Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I have a new job. It's at a detox centre. After 8 hours on the job, I've learned:

- safety for some is a luxury
- listening to someone's story matters
- receiving a smile is a significant reward

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ten Pieces of Advice for Committee Chairs (not tables)

I have chaired several committees and been a member of several committees. In my experience, there are some BIG no no's for CHAIRS to be aware of. My two cents:

1. make introductions or let your team introduce themselves
2. spend some time on your agenda; time estimates are helpful to keep you on track; also indicate which members will be required to speak to certain items so that they can prepare ahead
3. do not MICROMANAGE your team; assume your members are competent
4. give team members the freedom to soar; they all have a vested interest
5. try to have representatives from all generations and encourage input from all; this helps members of the same generation feel supported and improves the quality of input
6. please say "NO" if you can't commit; it's much easier to deal with an up front "no" than a "yes" followed by excuses just because you didn't have the guts to say "no" (applies to chairs and members)
7. please be respectful of your team's time and ensure your meetings begin and end on time
8. have meetings only when they are needed; otherwise communicate by email
9. practice GRATITUDE - thank the people that made it happen; I've found that we often put all of our energy into planning, organizing and running an event and when it's all over and we're able to breathe again, we forget to say thanks
10. CELEBRATE your team - bowling, macarons, a card, a beer - it's all good!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Exploring Work/Life Balance for Leaders

For me, work/life balance is dynamic. It is dependent on variables like the age of my children, my work obligations, my husband's work obligations, and the health of my parents. I have definitely managed some years better than others and was excited about the prospect of learning some new techniques today.

The workshop I attended was hosted by Randy Savoie, author of "Choices". Initially, he seemed to be stating the obvious. But after a few hours of contemplation, I feel his simple suggestions may lead to significant change.

Firstly, there are many, many things that interest us. Unfortunately, there are a finite number of hours in the day. We must make conscious choices to decide who we want to influence and what we find most important.

Step 1 - Take care of your basic needs (sleep enough, eat well, exercise, see your doctor).

Step 2 - Define who you want to influence (think of a dart board with "YOU" in the centre and each group you hope to influence in a separate ring moving outwards). For example, YOU > Family > Patients/Clients > Peers > Community > Province > Canada > World. Understand that having influence at the national or international level is going to require most of your time and you will need to sacrifice time with other groups eg. family.

Step 3 - Define your priorities beginning with the most important in the centre and again moving outward using rings on a dart board. For example, YOU > Family > Patients/Clients > Administration Duties > Staff > Committee Work > Hobby > Volunteer. By spending more time in one area, you need to spend less time in another. Do your actions actually match your priorities?

This exercise quickly self-identified that I am dedicating too many hours to some of my lesser ranked priorities at the expense of some of my higher ranked priorities. I am optimistic that I will be able to make some changes over the next 3 months by allocating less time to my lower ranked priorities, by saying, "No", and by seeing my family doctor.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What skills will our kids need in the future?

I've been searching for the skills that my children will require to help them have successful futures.

I recently attended a TEDx event in my hometown, Edmonton. One speaker predicted our children will need to perform three functions well, upon reaching adulthood, to be successful. These were: 1) the ability to search and follow links, 2) the ability to assess the quality of information found, and 3) reading comprehension. He asked us to ponder the question, "Will math be a hobby in 2031 just like shooting and horseback riding have become?". No math? Hard to imagine but the future is impossible to predict.

Clayton Christensen, author of "How Will You Measure Your Life?", explains a model that will help us predict the future capabilities of our children. There are three factors to consider: 1) resources, 2) processes, and 3) priorities.

Resources: "The financial and material resources he has been given or has earned e.g. his time and energy, what he knows, what his talents are, what relationships he has built, what he has learned from the past."

Processes: "What your child does with the resources he has, to accomplish and create new things for himself e.g. creating an iPad app."

Personal Priorities: "How a child will make decisions in his life - which will be on top, which he'll procrastinate doing, and which he'll have no interest in doing at all."

Christensen argues that our modern families spend loads of time, money and effort increasing their child's bucket of resources but we are failing to provide opportunities for him or her to learn processes.

