HIERARCHY: My New Thoughts


Hierarchy, the word, has always been a bad word in my mind. The very definition goes against my grain. The hierarchical structures of businesses & government have always made me bristle; I’m sure those around me could see the steam emitting from my ears.


         Definition of hierarchy    



1:  a division of angels

2a:  a ruling body of clergy organized into orders or ranks each subordinate to the one above it;

especially:  the bishops of a province or nation

 b:  church government by a hierarchy

3:  a body of persons in authority

4:  the classification of a group of people according to ability or to economic, social, or professional standing; also:  the group so classified

5:  a graded or ranked series a hierarchy of values

I can live with a “division of angels”, classification by “ability”, ranked values, & maybe professional standing (that one depends on circumstances); but, as a general ‘better than you’ idea because of economic or social standing, or formal education I take exception.

I recently heard information that caused me to rethink & compare hierarchy characteristics to leadership characteristics. In every situation, someone is going to be better at something than the rest of the group & that will change as the situation changes. Furthermore, I recently learned “there are some things in this world that can be done better by you than by anyone else”.



I firmly believe everyone is a leader. A leader in one situation, however, is not necessarily a leader in another situation. I suggest you examine your numerous roles. In which roles are you a hierarch, a leader, a student, or a follower. I have decided to look at hierarchy the same way I look at leadership even though I do not see them as synonymous; there are similarities that allow us to use similar criteria for examination. This means that there will be some hierarchs & hierarchies we need to question, those who do not concern themselves with the best interests of others; we need to be discerning & discriminating when deciding who to follow & who to accept as teachers.


photo courtesy of CWALLACE


Unless you are self-employed you will have a hierarchy at work. Sometimes we grow to resent or distrust one or more of the people in our work hierarchy; when this happens, it might be time to find a new workplace. Do not let yourself be poisoned by distrust or resentment. Know your values & live your values. However, it might also be a good idea to look within: be open-minded, nonjudgmental, & seek to understand. As always “do no harm”.

I never thought I would see hierarchy as anything other than negative. But, as I have said in the past, the more we learn the more aware we become of how little we know. Hierarchy, on my terms, isn’t so bad.







from Creative Commons


We all do it. We rarely think about it. Most of us do it pretty much the same. There are

differences though – through the nose, through the mouth, quietly, noisily, using the

chest, using the abdominals, fast, slow, deep, shallow. Nurses and doctors listen to your

chest to hear the sound of your breath in your lungs. There are a lot of different sounds

there; crackles, wheezes, sometimes it even sounds like a washing machine, and

sometimes there isn’t much sound or even none at all.  Are you doing it right? Are you

getting the most bang for your buck from your breathing?

chest to hear the sound of your breath in your lungs. There are a lot of different sounds

there; crackles, wheezes, sometimes it even sounds like a washing machine, and

sometimes there isn’t much sound or even none at all.  Are you doing it right? Are you

getting the most bang for your buck from your breathing?

there; crackles, wheezes, sometimes it even sounds like a washing machine, and

sometimes there isn’t much sound or even none at all.  Are you doing it right? Are you

getting the most bang for your buck from your breathing?

sometimes there isn’t much sound or even none at all.  Are you doing it right? Are you

getting the most bang for your buck from your breathing?


Teaching us to breathe is a waste of time:

we all do it all the time.


But, is it really a waste of time? What happens to you if you don’t breathe properly?

Why is breathing important? We need to get oxygen into our bodies and carbon dioxide

out of our bodies to keep us alive. Our cells need oxygen.


How to Breathe Properly

The above link has some interesting information.

Below are the differences between proper and improper breathing

Proper vs. Improper Breathing

Proper Breathing

Effects pretty much every part of the

body. It oxygenates the body, revitalizing

organs, cells, and tissues.

Improper Breathing

Can cause problems for many systems in

the body, including the immune,

circulatory, endocrine, and nervous


Fuels energy production Mental fog
Improves focus and concentration Dizziness
Eliminates toxins Numbness
Strengthens the immune system Anxiety
Improves bowel function Chest pain
Reduces stress, tension, and anxiety Digestive problems
Increases feelings of calmness and


Irritable bowel
Can lower blood pressure Neck and shoulder pain
Increases metabolism, aiding in digestion

and weight loss

(Karen Lee Richards. http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/coping-162182-5.html)


Courtesy of Curtis Wallace


I regularly use breathing to give me a boost when I am starting to droop in the afternoon

or early evening. At other times, I use breathing to relax and lower my heart rate. I also

encourage my life-coaching clients to breathe properly. Breathing deeply so that your

abdomen expands is one good way to ensure you are getting oxygen to the lower lobes of

your lungs; they are sometimes a bit short-changed. Give some different breathing

techniques a try.


