My Dogs are Jedi Masters

mom and boys


Yoda has nothing on my dogs.  They really are the Jedi Masters of peace and tranquility.  They are so good, they taught me to chill out.


I got to the point in my life that chaos was the norm. My best friend and I used to joke about how we have this sick tendency to actually enjoy having a full plate. It makes us energized and even perform the competing tasks at hand better than if there was only one to do.


Chaos became the norm.  That was okay when it was work, I felt I could handle it.  But it never just stays at work.


I used to work for an organization that was simply exhausting.  Chaos would have been a welcome break.  I had over an hour drive from work and would use this time to ‘decompress’ and put myself in a better place for when I got home and was with my son.


When I quit that job the first thing he said to me was, “Thank you, you were always in a bad mood during the week when you got home.”


So much for decompressing and being in a better place.


I used to run around on the weekend trying to accomplish what needed to be done throughout the week in a day. Cleaning, cutting the grass, weeding, grocery shopping, laundry – and by the way, how do two people have so much dang laundry?  Chaos was becoming a norm in my personal time, too.


One night I was sitting down, exhausted, and over came one of my pups.  He nonchalantly plopped his head on my lap.  My first thought was “I am too tired to play” but then I looked down at him.


If you are a dog person, you will understand the look I saw in his eyes.  If you are not, just go with it. He looked at me as if to say, “really *sniff* you don’t have time to even pat my head?”


Guilt by dog.


Of course I patted his head, rubbed his ears, and gave him undivided “mom” time.  This brought one of the other ones over and it became a puppy love fest. For that period of time I did not think of any tasks or things left undone, I just enjoyed getting happy mauled by my dogs.  Once they had their fill of attention, they went back to sleep.


Just as easy as that.  Fifteen minutes of play time then so relaxed that they took a nap. Seriously?  I want that!


As crazy as it sounds, I studied my dogs that weekend.  I was like a modern day doggy Jane Goodall. When they had a task to complete (eat, chase, dig) they gave it their complete and undivided attention.  When they were done, they were done.  They did not go back to that hole and think, “I could have done more, maybe I should dig from the outside in next time.” The threw themselves into the task at hand.


Then they napped.


They enjoyed the outside, laying in the sunshine, soaked it all up until they sounded like they were about to pass out, then they went in the house and laid on the cool tile floor.


Then they napped.


On walks they literally stopped to smell the roses…and the grass, and the mailbox posts, and the other dogs poop, and the wind and their own butt…  Even if we just saw that mailbox post yesterday, they were going to sniff it again, you never know what could have happened in 24 hours. Every smell was awesome! They took full advantage of what was around them.


Then they napped.


At night they nestled close by, getting belly rubs, rolling their little puppy eyes back in their head from sheer pleasure then started snoring.


These guys know how to live! Besides realizing my dogs took a lot of naps, I realized they had taught me a thing or two:


  • Put all your effort in the task at hand; when it is over, it is over.
  • Enjoy your surroundings.
  • Rest and rejuvenate.
  • Move – play, keep your body active.
  • Every day is a new day, you never know if there is something new in your same old path.
  • Relax, it gives you more energy when you have tasks to accomplish.
  • There is great joy in the smallest pleasures.
  • Treats are good.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • Take time to love the ones you love.


I have incorporated my Yoda dogs teachings into my daily life:

meditation pup


I take breaks throughout the day to go outside and enjoy the sunshine, birds, clouds, rain – whatever the situation is, I do a mental break and immerse myself in the sights and sounds of the right there.  Recently I put up a couple hummingbird feeders outside my office – I am in heaven during these breaks watching those little guys buzz about.


When the work day is done, it is done.  Then it is time for the family, dedicated, quality time.


Sleep.  We get sleep now as a regular thing not as a so-exhausted-I-fell-into-bed thing and please let me get just a couple of hours.


Daily walks with the dogs and time at the gym to keep physically active helps reduce stress.


And treats, lots of treats.  A massage, a manicure, a day trip, a special meal – whatever it is, treats are good!


Try following a dog’s life this weekend and see if you don’t get converted by these Jedi Masters of happiness.



A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.

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Balance is Bull; How My Son Got Me to Get Life


Having a 21 year old son as a mirror, reflecting certain aspects of my personality can be quite annoying. I am never sure whether to be proud or afraid that our personalities are so similar on several counts.

Physically we could not be any different: I am 5’ tall, maybe 100 pounds soaking wet and fair skinned (he has called me translucent). He is over 6’ tall, very athletics and maintains a perfect tan in the wintertime.

We have a unique communication style having many lively conversations that provide great entertainment to those around us. We are both straightforward, direct and appreciative, devoted students of effervescent witticism. We are a couple of smartalecs.

