A few words of motivation or praise can go a long way!

For some reason we seem to live in a world where it is easier to complain than compliment. Not sure why that it is. Imagine if we all stopped complaining and we could only be positive. Imagine if we could only speak words of genuine kindness, genuine praise. How much easier would it be to get out of bed in the morning, to go to work, to be loving and kind every day. I have to believe we would all be happier.

I have been told I give praise and acknowledgement generously. I daily tell people they look nice, they did a great job, made a great deal, smell nice!!! And yet I find hearing those same words in return seems to pain people – why? We all need it!!! We all need some kind words to motivate and inspire us every day. I feel as though I am begging and maybe I am because in all honesty I need it myself. A kind acknowledgement goes such a long way and it is soooooooo easy to do. Maybe if we could all just give it a try. If we could tell people they are beautiful, smart, aced a project,…I think we would all walk taller and be so much happier. Can we give it a try?

What the “F#@%” with all the hills?

Its been a month of hills – physically challenging hills and mountains and I am very certain there is a lesson(s) in all this.

First there was the Ride to Conquer Cancer – in the 220km ride it felt like there was 150km in hills and as I struggled to peddle with all my might I thought they were never going to end. And just as we would come to the top of one and heave a sigh of relief thankful to have survived, there would be yet another freaking hill.

Then I participated in the BMW X2 challenge which included the CN Tower skywalk – though not a hill, I am terribly afraid of heights – which is part of my challenge with hills and mountains. To “win” I had to suck it up and walk that ledge…and I did…for an hour. Leaning in, leaning out, letting go.

And then there was my “Nature Vigil” – 5 days in Calistoga California in a mountain range. And of course I picked a camping spot high up in the mountain on a ledge. The view was spectacular. The hike to get my gear up there required 5 trips – not so spectacular. At one point I literally started to cry asking myself “Gallucci what is it with you and hills?!?!?!”. In the end, it was the perfect spot for me.

This past week my daughter and I have been driving the California Coast for our holiday. We started just north of San Fran and are headed to San Diego. The ledges and cliffs we have walked are incredible, spectacular, breathtaking and have put knots in my stomach as I climb, peer over edges and pray we don’t fall. Yesterday we drove into the Palm Desert and climbed trails and rocks in the surrounding area and Joshua Tree. As we were literally climbing up this rock wall to get to the top of the mountain I once again I asked myself, “Gallucci what is it with you and the freaking hills this month?!?!?!”

Add to this the philosophical and emotional hills I have been travelling this month with the very intense “work” I have been doing.

I have certainly tested myself physically and mentally this month more than any other time in my life and in such a condensed period of time. And I am still alive! I have survived!

I think that as you conquer one hill, another presents itself and we choose to climb it or go around. This has been my month of climbing – physically, mentally and spiritually. And in all cases I am much better for it. I have grown. There have been some wounds but the wounds have revealed even deeper learning and huge accomplishments for which I am eternally grateful.

Life is a series of hills and valleys. In fact, a healthy heart rate reflects hills and valleys. It is only when we are dead that our heart rate flatlines. I’m not dead. I will continue to climb the hills, breathe, grasp the learning and then climb the next one. Perhaps I will give myself a little more time and not climb so many all in one month but nonetheless I will climb. The learning has been incredible. Knowing that I can survive the hills physically has given me a confidence to conquer some of the mental hills life presents. For me time in nature is akin to church or a conversation with God and or the Universe – whatever you believe. There are messages from birds and deer and butterflies and from the very soil on the ground. There is a peace in nature that is restorative and reflective even when it is testing you physically. And interestingly, I am not tired by all of this exertion. In fact I am sleeping less, am much more peaceful and have a renewed energy and excitement. And so today, another trail and another hill before we head to Coronado.

There is gold in them there hills and I am discovering potfuls!

 

 

I am no longer crazy!

Steve Jobs is well known for his quote, “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes … the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. … You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. … They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

This is one of my favourite quotes. The crazy ones do in fact push the human race forward. They make people think. They inspire. And very honestly they provide a place for many to park their skepticism and criticism and fears. While the crazies do, many watch in judgement.

Until Sunday at around 10am I have referred to myself as the “crazy”. This self naming gave allowed me to label my behaviour without really having to explain. It allowed me to pursue learnings, try things, put myself out there, … “colour outside the lines”… When people furrowed their brows and asked – why to my “antics” I easily responded with because I am crazy.  The askers would offer their often negative commentary/judgement and I would continue on, wounded but determined.

