Reflections Friday, Feb 7 2014 

While in a department store, I asked the technician at the cosmetic counter for advice. She kindly gave me a makeover. I thanked her, took one look at myself in the mirror, and immediately went to the ladies room to wash my face. The make-up was so much more intense than I am comfortable with.

I should have known the outcome. The technician applied my make-up similar to her own. I became a reflection of her.

The people we allow to touch our lives leave their imprint. The more time we have with someone, the more we look like them, emotionally if not physically. If they are negative, petty, or jealous or generous, ambitious, and inquisitive, we can’t help but absorb some of their traits. Studies have shown this to be so even with eating habits. If our friends have poor eating habits and are overweight, we tend to be as well.

Surrounding ourselves with people who are what we strive to be will help us to become just that. We naturally know this in the workforce as we gravitate toward successful role models. It also is this way in our personal lives.

And we have to remember that we are the constant in every one of our relationships. We influence the people around us, so we need to ask ourselves if we are the type of person we want to be around.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

There’s Always Laundry Friday, Nov 15 2013 

Someone once said that she wanted laundry to count. When asked what she did that day, she said she should be able to add laundry to the list.

Many of us wash, dry, fold, and put away a load or two of laundry every day. It’s something that’s added to the countless other activities we run around doing. But it isn’t the type of thing we tell others. When asked about our day, we don’t respond, “Great. I threw in a load of laundry.” Unless we spent the day in the laundry room, we don’t consider it mentionable.

The necessary, mundane, routine activities consume most of our time and are vital to getting from one day to the next, and yet, don’t seem to count. It is as if our whole day, our whole life is insignificant. So how do we make it all meaningful?

In addition to our outside work, ministries, and activities, there is an endless list of tasks that keep a household running: caregiving, laundry, cooking, cleaning, house maintenance, grocery shopping, business calls, and so many errands. If we have children there is an extensive list involved with them as well.

Perhaps acknowledging the importance of our work begins with a title. Years ago women came up with “Domestic Goddess” to replace housewife and homemaker. It’s not a bad name but does not recognize the men who fill this position. An appropriate title that recognizes both men and women and all of the responsibilities involved is needed.

Family CEO or President are starters but the position is bigger than that because, not only are we overseeing all of the work, we also must complete most it ourselves. We are more than President, more than CEO.

A new friend recently told me she is considered essential to her company. So perhaps that is our title. Essential. If we are completing all of these vital responsibilities, we are – Essential.

As the saying from Saturday Night Live once went, “Now aren’t we special!”

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Mentoring Fathers Monday, Jun 17 2013 

A belated Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers, step-fathers, godfathers, grandfathers and all those who provide a paternal influence to someone.

You may have noted that mentoring is an area in which I believe has significant impact. My first book was on the topic, and I write about it often because I know the difference it makes in someone’s life. Parents are especially important as mentors. As I wrote in Mentoring Heroes,

“As parents we have the first opportunity and the first responsibility to mentor our children. We are the ones on which our children count to answer questions based on our own experiences and knowledge or to link them with the resource or person that can help them. Through our words and actions we teach our children about life issues, values, unconditional and non-judgmental love, faith, and compassion. We also teach them about the mentoring relationship and the benefits of learning from people wiser and more experienced than ourselves (69-70).

Fathers offer a different type of mentoring than mothers, so are equally important in this role. Several women interviewed in Mentoring Heroes described how their fathers helped them to feel confident enough to pursue careers in industries less typical for women, such as plumbing, the sciences, and manufacturing. Many of their fathers took them to work with them in these environments, exposing them to possibilities they may not otherwise have had.

Whatever line of work or interests you may have, sharing your experiences with your children widens their scope. Even if they don’t wish to follow your interests, they gain an understanding in areas they may not have ventured. They also learn about teamwork and the value of each member, respect for others and work, and how to strive for their goals.

I applaud the men who reach out to mentor the young ones in their lives and encourage those who don’t to do so. You have the ability to impact someone in a way no one else can and invest in their future, which is the future of the world.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Accountability for Success Tuesday, Jun 11 2013 

Building a profitable business appears more challenging today but taking a different approach may turn all of that around.

Originally published in 1994, The Oz Principle by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman continues to make a valid point that is useful personally as well as professionally. The premise is that businesses are not successful because we as individuals and organizations are not accountable. We don’t recognize and take responsibility for our shortcomings and failures.

Instead, we look outside of ourselves at all the challenges and obstacles. We blame the economy, unproductive employees, vendors, the government – basically anyone and anything other than ourselves for the decline.

According to the authors, this  woe-is-me mentality is unproductive and deems ourselves as victims. It focuses on what difficult things are happening to us, how impossible the situation is. We see ourselves as trapped, stifled, and unable to succeed. We then are unable to make the necessary changes for success.

On the other hand, if we honestly assess the situation and take responsibility for our decisions, actions, or non-actions we can rectify the problems and move into a more positive position. The questions would then be, what could I have done differently? What can I do now? And then we need to take action.

