“Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands.”
People who say something is impossible really need to get out of the way of those actually doing the impossible.
I know you hear it all of the time because I certainly do. “It is impossible”. “No way will that work.” “If it could be done, someone would have already succeeded.” “No matter what you do, you can’t change anything here.” “One person can’t make a difference.” Really????
And, yet, millions of impossible things have already been accomplished. Did you know that the US Patent office once stated in the late 1800’s that everything that could be had already been invented? Did you know that a past president of IBM said he could see a use for only one or two personal computers in the world? Did you know that polio was believed to have no cure? Did you know it took over 900 versions of the incandescent light bulb before Edison finally found one way that worked? Did you know that it was once thought physically impossible for a human being to run a 4 minute mile? People did the impossible because they believed in the possible.
Belief backed up by action and persistence leads to the impossible becoming possible. Today, another impossible accomplishment has not only become possible it has spread internationally due to the belief, action and persistence of one man. Koen VonRompay, PhD. believed he could make a difference and he has. From one little idea has sprung a number of international children’s charities.
Dr. Von Rompay visited India for a conference and was stunned by the poverty and misery experienced by the orphaned children. He decided to help. How many times was he told “it couldn’t be done”? How many times did he struggle to get things funded and off the ground? How many times was he strangled by bureaucratic red tape? The fact he was not native to India, had no background in starting or operating a charitable foundation, did not have the finances, and knew nothing about orphans did not stop this man from accomplishing the impossible. He focused on the mission rather than the obstacles along the way. He focused on what he was going to do rather than what he was going through. This persistent, patient, warm-hearted man stayed the course, inspired hundreds to help, and eventually won for the children of the world. Sahaya started in the heart and mind of one man and has spread to 5 countries today.
And we think it is impossible to alter things where we work? We whine that our boss or coworkers are impossible to work with? We dare to say it is impossible to take our profession to new heights? We rail against the system that we claim is impossible to revolutionize. We whine about our measly salary as if we don’t have the power to influence our financial status. One man is changing the world. What excuse can we legitimately give for resorting to the word “impossible”?
Step up and take responsibility for the changes you would like to see. Grow yourself to the level required to achieve your goals. Expand your heart such that you can inspire others to join your “impossible” mission.
Remember, impossible is just a word, not a life sentence.
Stress isn’t something done to you – it is caused by your response to what happens. Your response. Implied is that you have a choice in how you respond. You do!
You can improve your ability to respond to circumstances by learning a healthier reaction. This doesn’t mean you will become stress free. However, it does mean you can develop healthier responses to the things life throws at you.
Where do you start? First, by accepting responsibility for your reactions. Once you accept that you are in charge, begin practicing how you want to react to external stimulus.
Develop new habits to change your response. For example, if you know that facing an angry client sets you off into a cascade of anxiety (increased heart rate, sweaty palms, defensive retorts, churning stomach), then practice how you want to respond. No, you can’t practice wringing her neck! Plan what you will say to defuse the next angry client. Word for word. Include one deep calming breath before you start each practice session and feel your body relax. Practice in front of a mirror looking yourself right in the eyes. Practice until the words flow naturally. Practice remaining calm and comfortable while saying the words. The next time you face an angry client, call upon your practice sessions and you will find yourself reacting to the client in a more relaxed manner. You have trained your mind and body to react differently to stimuli.
One of the new habits to develop is reading and listening to material that helps you learn to respond differently. Read great books and listen to audios on working with people, conflict resolution, personality types, communication, listening, and self-talk. Pouring valuable information into your brain gives you more ammunition for managing your reactions to people and circumstances.
Circumstances are pretty much out of your control and are definitely going to happen throughout your life. When you learn how to react to them, your stress level will decrease.
What Did You Throw Away Today?
In the briefest of moments, we carelessly throw so much of value away. Sad, so sad.
But, with deliberate effort, we can learn to hold treasures closer to our heart and share them with others rather than negligently toss them out. Rise above the apathy in your lives and learn to recognize your treasures and assets; for only in recognizing them, can you give them their due value.
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Would you go after that new degree?
Would you get married?
Would you train for the Olympics?
Would you become a parent?
Would you start a business?
Would you found an animal sanctuary?
Would you go after your VTS?
Would you start an international children's charity?
Would you tell your boss it was time for you to move on to a new life that didn’t include working for someone else anymore?
Would go on a diet?
Would you move to a new state, or even a new country?
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Everything worthwhile involves some failure and obstacles. The trick is to stay focused on where you are going rather than what you are going through.
Fail your way to your goals and dreams. It is immenseley worth it in the long run. Go for it!
Knowledge will open a door or close one.
Knowledge will instruct or destruct.
Knowledge will create wealth or destitution.
Knowledge will enlighten or mystify.
Knowledge will inspire or depress.
Knowledge will create peace or anguish.
Knowledge will create or destroy.
Knowledge will follow a path or run in circles.
Knowledge will free or imprison.
Knowledge will empower or slave.
Knowledge can create leaders or followers.
Knowledge is either accurate or inaccurate.
The difference is gigantic but subtle.
Can you tell the difference?
What does a three year old child see when looking in the mirror? “Me!”
What does a nine year old child see when looking in the mirror? “Not enough.”
A bit of the awe and wonder remains but it is quickly squelched by the ever present feeling of “I am ok, but I am not enough.”
What does a teenager see when looking in the mirror? “I don’t matter.”
What does a 21 year old adult see when looking in the mirror? “I am afraid.”
What does a 45 year old adult see when looking in the mirror? “Never.”
