Document What You Do

Someone told me years ago, “Document what you do. Somebody is sure to ask.” That has been good advice over the years and I want to pass it on to you.

For most of my adult life, I’ve kept a journal or diary that I write in every day.  This isn’t a journal that I pour all my innermost feelings into. I’m just not that capable of putting feelings on paper. Rather, my journal is a record of all the minutia that makes up the day—from the time I get up in the morning until I go to bed at night. It is usually the last thing I do before I turn out the light.

I probably take this to extremes because I also keep track, right down to how many veggies I eat, how much water I drink and how much exercise I get in. I always write my goals in the front of this journal so I can look at them every day.   Another way to help me stay focused on my goals.

What has this done for me? Well, for starters, I’ve won a lot of arguments. You know how it goes:

“We are way late planting our tulip bulbs this year.”

“No we aren’t. We didn’t plant them until the first weekend in December last year.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“I’ll check my journal. Yes, I was right. I planted them on Saturday while you were hooking up the Christmas lights.”

Now of course I’ve lost a few arguments too. But I don’t want to talk about those!!!

Another way my journal helps me is to look back at my last training session, to see what I felt could be done better next time. Or what exercises I used and whether they worked or not, or ideas for what I might do differently next time.

I can find out where I bought those shoes I love, or when I last replaced my running shoes.

I record advice I get from my accountant, and how much I had to pay CRA.

I’ve just been reviewing the past twelve months, and I recognize how much has happened this past year. Without my trusty journal, I would have forgotten much of it.

However, my method of keeping track isn’t infallible. I bought a new journal for 2014 in November and put it away so it would be safe until January 1, 2014. Now I can’t find it—and I didn’t record where I put it. Oh well, nothing is perfect!

Edited to add:

PS: I did find my 2014 journal right after I wrote that blog!

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Gratitude and Paying it Forward

This is the time of year when I feel most grateful for my loving family, my generous friends, and  my loyal clients. This is also when I feel most humble for all I have been given. This knowledge that I’ve been given much has led me more and more to feeling concern for those on Spring Garden road, here in Halifax, who are homeless, begging in the streets.


This morning, with the wind chill factored in, it was about -28, and as I walked down Spring Garden, I was relieved not to see anyone holding out their cup for some spare change. I just hoped they were somewhere warm.


I saw a post on Facebook today that has really resonated with me and I’m reprinting it here:


“We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter: ‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended.’ They pay for their order, take the two and leave. I ask my friend: “What are those ‘suspended’ coffees?” My friend: “Wait for it and you will see.” Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks ‘Do you have any suspended coffee?’ It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support? If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it.” very respectfully, Scott Sonnon


I discussed this idea with some of my colleagues and some suggested that McDonalds might be a better place to try an idea like this, because many homeless feel more comfortable in McDonalds than they do in coffee shops. Their coffee is good too, and you can buy an inexpensive meal there.


That story and the discussions I’ve had since, prompted me to write this blog. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if such an idea of playing in forward caught on, all across Halifax and around the world?


I’m going to check out some coffee shops and a couple of McDonalds and I’ll keep you posted.


Do you have a giving nature?  Are you willing to share what you know with others? I think this giving nature is fairly rare in the corporate world. People still cling to that belief that knowledge is power…or perhaps they just don’t take the time to share. Yet those are such short-sighted views. The Harvard Business Review recently stated that organizations need two things in place, if they are to be successful: a process for making decisions, and a flow of information to the people making those decisions. I believe that too often, that flow of information is often missing.


Not long ago in a seminar I was facilitating, one participant said he hadn’t taken a vacation in 10 years. I asked him what kept him from taking some time away from work. His response? “I don’t have anyone I can trust to do the work while I’m gone.”


What a risk to the organization. What if this person became ill, was struck by electricity or got a better offer elsewhere? What would his organization do if there were nobody there to fill the vacuum?


Those who do as this man has done, and believe nobody can do the work as well as they can, put their organization at a tremendous risk. All of us are replaceable. The void would be filled, eventually, but at what cost?   Such people also put themselves at a disadvantage. They can’t even be promoted or move retire without a feeling of guilt.


This isn’t an affliction that we only find in large organizations. In many small businesses like mine, we believe we can’t afford to bring more people on the payroll and even if we did hire someone, chances are we wouldn’t start preparing them to step into our role.


Learning to share information may be one of best things we can do for ourselves and our organization, no matter what we do or how big our organization is.

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Kaye’s Quotes

Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it’s addressed to someone else. —  Ivern Ball