Dads.

I am very fortunate to be a father. I mean that. This is something that I wanted to become at some point in my life. I am also very fortunate to have grown up surrounded by an extended family where I saw strong fatherhood models both from their personal example and how they loved their spouse and their children.

In today’s society, fatherhood has a tarnished image. Most of this is honestly earned because of those who haven’t been able to be a model father. Please note that this post isn’t in any way meant to exemplify one father versus another. Parenting is not easy. It never has been. No one gives you an “owners manual” once you are blessed to be able to have children in your family.

Most dads I know have followed the example of being men who work hard and often too long. They are trying to provide for their families, but their extended hours often eat into time that could have been spent with their kids. Kids may not understand the sacrifice that is being made while it is happening, but I hope they do see it as they grow older.

My wife and I have two kids who are now adults. As I type this, I’m being a “dad” who is off at a conference for HR which is my chosen profession. I will be out of town and away from them on Father’s Day. My entire family is incredibly supportive of me professionally, and they always have been. Now, get ready for an amazing story . . .

Outside of our house we had a dwarf evergreen in our front flowerbed. It was there when we moved in back in 1991. We enjoyed it as part of our landscaping and gave us some “curb appeal.” I was told by a friend who is a landscaper that it would never grow much because of the type of evergreen it was. He was wrong.

This small tree grew more and more every year. The tree became a prime background for family pictures. My wife and I stood in front of it as did my parents and friends who visited. It also was a great tree to decorate with lights every Christmas season and when the snow fell on it with the lights twinkling through, it was beautiful.

When our daughter Melanie was born, we took pictures of the three of us in front of the tree. As our son Josh came along we now had a family of four and the tree had grown along with our family. The biggest tradition we had was taking the kids picture in front of the pine on the first day of school each year. We did this from Kindergarten through their Senior year in High School. As the kids grew, so did the tree. They were never taller than the pine that wouldn’t grow, and we had to use a step ladder to get lights all the way to the top each year after awhile.

Recently, the tree began to die and become browned and brittle. We decided just this Spring to take it down. It was an emotional day because of so many memories.

Now to today . . .

As I settled in my room and began to unpack my clothes and get ready for the conference, I saw three envelopes with cards and a small white bag with green tissue paper covering some odd shapes. The cards were for Father’s Day. As I opened them, tears streamed down my face. The cards were hilarious and filled with handwritten notes that made me laugh through my tears. I then pulled out the tissue paper and unwrapped it to find this . . .

Kids and Tree

My “adults” had taken the trunk of the pine and cut two sections off to make this as my Father’s Day present. The ornament is our family initial for “Browne” and the other is a picture of them in front of the tree at Easter. Speechless.

This Father’s Day hug a Dad. The majority of them are doing the best they can. Yes, they work hard and put in long hours. They all hope that over the years they have planted seeds in their kids to leave a legacy and some deep roots of faith and family. They’re the tree that is the background of their family’s pictures.

Happy Father’s Day to one and all !!

 

 

Mom.

In very early 1964 on an Army base in Nuremberg, Germany (West Germany at the time), a young woman became a mother for the first time. The challenge was that her son was one month premature. The doctor’s reassured her and did everything they could to take care of this newborn. He spent time in an incubator, but eventually became healthy enough to head home.

As if this wasn’t enough, her young husband had volunteered to serve in the Army and he was about to take one of four tours to Vietnam to fight for his country. After the young family returned to the States, the young mother had a second son in Columbus, Georgia. Soon after this, her husband who served as a Staff Sergeant fell ill. He battled the best he could, but cancer won and left her with a 4 year-old and a 2 year-old.

She returned back to her small rural hometown, Luckey, Ohio (yes it is a place !!) and went to college while she held a full-time job. She earned her Bachelor’s in Education and became a teacher in a vocational school. She later earned her Master’s Degree and worked 30+ years teaching students to become Administrative Assistants. She remarried after being a widow nine years and she will be celebrating her 40th anniversary with this great man in June 2016.

She always encouraged her two sons to do their best and expected them to excel. She was always positive and wanted both of them to succeed. Throughout her life she has focused on others in her church, her community and in her school. Whenever, she meets anyone she gives them her full attention, and is genuinely interested in who they are and what they are sharing. Quick to laugh as well as shed an emotional tear, you know that she is fully invested in you. Most of the time that ends up in deeply warm hugs when she sees you and when she leaves.

Her two sons have been very blessed and fortunate as well. One is a doctor who now serves as an executive in a large healthcare system in Tennessee, and her other son is an executive for a regional pizzeria working in Human Resources !! She welcomed two amazing women when they chose to get married (25+ years both) and she still is enamored with her five grandchildren who are now all young adults.

Just this weekend, she saw her granddaughter, who earned her B.S. in Psychology as a summa cum laude, become a college graduate. Being the consummate Mom, she brought snacks of monster cookies and trail mix that she made which she gave her granddaughter, her grandson and their parents. Each paper lunch bag had their names on them (of course), and she took enough pictures to fill a photo album !!

MomBy now, I hope you know this is my mother, Connie. She has left an indelible legacy on me and her family that will last eternally. She’s honestly the type of person that never talks about herself only others. However, when you get a chance to talk to the people whose lives she has touched, you only hear about her.