What does a 60 year old adult see when looking in the mirror? “Too late.”
Remember, the mirror only shows us what we want to see. It reflects our beliefs, limiting or otherwise.
Help each other see a better reflection by acting as a mirror for others. Reflect the beauty, strength, value, and heart of each person you encounter.
Help them see themselves through kind eyes.
One of my favorite books is James P. Owen’s “Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn From The Code Of The West.” In his book, he lists 10 cowboy attributes worth applying to personal and professional life. There is something for all of us to learn from this book. I would like to take his list and apply it to the veterinary technician profession.
Live each day with courage
In the traditional sense of the word, courage isn’t something most veterinary technicians see themselves needing and, yet, they do exhibit courage. Courage is the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty or emotional pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action. Please note that nowhere in the definition does courage include the lack of fear. In fact, courage and fear go hand in hand. One doesn’t exist without the other.
When does a veterinary technician exhibit courage? Each time fear or anxiety is experienced. Fear of learning something new. Fear while performing a risky anesthesia. Fear of working with a confrontational client. Fear of making a mistake. Those veterinary technician who move forward in the face of their own fear exhibit very real courage.
Take pride in your work
The veterinary technician profession is a critical one to the day to day success in any veterinary endeavor. There is every reason to take pride in the work without being prideful. Do your best every day no matter how mundane or humble some of the tasks may be. Take no excuses from yourself. Set the bar high and reach for it each day. Let your results speak for you.
Always finish what you start
Daily tasks seem never ending. Leaving loose ends is a failure to finish what you start and can represent a character flaw. It also increases the work load of those who work with you because they have to pick up where you left off. Be thorough. Ask for help if needed. Always be ready to pitch in and help others.
Do what has to be done
There are tasks and responsibilities we would just as soon not to have to do. No one enjoys cleaning up after a parvo dog, finishing records, calling the cranky client, completing time sheets, doing inventory, etc. Do what has to be done with good grace, no whining and right away. In fact, get the task you would rather not do done first. No point in procrastinating as it isn’t going to go away. Get’er done!
Be tough, but fair
No need to be a push over. However, a person of integrity treats others with fairness, respect and courtesy. The old adage “treat others as you would be treated” is more than a clever turn of phrase. It is a life style worth living. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Remember, you don’t know what others are going through so be very, very careful of judging them. Strive to be fair in all your interactions.
When you make a promise, keep it
There was a time in our history when a hand shake was all that was needed to seal a million dollar deal. Today, a hand shake is likely to be just a hand shake and someone’s word has to be backed up with legal contracts that even the attorneys don’t understand. Your word really is your worth. Can others count on you to follow through on your promises and commitments? Are you all hot air or are you the real deal? Do you keep promises to yourself? Might be a good place to start.
Ride for the brand
Loyalty is a pretty rare commodity. Employees speak poorly of the very people paying their salaries. Employers do the same thing about their staff. And, everyone is speaking poorly about the clients. A person of integrity doesn’t do any of this no matter the provocation. Loyalty doesn’t mean you never disagree or are loyal to a company that isn’t loyal and respectful to you. It does mean, you remain professional under all circumstances. If a company doesn’t deserve your loyalty, then get out. If you can’t say something nice, it would be wiser to not say anything at all.
Talk less and say more
What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say. Your results will tell others more about you than your words do. Speak the truth in all things. No one is fooled by the person who says one thing and does another. Be sure what you have to say is worth listening to.
Remember that some things aren’t for sale
Principles are few. And, they don’t vary depending on circumstances. No one is a little bit principled. You either are or are not a principled person. If you struggle in this area, know that you can improve. Seek out those who consistently live a principle centered life and follow their example. Read books that focus on the same. Live a life of dignity.
Know where to draw the line
“There is right and there is wrong and nothing in between.” Grey is a color, not part of what is right. Taking a few things from work seems to be an epidemic. “Oh, they have so much money they will never miss this. Besides, they owe me” is a common attitude in the veterinary profession. A few pens, some antibiotics for your horse, fudging on your time sheet, a ream of paper, a pair of bandage scissors and, next thing you know, you are far down the slippery slope. Remember, right is right all the time. Not just when it is convenient.
The Veterinary Surgeon
Leaps tall buildings in single bound
The Veterinary Specialist
Leaps short buildings in a single bound
The General Practitioner
Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds
The 2nd year Resident
Barely clears a Quonset hut
The 1st year resident
Makes high marks on the wall when trying to leap buildings
The Veterinary Student
Runs into buildings
The Veterinary Receptionist
Designates which buildings to leap over and when
The Veterinary Technician
Lifts buildings and walks under them
We are all in a hurry. We shoot first and think later. Not a good idea when trying to communicate with others. I suggest that each and every one of us needs to be more sensitive when we write and less sensitive when we read.
When we post comments on Facebook, it would behoove us to be more sensitive to our readers as well as be more aware of the impression we are trying to generate. Our comments say a great deal about us, how we think, where our emotional intelligence rests, and what we understand about the topic.
On the flip side, we need to be less sensitive when we read the comments generated by others. We need to be careful what we read into a comment. Show some emotional intelligence, take the higher road, and respond with courtesy and respect, if you must respond at all, to something you believe is argumentative or unprofessional. Remember, arguing doesn’t change the other person’s mind. But, it just might convince them and everyone else reading your comments that you are an idiot.
Neither Facebook nor email is a great way to carry on a discussion. However, they may be the only tools available so use them very, very wisely. Strive to be respectful even in the face of disrespect. Posts that start off innocently enough that devolve into unprofessional conversations degrade the entire community of readers.
