must be the fan itself, not the air conditioner. Hallelujah! Much cheaper to fix. As I continued along, I hit a small bump in the road and the fan started working. Ah ha! Something with the electrical system is probably loose. Even easier to fix. Or, the car decided it had tormented me long enough and chose to provide me with cool air.
  • A client announced that we are all money-grubbing leaches and really don’t care about her cat at all. Sigh… Why do clients think we should donate our time and resources for free? (More on that another time.) What is the teachable moment here? Keeping in mind that we communicate clearly and frequently from the very first contact with each client, we know there are some people we can’t win with no matter what. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t evaluate each relationship. We did an M&M rounds regarding this client later in the day. What could we have done differently? Anything? Could she been overwrought about something other than her visit to the clinic? Yes. Was she frightened or confused? Maybe. We are still considering the situation looking for the hidden value to us.

Learn to look for the teachable moments. “What is this person or situation trying to teach me?” Every situation has its value. Find it and you will spend much less time frustrated, annoyed or bothered.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Stealing Time
tired Labrador puppy

In our profession, it is very easy to work long, long days. There are many reasons we work longer days and increasingly more hours per year. Our employer requires the overtime. You feel guilty leaving on time when everyone else is still so busy. One more client just arrived and really needs YOU. The extra money is a necessity or would just be nice. I am sure you can think of many other reasons.

Give this some thought. While it is tempting or even required to work extra hours occasionally, those hours just might be stolen from your loved ones, from your health, or from your sanity. Those hours have to come from somewhere – and you can never get them back.

I am not suggesting you give up the second job or refuse to work overtime. However, I am suggesting you remember that job burnout, poor relationships, compassion fatigue and failing health are often the result of a life badly out of balance. Take better care of yourself by assuring you get proper “down time” and you, your relationships, and your career will all benefit.

When you are lying on your death bed, I seriously doubt you will say “I wish I had worked more”. Your greatest asset is time. Spend it wisely.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Life is NOT a Game of “Simon Says”

Remember playing the game “Simon Says” as a child? I used to play it with my sisters and the other kids on our block for hours. “Simon” was always trying to trick us into doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Unfortunately, many adults in North America are unwittingly still playing “Simon Says”.

Buddy the Labrador jumping off the dock

“Simon,” our government says, “trust us, everything is going to be fine. We have your best interests at heart”.

“Simon,” the entertainment industry says, “fill your time with aimless, mind-numbing entertainment” and “copy the morals and habits of the stars.”

“Simon,” the advertising media says, “buy this and you will feel better, look smarter, and be more beautiful.”

“Simon,” your employer says, “you have no value other than the task you are assigned.”

“Simon,” a family member says, “you aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, or talented enough to achieve much.”

And… “Simon,” the quiet little voice in the back of your mind says, “don’t try because you will never succeed.”

Don’t play “Simon Says” with your life.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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The Leadership Myth
yellow Labrador chasing a ball

There are those who believe that leadership is for a chosen few. Not true! We are all born upside down, wet and screaming. We aren’t chosen to be leaders at birth. Leadership can’t be appointed, it is developed or not. Leadership is simply influence. And each of us leads in some capacity every day.

We lead by

  • …the example we set.
  • …the actions we take.
  • …the words we choose.
  • …the attitude we exhibit.
  • …the way we treat others.
  • …the motivation we live by.

We lead when

  • …we inspire our children to read.
  • …we motivate the children’s soccer team we coach to do their best.
  • …we treat co-workers with respect and courtesy.
  • …we encourage someone to work harder on their marriage.
  • …we keep a promise.
  • …we follow through at work.
  • …we defuse confrontation.

However, we also lead when

  • …we gossip.
  • …we sneak out of work early.
  • …we snub a co-worker.
  • …we disrespect our boss.
  • …we demean our children.
  • …we fail to keep promises.
  • …we belittle someone’s aspirations.
  • …we are unfaithful to our spouse.

Leadership is influence. Gandhi was a leader. But, then again, so was Hitler.

Who are you influencing and in what way?


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Sew Ewe Can Sea
curious Labrador closeup

We have a guest veterinarian from Uganda who asked me a simple English language question the other day. I have to admit I was stumped on how to explain something as illogical as the plurals of mouse and moose. Got me to thinking about our language. Language is odd at best. Certainly doesn’t make sense a good share of the time. I feel so sorry for our Ugandan guest. Is it any wonder we have a hard time communicating with others when we try?

  • If the plural of mouse is mice and louse is lice, why isn’t the plural of house hice and blouse blice?
  • The plural of goose is geese so why isn’t the plural of moose meese?
  • You can be overwhelmed, but never underwhelmed or even whelmed.
  • …rehabilitated but not habilitated
  • There is adhesive but not hesive, dehesive or unhesive.
  • You can give but not ungive; have misgivings but not mistergivings, gift and regift but not regive.
  • We are insightful but not outsightful or sightful.
  • …upset but not downset.
  • …distraught but not straught.
  • …outlandish but not inlandish or landish.
  • …disgruntled but not gruntled.
  • There is upland but not downland or sidewaysland, for that matter.
  • You can be dyspneic, apneic, and eupneic but not neic.
  • …respected and disrespected but not spected.