For all the grief I give my son, and I do so quite a bit in seminars and blogs, I will be the first to admit he has taught me more life lessons than any mentor or idol.

His points are poignant due to his delivery. It is normally a short, direct statement that cuts through any bull, fear or distractions.

I read an article the other day about work-life balance, which I believe is a bunch of bull-hooey. Balance implies equality. I have yet to meet the person that has perfect equality in both professional and personal worlds. The phrase implies some sort of perfectly balanced scales. I don’t own any scales.

This is not to say that you cannot have it all, in my opinion you most certainly can – just not all at one time.

My problem was not that I was trying to make those scales balance; I was on a different extreme. I used to devote myself to only certain areas of my life completely ignoring others.

A few years ago he put it into perspective for me. We were discussing my work and he simply looked at me and said, “When are you going to have a life?”

I backtracked and tried to provide proof that I did, in fact, have a life. Obviously he was mistaken.

He just shook his head and said, “No you don’t.”

He told me that when he was growing up, my life was focused on him; when his dad was diagnosed with cancer, my life was focused on both of them; and when he moved out my life focused on my business. He said he wasn’t talking about relationships, he was talking about me. He asked when I was going to focus on me.

He told me, “Mom, I think it is your turn.”

He was not mistaken.

Damn kid.

That is the day that I began to realize balance is not equal and the each side of the equation are actually multi-part subsets. It is not a perfectly balanced scale; it is a teeter-totter with different size and shapes of aspects sitting on each end.

The Teeter-Totter

One the work end you have your peers, bosses, clients, prospective clients, vendors and every person you come into contact with during the working day.

On the life end you have all the things that mean most to you personally: your family, your community, your faith and your passions.

A teeter-totter is a basically a plant anchored on a fulcrum. According to the dictionary, a fulcrum is the point or support on which a lever pivots. What is the fulcrum in the work-life teeter-totter?


You can counter the feeling of being dropped on your bum when someone jumps off the other end of the teeter-totter by enlarging your fulcrum.

In work, realize that everything is not a means to a financial end. There are interactions, lessons and people there for you to get to know and enjoy.

Understand that everyone has their own path. Careers are rarely a straight line; more often than not they are winding, twisty, topsy-turvy crazy lines that takes you where you are and where you want to go.

On the life side things are sometimes messy. Other people’s actions create fears, insecurities and doubts about ourselves and our abilities as partners, parents or friends. We feel pulled into other people’s stuff.

It is a natural inclination to be all things to all people as a leader, worker, provider, business owner, parent, partner, sibling, family member, friend and volunteer. In doing so you forget the fulcrum holding it all together: you.

This was my son’s point. I had forgotten me. My teeter-totter had no balance point. That is when I hung up then burned my superwoman cape. Here is how I built a better teeter-totter.

Me time

I began scheduling, yes I had to schedule, me time. I started with an hour in the evening where I completely disconnected and did something just for me. Not filling this time with things to check off my list.

At first I felt guilty. I should be using this hour to clean the bathroom, give the dogs a bath, research an article, call a friend, do laundry – anything but mindless, time wasting activities.

If I do not take care of my mental, physical and spiritual health what good am I for all other components of the equation? I needed the time that I gave to others, without it I could still do all things for all people but I was a worn down, exhausted hot mess.


I began forgiving myself for taking me time, for saying no and for mistakes. I am human and I provide forgiveness for others yet rarely for myself. This led me to the next step.

Treating myself as I do others

We encourage, support, love and appreciate the people in our life, so what if we started putting ourselves in that mix? What if you started treating yourself as you do all others in your life?

What if you started giving yourself pats on the back for a job well done? What if you told yourself that it is okay that you did not get everything checked off your list today? What if you told yourself that you did the best you could do and that is all anyone can do? What if you told yourself that you are amazing? What if you started complimenting, genuinely complimenting yourself? What if you stopped holding yourself to a higher standard, an impossible standard, and gave yourself support, empathy, encouragement and love?

Appreciation vs. Gratitude

Now I was starting to really get a life, and one I liked. Now my dogs started getting into the act.

Then I stopped looking at the didn’t haves and lack ofs and started focusing on what was right there in front of me and around me. I started the practice of appreciation rather than gratitude.

Gratitude is being thankful with an element of something not having happened yet. I am grateful for the balance of my bank account although it is not where I want it to be right now.

Appreciation is being thankful for that exact moment without regard to future needs or wants. I am appreciative for what is in my bank account right now. Period.

My dogs helped me learn appreciation. Every morning I sit outside watching them. It is the same yard, same trees, same grass, same flowers and same smells; but not to them. Every morning they bound out the door to discover the backyard world with fervor of discovering it for the first time.