Nothing on Facebook is secure or private! Negative comments about your employer, coworkers or clients can and will be seen by them. They might not be on your friends lists, but they might be your friend’s friend. Remember this before you post comments such as “my job sucks” and “everyone I work with is lazy.” Keeping your comments professional just might keep you out of hot water and in your job.
Yes, you may vent on Facebook, but keep it professional and appropriate. If you would not want your boss, coworkers or clients to see what you have written, rewrite it before posting! Ask yourself “What if the person I am writing about read this?”
Write as if your posts were going to be on the front page of the newspaper or Yahoo’s main page. This is good practice for developing a more discerning mind and improving your ability to articulate thoughts.
You are capable, intelligent and competent, so prove it each time you post!
You are in the condition you are today due to decisions you made yesterday.
Your marriage is in the shape it is today due to decisions you’ve made.
Your relationship with your family is in the shape it is today due to decisions you’ve made.
You are in financial bondage or freedom today due to decisions you’ve made.
You are in good or poor health today due to decisions you’ve made.
Your lifestyle is limited due to decisions you’ve made.
Your past decisions influenced your present and your present decisions influence your future. If you don’t like something about your life, now is the time to start the change.
You have the power to change your results. You have the power and the responsibility. Start now. Make smart decisions!
I love to attend Leadership seminars! I find that they are great resources for stretching my mind. I attended one recently where the keynote speakers were a young couple named MacNamara. Here are a few of the nuggets I picked up. I hope they help you stretch your thinking!
The majority of people don’t actually quit anything. In my experience, very few people actually say:
People don’t actually quit. They just fade away.
Let’s use the example of working out. Initially, there might be motivation for working out. Maybe you have gained a couple of pounds. Or, your high school reunion is coming up. Maybe your doctor tells you that you are headed for a medical train wreck if you don’t get in shape. Then, you have this great idea. “I’m going to do it! I am going to go to the gym 5 days a week and get this old bod in shape.” You start off strong. Maybe the first two weeks you make it to the gym 5 days each week. You might even do this for several months. Then, there is the fateful day when you give yourself an excuse to miss one day. You are too tired, busy, have an ingrown toenail, overtime at work, have to take the kids to soccer, the weather is too hot/cold, have to do the grocery shopping…just about any excuse will work. Besides, it is only one day.
The following week you stick to the plan and make it to the gym all 5 days. Then it happens again. You miss a day or two or three because you have a cold or maybe there is a big wedding to attend out of town. Ooops! Missed the gym again. Now, you begin missing your workouts more and more frequently. But, you haven’t quit! You tell yourself you will get back into the swing of things soon. Things are just hectic right now. Uh huh. Eventually, you even stop thinking about it. No more working out and you never actually admit that you have quit. You just fade away.
How does this apply to less tangible areas such as your job or business? Remember the first day on your new job? You were so excited and nervous. You couldn’t wait to get started on this new adventure. You were on time every day and worked with enthusiasm. Usually, this “honeymoon” period lasts 6 months to a year. It gets harder and harder to get up on time each morning. You are dying for that first cup of coffee and start looking forward to your first break of the day before you arrive at work. The tasks are becoming routine. You pretty much know what to expect each day. Before you know it, you only do enough each day to get by. You do what is required, but no more than this. You don’t actually quit your job, but you have faded away.
Why do people fade away? There are thousands of excuses, but only one reason: lack of commitment. People like the idea of getting fit or looking good, being married, getting a paycheck, owning their own business, etc., but they aren’t committed to doing what it takes. They only stick things out as long as it is easy and convenient. When people say “I am going to work out 5 days per week” what they actually mean is “I will work out 5 days a week until it becomes more work than my health is worth to me.” In reality, they have quit before they have even started because they are not committed to the decision.
Personally, I am trying to be very careful about what I say. When I say “I would like to paint the garage” rather than “I am painting the garage this weekend”, there is a huge difference in my mind. The first is wishful thinking and the second is a firm commitment.
Make a decision once. Not over and over and over. Decide once you are going to work out 5 days a week and then follow through consistently. Decide once that you are going to do your best every day at your job rather than dragging your butt out of bed each morning forcing yourself to go. Decide once to persistently build your business in spite of the obstacles, long hours and learning curve rather than “trying” to build a business.
Or quit. Really and truly quit. Quit your job. Cancel your membership at the gym. Get out of the marriage. Close your business down. Quit relationships. Tell people you have quit. Tell yourself you have quit. Fading away is pathetic. Decide once. And, then do.
All over the world, there are monuments commemorating people, events, philosophies, faiths, etc. Each is a work of art serving as a reminder or an inspiration.
People build a “monument” out of their own lives. Some people build small monuments. Small doesn’t mean useless or without value, it just affects a smaller “range of influence”. Maybe the range of influence is limited to within a family or a relationship. Or, maybe the range is within one clinic or corporation. Of course, the impact might actually be huge to that family or corporation and the monument is only small in range of influence.
Small could be positive or negative in influence. There are small precious monuments to love within a family, vitriolic monuments of hate toward a neighbor, and cherished monuments of joy shared within a community.
Others build massive monuments, in range of influence, impacting millions of lives directly or indirectly. Examples would be the development of cancer treatments, technological advancements in communication, and the eradication of polio.
Some personal monuments are large, impacting an entire nation. Mother Theresa created one in India that will influence generations to come. Hitler certainly created a monument of hate that will never be forgotten. Indira Ghandi’s monument influenced several generations of an entire nation with a ripple effect still felt today.