My spell check is going crazy right now!

Sometimes it appears we ran out of words. For example: Pear, pare and pair. Couldn’t we come up with three different sounding words rather than three different spellings of the same sound?

  • Buy, by and bye.
  • Flew, flue and flu.
  • Sew, so and sow.
  • Ewe, you and yew.
  • There, their, and they're.
  • Our and hour.
  • My favorite is weather and whether. Oy vey!

Then there are the words that are spelled identically but sound different.

  • The wrap was wound around the wound.
  • I threw the refuse in the trash can, but I refuse to sit.
  • Polish people polish their shoes.
  • You can not lead a horse to water with lead bullets.

Sew ewe can sea, weather yew are a native speaker of English or not, it’s a tough language to learn.

Can you come up with any other language oddities?


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Unspoken Expectations
black Labrador sad face

I was listening to an audio CD the other day of a married couple talking about marriage relationships in general terms. The wife briefly mentioned that it bothered her when her husband left the bathroom a mess after his shower. She stated that she has an “unspoken expectation” he would clean it up each time before he left the room.

Unspoken expectation – now, there is trouble waiting to happen!

How often do you have unspoken expectations of your coworkers, employers and clients?

How often do they have unspoken expectations of you?

We expect others to read our minds and know what we are thinking without us having to express it out loud. They should behave as we would. However, they aren’t us. They don’t behave as we would because they are their own person and have their own expectations. So much for telepathy.

It bothers you to find the coffee pot at work empty. Your coworkers should already know you so well that they never take the last cup without starting a new pot. Really? When did you tell them of this expectation?

Your boss gives you a work assignment and asks “would you mind?” and you say “no problem”. And, yet, you expect her to know from the look on your face that you are frustrated about the work assignment. Really? When did your boss become a mind reader? (And, aren’t you glad the boss can’t read your mind at other times?)

Unspoken expectations only lead to problems. It isn’t fair to expect others to know what you need if you haven’t told them. If you haven’t informed, you have no business becoming upset when things don’t go your way.

Think about it carefully. If you have unspoken expectations and the others have unspoken expectations, there is going to be quite a bit of preventable frustration, irritation, and anger in your life.

Speak up and give others the grace to speak their minds, too.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Noise!
yellow Labrador puppy sleeping

We start the day to the fearful racket of an alarm clock. Followed by the insistent beep of the coffee pot. Then there is the beep-beep-beep reminding us to put on our seat belt in the car.

We work to the background music of the infusion pump alarms, the beep, beep, beep of an ECG, audible countdown of the autoclave, the doorbell ringing, jarring sound of the office phone ringing, and lab machine countdown tones. Of course, the chatter of our cell phone demanding attention punctuates the entire day.

Needless to say our day is filled with electronic chaos. Is it any wonder, we are all a little crazy by the end of the day? How do we regain some our peace and quiet?

I have the great fortune of living far out in the country. Step outside the house and I can’t hear a single man-made sound for hours at a time. There is never an electronic sound. Step inside the house and there are no electronic sounds. None. No alarm clocks. No television. No phone. No beep from a microwave. The computer sound settings are turned off. All clocks are completely silent – not even a tick-tick to be heard. The house is filled with peace and quiet. Ahhhhh!

So, what is the solution to the chaos created by the electronics we can’t get along without in our professional and personal lives? Author Christopher Brady suggests an electronic fast. Disconnect from the electronic intrusions for a part of each day or a part of each week. Give silence a higher priority in your life.

  • Start with the cell phone. Do you really need to know each and every time someone sends you an email or text? Turn the sound and buzzer off. Check your phone once or twice a day. Don’t let your phone become your electronic shock collar.
  • Change the settings on patient monitors so that only the ones that absolutely must be heard are on. Consider turning the volume on these down as well – generally, we set the volume much higher than necessary.
  • Did you know it is possible to disconnect the seatbelt reminder in most cars? I disconnected mine. I use my seatbelt every time – I really don’t need an electronic reminder!
  • Change the settings on your computer to silent. There is no need to have it chirp each time you open a website or boot up.
  • How about taking an entire day off from electronics? No cell phone, computer, alarm clock, etc. Try it. You just might find it so restful you will do it on a regular basis.

Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Last Chance
Labrador - 'Nano'

This could be your last chance to influence how Mrs. Smith cares for her pet.

This could be your last chance to see your mother.

This could be your last chance to learn to scuba dive.

This could be your last chance to help your child develop self-confidence.

This could be your last chance.

I remember the last time I saw my 26 year old stepson. I didn’t know he would die before I could see him again.

I remember the last time I went kayaking but I didn’t know it would be my last. I had a feeling it might be though.

I remember the last time I had the opportunity to tell my assistant how much I appreciated her. Now she will never know.

I remember the last time I found an antique men’s bureau. The price was 50% less than I expected. I hesitated and now I can’t find one at any price.