Click on the link below and try the breathing exercises.

Three Breathing Exercises from Dr. Weil


from Creative Commons






Choose the Law of Attraction: Think Positive



Choices, choices, choices: there are so many choices we have to make.  Have you ever come home from work & you decide to go out for dinner with your partner?  Your partner asks “Where do you want to go?”  You think for five seconds & say “I can’t make another choice today; it is just too hard.  You choose.”    So often we hear people, especially on TV say “I had no choice?”  Well guess what “We always have a choice”.  Sometimes our options are pretty bad (think about any election, not just the most recent); but, nonetheless we choose.  Not choosing is making a choice; something to remember.  The apathy of choosing to go along with what others decide will still produce consequences for you.

Choice is a huge topic; I’m going to focus solely on the choices we make for ourselves.  An overarching choice we all have, that affects all our other choices, is the choice to think positive or negative.

What thoughts are flowing through your mind right now?

Close your eyes for just one minute: what thoughts did you have?

  • Why am I sitting with my eyes closed when I have so much work to do?
  • I need to make a dentist appointment.
  • I wonder how the kids are really doing in school?
  • Is my boss happy with my work?
  • I need to wash the floor.

Are your thoughts generally positive or negative?  Think hard on that one?  How often do you get frustrated or angry when driving, shopping, interacting with your spouse or children, thinking about work, thinking about your weight?  How often are you happy or excited when you think about your spouse or children, your work, your weight, going for a walk, spring, spending time outdoors, your pet(s), or a vacation?  Whatever your answers; the choice is yours.


 “I strongly believe in the law of attraction.

When I am in a positive mood, I attract positive situations;

vice versa, when I am in a bad mood, more negative things seem to happen”.

Dr. Mario Lehenbauer-Baum





You might not believe in The Law of Attraction; & that is okay.  Sitting & thinking (dreaming) about what I want hasn’t gotten me anywhere; I was taught that hard work is the way to success.  However, I see lots of people working very hard & not getting ahead, not achieving their dreams.  I was very scared when I quit my job as a salesclerk to go back to school to become a nurse.  I had two small children to support & I hadn’t been the best student in high school. But, despite only having a grade 11 education, I made the choice.  I decided I would succeed.  But, I also knew I couldn’t do it alone.   I asked for help from the people I knew loved & supported me, including my ex-husband.  They all assisted me & helped me through my two years of school.  I am very grateful to have had such support.  Though I didn’t know it at the time, I now recognize the choices I made empowered The Law of Attraction & how my positive thoughts helped me to succeed.  I had to work very hard, & sometimes I wasn’t thinking positive; sometimes I cried because it was so hard & I didn’t know if I could make it – but, I pushed those thoughts aside.  I am so glad I did.

Dr. Mario Lehenbauer-Baum stated “I strongly believe in the law of attraction. When I am in a positive mood, I attract positive situations; vice versa, when I am in a bad mood, more negative things seem to happen”.  He goes on to say that circumstances don’t change immediately.  Our now experiences are a result of thoughts & actions taken over the last several years.  I encourage you to follow the link above & read more about The Law of Attraction.


like attracts like


Think Positive!  Have a positive outlook?  For me that is something like taking a placebo – I don’t care the placebo isn’t a real drug, so long as it works & makes me feel better.  If thinking positive can fool my brain & make me feel good; then I am going to think positive as much as I possibly can.  What do you need to make you feel better?  Could a change of thought or attitude make you feel better?  Would you be willing to give it a try?  I’m all in to try this out.

Can you think positive all the time?  Of course not – remember you are human & that means you are not perfect. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  But, if thinking positively makes you feel better for even a short period of time I think it is worth a try.  This beautiful video came across Facebook today about  Spreading Positivity.  I am sure just watching will bring joy to your heart.

