Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

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April 19th, 2017 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development | no comments

“Let Them Eat Cake” and Other Ignorant Things We Say

                                                                 Marie Antoinette didn’t say “Let them eat cake.” 

Marie Antoinette (1768-Wagenshon)

Marie Antoinette (1768-Wagenshon)

I know the quotation attributed to Marie Antoinette is in error and she almost certainly did not say it or anything like it. (Check out the many Internet references about the infamous non-quote.) However, it has taken its place in history as an example of supreme ignorance about the reality of a situation. It also is an example of thinking that one’s own reality is the only one there is. We can benefit from being careful about expressing opinions and judgments based on our own realities, when we are ignorant of the reality of others.

“Why do they have babies if they can’t feed them?”  I recall, with embarrassment, when I was a very young woman and heard a missionary speak about starving children in a war-torn African country. The slides were horrific and then–as now–it was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to see the despair in the eyes of mothers and children. Later I talked to the speaker and said, (I blush to admit it), “Why do they have babies if they can’t feed them?” He looked at me with disgust and I hope some pity, and said, “Well, very young lady from Kansas, first, they have no way to prevent conception except abstinence and second, they have no choice about abstaining. They don’t ‘get pregnant’ they are impregnated. Your comment shows how far you are from understanding the problem.”

That ignorance on my part, as well as other personal examples, is one of the many reasons I truly work at trying to understand the big picture of almost everything. Often there is some aspect of a situation that I have failed to consider and once I consider it I have a different opinion. Often I can at least see there are multiple issues involved and there are no one-sided solutions. It’s one reason I don’t get involved in political discussions or arguments on topics about which I don’t have a lot of knowledge–that pretty much covers most things.

Closed Minds and Ignorant Remarks 

“How dare the government interfere with good parenting? Recently I read an article by a writer who was outraged (a word that is certainly overused on the Internet) about an ad campaign in a major city, encouraging women to not have their babies sleeping with them. Commenters wrote of boycotting the city and writing letters to the mayor. One said she was sick and tired of the government interfering with good parenting and she equated it to government agents going door to door to take away our constitutional rights. One said it made her even more determined to co-sleep with her baby. (Good for her, that will teach the government a lesson they won’t soon forget.)

They are ignorant of the reality that not all mothers and fathers are educated about the dangers of suffocation, not all mothers or fathers are sleeping with a caring partner, and not all parents are capable of protecting an infant sleeping with them in a bed or on a sofa or on a mattress on the floor or in the backseat of a car. There had been several infant suffocation deaths in that city within the previous few months and the ads were an effort to protect babies. There was no law about it, merely an effort to educate. The outrage of the writer and commenters is based on their reality of a clean bed with only one or two sober or conscious people in it–and they think everyone lives like that. They need a bigger picture of reality before they boycott the city.

“Why doesn’t he leave us alone and let us do our jobs?” Recently an acquaintance was complaining about his new supervisor’s requirements for various tasks. The requirements sounded absurd to me so I figured there had to be other perspectives the employee wasn’t considering. Sure enough, there were. After he explained what had been going on before the new supervisor arrived, he said he could see why the new supervisor would need to make changes. He still didn’t like all of the changes but he could understand them and work within them. He also decided to communicate more positively with the supervisor so he could share his own views and opinions.

“How can they justify…..?” “Why don’t they…..? (Said about almost anything the angry or frustrated person doesn’t do, doesn’t agree with or doesn’t understand.) Every topic about which one view holds that other views are evil, crazy, stupid or in error, can often benefit from being examined to find other perspectives. There are a few things in this world that are definitely right and wrong but most are not so certain. Challenge yourself, every time you hear outrage, absolute judgments and angry statements that do not consider other views, to look for those other perspectives and at least consider them and the impact they have on the situation.

Then, challenge yourself to purposely avoid the equivalent of saying someone or some group should eat cake, unless you know for sure and with expertise what you’re talking about.

November 1st, 2015 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 6 comments

A Preparation Guide For The Assessment Center Method: Be Your Best Self

Book CoverCan You Be Yourself In Your Assessment Center?