During my 5 “Nature Vigil” (1 day workshop with a group of approx 40, 3 days alone in a tent with no amenities, no tech and nothing to eat but a fasting solution, closed with 1 day with the group) on highly charged native lands the overall theme of my personal learnings was “everyone thinks you are crazy until you are not”.  We each had to explain our learnings to the group and so I explained, everyone thinks you are crazy until all of a sudden your work is identified as significant or game changing or life changing, until you inspire another or,… In fairness all pioneers have at first been defined as crazy.  I explained that I have done and continue to do many things which others do not and to all those in my circle I justify my actions by defining myself as crazy so that people just let me continue on my path.  At the end of my explanation, our guide, an acclaimed man; a shaman, a business leader, a husband, a father, a friend, a mentor, a good human,… reached for my hand and asked to comment on my learnings. This man has known me for some time now and he has watched my development at work and now in these workshops and so when he comments on my learnings I know he “knows” and he “knows me”. Holding my hand he asked me to let go of crazy and to embrace “visionary”. To stop diminishing my gift. My eyes filled with tears. He held my hand and went on to explain and provide context and some examples. I am not crazy, I am a visionary – crazy has been my mask. Its time to get rid of the mask.

I know this about myself, this visionary capability. I see things people cannot. I move from A to Z and 1 to 10 at the speed of light because I can see the end game quickly. I am challenged to pace through the steps/stops in between because I flow through them very rapidly. While I have known this about myself I have not fully embraced/owned it.

Several years ago a girlfriend quickly said in a conversation, “you know you are a visionary” and I laughed her off but it stuck in my mind. Earlier this month I did some one on one business and personal brand architecture work and the guide (highly acclaimed) identified me as a visionary also. I did not laugh this comment off.

Those guiding and teaching me are using the term/label – now it is my turn. On Sunday in front of my Nature Vigil friends I declared that I would embrace this about myself.

I know I am a visionary. I have been far too humble to stake my claim. I have been far too wounded by years of criticism and judgement over my “visionary” perspectives and my relentless curiosity and pursuit of knowledge (in general) and self awareness to say it out loud – crazy is easier.

I have known I am a visionary since I was 8 years old – I don’t even think my parents know this about me.

There were many other significant learnings while on the Vigil and they will unfold in the days ahead but the key one is owning my gift. I do love crazy but it is not correct and it diminishes me and my gift.

So the mask is off, in fact I have thrown it away (with some fear as it has provided a safe haven for years).

It’s been a month of intense work…the reward I think is heaven…

It’s been quite the month in my house, no “wasted” days…

My youngest son returned from University and graduates – today actually. Proud Mama today!

My daughter moved into her own place – so proud and yet miss her ray of sunshine every morning.

My oldest son (turned 27 Dear God!!!!)  has grown his own enterprise to a point where he needs a team and one of the first people to help him is my youngest son!!!! Again so proud and in love.

I returned to writing for the Globe and Mail Leadership Lab with an Article on Ageism. At 52, I am struggling for the respect I thought/think I should have. “Respect” and being “respectful” has changed so much in the past few decades. As a result I did some research and ended up writing the Ageism article and with over 200,000 reads it seems I struck a chord – so more to come in the days ahead on this.

I attended a combined business and personal architecture course – 3 days – very very intensive with life changing impact. I then headed to the cottage where I literally dug deep into the grounds as I mulled through the intense learnings of the course. My blistered hands and achy back were calmed by the natural beauty of the clearing I created and the hoped for cucumbers that will grow and the ensuing pickles we will make – a renewed family tradition! As I cleared the overgrown weeds it actually felt like the stone upon which our cottage was built was thanking me for the fresh air. If rocks could speak or posture, these ones were stretching limbs restricted by overgrown weeds and vines. There is something unexplainable restorative about working on land and toiling in the earth.

On the work front things are continuously changing as we focus on aggressive business development, new ways of working, new identities and ongoing challenges that are truly a reflection of the business we are in and being an entrepreneur. I am thankful for the benefits and stressed by the magnitude of responsibility and continuous challenges – tough scale to balance.

I participated in the 220 km Ride to Conquer Cancer without doing any training (dumb!) and on a bike I rented and picked up 3 days earlier to help me survive the ride. I learned that I do need to better respect my body as I pretty much just told it to deliver. I also learned I am physically stronger and healthier than I give myself credit for – physical strength does give us a confidence very unique to mental strength. It makes much more sense now why super successful people are healthy physically and mentally (and of course spiritually). I have committed to take much better care of my body moving forward.

Yesterday I was selected to be a finalist in the BMW X2, NOTABLE #DareTo Challenge so on Saturday I will compete in 3 challenges and if I am successful I will win an X2 lease for 1 year – my boys are stoked and I have butterflies!!! Cross your fingers and toes for me!