A choice I have made is to give people the benefit of the doubt; sometimes I have gotten hurt, but overall it has served me well.  As a university assistant professor I told my students; “I trust you to not cheat, to be honest; I am not naïve though & I have life experience; so, if you choose to cheat or be dishonest I will not ignore it & there will be consequences”.  There are consequences for all of us, regardless of what choice we make.  I am not perfect by any means – I get angry because I have not bothered to think of the other person: I have blamed others for the way I feel i.e. you hurt me; when I know I can only be hurt if I allow others to hurt me.  Yes, your behaviour surprised me & destroyed my perception of you.  I will grieve for a while; because the vision I had of you was shattered.  But, it was my image, not yours; so I need to get over it.  The positive thought – I had a great time, I have learned, & now I move on to the next adventure of my life.


Rose_images (2)

What you think about is what you get.  That is the Law of Attraction.  I encourage you to think positively.

I am happy, all is good

I also encourage you to take a moment & read The Desiderata




Conflict: The Role of Nurse Leaders


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We are surrounded by conflict.  Teenagers & parents are frequently in conflict about curfew time or dating choices.  Husbands & wives have conflicts related to finances, raising children, where to vacation, whose job is more important, whether or not to move, or how to squeeze the toothpaste tube; the list is close to being limitless.  Then, there are conflicts at work.  Workplace conflict is generally caused by poor communication or poor ability to control emotions.  Obviously, lots of areas for professional development.  However, not all conflicts need to be negative; in fact, some conflict is good.  No, I have not lost my mind.  I’m going to focus on work conflict.  Productive conflict is necessary for strong, healthy relationships (Patrick Lencioni).

The type of conflict that is good is where people do not agree, discuss the differences, & weigh pluses & minuses during decision making.  Being nasty to one another is not good conflict & needs to be overcome – we are adults: learn to be respectful of others & their beliefs, or preferences.  But, how do you have good conflict?  First, you have to establish trust; I have already written a bit on trust, the foundation of a cohesive team (Patrick Lencioni).  Trust needs to be established prior to even thinking of encouraging conflict.

Conflict doesn’t mean that someone has to be right & someone else has to be wrong.  It doesn’t mean holding grudges, or not speaking to someone, & it definitely does not include bullying.  Conflict must focus on ideas & concepts, & must avoid mean-spirited accusations or personal attacks (Patrick Lencioni, p. 202).  Conflict means you have to act like an adult – I think – sometimes adults don’t act in a way to be recommended.  But, I think you know what I mean.  Politeness, respect, no yelling, no swearing; but, that does not mean you cannot be passionate.  But, you must keep an open mind.  “Seek first to understand” Stephen Covey; is a good phrase to remember & to heed.  What does the other person mean, think, & why?  Sometimes when you understand these things you will find you are not so far apart.

When planning a change someone needs to share all that could go wrong.  Someone needs to think about how to prepare for what could go wrong, & try to prevent errors.  Someone also needs to be able to share all the positive things that the change will contribute to the work environment.  Conflict is an opportunity to discuss new ideas, to use imagination, & creativity when change is about to occur.  Change is inevitable; but, conflict often goes hand in hand with change, so why not make the best of it & ensure the change will be positive & successful.

What do you do when you don’t agree with your leader?   Well, unless the leader/boss is dishonest, unethical, devious, or abusive you need to hang in & find a way to get along.  Stephen Covey, & Kouzes & Posner suggest “Seek to Understand”.  Of course we know this is easier said than done.  However, disagreeing with your leader/boss, or co-worker is an opportunity for you to develop your leadership & communication skills; after all there will always be someone with whom we do not agree.  Kouzes & Posner (2006) suggest that serious conflict gives you the opportunity to learn: to learn about yourself.  Considering that you cannot change anyone other than yourself, it is a good idea to learn about yourself.  Additionally, being open minded, non-judgmental, & respectful are characteristics you might also want to develop.

Nursing includes conflict.  Conflict with other nurses, with physicians, with other members of the healthcare team, with patients, with families, & with anyone else with whom you have contact.  Dealing with conflict is barely touched on in nursing education.  Nursing leaders need to be responsible for guiding nurses to communicate effectively, to learn to work as a team, & to deal with conflict in a constructive manner.  According to Patrick Lencioni (2002), one of the hardest things for leaders is “the desire to protect members from harm” (p. 206).  Encouraging healthy conflict requires members to develop coping skills.  As hard as it might be for the leader to not step in to resolve the conflict, he or she must allow the members to come to a resolution on their own.  This is a big, ongoing job for anyone.  However, the nursing leader, or any leader, must work with employees to establish what is & what is not acceptable behaviour.  Mike Myatt, Feb. 22, 2012 referring to conflict writes “It is essential for organizational health and performance that conflict be accepted and addressed through effective conflict resolution processes”.