Someone who knows my thoughts about how to best prepare for an Assessment Center copied a review of my book from the Amazon site and sent it to me, indignant over how wrong he thought it was. The reviewer gave me five stars and essentially said my book proves his belief that you can’t do well in an Assessment Center promotional process if you say what you really think and use your real experiences.

I assume the person who wrote the review had participated in an Assessment Center and didn’t get promoted and saw someone he didn’t respect or like get promoted instead. Or perhaps he read my book and decided he didn’t even want to test because he thought he would have act phony to do well. I’m sorry about that and I know he would feel differently if he fully understood the process or had talked to experienced assessors.

Often a candidate will not rate as high as he expected and assume one thing he said in one exercise was the sole cause. Assessment Center results are based on more than one or two ratings. In a typical process a candidate may receive 45 ratings (3 exercises x 5 competency areas x 3 assessors). Unless a candidate says something that is outrageously wrong or offensive it will have very little effect on his or her overall results.  Another thing to consider is that a candidate usually does not have access to the notes or discussions of assessors, so he would not know all of the issues upon which they based their ratings. Even if he received a feedback report, it only summarizes a few notes, not all.

I replied to the reviewer’s comments and asked him to contact me six to eight months before his next test, so I can send some additional material and maybe talk to him about it. I want to help him see that he can use his experiences and personal philosophies, if they reflect the best practices of the profession and are appropriate for the testing exercises in which he is participating.

How Effective Is The Real You? 

Even if you are not in the law enforcement profession or are not participating in promotional testing, you may feel that you must submerge your real feelings, your fundamental beliefs and your real personality, to be successful or accepted. If it is true, you may be in the wrong work, school or personal setting or trying to get into the wrong setting. Find the place or situation where you can flourish. Or, you may find you can flourish where you are if you adjust or change some aspects of what you consider to be the real you.

It’s hard to accept, but often we have habits, peculiarities, traits, idiosyncrasies, opinions and foibles that cause others to reject us–and until we make some changes we will never be fully successful. Or, like some very successful people have found–they could save themselves a lot of trouble and stress if they weren’t the real them quite so often!

August 7th, 2015 Posted by | Assessment Centers and Interviews, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | no comments

Pluto Has Been Waiting Patiently To Say, “Pluto (Hearts) Earth!”

What is waiting for you?

dwarf_planets

 

July 14, 2015 will always be a date in the history of NASA and an important date for astronomers and all of us who are interested in the cosmos.  New Horizons, the NASA space probe, planned since 1990 and launched in 2006, flew by Pluto, the small planet, one sixth the size of earth and smaller than our moon, and took a photo for us. As it turns out, Pluto has a heart-shape on the visible side (although some heartless people have said it looks like a cosmic giant sat down and left an imprint). I prefer the heart image, because it can seem that Pluto has been waiting four and half billion years to say, “Hi, Earth! I love you!” (Probably followed by a muttered, “Now, go away and don’t mess me up, too.”)

Here is what I like about all of it: We didn’t just now discover Pluto and it wasn’t recently formed, it has been there all this time. We didn’t expect to “get something” from it, we just wanted to say we have seen it and we know it better than before. The motivation to explore Pluto from above was primarily because most humans are gifted with a desire to keep searching for new horizons–in our solar system and in our lives and spirits.

What is waiting for you? The test of optimism and courage for many of us is to have faith that no matter what our age or our past experiences, something good is patiently waiting for us–and it may have been there all along. (However, you’ll notice that Pluto didn’t come to us, we went to Pluto. Life is like that.)

pluto_has_a_heart_on_it

Hey, Pluto! I ♥ You Too!
Love, Tina

July 15th, 2015 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 8 comments

Why Don’t Managers and Supervisors, Manage and Supervise?

Why Don’t They Manage and Supervise?

Bet you thought this was a lion, huh?

Bet you thought this was a lion, huh?

The quick answer to why managers and supervisors seem to not want to be involved in problems, fail to deal with issues, seem oblivious to concerns and neglect many tasks that need to be done, is that often when they attempt to fulfill the roles of a manager or supervisor they get such negative feedback and unpleasant results that it seems to not be worth the effort.