I started approaching every one of my mornings the same way. Sitting outside with them I started with the little things: appreciation for the beautiful flowers in my yard, the birds playing and the dogs’ curiosity.

I really took notice of where I was sitting and gave appreciation for the deck that my family built and for the house that is my home. I gave appreciation for my clients, for the work I do, the conversations we have and how they inspire me.


If any nagging thoughts come in about not checking things off my list yesterday, I give myself a mulligan. I go back to forgiveness and the natural tendency to beat myself up and state out loud “Today is a new day” What can I do today?


I try to incorporate play into my day, every day. This gives me my greatest release: laughter. I play with my dogs, I play games that challenge me mentally trying to beat my score, I play loud music and dance while I clean.


Throughout the day I completely disconnect. I turn off the sound on everything from my phone to my email notifications. Even if it is for 15 minutes I completely disconnect. This allows me to become acutely aware of my current state. If I have become tense, in stillness I can identify it and release it. Meditation, deep breathing or exercise – whatever it takes to release it.

Time Stingy

I started saying no. I have the opportunity to fill my days to the brim with family, clients, networking, friends, new opportunities and more; however, I started being stingy with my time. I started putting me time on the priority list, as well as time for things that are important to me.

If this week is incredibly busy, then I schedule a couple hours devoted to my dogs. I take them each out on their own walk, I turn off the phone and I make sure I am absolutely present in that time. I schedule time to walk with the girls and make sure my time with them is all about them.

Implementing these things helped me build a better teeter-totter. I went from that stationary center point fulcrum into a fluid, growing, vibrant curve that extended to each side giving me control of a balance that works for me.


6 Tips for Dealing with Workplace Distractions

Bandit interuptingI had every intention of getting my to-do list done before noon today.  My dogs, especially Bandit, had other intentions.  My dogs are a fixture in my office; they are also my biggest distraction.

I completed my three mile morning indoors on the treadmill this morning, much to the chagrin of the pups.  I plan on taking them out this afternoon or evening, but there was no way I was going to take spaz-pup Luke on a walk when I could not see right in front of my face.  Too many opportunities for tripping, twisting of ankles, darting off to chase unseen creatures – the treadmill was much safer.

The dogs didn’t care and I think Bandit got a little miffed by that and built resentment.  In the middle of one writing project he sat next to me and started the low whine.  Dog owners will recognize this as the “notice me, but I’m not really drawing attention to myself.”  It did not work.

He promptly climbed up in my lap for the more direct approach.  After an appropriate time of belly rubbing and “good boys” I had him get down and started to work again.

Then he began “talking.”  This is a step up from the low whine, but more gusto.  Just in case he had to go and couldn’t hold it, I took them outside and left the door open for them to come and go as they please.

A bit later, he was back.  A combination of talking, climbing and pawing.  His game had elevated.  Turns out this time he really needed to go outside but the door was closed.  I am convinced he told Luke to shut it just so he could cause more ruckus.

This is when I had to have a little talk with him, pictured here, and the inspiration hit me for this blog.

I have always managed to handle workplace distractions pretty well, dogs included.  Let’s face it, sometimes they are just so darn cute!  Although your co-workers or boss will not be doing the low whine or climbing on your lap (that is a whole other issue!) there are ample opportunities for distractions at work.

The most common are an avalanche of emails, loud conversations in your vicinity, last minute requests, talkative co-workers, unscheduled meetings/calls and auditory distractions from music to loud copiers.

Here are tips to help tune out some common distractions and still be productive:

Quiet Your Mind

Before you leave for the night, make a list of priorities for the next morning.  This will help you start fresh and have a clear picture of what you need to get done and what you want to get done.

This will also allow you to schedule a block of time for high priority.  If your co-workers are chattiest in the afternoon and the copy machine is not used before 11 am, schedule your high priorities for the morning.

If, during this period, you are still finding others near you to be distracting, go to a conference room or empty cube.  It is okay to give a gentle hint in gathering your materials and letting them know, “if you need me I’ll be in the conference room, I really need to concentrate on this to complete it.”

Quiet Your Technology

Turn off all notifications.  Silence your phone and turn off email notifications.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but is also a huge interruption.  So many of us, myself included, have become condition to stop whenever we hear a notification on our phone.  It may be a Twitter or Facebook notification and we may not look at it immediately, but we stop and register it when we hear it.  Unplug while you concentrate.

Quiet Your Space

Plan your workspace for efficiency and minimal distractions.  Keep only the high priority item in front of you at the moment; place everything else in a tickler file or in a drawer temporarily.  It is too easy for our eyes to wander on the mountain of paperwork calling our name.  Some jobs do not allow for this, when I worked in Compliance there was no way my desk would ever be described as “minimalist”.  What I would do instead is get an empty paper carton, put everything in there (in my own organized manner) and put the box under my desk.  I just had to NOT see it.