Nursing leaders who are in formal leadership roles, such as unit manager, often have so many meetings to attend they have very little time to lead professional development.  If that is the case, maybe it is time to consider bringing someone in to do such training.  Maybe one of the nurses has an interest, or additional education, in team building & conflict resolution & would be willing to lead this professional development.  Regardless of how it is done, learning how to deal with conflict effectively is necessary.  Remember, conflict can be good.  Nursing leaders must learn how to model this practice & encourage good conflict within their teams.


Lencioni, Patrick. (2002). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA

Myatt, Mike. (2012). Five Keys of Dealing with Workplace Conflict







Trust is a key component in all relationships.  Have you ever trusted someone only to have that trust broken by catching that person in a lie?  Or, had someone make changes related to the project you were assigned to lead, while you were away & not informing you?  How about sitting in a meeting & hearing an announcement about the project you were leading with no advance notice?  Other examples include someone taking credit for your work, someone making an error & not owning up, cheating, lying, or talking behind your back, just to name a few ways trust can be broken.  I’m sure somewhere along the line in your personal or professional life you have had your trust broken.  Now ask yourself that tough question – whose trust have you broken?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines trust as:

a: assured reliance on the character, ability,

strength, or truth of someone or something

b: one in which confidence is place

Synonyms could include: integrity, reliance, surety, faith, dependence, belief, hope, care, protection…

 Antonyms could include: lie, cheat, steal, deceive, trick, fool, irresponsible…

When I was teaching first year nursing students we discussed how to establish trust with your patients.  Maintaining confidentiality; doing what you say you will do, when you say you will (keeping your promises); being a patient advocate (standing up & protecting). If you don’t know an answer, say so, then go find out: admit your weaknesses, be honest.  Establishing trust with patients is not different than establishing trust with anyone, except that you might need to do it more quickly.  Also, remember, patients & their family members may be frightened & distrustful depending on past experiences with healthcare.  One of the things not addressed in any depth in nursing courses is building trust with co-workers, other healthcare professionals, or team building.

Patrick Lencioni (2002) wrote the following about the trust needed in teams

“trust is the confidence among team members

that their peers’ intentions are good, 

and there is no reason to be protective or

careful around the group.  

In essence, team mates must get comfortable

being vulnerable with one another” (p. 195).

Being vulnerable means team members need to be comfortable admitting mistakes, making suggestions, admitting weaknesses, skill deficiencies, & asking for help without having these held against them.  In nursing there is another layer to trust; in nursing we want to be able to trust that our colleagues will always do the same things in certain situations (i.e. code blue) every time: this is the reason patient simulations are used & are important in nursing & healthcare.

Building the vulnerability portion of trust can take time to develop.  As a nurse I remember there were some colleagues I would ask for help before others, & only a few to whom I would admit my weaknesses.  Admitting weaknesses, & asking for help can be very frightening, especially to new nurses.  The statement “nurses eat their young” has been around for many years, & my guess is that most nurses have experienced it at some time, yet it continues.  When I was a nursing student we were told about this phenomenon & vowed when we graduated we would never treat nursing students & new nurses with contempt, or disrespectful.  The leader has a large role to play to ensure that trust is developed & maintained among team members, & among teams.  When you think about this the circle of trust it is huge (Figure 1).  Old customs, habits, rituals, & cultures are hard to change; but in this case it would be well worth the effort.


scan(3)Figure 1: Circle of Trust

The many roles of nursing leaders must include changing the “nurses eat their young” culture.   What can the leaders do to introduce these changes & see them through to fruition?  Kouzes & Posner (2016) stated

“Trust is all about openness, and trust building involves

creating an environment in which people can be open and honest

with each other” (p. 163). 

One thing that I noticed during my time nursing was the absence of openness & honesty from management; often just an extension of how they were being treated by the executive.  Strong leaders are a benefit to any organization.  Time spent nurturing & growing those leaders is time well spent.  Nursing managers can develop the leadership skills of their direct reports by being open & honest; setting the example & not accepting any less from herself or others.  This said, every person can start to build trust in their relationships by being honest & open.  Sounds simple, but it is something that must be worked on every day; it requires a lifelong commitment to leadership development.


