Wednesday, October 26, 2016

You Don't Look Like An Engineer

I've heard it a million times - "You Don't Look Like An Engineer". 

I was reminded of the assumptions that I and others have made when I read the recent article in the paper about the airline incident with a passenger in distress . The flight attendant didn't believe the female ob/gyn was a doctor and wouldn't allow her to help. 

Here are some bias examples in my own life that came to mind as a result - 

I am thrilled when new people try my yoga class and even more excited when I see them return. I try to tell everyone to stay open to the poses and do the best they can with each one, modifying it to fit their needs. It seems like the men are usually the stronger ones and the women are usually the ones with more flexibility - but it isn't always true. I try to stay open to the possibilities and work with clients equally on everything. Many people assume that because they aren't flexible they can't do yoga so they don't come to class. I let them know that is why they should come - and they actually give it a try.

Many years ago when I was a supervising engineer, one of my employees (a male) invited me to an awards banquet for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). My husband was also invited to attend with me. When my employee told a board member he wanted to introduce her to his boss, the board member reached out a hand to shake my husband's. She was surprised to find out I was actually the boss.

When we were examining software programs for our engineering department, we invited sales representatives to present their program solutions to us. I recall one salesman speaking with my employee (a male) and me in a small conference room. The entire time he was focused on the employee and rarely turned his head in my direction. When he finished his presentation he asked my employee if he had any questions or could provide any other information to help with our decision. My employee said, his boss would have to answer that and turned toward me. That salesperson was quite surprised to realize he had assumed the man was the boss. (We just gave our names when we were introduced - not our positions).

It happens all the time - in so many circumstances. We are all guilty of making assumptions and acting on them. The more we experience diversity the less unusual it will be and the more open to possibilities we will become. I believe it will continue to improve with time. 

What's your assumption story?

Keep your eyes open for my new book next year - "You Don't Look Like an Engineer - Busting Assumptions that Hold Us Back".

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Never Give Up

Never Give Up! 

I was watching an NFL game today and as the offensive player was ten yards away from running into the end zone the defensive players started slowing down and stopped their chase, as if it was all over. Just yesterday I watched a college football game where the defensive player never gave up and actually caught the offensive player and knocked the ball out of his hands from behind. Never Give Up!

A few days ago I saw a woman with a reusable grocery bag with "Never Ever Ever Ever Give Up!' written on it.

One of the readings in church today was about Persistence. Never Give Up!

I have some new people in my yoga class and one of them came up to me after class and told me she was a beginner and couldn't do everything but she was going to keep coming to class and keep trying until she could! Never Give Up!

It is clear the message is coming at me from all angles and now I am sharing it with you - "Never Give Up!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sometimes the Rules Are Meant to be Broken!

There are so many types of yoga - from powerful Ashtanga series and Bikram yoga with precise positions in a precise order with precise timing to other styles with more freedom in the poses. I teach "Nutmeg" yoga. My nickname is Nutmeg (Meg for Margaret, Nut for the good crazy!). I've trained and been exposed to a number of styles and teach a freestyle with technique combined kind of class - therefore Nutmeg yoga. If you ever take training from different yogis, most believe their style and their way of executing a pose is the right way - but I believe they are all right. You don't have to follow all of the "rules" to have a successful practice.

There are other places I believe rules could be broken or bent a little. For example, at the grocery store today. I was behind a friendly woman in the express check-out lane. She admired the roses I carried in my arms and delightedly I let her know they were only $8 a dozen (20% off any size bouquet).  She asked the cashier if she would ring her up a dozen and she would run back and get them. The cashier told her she couldn't. The disappointed woman exclaimed, "I guess it wasn't meant to be". I asked the cashier why she couldn't have rung up the flowers for the woman using her scanner on one of my bunches. She went into an explanation on inventory and what if the woman didn't get the exact same kind and then they would order more of the wrong one and ... I'm thinking - you missed out on making one woman's day and a sale - because of a silly rule. Sometimes the Rules Are Meant to be Broken!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What That Song Meant To Me

My girlfriend's husband was working overseas and every six weeks they would meet here or there in a different country. She traveled to Turkey on one trip and brought me back a CD of music. I incorporated one of the songs from the CD gift into my yoga class playlist. At the end of class that night a young woman came up to me. She seemed a bit teary eyed yet happy. She shared that she had just moved from Turkey and the song I played was the first music she'd heard here from her country and it meant to world to her. Wow! That was so cool and such a coincidence to have her in class the only night I played a song from that CD. I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to give that gift to her.