Quiet Your Critic

I used to beat myself up about lack of organization and being easily distracted by the chaos in and around me.  This negative self-talk actually encouraged distractions.  I one day realized that this is my style.  I can clean my desk picture perfect and the next week it will be back in chaos.  It is my organized chaos and it is my comfort level.  I learned to work within my own strengths and weaknesses, “forgiving” myself for not being so structured and organized.

Shutting up that inner critic and going with your own quirks allows you to be creative in solving your problems.  You are more accomplished in doing so because it feels right to you and you stop failing at using what everyone else uses.

Quiet Your Misplaced Manners

How many times has someone popped their head in your office or in your cube and asked, “Do you have a minute” and continue the conversation without waiting for a response?  Often we will not interrupt them because 1. They told us it would just be a minute (lie) and 2. It would be rude to interrupt.

Have you ever noticed that they are completely oblivious to your typing away on your keyboard or completely entrenched in something?  How do they not see that?  They do.

This is misplaced manners.  You are not being rude in interrupting them; they are being rude in not respecting your time.  When the “a minute” interrupter starts in stop what you are doing, hold up your hand in the “stop” motion and firmly say, “Actually, no. I do not have a minute right now as I am finishing this up, but as soon as I am done I will come right over to see you.”

If they persist in their rudeness, “But this will only take a minute” (oh look, they are doing the low whine like Bandit), stay firm.  Simply reply, with as much as a genuine smile as you can muster, “I am sure it will, but I am right in the middle of a stream of thought and I do not want to lose it.”

After each response, get back to work; do not even acknowledge their sad puppy eyes.  Stay strong.

Quiet Your Glutton for Punishment

When the boss comes and says, “I need you to drop everything and do this right now” take a breath.  Sometimes our natural instinct is to accept their perception and drop everything to do that task.

Before you start on the project, listen to what the fire is and then explain the situation.  Let them know what you are working on, ask if they would prefer that you finish that project or is their immediate project a higher priority.  What is a fire to one is not a fire to all.  Sometimes the boss does not remember or know what is on your plate.  They may have forgotten that your current project is a top priority.

If you work for more than one boss, this can be a little difficult; however, communication will help delegate and allow you to avoid taking full ownership of everyone’s fires and subsequent unhappiness in having their project pushed aside.  If you are working on a project for Boss A and Boss B comes to you and tells you that this is higher priority than Boss A’s project let Boss B know, in taking the project, that you need to let Boss B know.

Duel bosses do not always communicate.  They can also be sneaky.  They can come play on your sympathy and glutton for punishment in wanting to do such a good job at everything that you end up managing an impossible project.  They will come to you when the other boss is not around.  Boss games are fun.  Take yourself out of the game by being open and communicative with all bosses and let them know that you are doing so.  Sometimes Boss B will back down when he realizes you are going to go tell Boss A.

When to be Distracted

Allow yourself a distraction now and again to avoid burnout.  Take a break to help keep focused.  I allow a puppy break now and again to recharge my batteries.  Take a short walk around the office or the block to clear your head and come back more focused.  Just make sure that if you do take a walk around the office, you do not become a distraction to someone else.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

How To Make That Change

workWhile this seems like a vague title, it is intentional.


I am in the business of change.  I work with individuals to change something in their present situation.  In a general sense you could say I am a brand manager.


For those looking for a new position or advancement in their career I work with them on their resume, LinkedIn, interviewing, networking: everything leading to the change in jobs.


For business owners and teams I work with them on LinkedIn, business bios, networking and anything that helps engage their prospects or building their business.


I help every individual identify or clarify their brand and learn how to communicate that to the appropriate audience.


For each client it takes work; on both sides.


That is exactly what it takes to make any change: work.


Most people look at work as a dirty four letter word.  Not me – I see it as a positive, invigorating motivation.


If you want a change; whether it is a new job, a better job, new business, more prospects, better engagement, to master a skill, to take up a new hobby, to increase your social circle it takes work.


And here is the work that will work for you:








You have to identify the want.  What do you really want and why?



What is the situation around you, what is present and what is not?  What are any opportunities available for you and what are available if you make a change?



What is to be gained?  What is the first small step and reward and what is the one after?  Set goals and know when you have reached them, use them to motivate you to the next step.  It is not a stagnate process and end-all point.  Rewards are continual as long as you keep going.



Sometimes this is the best result of work – the knowledge.  Learning about yourself, a new industry, a new hobby, what worked, what didn’t, how you can use that going forward and learning about those around you.  Knowledge is power.