Kouzes & Posner (2016). Learning leadership: The five fundamentals of becoming an exemplary leader. Wiley. San Francisco, CA.

Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team (2002), Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint, San Francisco, CA

Nurses! Self-Care is a Must: Stop Being Bullied by Your Workplace

As a nurse how many times have you told family members to go home?  Go home or you will get sick & not be able to help your loved one.  As a nurse, has anyone ever told you that?  Probably the closest you have gotten has been “don’t come near me & infect me with whatever you have”.  Nurses know that when they stay home sick they may not be replaced; therefore, colleagues will be left to pick up the extra work.  Working short staffed, you hope an extra coffee, maybe a chocolate bar or some donuts will provide extra energy to get through.  But, that only works for so long & then the next person gets sick & the cycle continues.  This is a familiar story that every nurse knows all too well.  You are not doing yourself or your colleagues any favours by continuing in this cycle of destruction.  As a nurse you are a leader: lead yourself by caring for yourself.

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As nurses we know what we need to do:

  • eat a healthy diet
  • get adequate sleep
  • be physically active
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • have a strong social support system
  • live in a healthy community
  • spend time with your family
  • make time for yourself
  • keep your brain active
  • embrace your spirituality
  • listen to your body

Of course this is easier said than done; the culture of ignoring self has been around for a long, long time. This is just the beginning; remember you are not selfish when you care for yourself.  If you do not care for yourself you will go from being a caregiver to someone needing care, & possibly be a burden to your family.  No nurse wants to be in that situation.

For two years I struggled with increasing fatigue, repeated sinus & other respiratory illnesses.  With prolonged physical problems, my mental status was slipping into the doldrums; I wasn’t depressed, but it was starting to seem that might not be far away.  I was prescribed time off work for ‘burn out’.  Though I felt much better after six months off, I did  not return to my previous state of health, & the amount of progress I made vanished within a very short period of time.  Eventually I was able to get back to work on a very restricted schedule, but within 4 months I had the same old respiratory illnesses, extreme fatigue, & body aches.  More time off, then a repeat of the same thing.  During this time – we’re looking at close to 2 years now – I was a slug at home.  I’d get home from work & collapes; no energy for anything.  My poor husband didn’t have much of a wife & was doing housework, shopping, & cleaning.

At about the one & a half year mark I finally got a diagnosis: I had an autoimmune disease (PBC) & it was responsible for the extreme fatigue.  Though I thought knowing the reason would help, & it did, mentally, it did not help my energy level, if I overdid I got quite ill.  This was distressing as I loved my job, loved being a nurse, but I could no longer work.  Unfortunately, I still couldn’t do much at home either, & was missing out on many of the things in life that I enjoyed.  If I had listened to my body & if I had taken better care of myself would it have made a difference?  Could I have prevented my autoimmune disorder, or could I have maybe felt better for longer?  No one really knows; &, that is the past & I am moving forward.

This is not about me, I’m doing ok & I have learned a lot; but, I hope my story inspires you to care for yourself.  I found out my workplace didn’t really need me.  My family managed, though they all had more work to do & none of them really needed that, especially because of me.  So what will you do?

My questions to you are these:

  1. Are you happy?
  2. Do you love your job?
  3. Are you happy with the amount of time you have for yourself?
  4. Are you happy with the amount of time you have with your family?
  5. Are you satisfied with your health?
  6. Do you feel you are missing out on anything?

You know what the answers should be: what changes do you need to consider?  How will you make these changes?

I believe every nurse is a leader; whether he or she thinks so.  But most important everyone must know thy self, must lead thy self.  Self-care is difficult: our culture puts so much pride in working too many hours, working too hard, not having time to eat well, or get enough activity, going to work when ill, not taking vacations, & not having time for self that we brag about these ‘hardships’.  I don’t think this makes much sense: do you?