Some monuments influence generations. Benjamin Franklin created a monument spanning generations in several nations influencing government, science, art and critical thinking. Zig Ziglar and Dale Carnegie certainly created monuments that have influenced several generations to think more kindly, act with more respect and look on the bright side. So far, Orrin and Laurie Woodward with Chris and Terri Brady have influenced two generations by encouraging the development of personal leadership. The Beatles monument has influenced multiple generations and is still impacting the music industry and personal lives.
Intentionally or not, everyone creates a monument. What monument are you building? What do you want it to look like?
The large animal clinic parking lot at the VMTH is surrounded by buildings and two gates. The gates are designed to easily roll shut in the event that an animal escapes and to prevent animals from reaching the road. Many a time these gates proved critical in confining a four-legged escapee and saving lives.
Years ago, I was headed out to lunch walking through the large animal clinic parking lot to my car. Faintly, in the distance I heard someone shout “Catch it! She's headed for the gate.” I spun around expecting to see a cow or horse running loose. Instead, something slammed into my shin barely above my ankle. My reflexes took over and I grabbed the critter before I even realized what it was. A pygmy doe kid was the dangerous escapee! As I scooped her up into my arms, I heard the familiar voice of Dr. G. say with great cheer “Now, she is yours to keep!”
“What?!!!” The little 10 week old doe had an umbilical hernia. The owner had hundreds of goats and was not willing to have this one on her ranch because it was “defective”. Dr. G always expected someone working at the VMTH to adopt the rejects. And, this was no exception. His engaging smile and great trust left us powerless to say no. Of course, I took the doe home with me.
When I returned home with this new little critter, I had nowhere to house her. As I looked about our property for a place to house her temporarily, my 28 year old quarter horse mare, Cubes, whinnied. Hmmm, what if???? Carrying the doe over to Cubes, I watched the mare’s face and body language. She was very interested and gently snuffled the little doe’s face and body. I walked into the paddock still carrying the doe. Gently Cubes turned to face me and walked up closer. I set the doe on the ground ready to swoop her back up just in case Cubes threatened her in any way. I guess it was love at first sight on the part of both animals. They were inseparable from that day forth.
We named the little doe Fiona. She quickly became the resident character on our place. Bossy little thing! As tiny as she was, she would rear up and come down slamming her head into Cubes leg below the knee. Cubes would move over at the whim of this little tyrant. As Fiona grew up, she would leap up into Cubes’ feed trough, straddle the entire thing and eat face to face with the horse. These two were inseparable. The paddock fence was designed to contain a horse, not a pygmy goat. Fiona could have walked in and out at will but she never even tried as long as Cubes was with her.
Cubes was routinely allowed out of her paddock and given free rein of our property. She always stayed close to the house munching her way throughout our yard. Unfortunately, Fiona had taken it upon herself to protect Cubes from our dog, Sean. She was “hell on hooves”, chasing him and ramming Sean every chance she got. My 110 lb lab gave Fiona wide berth and developed a healthy fear of the tiny tyrant.
The funny thing was, after Cubes died at the old age of 32, Fiona turned all her affection over to Sean within a matter of hours. She refused to stay in the paddock and would follow Sean everywhere. Of course, he wasn’t quite sure what to make of this change in heart. I guess he finally relented because the two of them shared the dog house on a regular basis. Animals are so funny!
The minute someone shares something they are excited about the naysayers start coming out of the woodwork.
Announce with glee that you are getting married and the responses are shocking. “Don’t you know that 7 out of 10 marriages end in divorce?” “Going to get a ball and chain, huh?” “That ring on your finger will be more like one through your nose.”
Share that you are pregnant and people have to vomit every pregnancy nightmare story they have ever experienced or heard. Thanks! – as if you weren’t already torn between excitement and fear!
Suggest that you are considering buying a house and you are rabidly reminded about the poor economy, everything that can go wrong with home ownership, and how much upkeep a house requires.
Dare to mention that your fondest dream is to start your own business and all the loving, concerned people in your life woefully warn you that 50% of all businesses fail in the first five years and another 30% fail in the second five years. “Don’t leave that unsatisfying, safe, secure job for the risk represented by self-employment.”
Don’t let fear, yours or others, stop you from chasing your dreams. - just do it!
Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
It is kind of interesting that the third definition for compromise is “presenting danger or disgrace.” I never thought of compromise as inherently dangerous. Compromising on techniques, timing, dinner plans, house design, selecting a school for your kids, and where to take a vacation isn’t risky or disgraceful. It just might be a matter of respecting the other person enough to try for a win-win.
However, compromising on your principles is another story. The danger is to your integrity and that is dangerous indeed!
I met with a group of friends recently and somehow we landed on to the topic of odd phrases we all use, but don’t know where we picked them up. We also aren’t sure what some of them actually mean.
What other odd sayings you use?
You have worked hard to be a quality veterinary technician. You are unique. You bring something special to your work. Recognize and treasure this. Veterinary technicians are respected and appreciated by many because they have earned the recognition in the clinics, hospitals, laboratories, and facilities all over North America and the world! Each of you have contributed in some way, deliberately or unintentionally, to the evolution of our profession.
Our profession is still evolving. Right now it is in the middle of a plateau, experiencing growth pains and struggling forward in a poor economy.
All of you are needed to help move us into the next growth phase. Prepare now to lead right where you are. Or, prepare to help lead the entire profession if you are inspired to do so. Either way, now is the time for you to get involved in advancing our profession into the future.