You make think you really want to make a change, but unless you are willing to identify and fulfill the work than you are dreaming.  Dreams are goals without a plan.  Dreams are illusionary and goals are tangible.  You can measure your progress toward a goal, you know when you receive a reward, when you accepted the knowledge, when you identify a new opportunity and fulfill a want.

Work is the method for change.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


And Yet The Rules Do Apply To You….

finger pointingI was heading back to the office today and had the privilege of following a special driver.


They must be related to the couple at Walgreens yesterday.


I say special because apparently they thought the rules did not apply to them.


The driver drove straight through the left turn only lane and the couple in Walgreens parked their big ol SUV right smack in front of the doors while there were plenty of open parking 10 feet away.


Oh, and they were shopping.  She literally had a little push cart around the store. I asked one of my favorite clerks if she had an extra uniform shirt so I could go knock on the window and let them know it was not a parking space.


I also find that sometimes a select few job seekers seem to fit in the “rules don’t apply to me” category.


And it is not just my observation.


I had an awesome meeting yesterday with a potential collaborator.  It was one of those meetings that you are both on the same page, have similar goals and, as a bonus, think the same things are funny.  You know those meetings when you both just click and in your head you are thinking, “cool – you’re as positively twisted as I am – yay!”


Anyway, we both work with job seekers and in his role he works with a defined group.  He too finds that occasionally he will run into one that has the attitude, “I showed up now it is your job to get me a job”


Another “exception to the rule” is the attitude of “well, the employer should understand or make an exception for me”.  Why?  Just because?


Sorry cupcake, life doesn’t work that way.


Exceptions can, and are made, but not because you are so gosh darn special and that wonderful smirky attitude just won them over.


Exceptions are made when you fight for them, prove yourself and demonstrate you care more about the opportunity rather than yourself.


Rules, regulations, processes and procedures are put in place for a reason.  Despite what you think, it is not just to make life more uncomfortable for you.


It’s not all about you.


I know of a company that uses an application as a screening process.  Not what is written in the application but the physical application itself.


Here’s what they do: for each position they request that a resume be submitted.  If called for an interview the candidate is asked to come into the office.  Upon arrival they are handed an application by the receptionist.


If the candidate in any way, shape or form asks the receptionist if they really have to fill it out, can’t they just attached their resume, they are no longer a candidate for the job.


In that one little moment they have proven that there are one or all of the following: lazy, think rules do not apply to them, unable to follow rules, not committed to earning the position, or uninterested in obtaining the job.


Like the receptionist is going to reply, “Oh I’m so glad you asked because even though every other candidate has to fill this out since you asked you do not have to because you are special.”


Life doesn’t work that way, cupcake.


It is your job to prove to the prospective employer what value you bring to the job, you deserve the job, you can do more than just show up and that you want the job.


It is not their job to assume or know this.  They might give you a few minutes of their time you better make the most of it and not waste that opportunity by thinking that the rules do not apply to you.


Let’s remember you are trying to get a job.


Job, noun, a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price.


You are getting paid to do work.


It’s not a something for nothing type gig which means, yes, the rules do apply to you, too.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Is It The Equipment Or The Operator?

I come from a family of golfers, my uncles, grandfather and even my ex-husband are all golfers.  I don’t know the first thing about it; actually I know this: I swing a golf club like a bat – too many years spent at the batting cages with my son.

My dad played occasionally, not a big golfer, and his equipment was a mishmash of clubs.  I remember him telling me about a time he went out with my grandfather.  Dad hit a bad shot and said something about his club being an old hand-me-down.  My grandpa took the club, hit a line drive (or whatever you golfers say), looked at my dad and said, “It’s not the club”.  God love my family!

So often we want to blame the equipment or environment when we are not happy.  It is our job, our boss, our company, our co-workers, blah, blah, blah…  But where we really need to start is by looking at the one holding the club.

There are times that we do not like our jobs and we can only see the negatives or missing elements.  That is when we begin the slippery descent into whiny zone.  You will know when you are in whiny zone when people discover something really important to work on as you approach.  They are trying to ignore you because you are sucking the lie out of them.

When the negativity starts to take over I beg of you to stop and take a step back.  Your job is a relationship and like any relationship it takes two to make it work.  Stop and look to see where your accountability in the negativity lies.

Are you really giving your job everything that you can, are you still trying to learn new things, improve things, grow and contribute?  What was it about your job that you once liked or loved?

What has changed – perhaps you have grown into a new position that does not hold the same appeal.  Could it be that in this new position you are not as comfortable or secure so it is easier for you to hate it rather than face your fear of failure?  Guess what, we’re all afraid – but are you going to toss those clubs in the lake or step back and remember the basics?  It is your choice – just make sure you are making a choice and not a reaction.