What can you do?  Start with yourself, talk to your colleagues: can you support each other in a quest to be healthy & happy?  I am passionate about nursing & leadership: I hope to see the changes I have been championing come about in my time, but I need your help.  Let me see the initiatives demonstrating nurses caring for themselves.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

-Mahatma Gandhi-


Using Trust to Build your Team

I recently watched the Indy 500 & the movie The Big Shorty.  As so often happens I learn things that probably were not the intent of the movie; & in the case of the Indy 500, I was reminded of something that I hadn’t thought about for quite some time.  The things that I learn are often related to leadership. guess that is to be expected seeing as I have spent so many years focusing on leadership.  Relationships, trust, & team work seem to be the leadership themes that jump out at me.

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Watching The Big Short reminded me a bit of another movie Wag the Dog.  The movies simulate some real life events; which I think makes them a bit frightening.  When I finished watching I had to ask myself “how much of what I see on the news is true?” & “who can we really trust?”  We certainly can’t trust government, banks, or other big business organizations, bureaucracies & many of the people associated with these bodies.   If you have not seen these movies I strongly suggest you watch them.  Watch with an open mind & ask yourself “what would I do?”, “what is the right thing to do?”  What would you do in circumstances similar to those identified in the movies?  Who do you trust? Can you be trusted?  What criteria do you use to determine whether or not a person can be trusted?  Trust is the foundation of so much that we do in life: relationships (personal & professional), business, teams, & even things as simple as driving – you trust the drivers of the cars coming toward you will stay on their side of the road.


If you have never watched an Indy or Formula One race I urge you to watch at least part of one.  Watch long enough to see what takes place when the car goes into the pit.  The team work & precision is incredible.  As I watched the Indy 500 my husband & I were shocked to see one of the pit times for fuel & changing four tires took a bit more than 13 seconds; way too slow.  Usually you see this at around 8 seconds.  This affected the driver taking him out of the first & second place he had been jockeying for with one other driver.  I am not pointing this out to blame or point fingers, but to emphasize how important team work can be.  The racing team includes the driver, the pit crew, & the engineers (& maybe more); every one of them is essential to win the race.

One of the things that is important in team work is trust.  Teams can’t really work well together if the team members cannot trust one another.  I need to be able to trust you to do as you say & I need to be able to trust you to be understanding & accepting when I own up to a mistake.  I also need to trust you will support me when I need help, just as I will support you.  I need you to listen & really hear what I am saying & know that if you have concerns about a plan or project you will voice those concerns & I will listen.  I might not change what I am doing, but I will take your comments into consideration. I need to trust that if you are upset with something I have said or done that you will come to me to discuss.

As a leader you are in a position to demonstrate trust & to work to build trust among those you lead (coach, manage, train).  Trust is the foundation of any relationship; personal or professional.  Trust can be lost in a second & once lost take years to re-establish: start by making sure you can be trusted.


Steps 9 & 10: Simple Steps to Being an Exceptional Leader

Steps 9 & 10: Simple Steps to Being an Exceptional Leader


We are all leaders.  Some of us are formal leaders, meaning being a leader is part of our work role; some of us informal leaders, the person that others look to for advice & guidance, but are not considered an “official” leader in our work or volunteer role.  Regardless of your roles, someone looks to you as a leader.  To be a good leader takes time & practice; being a leader requires ongoing, life-long learning.  Being a good leader is very similar to being a good person, a good human being; both requiring on-going development & life-long learning.  Are you up for the job?

Step 9: Standing up for what is right: speak up, write a letter or editorial, protest, volunteer

Everyone complains about government, taxes, jobs, & school (just to name a few as the list of complaints we have is long).  Politicians never do what is right, taxes are too much & never fair, jobs never pay enough or give enough recognition & school is definitely not fair & far too hard.  Complaints abound & one only needs to go as far as social media to get brought up-to-date on the top complaints of the day.  I remember being told if I didn’t like something I needed to do something to make a change & if not willing to make a change, then shut up & accept what is.  Before complaining, however, I have learned that I often do not know all the facts.  When I don’t agree with a decision I have found that I need to take time to do some digging & find out all that facts & all that was considered.  Indeed, at times I have had to admit I am wrong (but don’t tell my husband).

When you see someone being bullied, do you speak up & stop the bullies?  Do you let them know what they are doing or saying is wrong?  Do you quietly slink away when someone makes a racist remark, or tells a racist joke?  Are you sure that you don’t bully, discriminate, or display racism from time to time?  What would it take to make you speak up?  Have you considered that by not speaking up you are condoning wrong action & behaviour? 