You can help take us where we need to go faster. Remember when you were a kid playing in the swimming pool? The game where everyone starts walking in the same direction around the perimeter of the pool creating a current. Eventually the current was strong enough to carry you a short distance if you lifted up your feet. If everyone is working in the same direction, eventually the current becomes a force no one could stand against. Well, that is what we need now. Everyone needs to up their game so that we can get the current moving in the right direction.
Increase your skill at working with others. Improve your ability to communicate. Study not just the science of veterinary technology, but the art of leadership. Associate with other veterinary technicians through conferences, symposiums, state associations and national associations. Discuss. Read. Get involved locally. Become a linchpin in your job. Study the business of where you work. The more you know, the more you will impact life for yourself and the development of our profession.
I am not asking for much. Just your very best. Jump in the pool!
“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing or that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”
As always, I learn so much from my mentor, George Guzzardo! Here are some of my thoughts on the importance of reading I have learned over the years. Slowly, but surely I am putting it all together in my own head!
I think we can all agree there are a lot of unhappy people in this Nation. Discontented in their work. Unable to create healthy, happy relationships. Physically sick and tired. Financially strapped. Emotionally numb. Stuck in the drudgery of home to work; work to home; home to work.
We also know from numerous studies that literacy is at an all-time low in our Nation. We have a higher percentage of uninformed, misinformed illiterate citizens than we did at the founding of our Nation. Back then the majority could read and were very literate. The ability to read was treasured. People deliberately stayed informed. They sought to improve their critical thinking skills and advance their understanding of their world.
The number of illiterate in this country today is shocking, but what is even worse is the number of literate people who don’t read at all or only read for entertainment.
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
People who aren’t growing and learning are much easier to control, influence and mislead. Eventually, we have a Nation of sheep led to slaughter by the wolves.
If we don’t know what we don’t know and we are forgetting what we do know, then we are missing critical information in our lives. We can’t see what we aren’t educated to see: opportunities and dangers.
Reading sources of credible information is the key to “knowing”. When we read, we are exposed to ideas, data, thinking processes, and information we didn’t know existed. Through reading, we are also reminded of that which we have forgotten. The end result: personal growth through knowledge. We increase what we do know, improving the potential for a better life for our families and ourselves. We also become armed against the dangers represented by those who would do us and our Nation harm. It is always those who know who hold sway over those who don’t; for good or for evil.
“After all, nothing really changes until the mind changes.”
To know is to have. If you don’t know, then you don’t have. Increase what you know and you can have. This applies to just about anything in our lives: relationships, financial standing, personal fulfillment, health, and more. The key is to expand what we know and our ability to think critically is to increase our reading of valuable books. If every adult and child in this Nation read a minimum of one valuable book a month, life, as we know it, would improve because we are continuing to grow.
What does it mean to “retire”?
Most of us were taught “go to school, get good grades, find a safe, secure job, and stay there until retirement.” I did go to school; earned grades (okay, they weren’t anything to brag about), found an incredible job with a veterinary school, but can I retire?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80% of the USA population will retire on 33 – 50% of what they are making at the time they retire. Could you afford to take a 50% pay cut right now?
Oh, your 401K or 403B is going to make up the difference? Really? Did you see what happened to the stock market in 2008? Do you realize that all those people who were planning on retiring between 2008 to 2020 no longer can because their 401K is now a 101K? Many poor people who were already retired at the time of the stock market crash have either gone back to work or are desperately living on Social Insecurity.
I don’t mean to be a doomsayer, but we really need to teach our citizens and ourselves to think differently about money. Retirement is NOT an age; it is an income.
What would you do if your current income kept coming in every month even if you never returned to your job or business again? Would you spend more time with your family? How about travel more? Would you live somewhere else? What charities would you support or even donate your time to on a regular basis? Would you spend your time helping improve our environment? Rescuing animals? Helping change our laws or legal system?
I don’t know about you, but my “retirement” started the day I realized that my financial education is my responsibility. I hope you are taking care of your financial education. Don’t leave your future in the hands of a stock“broker” or get your financial advice from your brother-in-law who carries $10,000 in credit card debt.
Learn from those who have the life style you want and do what they did. Learn so that you can have and can give! Start right now!
I usually take two one-month vacations each year. This time is spent recharging my batteries by turning my mind to things that don’t require my mind.
All of the above actually do require my mind, but on different tracks than my day-to-day profession. Vacation time allows me concentrated time to stretch my brain in other directions or to just let it shut down for a bit. Both are valuable.
I hope you allow yourself proper time to recharge and restore yourself throughout the year. Become an expert on vacationing and the benefits are huge!
The veterinary technician profession is still a rather young profession in the USA. While there have been veterinary assistants as long as there have been veterinarians, the scientific profession wasn’t recognized until the early 70’s. In the beginning, we were glorified kennel help trained to assist as needed. The early veterinary technicians were pioneers persevering in the face of many obstacles. Over time, we have become skilled, trained, knowledgeable professionals recognized as valuable colleagues.
Our profession continues to change and grow, but we have a long way to go. Each of us is called upon to play a role in its growth. For us to help, we need to grow ourselves personally as well as professionally. Improved pay and benefits, increased specialization, and professional recognition are all on the horizon. We each will make the difference in how successfully our profession grows. No longer can we focus on just improving our technical and scientific knowledge. It is time we expand our ability to lead.
Learn to lead right where you are. Develop your communication skills. Expand your repertoire for working with others. Become an expert at conflict resolution. Learn to recognize opportunities. Become the best you can at all you do. Strive for excellence. Study leadership the same way that you study the science of our profession: with commitment and passion. Read books by the great leadership authors. Listen to audios covering the topics of leadership.