It’s odd to me that we only set aside one day a year for Mothers. Moms don’t get days off and they deserve our appreciation every day of the year. I am so fortunate to be from a family that is full of positivity, faith and selflessness. It’s been a great model to learn from and, hopefully, share with others in my life.

Over the years there have been far more hugs than tears. Far more lasting memories than struggles. And, far more love, joy and stories that will never fade. She continues to be someone who deeply touches everyone she encounters naturally.

Thanks mom.

Shadowcasting !!

I’m a fairly tall HR pro. I’m 6’4″ tall and have always been one of the tallest folks in a crowd all the way back to Kindergarten. I mention this because I notice this more when I attend HR conferences. As I lurch down the hallways of the conference centers, I see the crowd mill around me and I wonder what they’re thinking and experiencing as they head from session to sessions.

One other thing you need to know about me. I dig HR conference sessions. I really do. I tend to go to see speakers who stretch and challenge me to look at things differently. Over the past few months, two speakers really stuck with me – Mary Faulkner and Jennifer McClure. Mary presented at the SHRM Annual Conference on leaving a legacy as a leader and used an analogy of a shadow. Jen just did a presentation on building your personal brand and noted that you have a brand whether you cultivate one or not. As I mulled over these two presentations, a new thought came together !!

You see, everyone can cast a shadow as well as have a personal brand. I think that HR misses out on this because we tend to be great workers, but not folks who intentionally stand out to impact others. Aren’t you tired of just existing around others? What if you stepped back and put together a plan to live by and revolutionize HR for yourself and your workplace?

I think it’s possible and within your grasp. However, in order to be a shadowcaster, you need to take some steps that are guaranteed to make you uncomfortable.

Shadow Selfie 2Get out of the Dark !!

Shadows need light. Too often HR wallows in the dark underbelly of organizations. There is a reality in this face because we are tasked with addressing difficult situations between people. These situations can either consume you, or you can take them head on. There will always be difficult situations because there will always be employees in the workplace !! When you bring light into your approach, you’ll see how differently the outcomes become. You’ll also see that HR is a field where you can thrive and not just struggle through.

Be intentional !!

People want to connect, but they typically won’t take the first step to make that happen. You’ll hear people say that they don’t care if they’re connected to others, their jobs or the company, but that isn’t true. You need to be the person who initiates those connections. To me this isn’t a matter of being extroverted or introverted. You’re in HR and that means that you are in the midst of people on purpose. Be the one who cares. Be the one who casts their shadow over others and engulf them to let them know that they matter to you and the company.

Act Now !!

Remember, you have a brand and a shadow already within your role and your company. The question is, what does it look like? I’m pretty sure most people don’t know because this type of personal reflection is counterintuitive with how HR usually functions. We ask others to focus on development, but we don’t take care of ourselves. It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself personally and professionally. Having a direction and a vision for who you are and how you’ll practice is essential. Don’t keep wishing for this transformation to occur. Take steps to make it happen !!

The pic above is my tall shadow. I want to be an HR professional who lives in the light and influences others. I have this radical goal of pulling all HR professionals together globally into one community. I know that I can cast my shadow at home with my family and in my community as well. Being intentional takes time, energy and determination.

I’d love to see you join me and step into the light yourself so that together we can bring HR out of the shadows and start casting our shadows positively on others !!

LLAP !!

This past week an entertainment icon passed away – Leonard Nimoy. He was mostly known for his immortal TV character, Spock from Star Trek. As a devout HR Nerd, Spock has always been my favorite Star Trek character.  I admired him because of his loyalty in his relationships and his willingness to always explore who he was and what humanity was all about.

Live Long and ProsperSpock had a signature greeting, or salute, that he gave to others by raising his right hand, splitting his fingers into a V and state, “Live Long and Prosper.” Looking back now, it truly reflected Mr. Nimoy’s life and his journey. He struggled with being identified as Spock for his entire career. He even wrote a book called “I Am Not Spock.” Everyone wanted him to stay in this role because that’s how they saw him. They didn’t know he was a very thoughtful man, poet, musician and artist. After some time, he came to terms with who he was and the legacy his role had. He actually wrote a second book entitled “I Am Spock.”

Did you know the original Star Trek series only ran three years and stopped in 1969? That’s forty-six years ago !! What an incredible legacy !! Yes, there have been subsequent movies, books and other Star Trek series. Those existed only as a legacy to the original show. In fact, Star Trek and Spock have become a part of social culture.

Now, think of how you approach your role in HR. Are you looking at how you practice what you do, or are you just making sure your job gets done? Do you have an “impact approach” or a “legacy approach”?

You see, you make an impact every day whether you are intentionally choosing to or not. Your impact is determined by your behavior, outlook and effort with others in your company. That doesn’t ensure that your impact is positive though. One can impact others in negative ways which have a much longer effect than you can even imagine.

A legacy approach is just slightly different because it still involves your impact. Remember, Mr. Nimoy’s original run as Spock was only three years. If you knew that your “run” as an HR practitioner had a limited time to it, would your daily look at your job be different? Would you put everything you had into what you did so that when you were done, it would be remembered and sustained?