The problem with last chances is that you never know it at the time. If you knew any given moment was your last chance, would you do it differently?


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Leaders are Readers

I promised you a list of suggested reading for your journey to becoming a supervisor. The top leadership authors in the USA recommend the following books for anyone serious about becoming a leader.

Remember, leaders are readers but not all readers are leaders. Set your goals and run for them. Reading just 15 minutes a day will finish a book a month.

Happy reading!

dog Topper helps Mole with his book selection
  • The Magic of Thinking Big – David J. Schwarz
  • How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  • How To Have Power and Confidence – Les Giblin
  • Personality Plus – Florence Littauer
  • Bringing Out The Best In People – Alan Loy McGinnis
  • The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
  • The Ant and The Elephant – Vince Poscente
  • Launching a Leadership Revolution – Brady and Woodward
  • The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle – James C. Hunter
  • The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
  • Visioneering – Andy Stanley
  • Attitude is Everything – Jeff Keller
  • Be a People Person – John C. Maxwell
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
  • Developing the Leader Within You – John C. Maxwell
  • Courage – Gus Lee
  • A Leader’s Legacy – Kouses & Posner
  • Wooden – Coach John Wooden
  • Character Counts – Os Guinness
  • 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player – John C. Maxwell
  • Trust: The One Thing that Makes or Breaks a Leader – Les Csorba
  • 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – John C. Maxwell
  • Churchill on Leadership – Steven F. Hayward
  • Good to Great – Jim Collins
  • The Speed of Trust – John C. Maxwell
  • The Fifth Discipline – Peter Senge
  • Resolved – Orrin Woodward

Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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So, You Want to Become a Supervising Veterinary Technician
leader of the pack

Are you crazy??? Your co-workers will resent you. Management will work you harder, expecting you to work 50+ hours per week without compensation. Everything that goes wrong will be your fault. You will not be able to please anyone, let alone everyone. Have I scared you off the idea yet?

You don’t know what you don’t know and new assignments are always harder than they look. That being said, we need more qualified veterinary technicians stepping up and taking on the responsibility of supervision.

If you are interested in becoming a supervising or managing veterinary technician at your current place of employment, preparing now is the single most important step you can take. Waiting to prepare after a position becomes available is likely to doom your attempt. This would be similar to a farmer waiting to plant seeds when it is time to harvest. Not a very productive approach, to say the least. Plant your seeds right now!

You can’t take your old stinky self into your bright shiny future. Your current level of thinking isn’t going to get you what you want. Intentionally improve your way of thinking to improve your results. Take an objective look at yourself to find the flaws to be eliminated and strengths to be enhanced in order to take advantage of opportunities for advancement. Especially identify any character flaws such as issues with honesty, discretion, emotional intelligence, and respect. Character flaws must be eliminated right away.

Be aware that your employers believe they already know you. So does your boss, your boss’s boss and so on. They have in fact already decided whether or not you are qualified to be a supervisor or manager. Odds are they have made a subconscious decision that you are not. It is human nature to be blind to the value of the person you work with every day. Now it is up to you to prove to them over time that you are in fact just the person they need in a position of authority. Start now!

What is management looking for in a supervising veterinary technician? In the most general of terms, they are looking for someone with the following characteristics and talents:

  • Integrity
  • Good at conflict resolution
  • Maintains a professional demeanor
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills including communication
  • Proven track record as a leader
  • Respectful of others especially for authority
  • Ability to work exceptionally well with a diverse group of people
  • Good at managing personal work productivity
  • Emotionally stable
  • Excellent attendance
  • Creative at solving problems
  • Inspire others

The management may or may not be able to articulate these qualities, but these are some of the most important things they are looking for in a new supervisor/manager. Remember, they already think they know you. Don’t make the same mistake about them. In a private appointment, find out from the hiring authority where you work what they look for when recruiting for a supervisor/manager. Ask! This meeting is about them, not you, so don’t ask whether or not they think you are qualified. Wait to ask them at a later date what they would like to see you expand or improve upon before they would consider you a serious candidate. I recommend waiting until after you have identified some of the things you must improve and have begun the process.

Now you know what they are looking for and have taken the time to identify where you need to focus on improving yourself. Here are a few things to beware of as you proceed.