Practice by applying what you learn. Grow and lead.
We need you. Your peers need you. Our profession needs you.
You would think that an adult who is married, raising children, earned an advanced degree and holding down a prestigious job would have enough life experience to have developed a decent level of emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, life experience does not bestow emotional maturity.
Emotional intelligence requires deliberate effort. It doesn’t happen accidentally or as a by-product. Wouldn’t you agree that you know at least one or two brilliant people who could use a boost in their personal emotional quotient?
Where are they going to get this boost? They aren’t unless they choose to grow and seek out the resources to do so.
You can’t coerce, threaten, bribe, inspire or force anyone to grow and change. But you know this already. I bet you have tried to get someone to grow up. Change only comes when the person is willing and committed.
We all could use at least a little boost in our emotional intelligence. What are you doing to increase yours?
There were three birds sitting on a wire. One decided to fly away. How many birds are sitting on the wire? Three. One decided to fly away, but no action has taken place yet.
People talk a good game about changing something in their lives. They emphatically state over and over again that they have decided to:
Initially listening to them, you might be convinced they are committed to their decision. And yet, all they do is talk about what they have decided to do. Months, even years later, they still have not actually done anything. However, they have added a sentence or two to their decision.
Their original “decision” wasn’t a decision after all. It was a fantasy they gave voice to in a moment of inspiration. They were just wishing out loud.
Nothing wrong with wishing as long as that is what you realize you are doing. If you mistake a wish for a decision, frustration and a feeling of failure are bound to show up. A wish is a fantasy without commitment and a game plan.
It would be more accurate to say they wish to get fit, lose weight, etc., etc. – but, I am not committed to making it happen – just wishing.
A decision is a dream backed by commitment, a game plan and action. A decision is “do or die trying” and “come hell or high water.” As my friend, George Guzzardo, says a “red line defense” – an all-out consistent effort to follow up on the decision and do everything possible every day to make it come to fruition.
Now, that is a decision!
Have you made any decisions lately?
We have all experienced it. You are in the grocery store and you hear a wail followed by screaming. It is a 3 year old child throwing a full blown temper tantrum. Lying on the floor, beating his little fists in the air screaming over and over “I want candy! I want candy!” Our first reaction is embarrassment for the parent quickly followed by “Why doesn’t she just swat the kid or take him out of the store. Doesn’t she know how to manage her kid?” Harrumph!
The mother calmly speaks to her son restating her original response with facts. “You will spoil your appetite for dinner” or “We don’t have the money for candy.” None of which is of interest to the child. The child wants what he wants and the facts don’t matter. So goes the battle. Someone will win: child or parent.
Now enter the work place. Same scenario with different players: One veterinarian fumes and spews at the top of his lungs to his manager “I want a pay raise. I want more authority. I want you to do what I want without question and right away.” Doesn’t matter what the topic is, but you now have another 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum except that the 3 year old is really 42! He wants what he wants and the facts don’t matter. So goes the battle. Someone will win: veterinarian or manager. You could have a win-win, but only if the veterinarian cooperates.
Both the child and the 42 year old veterinarian have about the same emotional intelligence. What is a manager to do? You can’t swat the veterinarian and put him in time out. Or, can you?
Personally and professionally, I am not willing to listen to anyone who speaks or behaves without respect and courtesy. It is quite possible to indicate you are angry, frustrated or upset without losing emotional decorum. Really, it is! I am quite willing to listen to anyone about their concerns if they remain professional.
In the event that someone can’t remain appropriate, I am definitely going to consider “swatting” them with a quick “Obviously you are having difficulty expressing yourself appropriately, so please leave my office and return when you can behave appropriately.” If they are reluctant to leave my office, then I do. Simple. Walk away.
Of course, I could always put them in a “time-out” and insist they leave the work site on administrative leave for the remainder of the day for a cooling-off period. This also leaves me time to assess their behavior and decide how to manage corrective action.
So, you see, as a supervisor, I can “swat” or put someone in time-out if appropriate, but I don’t ever have to submit to verbal abuse.
Staff members really only have two options when faced with an adult having a temper tantrum. You may not respond in kind. Whether the abuser is a faculty member, veterinarian, co-worker, or client does not matter. No one has a right to verbally abuse another person. If you can’t get a word in, simply walk away.
If you can get a word in, calmly and clearly state “Obviously you are having difficulty expressing yourself appropriately so I am going to walk away right now. If you would like to continue this conversation when you are calmer, please contact my supervisor to arrange an appointment for the three of us.” and then firmly walk away without further comment regardless of the provocation. If the person follows you and continues the abuse, head straight for your supervisor or the Human Resources office with them in tow.
People with low emotional intelligence resort to default behaviors. Throwing a temper tantrum may be the only tool they have in their repertoire for dealing with frustration and anger. This does not mean you need to submit to the behavior. The fault is theirs, not yours. All you need to do is be sure you remain professional and appropriate. Take the high road.
By the way, everyone could benefit to improving their emotional intelligence. Everyone. Give that some thought as you continue to strive for excellence in your life.
“Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.” I don’t remember who said this originally, but I have said it so very many times, I claim it as my own.
Change is normal. The seasons change. The weather changes. Children grow older. Our bodies decay. Friends leave us. We leave friends. Technology advances. Viruses mutate. Today’s fashions fade away being replaced by the latest, greatest. New supervisors are hired. People die. Presidents come and go.
