Harness your Positivity

We all know positive thinking can make us stronger and more successful. How do we instil this habit into our daily work life?  Simple!  It’s done with themes and language.

Now you are probably all having flashbacks to elementary school English class as you read this but the advice is solid. Adding a theme to days and weeks and months can change your perspective and allow positive thoughts to explode into your mind and out into your work performance.

Start by labelling your difficult days to things like Marvellous Monday.  Theme your week with themes Productivity Week.  Then move to theme months with names like Miraculous May. Yes, alliteration helps!

Constantly referring to chunks of time this way will reframe the way you think and in turn make your outlook more positive and your life that much easier at home and at work.

When you stat, be sure to use language that is positive and that resonates with what you are trying to change your viewpoint towards.  For language ideas Google ‘positive words’ and you will find great sites full of alphabetical lists of inspiration.  Here are a few of our favourites:

Positive Word Search

Positive Word List

Verbalize what you are doing so others are aware. This will keep you accountable and encourage others to adopt the nomenclature doubling the positive possibilities.  Make this a team effort and create a calendar to support your efforts.

We’ve been experimenting with this the past few months and have engaged the help of friends and family to test our theory.  All of us have found our positivity increased as did our resilience, our productivity and our sense of work/life balance.  Some of you may say this is only anecdotal evidence only.  We say what do you have to lose!

Plus we are certainly not alone in this thinking.  To pass on even more inspiration we’ve pasted a few of our favourite positivity quotes:

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

“The mind is everything.  What you think you become.” ~Buddha

Wishing you the very best for the rest of your Meaningful, Magnificent, Majestic, Marvelous, Miraculous, Magical, Mindful, Mind-blowing, Memorable, Motivational, and Magnetic May!


Could a strategic HR plan help Canada’s Aboriginal peoples?


Canadians are reminded more and more of the struggles facing Aboriginal peoples.  Most of us read in horror yet have no idea how we can help.  When we view the problem as a national crisis a solution seems overwhelming.  What if  instead we looked at possible solutions through the lens of a workplace challenge?

The principles embedded in corporate HR plans could hold the key to support the needed actions to help Canada’s aboriginal peoples, on or off reserve, to access employment, and a quality of life on par with other Canadians.

  1. Maintain Health and Safety

Every employer has to provide a safe work environment to employees.  A safe environment is one inclusive of access to clean drinking water, buildings  maintained to meet required code expectations, ability to refuse dangerous work, and a forum to complain, be heard and have corrective actions taken to address valid concerns when these expectations are not met.  This standard for a safe environment, at home and at work, should be a basic right for everyone in Canada.

2. Conduct a Gap Analysis

Corporations assess the gap between the needs of the organization and existing resources and work to close it.  Canada could assess the overall needs of First Nation Communities and work to close the resource gap by engaging and enabling Aboriginal peoples who choose to live on reserve to find meaningful work that is of interest and that supports their Community.

This has been done locally but a national focus on a long term, multigenerational plan would be more beneficial and require less resources than multiple seperate initatives.  The infrastructure could be put in place to assess the common needs of Native Communities and record the gaps between the need and the existing resources.  Specific local needs could be looked at as a subset.

3. Devise Strategies to Support the Organization

In an HR plan there are many components of strategy to support the organization’s needs.  All of these would help bolster the quality of life of Aboriginal Communities.

Examples include:

  • Training and development strategies to prepare Aboriginal people to engage in the workforce in a way that interests them and supports their culture
  • Collaboration strategies to create partnerships with existing organizations that provide these services to new immigrants and other Canadians to learn from past work
  • Outsourcing strategies to engage service providers and thought leaders to bring forward real solutions


Many successful businesses strive to solicit employee ideas and feedback in order to drive a culture of continuous improvement and increase productivity.  For any initiative aimed at enhancing the lives of Aboriginal people to be successful the grassroots engagement and of Aboriginal leaders and influencers in the development of solutions is essential.

Any change initiative within an organization needs leaders who can live the values and exemplify the success of the project are needed to motivate others and create support from within affected groups.  This type of initative would be no different.

5. Foster a Respectful and Inclusive Environment

When creating a healthy workplace culture the emotional needs of people need to be addressed.   Canada does not have a history it can be proud of when it comes to Aboriginal relations.  Although the work that resulted from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a good start, it did not go deep enough.