Perhaps you feel you have grown as much as you can within the current parameters.  Take a look around and see if there is something else that you can become involved in to spark that feeling again.  Is there a different project within your department you could work on?  What about asking someone in a different line of business to let you learn one of their systems?  Find a way to find a challenge – think a little outside of the box.  Maybe it is volunteering for a subcommittee for something company related but not work related – like the holiday party, fundraising effort or some action committee.

My point is make sure that you have done everything within your power to make yourself happy where you are before you decide to quit the game.  Because when you walk away you want to make sure there are no regrets – no “what ifs” so you walk away clean.

If you have done all of the above and you still do not get the results you want then by all means – go find something that will make you happy.  Just because you love it doesn’t mean it is going to love you back.  I know plenty of golfers who love and hate the game – kind of a masochist thing going on there.  Sometimes companies and managers ant to offer you the opportunities you desire but they just fiscally are not able to do so – no harm, no foul – it just isn’t meant to be at this time.  Are you willing to wait it out, is it worth it?

Before you give up on your game just take a moment to think about all the actions that you have done or, sometimes more importantly – not done, that have lead you to this point.  Once you take full accountability for your past, present and future actions you will know what to do with the current shot and your odds of winning have just gone up dramatically.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


You Don’t Get A Cookie For Peeing On The Floor

It is ironic to me that we can see the clarity and prudence of bits of wisdom for some aspects of our life but not for others. By “we” I am including myself in this one – not throwing stones.

Not rewarding bad behavior is one of these sage little tidbits that is often selectively applied.

I apply it with my dogs. Having five there is a continual training process going on in my house. My dogs all go out first thing in the morning and do their business – both kinds of business, all five, every morning. It is their schedule. Sometimes I have to remind them when they come to the door to “go potty” at which point they look at me with dopey dog eyes saying, “oh yeah, I forgot” and they promptly go back in the yard and poop. Yes, my brilliant dogs sometimes forget to poop. Anyway, when all five have conducted business as a whole then they all five get a treat.

When I leave the house I remind them all to be good and upon my return if they have then they all get a treat. If one has decided to destroy a roll of paper towels, de-stuffed a cushion or peed on the floor then none of them get a treat. They do not get rewarded for bad behavior. One of my dogs will even put himself in the corner if he misbehaves, he knows no reward for bad behavior.

When I arrive home if any try to jump up on me they promptly get a reminder not to do so; however if they back off and sit when told then they get lots of affection and praise. No reward for bad behavior.

I applied the same philosophy to my son when he was growing up. When he was little he would attempt to go through a whining phase every once in a while. If he started whining I would ignore him. When he would realize that his theatrics were had attention he would say something to me about if I was listening or some other ridiculous remark, to which I responded in a very matter of fact voice, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you, all I hear was this horrible, irritating whiney noise. When you talk to me in an appropriate manner then I can hear you and will listen to you.” And I would walk away. No reward for bad behavior. I have given my son so much material for a therapist down the road…

Often times I find people allow bad behavior from the object of their affection or co-workers. What is worse is the excuses that they come up with for this person’s behavior. If you are interested in someone and things are going great but all of a sudden they start ignoring you how often is the phrase, “Oh, I know they are really busy” come in to play? So you make an excuse for them not returning a call that they said they would, or breaking plans etc. Then you assume ownership of this and try to “help” this person but making the call again, re-planning etc. You are rewarding bad behavior. Knock it off.

On the surface it appears that you are merely making excuses for them but really you are providing and validating a reason for them to treat you poorly. You deserve better than that! People are busy, yes, however; does it really take that long to make a quick call or text? Nope. Face it, if someone wants to reach you they will, if they do not reach out let it go and do not establish a pattern that you deserve less than respectful treatment.

In the workplace it is very easy to become the dumping ground for co-workers or bosses. I have a friend that is the ultimate worker, a boss’s dream. He is hard working, comes in early, doesn’t complain, takes pride in his job, goes above and beyond without being asked and truly gives 110% every day. He had a boss that would frequently ask him to complete some menial tasks for other workers because 1. They needed to be done and 2. The other workers refused to do them.

This is a management issue, an example of poor management on so many levels – but I won’t get into that side of it. My friend was being used because he was a good employee and the boss was rewarding the bad ones by having my friend complete their tasks. The light bulb finally came on and he realized the reward for bad behavior.

The next time his boss asked him to complete other’s tasks he calmly explained what was on his agenda for the day, all the tasks that he was responsible for that needed to be completed, and asked his boss which was a higher priority because in his mind his tasks were of high priority but if his boss would rather he not complete his job for the day in order that the menial tasks get done then that would be his call. His boss became a bit flustered and my friend told him that he would like to help him but it was important to him that he give his full time and attention to his job as that is what the company was depending on him to complete so he unfortunately would not be able to do the other tasks.