Change is normal and happens every day, all day. Resisting change is like trying to resist the dawn of a new day. Futile.
Each change requires a transition. The bigger the change, the bigger the transition. Some of us get stuck in the transition stage because we fight the change rather than work with it or embrace the reality. When someone is stuck in the transition stage, a cycle of exhausting, debilitating emotional reactions occur.
People stuck in transition focus on what is not working or what they don’t want rather than on what is working or what they can do to improve their situation. Fear, frustration, resentment, anger and a victim attitude becomes a deep dark hole from which they can’t escape. They put themselves in the hole and keep on digging.
When changes come too quickly for those with low emotional intelligence/resources or poor coping skills, people become overwhelmed, jaded and emotionally exhausted. They have not processed the last change and here comes another one! Transition becomes harder and harder.
How to Manage Change
When faced with change, if you find yourself stuck in resentment, helplessness, anger, frustration, depression or fear, know that you did this to yourself. This means that only you can get yourself out and moving forward to a healthier, more constructive response.
Accept that change is inevitable. NOTHING stays the same. You would be wise to become an expert at anticipating and responding to change. Bolster your positive attitude, framework, and confidence.
Get good at working through the transition phase without becoming emotionally hijacked. Learn to let go of old expectations and practices quicker. Develop the mental skills necessary to quickly move through any disorientation, fear, anger resentment and panic. Seek support from those who are good at moving through the transition phase.
Help manage change through calm reflection, objectivity, visioning for the future, and understanding the reason for the change. Help the team or your family move forward rather than waiting or ignoring the situation.
Stop focusing on what is not working and focus on what is and could work. Be actively involved – explore, learn, grow and develop new ideas. Develop a vision and game plan with tangible results. Develop the skill to think clearly, listen fully, and let go when it is necessary.
Recognize when you have influence and when you don’t. Even when you don’t, you can help influence the outcome. At work, you might not be able to influence the selection of a new administrator, but you certainly can influence the new administrator after she is hired by developing a working relationship with her rather than just resenting the change in management. At home, you might not be able to influence your son’s choice in a wife, but you can develop a stronger, healthier relationship with both of them thereby influencing the future relationship.
How you BEHAVE will determine your level of influence. How you think will determine how you behave. Change your thinking about change and you will change your results.
Change is inevitable. How you respond and take advantage of it is up to you.
I have been re-reading several books by Stephen R. Covey and Stephen M.R. Covey. Here are some my favorite quotes.
Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, your motive, your intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, your results, your track record. And both are vital.
Leadership may have to come in a different package. It’s got to be credible… Overall, it’s about credibility, walking the talk.
Self-trust is the first secret of success…the essence of heroism.
The only way to build trust professionally or personally is by being trustworthy.
Trust is established through action.
There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business – or life. There are, basically, three kinds of people; the unsuccessful, the temporarily unsuccessful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.
I look for three things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. But, if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.
Rules cannot take the place of character.
Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.
Be valued and principle based. Know what you stand for, and live by those standards.
You can’t create a high-trust culture unless people perform.
You can’t talk yourself out of a problem you’ve behaved yourself into.
No, but you can behave yourself out of a problem you’ve behaved yourself into…and often faster than you think!
One of the pleasures of working for a major veterinary school is the brilliant people leading the way in our profession. So many of them are at the forefront of new discoveries, creating tomorrow’s methods and techniques and teaching the next generation.
With such a concentration of brilliant and talented people, you are bound to run into one or two of what I call the “Toxic SuperTechs.” Toxic super veterinary technicians (TSTs) are special. They tend to be talented, knowledgeable people who have unhealthy egos, lack self-control and/or lack people skills.
Often, they actively seek advanced training and education. They attend every seminar and conference possible. They arrive early to work and stay late. No one can fault their technical knowledge or skill.
Unfortunately, the TST lacks emotional I.Q. – exhibiting arrogance, demeaning the contributions of others, frequently stepping over the line between veterinary technician and veterinarian, and generally lacking respect for others. They may even believe they are above protocols and policies, often pushing well beyond what is permitted.
It is challenging for the other team members to work with or be around the TST. The inconsiderate and disrespectful behavior is very wearing on the team. Everyone might like the toxic supertech as a person and value his knowledge and skill while dreading the attitude, disrespect and drama. The TST isn’t someone just having a bad day. They are someone with an out of control ego.
Are they worth having on the team? The answer isn’t simple. If the TST is willing to accept coaching and apply the information, resulting in personal growth and improved people skills – then yes, keep them. If they are not, then it is time to let them go.
Toxic behavior is not worth the short term and long term damage to the entire team and everyone exposed to the TST. Even their outstanding technical knowledge and skill are not enough to justify keeping them. Help them move on to somewhere they may be a better fit.
I attended a three day leadership conference this weekend. It turned out to be an amazing time with some of the most successful leaders in the Nation.
Here are some of the lessons I picked up.
Given today’s economy and the culture of entitlement, most people will never retire. They will die first.
See more in others than they see in themselves.
Decisions should be made based on principles, not circumstances.
Do what is necessary. Then do what is possible. And, soon you will find yourself doing the impossible.
Your strongest opponent is right between your own ears.
Be the person you were born to be. Not the one you have been allowed to be.
Have a great day or not. Your choice!
Excuses are there to explain poor performance.
Doubt is 100 times stronger than belief.
Quitting is like farting in a Smart Car – it affects everyone!
Quit putting yourself down for what you are not and lift yourself up for what you are.
Don’t try to fill your hero’s shoes. Fill your own and walk in her footsteps.
