Why being supportive is the best thing ever

Why being supportive is the best thing ever

The other day I was at the final game of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League playoff season, known as the Clarkson Cup.

It was kind of a big deal.  The Premier of Ontario was there as was the Mayor of the city, and TSN was there to put the game on TV. 

The stands were packed full of grown-up supporters like myself as well as hundreds of little girl hockey players (like my daughter) and other young women who have a passion for the sport and were there to support their heroes.

It was a great game filled with athleticism and fantastic end-to-end action, but there is one thing about that day that will stay with me for years. And it happened even before the puck dropped.

There was a young girl (sorry, I didn’t get her name) who came out on the carpeted ice to sing the Canadian National Anthem. She was maybe 10 or 12. How brave, I thought.

As the crowd hushed and the first nervous notes came out of her, it was obvious that the largeness of the moment was on her mind. 

I’m pretty sure you don’t get picked to sing the national anthem if you can’t sing. And sing well. But that day, in that moment, she was having trouble staying on key.

Sympathy for her rose up in my chest.  How was she going to get through this? 

Then it happened. The crowd just started to sing along.

And not the pseudo-singing you hear at church or in a school gym full of parents.  It was full on.  Jumping in by the third line, the crowd supported her with a cushion of in-tune notes. 

A smile crossed her face as her confidence grew with each word. It was one of the most wonderful moments I have ever seen take place in a large crowd.

That’s the power of support and it made me think: What if support existed in more places, particularly at work?

What I learned about team chemistry that you need to know

What I learned about team chemistry that you need to know

Does your team have chemistry?

You know, that “thing” that many of us look for in our personal relationships, with our friends, or even where we work.

In our personal relationships, it’s what we look for to know that we’ve met someone special. It’s often more of a happenstance – we meet someone and it’s there - or it’s not. We can tell. It’s almost instantaneous.  We have chemistry with them. We’re on the same page; it’s as if our minds are connected. There’s a certain ease.

However, chemistry is much more difficult to achieve at work.  

We’re on the lookout for it. That’s because people don’t want to be on just any team, they want to be on a team that has chemistry.

Why? Because having chemistry between team members allows special things - things that surpass the ordinary - to happen. These are the things that get you excited about going to work everyday.

Having chemistry on your team is like having a team on steroids.  You know it will be successful. You can conquer anything. 

But it’s elusive, hiding somewhere.  Can you make it happen?

Maybe.  Just maybe…

Why you need to get comfortable with change.

Why you need to get comfortable with change.

I hate to break it to you but you’re getting old.

Ok, ok… me too!

I don’t like to think about it and most people I know are too nice to say anything.  Most people except for my kids, that is.  

Yes, those babies whose diapers I changed in the wee hours of the night just a few years ago have realized I’m never going to play in the National Hockey League or face Federer on the ATP tour.  

Now, they not only remind me of change by how they are growing and acquiring new skills but also by ribbing me about my lack of ability on the ice or the tennis court. What happened to respect for your elders, anyway?

They are my walking and talking reminders about how constant change is, and that’s probably good for me.   

It’s probably good to be reminded that we are not the same as we once were; that change is always there despite our intense desire to ignore it

Most of us are guilty of trying to hold on to the way things are for as long as possible, when what we need to do is to keep up with change.

How to make the best from what you've got!

How to make the best from what you've got!

Wouldn’t it be great if every person you worked with was simply the best at what they do?

If they had all graduated first in their classes at school and had received awards and glowing letters of recommendation?

If they all had years of business experience and know-how, and were unflappable in the face of challenge?

If they had all come from generations of successful business people?

If they had no demands or distractions from family and could just concentrate on work all the time?

Aside from the potential egos of such a group of people, it’d be pretty interesting. It could be really great. But it’s pretty unrealistic.

Most teams are not made up of the best of the best.  They’re made up of the best you could get and sometimes it’s a far cry from the best.

You may have star employees among you but you probably also have a good number of folks who are pretty average.  You may even have some folks who are not quite as good as you’d like. 

This is most people’s reality. It happens on sports teams; it happens at work and pretty much anywhere you have a group of people who need to accomplish something together.

You’d think that, since this is a common reality for most people, we’d be pretty accepting of this and just go with it, but no.

What can often develop is some pretty negative talk, instead of figuring out how to make the best of what you’ve got.

Why you need to create more moments.

Why you need to create more moments.

It was many years ago, a night like so many others.

I was on stage playing a concert with a local symphony orchestra being led by a guest conductor.

I was dressed in my usual orchestra concert attire, a black tuxedo, complete with black cummerbund and bow tie  (à la James Bond, I like to think).  The strange thing about this time was that I was seated behind a drum set.

I say strange because when you study to be a drummer, you don’t necessarily see yourself wearing a tuxedo while you play. You also don’t imagine yourself playing behind a 60-piece orchestra at the back of a large concert hall filled with people.