Modern people-focussed employers offer soft skill building opportunities and support to employees that include through conflict coaching, facilitated discussions/mediation, and other Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques.  These types of initiatives could be funded on mass to reach individuals to help them work through the conflict with Canadian culture and find a path forward that meets their individual needs.

6. Communication

Any corporate initiative would be supported by a communication plan.  Communicating the vision in advance and during the work is an important change management technique.  Once determined, Canada would need to communicate the vision for building a future to Aboriginal peoples and to all Canadians to build hope and momentum and to create accountability for those communicating the plan.

7. Evaluate and Adjust

When corporations execute a plan they assess the effectiveness and make adjustments.  Canada has been working to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people, however it seems like the efforts may not be as successful as the intent behind them would like.  The results produced need to align with the efforts invested.

Like any journey it could start with just one step…

Failure – why it is good for us and why we should talk about it

  Recent research into mental health best practices for a client led to a review of suicide rates, seasonal spikes and possible contributing events.  It turns out that spring is in fact a time for an increase in suicidal feelings.  Understandably, a person’s likelihood of having suicidal thoughts increases with an internal sense of failure. In hopes of addressing an element of both of these, this week in we are celebrating our failures and openly discussing them with each other and with friends and family in hopes of encouraging others to do the same.  We need to be reminded we have all failed and we all will fail again.  Changing our own and everyone else’s perspective on failure is the change we really need to make.

As a people we speak to others of our successes, we boast of our achievements on social media, we fill our CV’s with accomplishments. All of this is important and we should all take pride in those things in which we have excelled. We celebrate our successes for ourselves but maybe we need to spend more time talking about our failures for others. Sharing our low points help others feel they are not alone, help others understand everyone fails, to help others appreciate that success really means learning to accept our failures and moving on to the next adventure.  Failing means you tried something new. It means you pushed yourself to a new level.  It means you were brave. 

I have worked hard in life and been fortunate enough to have had my share of accomplishments of which I am very proud. I have had my share of failures too. I have been able to learn from these failures and in time view them as life lessons (admittedly some needed more time than others). I recognize that my failures are what enabled me to achieve even more than I would have without failing along the way.  To prove this  I volunteered to share a small sample of my failures online:

So here goes, 3 of my more  memorable failures have been:

1. I’ve been fired.

2. I failed military pilot training.

3. I married the wrong man  but didn’t realize it until more than a decade later.

I ask those of you who read this to please celebrate  with me and post an example of a failure you have endured, survived and maybe even overcome.  If you are not comfortable posting, maybe you would be more comfortable telling someone about one?

If collectively we help one person feel less ashamed about their failures from reading of the failures of successful people then this will be a success.  We all fail at times. Getting back up on our feet is what makes us amazing!  

Wishing you failure so that you may achieve success,


Time – do we have it or make it?

We all have a lot of things we need to do, people we need to support, tasks we need to complete, appointments to attend…and the list goes on.  So how do we make sure we do both what needs to be done and what we want to do?

Changing the way we look at time may hold the key to achieving this balance. Many of us tend to look at time as just something we have.  Simply put, there are twenty four hours a day so we do our best to achieve what we can.

What if instead we viewed time as something we have?  We could choose to look at time more like we do money and recognize we only have a finite amount so we need to consciously decide how to spend and invest it.

We all think twice before spending the last $20 bill we have on us.  We review prospectus documents and past performance metrics before buying stocks or mutual funds.  We get appraisals and home inspections before buying a house.  Yet we often go through our day doing what others tell us to do without a second thought.  We spend our time as if it isn’t ours to control.

Time like money has restrictions.  There are those things in life we have to do with our time, much like the things we have to do with our money like pay taxes, buy food, and pay rent.  With money we can choose our lifestyle which determines our expenses and subsequently our disposable income. Imagine if we looked at time the same way?

We can choose to invest a moment to list not only what we have to do but also what we want to do and allocate our time accordingly.  We can actively pay attention to how much time we give to the ‘have to do list’.  Think of this list as akin to determining a down payment and mortgage payments for a new home.  Do we have to pay as much time upfront as we have been doing on what needs to be done or can we spend less today and spread out the rest of the needed time in smaller chunks so that we have left over time to spend elsewhere?  This discretionary time can be used to fund the things we love to do and to be with the people we love.  Time spent on what we want to do fuels our souls and energizes the spirit.