For those who believe, no proof is required. For those who do not, no proof is possible.
Your mortgage on your house should never be more than 1 week of your paycheck.
Consensus doesn’t make the untrue true.
Quit waiting for your ship to come in. Build it or swim out to it.
Encourage = instill courage
Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem
It is not what we do once in awhile that creates our future. It is what we do consistently.
I hope you found one or two points helpful. I am sure you found at least one that made you smile and another that made you wince. Growth will do that to you!
Now to implement them!
I don’t know about you, but I find that some of my family members are a little more “special” than others. Special is not necessarily a good thing. I do love them all though! I bet you have some special family members too! Let me introduce you to a few of my family members.
There is the Grand Dame. You know, the one who walks like the Queen of England barely acknowledging the peons in the room, nose slightly in the air, back straight, disdainful, prim and proper.
Then there is the perpetually young adult family member. The one everyone loves, but you have to put breakables up out of reach. Tripping over their own feet. Bumping into people, walls and furniture. Extremely happy, but oh so clueless! Distracted by every shiny object. Perpetually young and never going to grow up and mature.
We have the doddering old man who needs help getting up the stairs or remembering who you are. Such a sweetie, but time has caught up with him.
Of course, living out in the country, we have the redneck. Always bringing the latest kill home, starting fights, flexing muscles, and outeating everyone else just because.
Everyone has a grouch in their family. The one member who is never happy with anything and constantly grumbling under their breath. They have their spot and no one else dares to sit there. When they walk through the room everyone else moves aside with eyes downcast.
Some of you may have a control freak. We certainly do! The one who has to push and prod everyone else into doing things their way. Always in charge of keeping everyone together and on track.
Everyone loves the family clown. This is the one who keeps everyone laughing even if it takes extreme antics, pratfalls, or the bizarre. Think Tigger. Sometimes a little simple in the mind, but has a huge heart and flamboyant sense of humor.
Every lucky family has a soulful member. The one who looks deeply into your eyes seeking to sympathize or console you. Always offers a kind touch or warm hug. He or she makes you feel better by simply sitting close by and listening attentively.
Does your family have a hyperactive worrier? Frantically running around trying to do too much and ineffective at accomplishing anything. Announcing everyone’s arrival with fuss and bother. Makes you tired just to watch them. Ours is definitely an overachiever when it comes to anxiety!
The peacekeeper is another member everyone loves. Calm, quiet force encouraging everyone to kiss and make-up. The peacekeeper is unhappy if everyone isn’t having a good time or isn’t getting along with everyone else.
We have lots of jocks in our family. Nothing is too much of a challenge: swimming, ball sports, running, hiking. The jock is always doing something physical to the extreme.
And I am only talking about the four-legged members of my family! Don’t even get me started on the humans!
What is that incessant background noise? A barely audible soft whining. It seems to be coming from the dark corner on the other side of the room. There is something sitting over there. I can’t tell what it is. When I look directly at it, it is invisible. If I look a little off to the side, it appears to be a small amorphous blob. Is that what is making such an irritating noise?
What is that thing? Is it dangerous? Maybe I will be able to see it better if I move a little closer. Just a step or two. It looks as if the body is pulsing in time with the whining. I can’t tell what it is yet. Maybe just a little closer.
I can barely hear the whine, it is so soft. Doesn’t sound dangerous, but I better be careful until I can see it more clearly. Does it have eyes? None that I can see. There doesn’t appear to be any ears either. Is it alive?
Wait! It’s moving. Turning toward me? Have I been looking at its back? Now it is facing me. Such a hideous creature! Puffy, black circles around the eyes. The mouth is lipless and stretches wide across the face. What is this thing? The whining is driving me crazy! I can barely concentrate.
I can’t resist walking toward it as if controlled by something. How could something so small have so much influence over me? What the hell is this thing?
OH MY GOD! It is FEAR! Amorphous, insidious, baseless fear. False Evidence Appearing Real! It is trying to control me. I can’t resist. My dreams, ambitions, goals and belief in myself are all fading from my mind. I can’t think. Must. Not. Give. In.
Wait a minute! That little snot is trying to control me? Me! I will kick the living $#@* out of it first! Going to use a few Jackie Chan moves backed up with good old street fighting techniques. Where is my baseball bat? False Evidence Appearing Real isn’t going to stop me from pursuing my dreams and goals.
You are going down, Fear!
Not only does your job influence your lifestyle, but those you work with influence who you are.
Whom you associate with influences how you think and behave as well as what you believe. Remember when your mother told you not to hang around Jimmy down the street because he wasn’t a nice boy? Well, the same thing applies to your associations at work.
I know you need an income, but you also need to be careful who you work for. The pay might be reasonable or even great, but over time the damage to your personality and emotional health isn’t worth any amount of money.
Who you work for can also affect you in positive ways.
Care enough about yourself to be choosy about whom you work for. If you are working for someone that doesn’t support, respect and encourage the staff, start looking for a new job right now.
You deserve better!
Resolve [ri-zolv] noun:
Millions of people all over the world are thinking about resolutions. Thinking, but not actually committing. It would be more accurate to describe this annual event as less about resolutions and more about fantasies. Resolutions are great things to brag about; fantastic intentions, but most people don’t treat them with resolve.
And, the list goes on. Those who will succeed in achieving their resolutions are those truly committed to the action necessary and the final results.
Identify one goal you know you are committed to achieving and write it in concrete. Develop a flexible game plan, a trusted team of supporters, and go for it!
May this be your best year to date!