I think that too many of us in HR are either concerned about keeping our job, advancing in our job or just existing in our job. There is an opportunity to not only have an impact, but an impact that truly makes a lasting difference in the lives of the people around us. When you change your approach to one that will leave a legacy, you will see each day in a fresh new way.

I love that Leonard Nimoy came to terms with who he was and his legacy. He was active on Twitter and would finish his tweets with #LLAP for Live Long and Prosper. Every tweet. Every time he would communicate to others.

That is my hope for everyone who practices HR. It’s how I approach what I do and I hope you join me in having a legacy approach to what you do !! #LLAP

It Was 20 Years Ago Today !!

I’m very excited about Christmas coming this week !!  It is always an amazing time for faith, family, friends . . . and gifts.  This isn’t a post about the materialism of the season.  It’s about true gifts !!

You see, 20 years ago on Christmas day, my daughter was born.  I wrote about the miracle of her birth a few years ago.  It’s hard to believe that two full decades have passed.  Now, as a young woman, she continues to grow, flourish and amaze me.  She truly has been a gift to me and our family.

I consider myself very fortunate to be a father and enjoy every moment that I have with my daughter and son.  At the holidays, I think it’s important to reflect and be thankful for the important things in our lives.  My children DEFINITELY fall into this category.  I know that not all parent/child relationships are healthy, and that is unfortunate.  I wish that both parents and children would see the value in having each other in their lives !!

Gift GivingYou see, to me the best gift a person can give to others at Christmas, or any other time, is themselves.  That may sound idealistic in today’s cynical world, but I believe it to be true.

People are gifts !!  The opportunity we have is to look at each other that way, and also treat each other that way.  At Christmastime, we anticipate gifts and can’t wait to see what is hidden beneath the thin, colorful wrapping.  There is a tangible rush just to get beyond the wrapping to see what’s really inside.  I think that people are the same.  Just below the surface of safe introductions, small talk and demographic information, lies an untapped gift waiting to be taken in and enjoyed !!

I know that viewing people in this way may put you in the minority, but what a great group to be in.  It’s challenging and others will want you to walk away from this perspective, but don’t cave in.  Why not make this the norm versus the exception?

Here’s how you can get started . . .

During this holiday season, write someone in your life a note, a card, or even give them a call.  Let them know how much they mean in your life.  It may seem to come out of the blue, but it matters.  Be intentional about this and let folks know that they are the best gifts in your life !!

My life is only better because my daughter came into it twenty years ago on Christmas Day.  And, for the many friends and family members who read this blog, you are gifts to me as well.  The people in my life enhance it and that is something I treasure !!

I wish you all the best Christmas and holiday season you’ve ever had !!  May you be surrounded by “gifts” of those that love and cherish you for being in their lives, and may you be a gift to others !!

Forever in Blue Jeans !!

When Neil Diamond sang the iconic song Forever in Blue Jeans, I don’t think he knew he was dealing with such a taboo subject for the workplace !!  Seriously, you do know that denim is evil, don’t you ??

This coming week I’m traveling to Washington, D.C. for the annual SHRM Leadership Conference (#SHRMLead).  I’m very excited to go because I have the honor of being the next SHRM State Council Director for Ohio in 2012 !!  I can’t wait to work with the 26 SHRM chapters in the State as well as with other leaders throughout the country.  I think it will be a great way to continue to keep the profession relevant in general as well as another way to keep trying to bring our whole profession together and connect them !!

A true highlight for me will be on Thursday when I get to join other HR professionals on Capitol Hill to visit lawmakers and lobby on behalf of HR.  I really am geeked !!  To get ready, those attending listened to a webinar put on by SHRM to get an overview of what the visit would entail and the issues we were going to focus on.

It was very well done and was just a glimpse of what we needed to learn in order to have a successful visit and leverage the time we had with our representatives and their staff.  During the webinar people could post questions, which I thought was cool.  I think it’s amazing that I live in a country where I can go to have an audience with the national leaders of the government and express my opinion to them.  It truly is astonishing !!  I submitted a question asking who the two people were in Congress who had an HR background because it was noted in the webinar.

So, when the moderator started to relay the questions to the leaders of the forum, my jaw hit the floor !!  We spent the first 15 minutes of the 20 minutes we had left for questions talking about clothing.  “What should we wear?”  “Can I wear blue jeans with a suit coat?” – and then the firestorm happened.  People sent in myriads of comments (not questions) about the evil of jeans.

When I hear my peers question why companies don’t take HR seriously – here’s your answer . . . We continue to focus on the splinter issues when we miss the lumber all around us !!  When we could have been focusing on the issues for this lobbying opportunity, people chose instead to focus on proper attire !!  I’m not sure what I’ll wear to visit Capitol Hill.

On Friday, night our State Council, Ohio SHRM, is up for a Pinnacle Award which is the highest award for volunteers from SHRM, and we have a tradition of wearing logo’d clothing to these things.  At the banquet we’re wearing these great gray fleece jackets . . . . and blue jeans !!  I wonder where the focus will be ???