The return on investment on time when it is spent where we want to spend it is exponential.  It will add value to every part of our lives and to the lives of those we with whom we choose to spend it.

Recognize that time is something you make and spend yours wisely!

10 Tips for Succession Planning

 Succession planning is essential to the long term success of any organization.  Here’s 10 of our favourite things to keep in mind when designing your process to identify, develop and select the next leaders in your organization:

1. Keep the process simple, transparent and flexible.

2. Ensure program goals align with long term strategy of organization including any consideration of new senior roles to be created

3. Involvement and support of management essential to process! in fact co-ownership of process and results by HR and line is ideal

4. Add an evaluation of each candidate’s level of engagement as well as his or her developmental readiness.

5. Look at all components of performance and potential:

  • Knowing – technical job knowledge
  • Being – how does candidate act/what kind of style 
  • Doing – activities they perform (tasks, team leadership, coaching)

6. Weigh potential more than performance; although both are important

7. Be sure to create sufficient bench strength to account for retirements, departures and to allow for a true assessment of how candidates grow when challenged with direct feedback.

8. Work to have the identification of high potential leaders for all key roles (some will be listed multiple times), include expected readiness and what support/development is being given to close gaps.

9. Create a peer mentoring program whereby people are matched based on their strength and someone else’s area of development 

10. Remember that just like in pro sports, some get drafted early, some play longer in the minors, some get called up and then sent back to the minors – last season doesn’t matter but this one does!

8 Leadership Rules from a Dog

Leadership From a Dog’s Perspective

To enable the team at HR Blueprints to enjoy a long weekend this Family Day Diesel, the office Great Dane, offered to be the guest blogger and share his leadership advice with the pack. Here are his top 8 rules:

 (Editor’s note – we recommend Diesel’s rules be read allegorically not literally for humans.)

1. Wag your tail. Show others you love life and that you are happy to see them. Others will like being around you too and be more likely to follow you.

2. Sniff before you judge. Just because you think you know the other perspective and viewpoint doesn’t mean you do. Take time to sniff out where others are coming from.

3. Play. Every good pack leader knows the importance of being able to play with the team as well as lead it. A pack needs to have fun to be cohesive. Go chase a ball with the pack!

4. Become an expert at body language. Know how to use and read body language to convey and understand emotion. Leaders need to demonstrate both high IQ and EQ.

5. Accept hierarchy. The only way to grow in a pack is to learn to keep the Alphas content. Unnecessarily challenging of authority will get you kicked out of the pack. Instead work with the Alphas to create lasting change for the pack.

6. Curl your lip and show your teeth as a warning before you bite. Sometimes leaders have to fight to protect the pack. Before you take aggressive action make sure you have first given fair warning and provided a chance for the other side to retreat.

7. Move on after a scuffle. Everyone has a bad day. If someone snaps, it’s ok to tell them you don’t appreciate their behaviour but don’t hold a grudge. Leaders forgive and give trust to get trust.

8. Take a walk outside every day. We all need to smell the flowers, feel the sunshine and run on the grass daily. Take a walk to clear your head and think about all of the great things in your life. Best of all, be sure to always take a friend on your walk!

Happy Family Day!!

Strong Leadership DEFEATS All

dscn0760Overcome any obstacle or challenge by growing your leadership skills on a daily basis. Here’s a quick refresher on how to increase your impact at the office, at home and in the community because strong leadership DFEATS all.

Dedication – you can’t ask others to commit if you haven’t done so yourself

Exemplify – walk the talk; demonstrate the behaviours and standards you expect of others

Focus – remember what it is you are trying to achieve and use this goal to prioritize tasks and as the basis for decisions

Emotion – leaders are human; showing your emotions reminds others we all have good days and bad days

Achievements – recognize and celebrate every success, it is the many small wins that lead to victory

Togetherness – value those around you for which each brings to the group and encourage others to do the same

Selflessness – leadership is not about privilege; great leaders put the needs and best interests of their team ahead of their own

We’d love to hear about your leadership success!  Please post a comment to share your story.