  • Most veterinary technicians focus on improving their technical skills and knowledge only and yet it is the people skills that will make or break you. Focus on improving your ability to work with others including communication, conflict resolution, etc.
  • Remember that your length of service carries no weight when Management is recruiting for a supervisor/manager. None! In fact, years of service can be a detriment if Management is trying to make a culture or business change and they think the “old” crew is too set in its ways.
  • Every single day that you work you are being interviewed for the position. Get that? Every single day. A mistake made one day will carry more weight than 4 months without a mistake. Management will notice the “bad” performance more readily than all the great performances. No, this is not fair. However, it is human nature. How you manage to correct it and prevent the mistake from occurring again makes all the difference.
  • Your co-workers may or may not think you are qualified to be their supervisor. Remember, if you are promoted to supervisor, they will become your subordinates. Win them over now, not as friends but as professional peers. Support and encourage them. Respect them at all times. Become known as a great listener. Empathize but don’t sympathize. If you already socialize with co-workers outside of work, reconsider this habit. Your behavior outside of work will also influence their decision as to whether or not they can trust you as their supervisor. It is hard to trust someone you have seen drunk, known as a gossip, have seen exhibit road rage, have heard speak disparagingly about the boss, etc.
  • Self-deception is part of human nature. We tend to think we are better than we are in reality. Find a really good coach or mentor who will hold you accountable rather than tell you what you want to hear or already believe. Someone who has the results you want and to whom you give permission to tell you the truth about yourself. Friends aren’t usually qualified to be a coach or mentor because a friend looks through glasses colored by friendship.
  • Explore your reasons for wanting to become a supervisor. If it is for the money, know that there isn’t enough money in the world to pay a supervisor/manager for what she deals with on an ongoing basis. If it is for the chance to be in charge and the opportunity to have greater influence, influence is pretty much a myth. The Management/Owner has all the influence. It may take many years in supervisory or management position before a veterinary technician has any influence, if ever. Do it because you love to serve others. Do it to make a difference. And, then you probably will develop influence!

What you need to do to prepare for promotion opportunities?

Begin now! Today! This is your career and therefore your responsibility. Begin with PDCA – plan, do, check, adjust. Refer to the detailed description of this process in previous blog articles.

  • Improve your character and integrity levels. Never sacrifice character!
  • Remember, you can’t take your old stinky self into your bright new future without some changes. Begin a study plan including leadership, communication, interpersonal relations, conflict resolution, team building and self discipline. Take related courses and give copies of completion to your supervisor to maintain in your personnel file. It is not unreasonable to expect to spend 10-20 hours or more per week educating yourself.
  • Read, read, read and study, study, study and then apply what you learn! Become a voracious student of the same topics listed in the previous paragraph. Study the books written by and about the greatest leaders in the fields. I'll give you a suggested book list next time. If you read a minimum of 15 minutes a day, you can finish at least one book a month. Of course, you will want to do more than the minimum to meet your goals!
  • Step up all aspects of your performance and make sure the people with influence see the results. Your favorite veterinarian may not be the influential person in this situation. It might be her boss or her boss’s boss! Ask people you trust how you are doing. Suggest they share their compliments with the appropriate people.
  • Own up to mistakes quickly without making excuses. Learn from your mistakes. Take responsibility for results even when you aren’t the only one involved. “It’s not my job” should never occur to you. Hold yourself responsible for the results of the entire team. “If it is meant to be, it is up to me” should be your creed and, yet, you should shine a light on the efforts of others rather than on yourself. Humility is a rare and valued characteristic.
  • Support the existing supervisors and managers even when they aren’t present. Never say or do anything you would not want them to know about.
  • Study conflict resolution. Become an expert at defusing situations or preventing them from becoming situations in the first place.
  • Think long and deep before you speak. Seek to understand before you ever try to be understood. People don’t care what you know. They only care about how you make them feel.

As you can see, there is a lot of work ahead for you to become competitive in preparation for the time a promotion becomes available. Still want to be promoted into a supervisory position? Then go for it! You can develop the necessary skills if you develop a plan, commit to the action and changes necessary, listen to your coach and stay the course.

Good luck!


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Be Careful From Whom You Get Advice

Think about how frustrating it is when a pet owner confidently informs you their dog trainer told them not to get their puppy vaccinated until 6 months of age because it isn’t necessary. Or when a client tells you they diagnosed their cat’s health issue based on information they found online at a pet forum site. How about when a client informs you they expect you to perform a miracle with their pet because their aunt’s neighbor’s sister’s bird had the same problem and doctor so-and-so cured it? Clients equate opinion with fact and we all know the dangers of confusing the two. Or do we?

Be careful from whom you get your advice. The advisor may not have achieved or helped others achieve the results you are looking for in your life. Seek advice and guidance from those with “fruit on the tree”: People who have first-hand experience reaching the goals for which you are looking. Measure people based on their results, not their words.

Humans are “pack animals”. We want to be part of the pack and trust the pack even when it is jumping off a cliff or wallowing in the mud! Think about it! We get our financial advice from our family and friends who are all broke and living from paycheck to paycheck. We pay for marriage advice from a professional counselor who has been divorced three times. We get success advice from our coworkers who hate their jobs. We seek inner peace and enlightenment from religious leaders who lack both. We believe in the words of others without giving a thought to their credibility. Oh, the advisors mean well. And, they believe what they offer is accurate, but beware the source! Is the advice opinion or experience?

Even a professional title is not enough to earn credibility. Licensed financial planners go through a 2 year program to earn their certification. Those two years are spent learning economic theory, investment laws, etc. Once they have earned their certification, they are now qualified to call themselves a financial planner. Or are they? Unless a financial planner has earned good financial results for themselves and others, can they really offer credible advice to you? Yes, they can offer you the theories they have learned, but is theory going to get you the results you want? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Are you willing to take the risk with your hard earned money? Evaluate the results of any professional before taking their advice.