Yes, this means that we have to be accountable for our mistakes but we no longer are victims. When every employee is allowed and encouraged to take ownership and is involved, the success of the organization and every employee is inevitable.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Teaching Respect Monday, Apr 15 2013 

Another beautiful young woman committed suicide after being bullied. Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old high school student from Halifax, Nova Scotia, recently was taken off of life support after hanging herself. Rehtaeh allegedly was gang-raped in November of 2011. A photo said to be taken during the attack was circulated among her fellow students, who then bullied her for more than a year. Rehtaeh was so distraught from the rape and continuous bullying, she sought relief in her death.

There are so many parts of this story that saddens me. I’m so very sad for beautiful Rehtaeh and her grieving family. I’m also sad and disturbed for the group of peers who assaulted her repeatedly in one way or another. And I’m disheartened over the fact that this is not an event that hasn’t happened before.

What is wrong with a society of adolescents who can be so cruel? Aren’t the young supposed to be innocent and optimistic? What are we doing, or not doing, as parents, teachers, and mentors to raise such a group of young people?

More than twenty years ago I worked with a detective on a series of stories on self-defense for the Chicago Tribune. The detective asked me if women, as mothers, couldn’t instill a greater level of respect in their sons for women. He felt most boys did not respect their mothers, much less other women.

I do think the detective has a point. We want our children to feel special, loved, and powerful. But are we doing enough to teach them to treat us, as well as others, with the same care and compassion?

How is it that so many young people could torment one young woman? Where is the respect and consideration due another human being?

This issue needs urgent attention. Our children are our future. We are their role models and mentors. It is our responsibility to guide the adults of tomorrow.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Papal Relevance Thursday, Feb 28 2013 

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Some events are so unusual that they are recorded in the history of humankind. We are experiencing such a moment right now.

Pope emeritus, His Holiness Benedict XVI’s resignation shocked the Catholic community. Popes are elected to serve until death. Papal resignations are so rare that only five are documented in the history of the Catholic Church.

This resignation is not only important to the Catholic Church but also to the world at large because the pope is a world leader. Approximately one-third of the world population is Christian and more than half of all Christians are Catholic. That means that a current pope shepherds more than a billion followers.

His Holiness is a brilliant man and the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. He advised Pope John Paul on doctrinal issues. His literary works guide not only members of the Church but also her leaders. No doubt His Holiness fully understands the ramifications and precedence he sets and believes his decision is in the best interest of the whole Church.

News coverage will continue with this story as a new pope is elected. Most popes were of European or Middle Eastern descent but we have a few American contenders. In the remote chance that one should be elected, we will once again be making history.

For up-to-date and accurate information, go to the Vatican website at: http://www.news.va/en

©2013 Mary K. Doyle

Inauguration and Presidential Trivia Monday, Jan 21 2013 

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Congratulations to President Barak Obama on his second inauguration to the presidency of the United States. After a lively election process, he was reelected to serve as our nation’s president.

President Obama used two bibles for his 2013 swearing-in ceremony - the one used by President Abraham Lincoln at his inauguration and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “traveling” bible.

As the technology has evolved, so has the publication of each inauguration. President Obama’s inauguration’s was transmitted via multiple forms of media; James Polk’s reported by telegraph in 1845; James Buchannan’s photographed in 1857; William McKinley’s documented via motion picture in 1897; Harry Truman’s coverage was televised to the few households that had televisions in 1949; and Bill Clinton’s streamed live across the Internet in 1997.

Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest president to be sworn in after the death of William McKinley. He was 42. John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected president to be formally inaugurated at the age of 43. Ronald Reagan was the oldest at 69 and the oldest to leave office at the age of 77.

Abraham Lincoln was the tallest and James Madison the shortest. Madison weighed only 100 pounds. William Howard Taft was the heaviest weighing in over 300 pounds.

Blood lines ran in several pairs of presidents. John Adams and John Quincy Adams were father and son as well as George H. Bush and George W. Bush. William H. Harrison and Benjamin Harrison were grandfather and grandson. James Madison and Zachary Taylor were second cousins. And Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were fifth cousins.

Many of our recent presidents are/were left-handed including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ronald Reagan (who was ambidextrous), Gerald Ford, and Harry S. Truman.

President Obama is the 44th president of the United States. However, known to few Americans, there were other presidents before George Washington who held office in a limited way. They led the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation as Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled. The Articles of Confederation was an agreement among the thirteen founding states that established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states.

God bless our president and our country.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Thank You for Serving Monday, Nov 12 2012 

Only a handful of fond memories of my grandfather, John (Jack) Joseph Doyle, who passed away in 1960, remain, but I would love to have known him better. From the stories I heard and the number of blurred photo copies of news clippings, letters, and documents that I have, it’s evident that he was a fascinating man.

According to these undated news clips, my grandfather was a “well-known” Chicago  vaudeville and traveling show comedian before and after his military service. He was injured in France in 1917 and returned to the veterans’ hospital on several occasions afterwards due to his injuries. He later trained in the “new” practice of physiotherapy. Although he lost his business during the Depression, he continued to be known as Doc Doyle until his death.