He states, "Many parents are flooding their children with resources - knowledge, skills and experiences. But the nature of these activities - experiences in which they're not deeply engaged and that don't really challenge them to do hard things - denies our children the opportunity to develop the processes they'll need to succeed in the future."

It ends up that my husband and I have already provided our children with many resources and as a result, skills. Instead, we need to improve on our provision of opportunities for them to use their skills to create, to test their knowledge, to challenge themselves, to succeed and to fail. Opportunities to practise processes will help them prepare for an uncertain future.

Monday, October 22, 2012

8 to be Great

I am loving the new Ted Education site. I just viewed Richard St. John's talk on his discoveries: The 8 Traits of Successful People.

1. Work hard
2. Focus on one thing
3. Push yourself
4. Create good ideas
5. Improve yourself
6. Serve others
7. Persist
8. Have passion in what you do

However, if you don't already possess these characteristics as an adult, I question how easily they can be learned?

I feel our goal should be for family, teachers, and community members to model these skills for our children. Seek out good role models for your children and in turn, be a good role model. We may not possess all 8 traits, and maybe never will, but we can share our strengths and continue to learn. Perhaps, we may even contribute to a child's future success?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Participant vs. Winner

I recently spent a week in Scotland with my mom. My main goal was to attend the Cowal Highland Games and watch the Highland Dancing World Championships. The dancing was phenomenal and it was exciting to watch as the winners were crowned. After the event, my mom reported, "Highland Dancing is still in your blood!"

It was my primary extracurricular activity from the age of 8 until 2nd year medical school, at 25, when I could no longer accommodate the weekly time commitment. Teaching Highland served as my part-time job throughout high school and University. It taught me discipline and humility; it demanded courage, strength, stamina and grace. But I was a participant, not a champion.

I longed to be a winner. I did win the odd medal or trophy but I was never a major contender. My peers and I wanted to hold the coveted title that another pupil who trained alongside of us had earned - Champion of the Worrlllllddddddd!!!

We ooohed and aaaahed when she received front page status in the local paper's Life section after her World Champion win. We watched in envy when she was called on individually in class to show us how to properly execute a step. Our chins dropped in awe when she performed flawlessly in competition. We wanted to be her and live her dreamy life!

I bumped into her a few years into my medical training. She was married with two children and had recently started a dance school. When she discovered I was in medical school she said, "You got it right, Kim. We both practised and sacrificed but my achievement was short-lived. Yours is for life."

As I look back on my Highland Dancing career, I realize that I gained much by being a participant and even more from not being a champion.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

When the Pedometer spits out a count way below your estimate!

I recently received a pedometer for my birthday!  I borrowed my son's a year ago for a few days and was impressed that I was over 14,000 steps per day.  I seem to recall, however, that it was a busy week with a lot of walking kids to and from school mixed with more up and down stairs doing laundry, making meals, cleaning toilets, etc.  Satisfied that I was accomplishing the adult recommendation of 10,000 steps per day, I presumptuously returned the pedometer.  It has since disappeared into the abyss of lost toys and gadgets.

Upon receiving my new pedometer, I was convinced that I would have no problem attaining 10,000 steps per day.  Much to my dismay, I discovered that during my 8 hour work day I am typically reaching only 3,000 to 5,000 steps!  Yikes!  That leaves a lot of steps to accomplish outside of my work day.  Despite my best efforts, I did not achieve my 10,000 step goal 3 out of 7 days.

I found Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes post on "Why Sports and Exercise are Barely Relevant and What Really counts is Occupational and Household Activity" timely and interesting.  He states that we need to create "active buildings" similar to the more mainstream concept of "environmentally conscious buildings".  These buildings would encourage physical activity when at work .

I challenge you to discover your day to day pedometer count.  Like me, it may not be as high as you think! It will likely be years before our buildings are designed to promote activity.  At present, being aware of your daily count will help you tweak your daily exercise goals.  Having a weekly goal of 70,000 steps may be more attainable than a daily goal of 10,0000 steps.  Going for a walk at lunchtime may work best for you.  Maybe your answer is some extra laps around the kitchen island at the end of the day?  One day this week, I required 603 laps around the island to meet my goal.  I fell short by 598 laps but was motivated to do better the next day.

For me, my pedometer count equates to "knowledge is power".  It is one means for attaining a healthier lifestyle.