That is the quick answer.  However, that can be an excuse for those who never really wanted to take on unpleasant tasks that require careful consideration. They want the position, the title and the salary, but not the hassle. Like Tipper, in the photo, they might wear the costume of a lion (or leader), but they aren’t really a lion (or a leader) at heart.

What about those who seem to have no trouble being bossy and unpleasant, even though they let everything go to heck around them? Well, it is easy to snap at everyone, storm around and be self-absorbed, but not so easy to analyze a specific problem or a problematic person and develop an effective plan of action. A manager or supervisor who is innately mean-spirited will nearly always fall back on being unpleasant when he or she runs out of knowledge and skills.

What about managers and supervisors who are nice people who seem to really want to do well, but things are going to heck around them, too? If a manager or supervisor only feels confident about jollying people out of their bad moods, sympathizing, mild counseling, or making excuses for problem behaviors and performance, that is what he or she will do.

If you are a manager or supervisor, consider how well-managed your team is right now:
*Adequate staff every day–or at least ensuring that all the staff are being used effectively.
*Administrative details handled on time.
*Resources being used correctly.
*The whole group and the work they do moving forward and improving all the time.

Supervision will be demonstrated by:
*Consistent and accurate on-site or at-desk observation of work and how it is being done.
*Immediate response to concerns or the first hint of problematic behavior or performance.
*Appreciating good work, even routine work.
*Looking out for everyone and how they are being treated within the group and by others.
*Keeping the work environment free of distractions and negative influences. If something distracts people from their focus on good work, it’s a negative influence.
*Motivating messages and encouragement.
*Getting the work done well and on time.
*Ensuring that policies and procedures are followed consistently.
*Building relationships with employees, customers and clients, other supervisors and a network of contacts.
*Providing service to customers and clients at a high level, without exception.
*Being an example of good work, all the time.

If you are an employee who is discouraged or irritated at your manager or supervisor, think about the times when their valid efforts have been met with resistance, even by you if the action wasn’t your preference. You might have some empathy for why they don’t make an effort anymore. That’s not a good excuse for them now, but may make a difference in your responses in the future.

The bottom line: Why don’t managers and supervisors manage and supervise? 1.) Their own managers and supervisors don’t make them do it. 2. Employees don’t like it most of the time. 3.) They never wanted to do it. 4.) It requires skill and knowledge they don’t possess. 5.) They think showing up and having the title is all that is required of them.

Don’t you be that kind of manager or supervisor. Self-evaluate often and ask others to evaluate you as well. Make it your goal to consistently and completely do the work you said you would do–for your sake and for the sake of those who rely upon you to do it.

May 30th, 2015 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development, Supervision and Management | 3 comments

Moving Forward In 2015–Really Moving Forward

all-work-and-no-play In the book and the movie, The Shining, by Stephen King, author Jack Torrance types constantly on his novel and becomes more deranged as time passes. When his wife looks at his manuscript, she is horrified to see page after page after page filled with the same sentence: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

That is a sadly accurate metaphor for a lot of the wasted time, ineffective busy-work and wheel-spinning that keeps many people from moving forward, getting somewhere and achieving their dreams and goals.

Setting goals is no problem for most of us—we have set hundreds of them in our lifetime. Often we have set the same two or three goals hundreds of times.  Here at the beginning of 2015 ask yourself some pertinent questions about your life, work, finances, health and fitness:

1.) If I could wave a magic wand and make one or more aspects of my life different, what would those things be?

2.) What are the things that I could achieve on my own, no magic needed and humanly possible, even though it might be difficult–perhaps very, very difficult?

3.) What do I need to do EVERY DAY, instead of, or in addition to, what I am now doing, if I want to accomplish each of those things?

4.) Based on my history, what is likely to keep me from sticking to it until my goals, hopes or wishes are accomplished? Is it humanly possible for me to overcome those obstacles?

5.) Considering each of my goals: If I do achieve them, is it probable that I’ll decide it wasn’t worth the effort of sticking to it? How will I feel?

6.) Do I have what it takes in courage, conviction and commitment to do what it takes, every day, to move forward and finally be able to move past this goal line?