I’ve often wondered if my grandfather’s war injuries (and smoking) prompted his early death at the age of 53. War leaves its mental, physical, and emotional stamp on all who serve and the friends and families who support them.

World War I, the war in which my grandfather served, was known as the “war to end all wars.” If only that label was true. Too many American men and women continued to sacrifice their lifestyles, if not their lives, in the name of keeping peace throughout the world from then until now, and probably will as long as humanity exists.

In honor of the veterans of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919 as the first “Armistice Day.” The observance of the day changed several times over the years. It became a legal holiday in 1938 and the word “Veterans” replaced “Armistice.” In 1954 a proclamation recognized all American veterans from all wars and conflicts.  Although the official holiday for 2012 was yesterday, government facilities are closed today in observance.

In addition to my grandfather, I personally want to recognize my son-in-law, Steven Lukasiewicz, AOC (AW/SW), U.S. Navy Leading Chief Petty Officer, who currently is serving; and my father, John Doyle (deceased) who also served in the U.S. Navy; my husband, Marshall Brodien, U.S. Army, retired; my brother-in-law, Parke Brewer, Master Sergeant U.S. Army Reserves, retired after 26 years of service; my brother, Jimmy Doyle, U.S. Army Reserves, retired; and countless friends and relatives who also put their lives on the line for our safety.

God bless them, all the other men and women who served or are serving in our military, and the families who support them and carry on alone in their absence.

©Mary K. Doyle

(Photo: John Joseph Doyle, U.S. Navy, WWI)

Business – Customers = 0 Business Thursday, Sep 6 2012 

Sales reps know the key to increasing sales is to build relationships with their clients. We like buying from people we like.

In a post dated 8/29/12 by Christine Crandall on Forbes.com, Crandell writes that Fortune 100 buyers are relationship focused. She says that regardless of the industry, organizations place more importance on their vendor relationships than how well the product or service performs. This finding applies to the everyday consumer as well.

Certainly the product must stand on its own. But a successful business pairs a superior product with excellent customer service.

In a previous post (“Kitchen Rain” posted July 12, 2012) I listed several companies I use regularly. I rely on them year after year because they consistently complete a job as agreed and at a fair price.

I also feel comfortable with them in my home. There is a mutual respect between business owners, employees, and me. I like these people.

However it is not uncommon for small business owners to find it challenging to handle the business end while also physically providing the service. We recently had a major project done here where the main part of the work was done very well but the entire job was not completed. I left multiple phone messages over several weeks asking when the owner planned to return.

I later learned the owner was injured on another job and unable to work. His absence was for a legitimate reason but he left me wondering if the work would ever be finished. A couple of phone calls from him to inform and update me would have alleviated my concerns.

Customers want to feel special, as if their business matters to the owner. We want to be greeted with a smile when walking into a store or restaurant. We want the owner or employee to answer their phone, complete projects in a timely manner and as promised, and send an accurate bill within a reasonable amount of time. Also, it is a significant plus if they remember us in some way. These elements are crucial in a successful business no matter how large or small.

It’s simple, really. It’s called professionalism. Actually it is common courtesy.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

Leadership Potential Monday, Jun 25 2012 

Leadership development is a relatively new and vital addition to college catalogs. Compassionate yet strong leaders are needed now more than ever. But as with any occupation, vocation, or talent some elements must be inherent. Basic ingredients are necessary to work with in building effective leaders.

Following is an excerpt on the make-up of potential leaders from my book, Mentoring Heroes. See if you have what it takes:

“We know leaders when we see them, because we either watch others follow or are drawn to follow their instruction or example. We recognize the roles they play in leading humanity down a path different from the one people of their time were going. Galileo led our eyes to the heavens. Abraham Lincoln led a nation out of slavery. Henry Ford offered us the means to physically reach one another easier and faster than ever before. Mother Theresa directed our attention to the needs of the sick and poor. And Elvis Presley literally had us dancing to the beat of a different drummer. Perhaps, eventually we would have followed someone else in any of these directions, but we didn’t. Those were the leaders we followed.

Researchers have identified a number of characteristics prevalent in leaders. Most leaders have a strong sense of vision and intuition. Communication and listening skills are superior. They also have a high energy level, the ability to function under stress, and the courage to think independently.

Leaders must be able to handle living with the double-edged sword of the role. They are admired and loathed, respected and scrutinized, loved and hated. They are emulated and envied. They are for the people, but never of the people, which promotes periods of isolation and loneliness.

It’s essential for leaders to have charisma. The perfect political candidate will never win without a hefty dose of charm. Followers must be attracted to them to believe their goals and be persuaded to follow.” (Mentoring Heroes, 23-24).

If you identify leadership potential in someone, encourage them to step forward. Mentor them or suggest someone who could. And if you have these ingredients, do what you can to develop into a strong, positive leader within your business, church, social, or neighborhood community.

©Mary K. Doyle

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