Recently in cycle class, a few members were hanging out after class, as we usually do. One young woman started to tear up as she talked about a song I had played in class. It was a long hill song. It reminded her of the wonderful times she had running with her father in the hill country. He was not able to run with her right now, but the song took her to that time and place in the past that she enjoyed so much with him. "Transcendent", she said.  It was the most special thing I've ever heard from someone in one of my cycle classes. I was so grateful that I was able to give her that experience without even knowing it and so happy she shared it with me.

Music affects us in so many positive ways. Play that favorite song for yourself and get lost in the experience. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

No BUTS about it!

I was preparing for a trip and needed to get a little extra cash so I stopped in at my bank. (I know - I could access a machine - but I like talking with the people in the bank more). I was greeted at the door by my former tennis instructor, who works there now. I took a set of group lessons for a few weeks through the community education program many many years ago. It was fun, and I have been a casual player over the years, even before my lessons. I walked up to the teller and my tennis instructor joined me. "She is a tennis player" she said to the teller. I almost said "not really" out loud but stopped myself. "Well, I do play tennis", I thought. "And I don't have to be great to be a player, right? So, I guess I AM a tennis player, yes I am!!"

And it made me think of other situations. My girl friend and I were paired up with another couple on the golf course a while ago. The woman in the pair called herself a golfer but she didn't keep score and she picked up her ball half the time without finishing the hole. But she IS a golfer.

I tell people in my yoga class that as long as they are breathing they are still doing yoga, so they ARE yogis! You don't have to be great at something to do it or be it. 

How many times do we discount what we are doing or being with that "I am, BUT!"?

Own what you do and are and enjoy! No BUTS about it!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Habits Can Be Fun

What kinds of habits do you have?  I notice in the gym in my yoga and cycle classes that people have their favorite spots.  There are those that put their mats in the front or back corners of the room or the brave ones that always scoot theirs right up next to mine.  I have even witnessed a not so pleasant interaction when a newbie plopped their mat down in a veteran's favorite spot. Fortunately I haven't had to intervene to protect lives - yet!  In cycle class there are those who sit on the same bike every time them come to class.  I know that I too had my favorite spot when I used to take a step aerobics class. I would always place my bench to the left of the instructor a few rows back. It just made sense for the view - to see what they were doing and to be able to follow along more easily.  

We tend to have habits in a variety of areas in our lives: a morning habit of reading the paper, showering and dressing that never varies, the path we drive to work, our nightly relaxation patterns, the things we eat and the places we go for entertainment.  Over time we develop our favorites and don't stray very much once they are set.

When someone says "habits" do you typically think of something pleasant or unpleasant? Do you know that the most effective successful people have daily habits? You've probably heard of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Starting with the end in mind, seek first to understand, and be proactive are some of them. But what habits do you need to start doing and what habits do you need to stop doing to be more effective? Are you taking time to relax and really let your mind wander like in the hammock picture above? Starting the day with some quiet time instead of jumping onto your phone to check texts or e-mails of Facebook may be the one thing you could do that would change your world for the better.

Habits can be fun too. I've made golf one of mine. I invite you to play with the topic considering what is currently working for you and what is not. Decide on just a few new habits and try one on at a time. See where it goes and how much better life is overall because of your new commitment.

What will you start today?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

All You Can Eat Buffet

There used to be a restaurant here in town called The Boston Sea Party. It was an all you can eat buffet. There was a soup and salad bar, a main course buffet and a dessert bar. If that wasn't enough, an entree was part of the deal. Usually by the time your entree came you were already stuffed, but as young professionals we were up to the challenge and did it all. As you left the restaurant, there was a basket of apples. You were encouraged to take one. We playfully put it near our mouths to imitate the stuffed pig. That is one place you couldn't go to very often without having to adjust up your pant size every time you did.

This morning in yoga I welcomed everyone, especially the new people. I encouraged them to treat class like an all you can eat buffet. I let them know they didn't have to "eat everything"! They could take a little bit of this and a little bit of that - whatever worked for them. When they needed to take a break they were welcome to do that. (Haven't you done that at an all you can eat buffet, rested for a little bit while getting ready to attack the buffet line again?!). If they approached class like that, they were more apt to go away satisfied instead of overwhelmed.

Remember in anything you approach in life, sample it and work with what you need. Don't try to do it all or take it all if it is going to leave you overwhelmed.