You may have other ways of motivating yourself or keeping on track for achieving goals, but those six questions can add to your spirit of resolution for 2015. Stop typing the same old things and fill this year’s pages with your accomplishments!

Send me an email to let me know how you’re doing with your magical wishes AKA goals. Or, use the contact form. I don’t publish personal messages and will be happy to hear from you.

January 2nd, 2015 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | no comments

Monitor the Hackneyed Things You Repeat Repeatedly Over and Over Again, Excessively

Old King Tut song

From www.remember.com– an interesting website.

Hackneyed: A phrase or action that is used so many times it becomes commonplace and dull.

My mother, Creola Kincaid Lewis, told me that her parents ordered her to stop making Egyptian-dancer hand gestures after she had done it dozens of times in one evening. Those hand gestures were popular with teenaged girls that year–1924–because King Tut’s tomb with all its well-persevered artifacts had been discovered and was a cultural phenomenon.

My grandfather, Henry Kincaid, said, “Sis, a few times was funny, but now you’re overdoing it, so stop it.”  We could all use that advice.

I won’t give them further attention by listing the popular once-funny-or-cute-or significant-but-now-overdone and hackneyed phrases or actions that distract from communications or reduce it to a trite level. I will just challenge you to notice yourself and vow to reduce the number of times you do, say or write that thing. Then, replace it with something more sincere, personal or original.

Most of us also have figures of speech, comments and opinions that we have said, using the same words every time, hundreds of times, to the point of dullness. Someone I know says, in almost every conversation, “I was a multi-tasker before multi-tasking was a word.” The first time she said it, it was an interesting addition to her comments. After hearing her say it hundreds of times, Henry Kincaid would tell her to stop it.

You can test yourself in several ways:

*What phrases do you use repeatedly that you think are particularly impressive, insightful, funny or current?
*What are the ways you describe yourself or others that immediately come to mind when you’re talking?
*What are the phrases you have read on the Internet or heard on a talk-show or TV or in a movie, that you have adopted for daily use?

Listen to yourself and be on the lookout for overused, hackneyed expressions. Even though you may think it is no worries if you don’t, those who communicate with you regularly will think you are awesome if you do. I’ll do a little Egyptian-dancer gesture to celebrate!

August 24th, 2014 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 6 comments

Your Email Subject Line Should Fit the Message

Another Email Etiquette Tip: Make your email subject line fit your message. 

It is convenient to select “reply” to an email from someone, as a way to save the time of entering an address–and sometimes that is appropriate for a quick turn-around email. However, it is frustrating to be searching for a phone number, schedule or some other specific thing and find only twenty subject lines that say, “Re: Project Plans.” It is also disconcerting to get a message about setting up a meeting, but the subject line pertains to a message you sent two years ago, and says, “Re: Sad news about Fred Benson”.

A chain of email messages on about the same topic:  If each email is part of a chain of messages on one topic, customize each of them in some way, so the sender and you can find it later.

First message subject line: SLR Project Plans

Re: SLR Project Plans-McCorison contact info/schedule

Re: SLR Project Plans-Timeline

Re: SLR Project Plans-Change in email address for Tina Lewis

Re: SLR Project Plans-Immediate response needed: August update/SLR photo/name survey

The idea is to give recipients a way to save and recover all of the email messages related to the SLR Project, but also to find specific information within that group. Think of how many emails you would have to open if those messages all just said, “Re: SLR Project Plans” and you only wanted to know the timeline for the project.

A message about a completely different subject: If you look up a message from John and hit reply to send him an unrelated message, change the subject line. It not only is confusing to see a subject line about a topic you do not recall or that you are not aware of as a current issue, it looks as though you don’t care enough about the message or the recipient to personalize it.

First message: Sad news about Fred Benson

Second message, originally “Re: Sad news about Fred Benson”: Let’s get together for lunch

Forwarded messages: Many people hit delete when they see “FW:” in personal mail. In business settings they may not open it, thinking it is just FYI. Rather than using only the forwarded subject line, personalize it a bit as well, unless the person receiving it is expecting it and knows why they are getting it.