How about the faculty teaching in veterinary schools? I worked for a veterinary school for 30 years. The faculty DVM who taught the veterinary students how to run a business had never been out of academia and had never run any kind of business. Just how credible was he? I am not saying that the class was a waste of time. It did offer the students concepts and principles that may prove of value later. However, a good many of the lectures were not founded in proven business practices, but were only theories.

I am sure all of us have run into the professional real estate broker or agent who offers advice on which house to buy and how much you can afford to buy. Hmmm, credible? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Could there be a conflict of interest? Has the broker/agent established a track record of helping people make excellent financial decisions about their future? There are many that have the results for which you are looking. Just make sure the one with whom you are working has your best interests at the forefront and has the track record to support the advice provided.

Most people mean well but they haven’t a clue. Consider the source of advice, including the motive and credibility. Remember, the best part of advice is that you can keep what you want and throw the rest away! Just make sure the advisor has achieved or helped others achieve the results you wish to duplicate.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Greetings
yellow Labrador looking at you

Earlier this week, I was in a medical center for an appointment with a physician. I emphasize the word “center” because this place is huge and laid out just like Grand Central Station with multiple reception areas lining both sides of a 200 ft long gallery. Each receptionist sits behind a high counter. Patients wait in cues literally in the middle of the walkway running the center of the gallery. Reminds me of movie scenes where criminals are waiting to be “processed”. Not the most patient friendly arrangement I have ever seen despite the fancy architecture and stylish furniture.

I had plenty of time to observe the receptionists while I waited. It looked to me as if they are as uncomfortable with the facilities as the patients. Each woman would glance in the general direction of the cue with a perfunctory “I can help the next person”. If the next person in line didn’t instantly respond, the receptionist would not notice right away because she had already dropped her eyes to her computer. Eventually, she would repeat her statement a little louder.

Not a single receptionist ever looked up into the face of the patient standing at the counter right in front of them. The highest she would bring her eyes would be to the paperwork the patient held out. Her eyes always quickly returned to the computer screen or the paperwork. Tap, tap, tap went her fingers on the keyboard as she automatically asked “who are you here to see” “name”, and “birth date”? Next would come “you have a co-pay”. The financial transaction is completed without looking any further than the hand offering cash or credit card. And, a dismissive “have a seat”.

Personally, I have made it a game out of engaging receptionists, cashiers, sales people, etc. I refuse to have them ignore the human standing in front of them. Noticing a name tag, I walked to the counter and greeted Julie with an enthusiastic “Julie, how are you?” Funny thing! Julie was startled and looked up with a hesitant smile on her lips as if she wasn’t sure what to do. As her eyes caught my huge smile, she seemed to relax a little bit but tried to slip right into the rote behavior used with all the other patients.

Game on! At her “Who are you here to see?” I sincerely replied “Dr. ___ and of course, you! I am Moira Fitzgerald and have been one of your patients for years, Julie. I count on seeing you as much as I count on seeing Dr. ___. I love to see all your beautiful rings. You are the only person I know who wears a ring on every finger and does so with style.” Now her smile is much bigger and truly genuine. “Well, thanks. I try to add a little sunshine to my day with my rings. What is your birth date?”

“Julie, your rings add sunshine to my day also! My birth date is _____”. The entire exchange took less than 2 minutes but I bet it lightened her day and certainly made me a little less anonymous. Hours later, I had returned home only to discover that the letter given to me by the physician had the wrong date on the signature. Darn!

I called the office and asked for, you guessed it, Julie. “Hey Julie, this is Moira Fitzgerald. I really need your help.” I could hear the smile in Julie’s voice as she told me she would take care of it right away. And, she did! It wasn’t 5 minutes later that Julie called me back to inform me a new letter was ready. Did I want her to hold it at the desk or mail it to me? Would I have gotten that much personal help or gotten it so quickly if I were just an anonymous patient? Not likely!

Why do I tell you all of this? Greetings only take a second, but, when combined with good heart and intentions, can create a tremendous amount of goodwill. How can we hang onto hostility or frustration in the face of someone who is genuinely glad to see us?

Greeting your clients upon their arrival can set the tone for the entire visit as well as the entire relationship. The instant a client walks in, look her right in the eyes while giving a hearty hello with a nice smile followed by either a “How may I help you?” or “Please have a seat and I will be right with you in less than ___ minutes.” Don’t take your eyes off her eyes until she responds. Regardless of how you feel or how busy you are!

If you happen to know the client’s name, use it during the greeting. We are all great at recognizing the pet, but not so great at remembering the client. Work on remembering the client as well!

When greeting an arriving client:

  • Smile.
  • If you know it, use her name.
  • Don’t sound like you are in a hurry.
  • Look her right in the eyes during the entire interaction.
  • No muttering.
  • No speaking to the desk or computer
  • Don’t answer the phone at the same time you are greeting her. DON’T!
  • Be sincere, not perfunctory.