I was playing the same drum set that I had played many times while dressed in jeans and t-shirt, the same set that I would “rock out on” in jam sessions with friends. 

But this night was different.  This night I was playing in an orchestral pops concert and it was the first time I was hired not as a percussionist but as the “drummer” for such a thing.

I had done my practicing, been to rehearsals, but I was nervous. There’s just something different about show time. On top of that, it was a big program. But I have to tell you that I don’t remember one single tune I played that night.

I remember one moment only, and how it felt. The moment I remember was near the end of the night, in the last tune.  It was a fast up-tempo number and I was busily keeping time when the conductor looked up from his score and looked me straight in the eye. Then with a broad smile, he raised his hand and gave me a big thumbs-up. 

I am going to guess that that particular moment was about 20 years ago now. Yet I remember it as if it were yesterday. I remember how great it felt, how happy I was.

I’m not sure if the conductor meant to make me feel as good as he did, but in that one moment, he validated my hard work, my years of practice, my musicianship and how I played that night.

And the thing is, he didn’t have to do it.  There’s no rule about that. I have played many concerts where it seems the conductors don’t even know you’re there. So for one to make an effort, that really stood out for me, and his timing was right on. 

That was a great moment! That’s the thing about special moments.  They can have a profound impact on people.

My 10 best articles of 2017

My 10 best articles of 2017

Happy New Year!

When I started writing a blog about a year-and-a-half ago, I have to admit I was scared…

Scared to put myself out there.

But, through gentle prodding from my coach, I got into a new early morning routine and after these many months, I have to admit it’s been fun and rewarding.

One of the best parts of that quiet early morning hour I take each day is that it has really made me think - think about what I can write that might help someone.

So today, I want to share (for the very first time – Woo-hoo! -  Drum roll please) my 10 best articles, based on their popularity.

From their humble beginnings as posts on my website, these articles have been shared on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google + and more.  People have tweeted about them and shared them.

And then there are the comments. Thanks to all of you who take a moment to say something.  I really appreciate that.

While no one tends to make critical comments, I want you to know I’d be ok with those too.

Because those are the ones that help me get better. 

In 2018, I’ll continue to write about teamwork, collaboration and leadership because I am curious about those things and am always looking for the magic that happens when those things are working at their best.  

So here we go with My 10 Best Articles of 2017.

Final Post 2017: How to have better success at reaching your goals

Final Post 2017: How to have better success at reaching your goals

Well, that’s it.

My final post of 2017. 

I can’t believe I am saying such a thing. 

Two years ago, I didn’t even have one post, and when the idea was suggested to me that I start blogging, I found the thought over-whelming. 

I remember thinking to myself back then, “I’m a musician, not a writer”.   I can’t write a weekly blog. Now it has become a regular part of my business, a regular part of my routine. 

I’d be lying if told you I just sit down and pour out reams of excellent thoughts and ideas.  It still takes work and lots of thinking.  That’s because this blog is not just for me, it’s also for you. I really want it to help you in some way.

So in today’s post, I want to encourage you to do something you haven’t done before, something you might think is beyond you, something you’d like to reach for.

It’s at this time of year that we think about such things.  It’s the time of year when we take stock and make plans.

Making plans is not always easy.   There’s a lot that can get in the way but it’s usually one big obstacle -  ourselves!

But there’s a way to use ourselves to overcome ourselves and here’s how…


What I learned about mistakes that you need to know.

What I learned about mistakes that you need to know.

It started when you were really young.

That fear of admitting you did something wrong.

It was always tempting to cover it up because you learned quickly that doing something wrong usually came with consequences.  Most likely, you got a talking to at the very least.

Then there was school. You occasionally did things that were wrong at school, and now they were on paper.

They were called mistakes, and they were often circled in the dreaded red pen.

It makes sense that a test would sit in your bag for a few days waiting for just the right moment to be shown to your parents - when they were too busy to really look at it.

There’s never been anything fun about admitting your mistakes.

But making mistakes just might be the most valuable thing that we can do for ourselves.

6 things you need to combat chaos at work

6 things you need to combat chaos at work

I have spent a lifetime on teams --except I never called them teams.

The word “team” has a bit of a sports feel to it, and I was in the music world.  So the “teams” I worked with were bands, ensembles, orchestras, theatre companies, quartets, and quintets.

Same idea though - they were groups – groups of people working towards a common goal.

Bosses, coaches, managers go to great lengths to assemble “teams” of people that they think will win, i.e. bring in the most profits, make sales, solve a problem, help them reach a goal.

But we know that despite the best efforts of those folks, not all teams are created equal.

 So whenever I come across one that is working really well, I like to explore how they do it.

Recently I came across a team that did do what they were supposed to do in a very unlikely part of the world and in a very challenging situation.