First message: Want your input–FW: SLR Project Plans

Second message: Your ideas? (Fwd msg. from CM to me about SLR Project Plans)

Yes, you do have enough time to make the email subject line fit the message. The email subject line is the first thing people look for, after seeing your name in their In-Box. Make it something that not only lets your recipient know what the email is about, but that also allows them to find it later.  Do not give people a negative feeling about your message before they have even read it.

August 6th, 2014 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | no comments

Be Alert and Ready For The Moments That Change Everything


Do you have a few times and dates permanently printed on your mind because, after that one moment or one event, nothing was ever the same again? You may have had no control over some of those fateful times–although you probably have retraced your steps to see which ones led you most directly to what you now think of as the moment that changed everything.  However, many of your career-changing, life-changing, reputation-changing, habit-changing, future-changing, memory-changing moments were the result of your own decisions. It may have been a door you opened or a door you closed; you may have had a brief “aha” thought or an “uh oh” feeling; warning bells may have sounded or the situation may have seemed unimportant. The memory of those times can remind you that today may bring just such a decision-point into your life.  Be alert for the moment and in a state of readiness–mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually–to respond in the best way.

*The concept of being in the moment can help you slow down a bit and think about what you’re saying, doing and being. If you have ever eaten a handful of candy you didn’t really even want, but you did it while talking or thinking of something else, you can relate to the idea.  In your work and life, give yourself time, even if only a few minutes, to consider what you are doing and whether it is really what you want for your life, now and over time. Give equal thought to the impact you are having on the lives of others.

*Be as alert and ready for good things as you are for things that may turn out badly.  You can greet most people and situations with a welcoming smile and cheerful anticipation. Add zest, energy and hope to your life with the belief that something special is about to happen.  Even if later events dull the initial glow, you very often will gain new perspectives and personal and professional depth.

I chose the photo at the top of this article because I first saw only the foggy road and thought it was interestingly ethereal. Then, I saw someone approaching through the fog.  Is it a stranger or a friend? Is there a threat or an opportunity? Will he or she pass by or stop–and what will be the result? Because it is a photo, the moment is suspended forever and the outcome will never be known. In your life and work it may be the moment that changes everything. Be alert and ready.

February 3rd, 2014 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 7 comments

Fresh Woods and Pastures New: Start With Your Work Space

One of my favorite lines of poetry is by John Milton: “Tomorrow, to fresh woods and pastures new.”  The poet wasn’t writing about work, but those words certainly apply to the longing we sometimes have for a fresh start. If you can’t start fresh, you can at least freshen things up in your work space and in your mind and spirit as well.  January is a good time for that. (February through December can be, as well.) Here are the basics:

1. Do the most obvious cleaning and tidying first, so those who visit your work area will notice and you will get a positive feeling right away. Completely clear the top of your desk or work top and wash and sanitize it. Wash or dust everything, even if the items don’t appear to be dirty.  You will probably be surprised at how much dust and dirt you remove.

2. Decide what needs to be on your desktop before you put anything back. Consider the items that you think of as necessary to have in front of you or at least close at hand. Apply the test of asking how often you use the item and when you used the item last.

If you don’t use an item but you want it for the cool factor (the red Swingline stapler that shows you like the cult movie, Office Space, for example), maybe it is time to move on from there. Maybe not, but at least think about it. By the way, that Milton isn’t related to John Milton, the poet.

3. After you have the essential items in place, consider the other things you have in and around your work space.  What about freshening up the photos, cards, notes and other things that you may not even notice anymore? Replace them with new items or rearrange them to add some freshness. Or, take them home and don’t put anything in their place and see how open your work area feels.

4. Your next project can be to sort through desk drawers, bookshelves, the items you have under your desk, things on the cubicle walls and stuff and things in general. Down the line you can work on paper files, books or old forms and items that are no longer needed. You may not get to those things for a while, but at least the area where you do your work will look more fresh and appealing. If not to you, to those who come into your work space.

The bottom line: You will probably have few opportunities to move to completely fresh woods and new pastures in your life and career. You may have thought you were doing that, only to find that the grass was not as green as it looked from the other side of the pasture fence.  Try a simple thing like making a fresh and clean work area. After that, focus on creating a fresh you. You can probably also use that at home!

January 7th, 2014 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 7 comments