Think about it! Treat your client to the same type of greeting you prefer to receive.

Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Music
Yellow lab in a summer mood

I was visiting family in Connecticut recently when I happened to be driving about town looking for the local grocery store. Stopped at a red light, I looked to my right at the car waiting next to me. The man in the driver’s seat looked like a nut case! He was enthusiastically beating a rhythm on his steering wheel, bouncing from side to side in the seat with his head thrown slightly back and his mouth wide open.

A nut case! Or was he? He could hear the music – I couldn’t.

When we are faced with clients who seem to make bad choices regarding their pets or co-workers who seem to be getting on our last nerve, it might be a good idea to remember that we can’t hear the music of their lives. Their music may be filled with the dour sounds of financial stress, the decrescendo of the imminent breakup of a marriage, the deep fearful chords of losing their pet, or... Well, you get the idea.

Rather than reacting to others based on our own music, it would be more effective to remember we can’t hear their music, and cut them a little slack. We just might be the only light, uplifting notes they hear that day.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Labrador 'Denver' with muddy feet & footprints on carpet
Manure

A farmer was spreading manure on his fields one day. He didn’t realize he had some manure on his finger when he picked his nose. When he made it home to his family, he complained “This house smells like crap.” He went over to the neighborhood bar for a beer and commented to his friends that the bar smelled like crap. The problem wasn’t where he was. He was the problem carrying the crap with him ever where he went.

I first heard this story from author Christopher James Brady.

If you keep running into the same problems – poor relationships, bad luck, no one at work likes you, can’t get a promotion, always broke - you might want to check for some crap on your finger. Take responsibility for your life. No one else can or will.


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Random Thoughts on Success
Labrador Retriever catching a toy

People tell me they don’t have time to improve their situations be it through reading, taking a class, joining a gym, going back to school, etc. And, yet, they have plenty of time to watch the Super Bowl, watch television, play on the local bowling league, party, etc. What they are really saying is that changing the situation isn’t a priority. They are comfortable in their misery. Even the princess finally got off the mattress with the pea! Why not you?

Most people live on “don’t wants” rather than doing what needs to be done to succeed.

I don’t want to go to the gym.

I don’t want to attend seminars.

I don’t want to lose weight.

I don’t want to give up T.V.

Don’t be “most people.”

Here are some thoughts that have helped me:

  • No one has reached a point where they don’t need to grow anymore. No one.
  • You choose whether or not you succeed. No one else. Your greatest asset is yourself. By the same token, your greatest challenge is yourself.
  • If the information in your brain is accurate, you can make better decisions. Seems to me it is pretty important to know what information you have stored in your brain.
  • Those who understand people, care about people, and communicate well with people make great contributions in their chosen field or endeavor.
  • Make a decision and then manage the decision.
  • Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you get good at it.
  • Success creates options.
  • It may appear easier to fit in with the crowd, but then you have a lifetime of average. Nothing wrong with average, but you are meant for greater things.
  • We have tons of inputs every day, positive and negative. The trick is to increase the positive and eliminate the negative. You might also want to make sure you are a source of negative.
  • Every thought you have does not need to come out your mouth.
  • Change what you need to change to get where you want to go.
  • If you want to succeed, you must focus on the goal and what it takes to get there. Focus on solutions not circumstances.
  • Accept responsibility.
  • Plan your work and work your plan.
  • Outwork everybody.
  • No one has ever been successful completely on their own. It always takes the help of others. There will be others along the way that will play a role in your success – just as you hope to play a role in the success of others.

Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Great Leadership Quotes
Golden Lab swimming in Burgos, Spain

I spent this weekend attending a Leadership Conference and had a blast. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the speakers. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who said a few of them – sorry!

  • You either hate losing bad enough to change or you hate changing bad enough to lose…you decide!
  • Leaders must decide what matters before they can live a life that matters.
  • Don’t just go through life. Grow through life!

Orrin Woodward author and leadership coach

  • The change you are resisting is the door to your destiny.
  • We might not have it all together, but together we have it all.
  • Little changes over time make big differences.
  • A life without a dream becomes a senseless routine.

Felmar C. Montenegro leadership coach

  • We are all born equal with the opportunity to become un-equal through rolling up our sleeves and working on ourselves.
  • Your calendar reveals your priorities.
  • You only grow when you are uncomfortable.
  • Focus on growing yourself. The better you become, the better quality of people you will attract.
  • So many people are too busy being what others want them to be.

Chris Brady author and leadership coach

  • Be careful because there are people who will duplicate what you say and do.
  • On your deathbed, what others think of you is far from your mind.
  • You are writing the chapters in your life.
  • The best way to have joy is to give joy.

George Guzzardo blogger and leadership coach

  • Learning is an active process.
  • You can’t negotiate the price of success.
  • Habits have consequences.
  • Habits are like rabbits. Be careful which ones you pick because they are going to duplicate all over.

Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Team Player: Tenacious
black Labrador picking up a big stick

“Tenacious” is the 17th characteristic in John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”. Tenacity is not something common, but is required to be successful in anything.