Letters to organizations, to the editor of the local newspaper are ways to speak up & let your opinion be known.  In doing so make sure you have the facts.  Though protests are not as frequent as they were in the sixties, they still take place.  Once again, know the facts & don’t break the law unless you are ready to pay the price of the fine or time in jail.  Above all, avoid violence & destruction of property. 

One of the best ways to stand up for your beliefs is to volunteer.  Support an organization or group that has similar beliefs & passions as you.  This one is putting your time & money where your “mouth” is; don’t just talk about what is wrong, what should be done, get out & do

Step 10: Knowing yourself: values, beliefs, principles, biases.  What would make you do something wrong; something you do not believe is right, going against your values, beliefs, or principles?

Have you ever taken the time to think what it would take for you to do something that is completely against your beliefs, values, principles?  Would you be able to kill someone?  Under what circumstances?  Would you lie?  Under what circumstances?  Have you ever said “I could never do that?”  What might happen to make you do “that”?  Would you disown a child?  Of course not.  When someone does, do you know the whole story of why such drastic measures had to be taken?  Sometimes people have addictions that require their loved ones to not enable them; it is important to think what that might look like.  Sometimes there are health & safety issues that need to be considered. 

In a life or death situation would you lie to save your life or the life of another?  A common point of discussion in the media these days is physician assisted death.  As with abortion there are many opinions.  And, there may not be a right or wrong answer.  These are decisions, that regardless of who is in the unenviable position of making the decision, is in a tough place. 

Anything we do affects everyone.  Consider that statement as you make your decisions, big & small.  We are merely a small strand in the web of this & other universe, of all existence.  Whatever happens to that strand will affect the strength & integrity of the web & the existence of others.



Steps 5 & 6 of 12 Simple Steps to Being an Exceptional Leader



Steps 5 & 6

Getting through these steps slowly but surely.  None of the steps are complicated, but they aren’t necessarily easy to do.  When I first identified & shared these 12 Steps I thought I had a clear idea of what I wanted to write.  I understood each step in my mind.  But when it came to articulating what was in my mind, it was a bit more difficult than I expected.  Some days what I write does not make sense, so I have to put it away, think & read some more; then, pull the ideas together again.  Nonetheless, I am sharing with you.

We are all human, which means we are not perfect.  The main thing I want to encourage is that we all aim to do these 12 Steps.  When we fail, apologize if others have been hurt, forgive ourselves, & start again.  Remember, none of us knows what someone else is going through or feeling.  We each have our burdens, demons, & problems, but we are all different.  Listen to others, be empathetic & help if you can.  Which brings us to Step 5.

Step 5: Helping others when asked; just being there when not asked.  Support others in what they are doing or trying to do.

When asked, help out.  Sometimes you can even help out when not asked.  But do be careful with that.  I have gotten into trouble by doing something I thought was helpful & would save the other person time only to be accused of overstepping my boundaries. Though I still don’t think what I did was wrong, my feelings don’t matter in this case, because the other person felt I had done wrong.  Look also at the other side; what if someone needs help & doesn’t ask; could you help anyway.

Have you ever been up to neck in work, & seen your partner or co-worker lounging, without a care in the world.  The other person doesn’t even seem to notice you are drowning in work.  I know when that happens to me, I end up seething inside & become angry with the lazy lump just sitting there.  Shouldn’t they be able to see that I need help?  My mind isn’t that hard to read.  My rational self knows that no one reads minds, so if I didn’t ask for help, then I am not going to get help.  I am starting to think that the correct question isn’t do you need help but, what can I do for you?  Or, ask something specific i.e. “may I dry dishes for you”?  After all who among us wants to admit we need help?  But, often there is something someone can do; even get a cup of coffee or a glass of water, or stir the sauce while I go to the bathroom.

Help can come in a different form than doing a task for someone.  Helping can also be psychological or emotional support.  Encouraging the student, parent, or co-worker as they struggle with a new task, or role. Listening to a friend or family member who needs to vent thoughts & feelings can also be very helpful & appreciated.  During my many returns to school, while continuing to work full time, my husband took on an extra load by doing the shopping & some extra work around the house.  I would not have been able to do it all, or we would have starved & lived in a pig sty.  Take time every day to observe & ask “what can I do to help someone today”.