It is ok to say no. This should be done in a professional and non-confrontational manner; however it is important to reclaim your respect within your world. Your time, talents and attention are just as valuable as anyone else’s so why allow someone else to de-value you?

In networking I had a young lady that routinely would set an appointment with me then cancel at the last minute. We are in a networking group together so I gave her a bit more leeway than I normally would, but after the third time I was done. When she reached out once again I politely declined the offer. She apologized profusely about the prior cancellations and I thanked her for her apology; however my time is very valuable and therefore I can only schedule appointments with others who value time as much as I do and suggested that perhaps down the road when she has more control over her schedule we might find the opportunity to sit down.

No one will value you unless you value yourself first. If you are going to blindly assume that my world revolves around you then please do not waste my time. There will be another project, another networking opportunity, another potential prospect – but I will not give you another opportunity to disrespect or de-value me. I have refused to work with clients because of their disrespect, their attitude that because they are paying for a service this somehow gives them a right to be disrespectful to me or anyone I am connected with. Wrong, move on.

The last two statements may come across to some as self-serving or bold; perhaps. They may even give the impression that I am demanding; I am. Demanding of myself because here is the thing – I value myself. I give 150% to my clients, my family, my friends, my networking and business partners; anyone that I choose to have in my life in any way. I value them and therefore I openly and willingly give all that I can to them.

I do not expect anything of others that I would not expect of myself. I treat others with respect, dignity and honesty. I respect the individual and therefore believe that they believe to be treated in this manner; and it is an easy thing to behave in this manner because I respect myself.

If you find that you are giving cookies for other’s peeing on your floor take a step back and see how you are encouraging this behavior. It might just come down to a matter of treating yourself with more respect in order that others will do the same.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

How Will You Be Remembered?

As morbid as this sounds there has been a lot of talk about death this week with my family. My step-dad’s mother passed Monday and the services were this week; which reminded me of a friend who lost his mother in September and her services; which then prompted my son’s dad and me to talk about how we would like our services to be performed when it is our time.

Just for the record – there will be no hymns or scriptures read at my funeral, no somber minister offering words of comfort. Nope. My son will lead it and my best friend will be there to make sure he gets it right. I want it to be a celebration of the people in my life, not my death. I want laughter and no potted plants.

Potted plants means someone has to take them home, then they have to take care of them and maybe think about they got them at a funeral. No thanks. Any flowers I would prefer my favorite – yellow roses, and after the service I want them all taken to a retirement home and given to the women there. Women love getting roses. Afterwards I want everyone to go get food, drink and be merry. I want dancing – lots of dancing. Women love dancing too.

I would be perfectly content if my friends told my son that I was a pain in the butt, but I cared. It’s honest and he would appreciate it. Heck, he would probably one up them on pain-in-the-butt stories! I think this is how anyone I’ve worked with would describe me – I care.

I care about doing things the right way, I care about making sure everyone on the team feels and performs like a valuable member, I care about my clients, my co-workers and bosses. I care about people’s feelings and helping them achieve their goals. I care about making sure I practice what I preach and that I give everything I do everything I’ve got.

Sometimes I say too much, am too outspoken, too stubborn – sometimes I am argumentative or like a dog with a bone – I don’t give up, I don’t back down and I don’t like to hear “no”. Like the saying goes – the question isn’t who is going to let me – it is who is going to stop me. My ex-husband told me once that I thought I was as big as he was – I’m 5’ tall, he is 6’4.

I’ve talked to plenty of former co-workers to know how I am remembered at my former positions. There is a consistency and that is something I am proud of – it is important to me that who I am is reflected in what I do.

Take a minute to think about what your co-workers, bosses and others would describe you. Is this what you would prefer them to think – or pass along to the next employer? If there is any doubt about that, take heart, you have plenty of time to adjust how you are perceived. You just need to start – today.

You may hate your job or even your boss, but do not let that be what you are known or remembered for – perform each task with purpose and grace. People talk, it is truly a small world. You never know who someone knows. Given this, wouldn’t it be nice if someone affiliated with a company that you are targeting has heard great things about you from a completely unrelated source? Reputation is a powerful thing.

Make sure your work and actions speak for themselves and they will speak volumes on your behalf without you even knowing it.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

Working Like a Dog – Seriously?

As I sit in my office working this morning, I am buzzing away because it is so quiet and peaceful. Realizing that it is quiet and peaceful makes me look around because in my house quiet is normally not a good thing – first with kids now with my little pack of dogs. Looking around there are five sleeping dogs in my office. And the phrase, “Work like a dog” flashes in my head.