Why isn’t tenacity more common? Let me ask you to do a little thing. Sit in a chair with your feet firmly on the ground. Raise both of your arms as high over your head as you can. Now, raise them a little further. Why didn’t you raise them this high when first asked to raise your arms as high as you can? Most of the time, people don’t give all they can simply because they think it will require more than they are capable.

Giving all you can is just that. No more, no less. Not impossible. Tenacity is doing whatever it takes even when not convenient or easy. There are many who claim to be team players, but the real proof is when personal effort is required. Those who are committed to the team and its mission are tenacious. Their commitment is not conditional.

As a group, the team will experience challenges and obstacles. This is not unexpected. Tenacity doesn’t mean you aren’t going to experience fatigue or frustration. It does mean that you refuse to give up or let up! Agree as a team that when facing challenges, only one of you will “take a break” – emotional or physical – at a time. You will be amazed at how quickly this commitment strengthens the team overall. Maxwell put it very succinctly when he wrote “…trying times are no time to quit trying”.

Maxwell suggests three steps to improve your tenacity.

Work harder and smarter. Harder isn’t the only answer. If the sink is stopped up and the floor is flooding, it isn’t enough to mop faster – turn the faucet off! Add some smarts to what you are doing.

Stand for something. Integrity is the foundation of everything worthwhile. Without integrity, tenacity has no value.

Make work a game. Compete with yourself and strive to do your personal best each day. Faster. Better accuracy. More creativity. Better with clients. Reward team success. For every 30 days without injury, have a team lunch party. How about keeping a “cussing jar”. Any time someone loses their cool or uses a cuss word they must put a $1 in the jar. When the jar has enough money in it, then spend the money on an ice cream social or give the cash to the team’s favorite charity. Come up with other friendly team competitions that require tenacity. Reward and honor the winners.

Each time someone exhibits tenacity, it becomes easier. Stretch your will and commit to following through with tenacity even in the face of challenge or inconvenience. Reward tenacity in others. Become a team known for never giving up!


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Team Player: Solution-Oriented
Labrador holding a garden tool

In John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”, the 16th quality is “Solution-Oriented”. Definitely an attribute many veterinary technicians can relate to on a daily basis. Our profession requires ingenuity because there aren’t black and white answers to much of what we do. The veterinary technician profession has progressed over the decades in good part due to the fact that we have to invent as we go. We can’t afford to wait for someone else to come up with solutions to our daily patient care challenges. We have to come up with them on our own and we do so willingly.

When it comes to our work with the animals, we accept an attitude of “can-do” as our norm. Need to support a 1600lb horse as it recovers from a broken leg? Design and fabricate a sling frame. Tired of llama spit? Hang a hand towel on the nose piece of the llama’s halter. Need a way to safely turn a 150 lb dog recovering from spinal surgery? Design and fabricate a sling system combined with a electric lift. Working with feral cats? Cleaning the cages becomes simple and safe using a custom-built Plexiglas drop box. Technicians are always solving problems using ingenuity, experience and common sense.

There are more than enough people running around pointing out what is wrong. Anybody can point out problems. “It can’t be done” and “oh woe is me” are about as valuable as a nail in the bottom of your foot. Don’t tell your team it can’t be done. You are smarter than that. Find a way!!! Team members who are solution-oriented choose a more constructive perspective and see opportunities rather than obstacles.

John C. Maxwell reminds us there are four things necessary to help you become more solution-oriented.

Refuse to give up – Just because you can’t find the solution doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Involve others. Brainstorm. Get excited about finding solutions. Get your team involved. There is at least one solution to every problem. Keep looking!

Refocus your thinking – Talk the situation out with others who are also solution-oriented. Work on it when you are fresh. Get excited about the challenge.

Rethink your strategy – Reframe the problem. Break it down into its component parts so that it is easier to tear into.

Repeat the process – Be persistent. Each problem you solve helps train and condition your mind to handle the next problem. Stretch yourself! Problems are a fact of life. Get good at attacking and solving them.

Did you notice that all four are related to attitude or mindset? Do you have the attitude of a solution-oriented team player?


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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Team Player: Selfless
yellow Labrador 'Alvin' with 2 cockatiels on him

In John C. Maxwell’s book “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”, the 15th quality is “selfless”. To put the interest of others first is the hallmark of a team player. It isn’t “all about me” when you are truly part of a team.

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Being selfless doesn’t mean you are a doormat or a sucker. It does require placing the best interest of the team ahead of your personal agenda. This promotes team success which, in fact, is your success also! Nothing great was ever achieved by a single person. Nothing!

“Yeah, but I have an opinion about everything. I am smarter than just about everyone on the team, so I should be heard. I should get credit for my brains and contribution. I should have my name listed in the credits on that journal article. Hey, the idea for the research was mine to begin with! Shouldn’t I get the credit?” There is a time and place for taking credit and it is a less frequent than anyone imagines! You will be amazed at how much credit you are given if you routinely give credit away.