Step 6: Inspiring – Self & Others

Who inspires you?  How do you inspire yourself?  The second question is a tough one.  Who is much easier.  Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Mahatma Gandhi often come to mind as inspirational leaders.  So what makes an inspirational leader?  According to a 2011 Forbes article there are seven items shared by inspiring leaders: 1) Ignite your enthusiasm (You have to be passionate), 2) Navigate a course of action (Have a vision, articulate that vision, & create an action plan), 3) Sell the benefits (What’s in it for me? Let people know how they will benefit from seeing your vision come to fruition), 4) Paint a picture (Tell stories; what brought you to this point, what will the results look like?),  5)  Invite participation (Invite your employees, students, or whoever is involved to share idea e.g. do as university profs do, schedule office hours for people to schedule a time to share ideas with you), 6)  Reinforce optimism (a positive outlook attracts others; a negative outlook pushes others away), 7) Encourage potential (help those with whom you are involved to achieve their goals & dreams).  When is the last time you received or asked for inspiration from your boss or manager?  I like these seven item, but I want to add honesty, humility, & walking your talk, by living your values.  Adding those three items makes the list a bit more complete.

Are your dreams & goals enough to inspire you?  If they aren’t maybe you want to rethink your dreams & goals.  You need to be passionate & excited & show those feelings to others.  You also need to follow through to make those dreams & goals a reality.  Others will judge you not by your dreams, but by the dreams you make come true.

I sometimes wonder if I am able to inspire.  I am passionate about nursing & I believe my passion shows through when I talk about nursing, when I teach about nursing, & when I discuss the importance of leadership in nursing.  That is an area where I sincerely hope my passion inspires others.  What is your passion & do you demonstrate that passion in a way that inspires others?


Step 2: Compassion, Love, Caring

Step 2: Compassion, Love, Caring


12 Simple Steps to Being an Exceptional Leader

Blog step 2

The second of the 12 steps to being an exceptional leader are the combination of three characteristics; caring, love & compassion.  Caring, love, & compassion are important qualities for everyone including leaders.  The meanings of these three words overlap & are often hard to differentiate; thus grouped together.  These are positive characteristics that most people would like to possess, or strive to possess.  The truth is we vary in our quality & quantity of these.  A person can be a leader without having these characteristics; but what kind of a leader is that person?  For that matter what kind of person would he or she be?  If you give a bit of thought, you can probably think of a few people you know personally or from history, who have lacked these characteristics.  There is no reason for someone to not possess these qualities; they can be developed & improved upon if we are mindful of our actions & our being.

Apply these qualities to yourself.  Without caring, loving, & being compassionate to yourself you will not be able to share those qualities with others.  To effectively care for others requires strength & energy which can only be achieved with self-care.  As you learn to care for yourself you will learn to care for others.

Compassion is sometimes described as sympathy, empathy, or even pity.  But compassion is none of these; though sympathy & empathy are part of compassion.  Having been an RN for many years I know I felt & had compassion for patients & their families.  However, I never tried to explain the feeling.  Feelings are difficult to explain, Psychology Today, 2009, has an excellent article describing what compassion is and is not.  Compassion shifts thinking from  “I” to “we” & is an important component of good leadership.

The Dalai Lama stated:

“Before we can generate compassion and love, it is important to have a clear understanding of what we understand compassion and love to be. In simple terms, compassion and love can be defined as positive thoughts and feelings that give rise to such essential things in life as hope, courage, determination, and inner strength. In the Buddhist tradition, compassion and love are seen as two aspects of the same thing: Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering; love is wanting them to have happiness.”


Love according to the above statement is wanting another to have happiness.  We recognize different types of love, different feelings of love.  A leader needs to have a love that demonstrates care & the desire for the happiness of others.  Is this something you experience in your work place?  Though we may develop positive relationships (loving, caring, compassionate) with co-workers we do not usually experience the overall work culture as being one of love.

Caring according to one Internet source is someone or something that shows kindness and concern for others.  Showing concern, being kind are qualities that I consider important for everyone to have, including leaders.  Can someone lead if they are not kind & have concern for others? Of course they can.  But again let’s think about the kind of person & leader that person would be.

Compassion, love, & caring are qualities we need to expect of ourselves, of others, & of our leaders.  If we set these as expectations & let others know maybe we will see a better, more peaceful, & loving world.  Though leadership involves much more than personal characteristics; some characteristics make a formal leader easier to follow.

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