Obviously my pack is not the inspiration for this saying, actually I wondered where it came from and why so I looked it up. Oh yes, that is me. I am very inquisitive to the point that I have on my phone so I can look up words when away from my computer. Again, I like the color of the sky in my world.

Anyway, apparently the origin is that dogs used to be working dogs, like Huskies for sled dogs or sheep dogs for herding. These creatures worked dawn til dusk just for a bit of food and maybe a pat on the head. The theory is that some employers expect the same of their employees. I’ve met a couple so I would agree. Looking around at five sleeping dogs (I really just can’t get over this) I think they all would have little doggie-strokes if I told them they were expected to work just for food. We won’t even go there with the treats.

My dogs are spoiled and absolutely domesticated being all indoor dogs. The girls have little fits if they have to go out in the rain to do their business, seriously. It’s okay, I kick them out in the rain anyway because I’m mean that way.

So this train of thought led to my kids, and everyone else’s kids for that matter. There are some very wonderful young men and women out there, I know because I’ve met a few. There are more of the “other” kind and that just annoys and frightens me.

You know these kids, they expect what they want just because they want it, they have no idea how to do simple math because they have Excel, they don’t know how to spell because they have spellchecker (no stones there, thank goodness for spellchecker, I am a terrible speller!), they want instant gratification and lose focus immediately. If their cell phone dies they are lost in the world, can’t figure out how to make a phone call or get direction.

They think because they thought about doing something it is good enough. We are to blame for this, it is the generation of trophies-for-trying and it is disturbing. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard something to the effect of “Well, I thought about doing it” and that is their so-called effort so they should not be held accountable for a task not being completed. Yeah, well, I’ve had lots of thoughts about Christian Kane, the actor that plays Eliot Spencer on Leverage but you don’t see any of those coming to fruition.

I think sometimes we are so immersed in world of all the little trophies-for-trying who are becoming legal to drink, smoke and vote that we adopt their attitude ourselves. I mean, hey, it works for them. To that I say “Grow up!” Taking responsibility is hard, it takes work and effort and sometimes you don’t get jack-squat for it but guess what, you do it anyway. Kids are amazed when I give them this little piece of insight during workshops. They look at me like, “What do you mean we have to work for something with no guarantee that we will get what we want?” Kind of like the look my dogs give when I tell them to go outside, “but why, we can sleep better in your office!”

If you find yourself frustrated at something not going your way I suggest that you take a step back and give an honest evaluation of your efforts. Are you putting effort in the task or expecting it to happen simply because you want it to? If you answered the latter than I suggest you get off your butt and stop waiting for someone to hand you a trophy for thinking about it. There is no greater reward or more empowering feeling for accomplishing something that you worked really hard for – truly worked. No trophy can compare to that.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Polish, Inc.

Habits Won’t Die If You Don’t Want Them To.

I know someone that bemoans consistently about the negative results of one of their behaviors. Every time a negative result happens it is almost a surprise to them, then it becomes an “a-ha” moment, then a heart-felt “I have to stop doing that” and lastly all that insight goes out the window when they turn around and do it all over again. Well it has just gotten to the point of irritating the bejesus out of me.

Here’s a newsflash: that habit isn’t going to change because you don’t want it to. I don’t care what you say, your actions keep repeating themselves therefore you do not want to change. Just because you want something to be different doesn’t mean it is going to automatically happen.

I would like to wake up with the figure I had in college, have three well trained dogs, my house cleaned from top to bottom and a closet that looks like a showroom for Jones and White House Black Market. No matter how hard I wish or say please, please, please the figure is present day, the dogs have created mischief, the cleaning fairies still haven’t shown up and the delivery trucks with my wardrobe must be lost.

Wishing just doesn’t cut it, neither does solely recognizing the problem and stopping there. Change takes work, consistent effort that often times sucks. If it were easy don’t you think you would have been doing it right in the first place? And if you are not willing to put in the work then do us all a favor and please shut up.

One of my biggest challenges is organization. It is a continual battle for me. My two biggest supporters have two different ways of encouraging me. We need encouragement to continue not only on the days that it is really difficult but also on the days that it is easy, because those are the days that might trick you into sliding out of your habits.

On the difficult days Jackie tells me to look back at the last week, month or quarter and recognize everything I have accomplished. On the easy days Jeff tells me one day doesn’t career make. They are both right, but no matter what they say it’s up to me to take the action. When I don’t then it is my own fault if things get out of hand and I have no reason to complain about it.

But for those habits that I don’t want to change, and the ones you don’t want to either, I’ll make you a deal – I’ll shut up about mine if you shut up about yours. I bet between the two of us we will make someone’s day a little better – a day with a little less whine.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Polish, Inc.