John C. Maxwell’s suggestions for developing a selfless attitude are to be generous, avoid internal politics and display loyalty. What do each of these look like in the veterinary setting?

Be generous with your time, thoughts, and words throughout your day. Give willingly and without resentment. When someone is busy, try to pitch in and pick up part of their workload even when you think you are just as busy. Doing one small task takes some of the pressure off the other person. Think about your teammates and what they need. How about a smile or a kind word? Maybe surprise everyone by bringing donuts in. Little things are all it takes to show people you are thinking of them. Don’t forget kind or supportive words. Encourage and compliment with sincerity.

Avoid internal politics – they are incredibly selfish. Politics are all about what “I want” rather than what is best for the team. By the way, gossip is part of internal politics. Make a point of avoiding internal politics by avoiding those who are involved. When you can’t avoid them, make an effort to turn such conversations around. Before participating in a conversation, ask yourself “is this helping or hindering the team?”

Display loyalty even when you may take some heat for it. Be loyal in your words and actions even when no one is looking. Be loyal, not defensive. If someone from another group shares negative about one of your team, be loyal enough to stop the conversation in a polite but firm manner. If someone is bashing your entire team, politely ask them not to do so in front of you and remind them that you don’t ever bash their team! If a client is frustrated or angry with a member of your team, point out that you are surprised by the client’s concern as you know Mary to be a talented compassionate technician and you will look into the their concern right away.

Maxwell also suggests there are ways to become more selfless.

Promote someone else

Never talk about your own accomplishments. I say never because this is a good place to start. Humility is an acquired trait so it requires practice. Be humble. Shine a light on other people. Brag to clients and staff about others on the team and leave out your contribution. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Harry Truman

Take a subordinate role

This is easy to do if you pay attention to what is best for the team. It could be something as simple as you restrain the patient and let someone else place the IV catheter. Or let someone else assist in the surgery and you clean up afterward. Simple actions, but they build your humility and help others take the lead.

Give secretly

Look for opportunities to give secretly. This is downright fun! Complete someone’s assignment when they are elsewhere:

  • cleaning up the OR;
  • hanging a new bag of fluids on someone else’s patient;
  • taking out the trash;
  • restocking a room;
  • organize a work space;
  • submitting lab samples;
  • completing treatment sheets;
  • checking inventory for expiration dates

Do it without being asked and without expecting anything in return.

We could all practice being selfless a little more frequently. OK, some of us need more practice than others!

Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”
Daniel Goleman

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Team Player: Self Improving
black Labrador 'Reuben'

The 14th quality of a Team Player according to John C. Maxwell in the book “The 17 Qualities of a Team Player” is “self improving”. Those two little words describe a powerful and rather rare characteristic. Most people are focused on “doing” rather than growing. They don’t believe self improvement is a priority so they don’t believe they have the time to read, learn and grow. And, yet, the most valuable team players are those who are hungry to learn. A growing team is a learning team. A learning team is a successful team. A successful team creates the opportunity for a thriving business.

Change is inevitable. Our clients change. The veterinary market changes. The economy changes. Our vendor relationships change. Veterinary science changes. Absolutely everything around us is in a constant state of change. If we aren’t deliberately growing and changing ourselves, we and our team will not be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that come our way nor will we be prepared to face obstacles.

Team members who make self improvement a priority make a huge contribution to the team. They learn about people, communication, veterinary science, challenges, market issues, economy, history, self, etc. It is not necessary to become an expert in all areas, but you do need to stretch your brain and your capacity every day. Self improvement for your profession will also influence your personal life and visa versa. Work on both areas because it is not enough to only develop your professional mind. Learning is a staple food in the mental diet. Evolve your mind!

Remember though, it is not enough to just study. Applying what you learn is as important as the studying itself. “Self development” assumes you are taking action by applying the lessons. This implies there will be mistakes, struggles and victories. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t doing anything to stretch yourself and grow. And, you aren’t much use to your team if you aren’t growing.

John C. Maxwell specifies three processes required to improve yourself.

  1. Preparation: What you are doing is more important than what you are planning to do. Let me illustrate this with a short story.

    Three birds are sitting on a telephone wire. One says “I am going to fly away now.” How many birds are sitting on the wire? Three – because not one has taken any action as yet.

    Focus on what you can intentionally improve today, not just in the future. Vague plans or ideas will not gain you self improvement. Plans plus action will! Take action every day.
  2. Contemplation: Stop and think. Assess yourself daily. What are the lessons you learned that day? What could you have done or said differently? What did you do or say that indicates growth on your part?

    This assessment does not need to be a long drawn out process. Even 15 minutes might be enough time. This is not meant to be time spent beating yourself up or planning your to do list. This is time to contemplate your day’s decisions, actions and results.
  3. Application: All the planning and studying will not amount to anything if you don’t apply what you have learned. Take action even if you don’t

Self improvement is self directed education with a purpose. Remember that the enemy of great is good. Mediocrity is a dangerous place to rest. Grow yourself!


Moira A. Fitzgerald, BS, RVT

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