And then I will rush to the cottage for time with my family before my youngest leaves for 5 weeks in Europe (again proud, but with butterflies) and I leave for Northern California where I will go on a “Vision Quest” – a guided 1 day workshop then a trek into the wilderness where I will find a spot big enough for my tent. I will fast, tech free, in silence for 3 days before returning to basecamp for a day of review of our learnings. My daughter will then pick me up and we will drive and explore the California coast for 1 week before retuning home.

And then July will begin. (So far the only thing on the books is sailing lessons with a girlfriend – I am more excited that this person asked me to take the lessons with her than I am about the lessons!)

Why am I sharing…because I am exhilarated, happy, struggling, tired, nervous, excited,…and countless other emotions. More than anything – I am living!

In my effort to be a role model to my children and to be a good, hard working person and leader, I leave no stone unturned – I try, I learn, I dig deep, I do the work. In recent weeks I have had quite a few stones thrown in my direction from people in all segments of my life. The pain was crippling. To love what you do, to love your family and many of the people you work with and friends and to still fall short of “expectations” or to have “stones” thrown in your direction when you are all in is painful. Truthfully a very very good friend walked me off a ledge that was far steeper than I think she even realized (I love you Debbie). As a result I saw the positives and learnings in what felt like nothing but negatives. Her perspective and that of my 3 children (who have raised me as much as I have raised them) has been enlightening and fundamental to my resilience.

Today, after the days behind I have a renewed sense of self. I think I may finally be putting my stake in the ground and saying here I am – take it or leave it! I have never been that bold and even typing the words feels new to me. This shift will likely continue to evolve as I head into the “challenge” this weekend and the “Vision Quest” next week.

My point in this very vulnerable sharing is that in all honesty I want to ask people to stop being so hard on each other. Tone, criticism, judgement,…impacts each of us so differently. If we walked in each others shoes imagine how different our perspectives would be. Some gentleness can go such a long way. Life can be hell or heaven – we make the choice everyday for ourselves and those we impact.

I choose heaven. I choose to live everyday. I choose to try. I choose to be me.

Have a GREAT day.

XO

Nicole

 

Book…markings

I am just back from a trip to NYC and what do I have in my luggage – almost 30 books – and I am beside myself with joy! Books bring me such pleasure. I spent the weekend in NYC where admittedly the shopping is great and yet my hunt is always for old bookstores.

I get an inexplicable feeling when I am in a bookstore. For a few moments I am in a world full of great artists who have poured their hearts and souls on to countless pages in order to entertain or teach or just share. And in NYC there are eclectic and eccentric stores that carry vintage and war torn books that for me carry the magic of having been read or browsed by a myriad  of other souls. And I am now blessed to share their former presence and lingering aura. There is always a little coffee counter in the corner and the brews are always always always the very best – perhaps even more tasty because of the setting.

I love the tactile touch. The smell. The awareness that an old book in particular (I have some from the 1800s) has lived many lives before me, sends my mind into imaginary places wondering what the lives of previous readers was like.

Equally though differently, I also treasure new publications. I appreciate the time and effort that authors pour into their work and rarely is the occasion when I do not source some inspiration or new found wisdom.

I own thousands of books. I am often asked if I have read them all and the answer is no. But I may. And in absolutely every case I have scoured the forward and the table of contents and felt a connection that beckoned me to take the book home. I never leave a bookstore empty handed.

I give books to people constantly. For me there is an intimacy in giving a book. It reflects an awareness about another on a very personal level.

On more than one occasion I have been questioned and even criticized for having such a large and ever growing book collection. While comment on any one of my many imperfections often cuts me to my core, this one breezes right past me.  Books are where we find our common humanity. And for me books are where I have found my tribe. They are where I have found great comfort in knowing I am far from alone in the challenges I face or the places and spaces I want to explore. Bookstores and libraries are are my church.

When I step back I can see the stages and phases of my life in the titles – from books on raising children to designing presentations to living your best life to buddhism to magic to …you name it. At 52 I have quite the collection, it is a key part of my legacy and the many stages of my life.

As I lovingly and with great pleasure add my latest purchases to a newly created spot on my bookcase I am so excited. I feel like new immortalized spirits have joined me in my home and I welcome them with reckless abandon. As I look through them one by one I find little messages and I am in further delight and I make note to do this myself so that future generations can also delight in the magic of finding a note.

Books continue to mark the many chapters of my life and inspire me to continue to embrace the many chapters ahead…such wanderlust I see….

 

The Ageism Conversation Continues…

This blog is a follow-up to my recent article in the Globe and Mail on Ageism.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/careers/leadership/article-ageism-is-becoming-a-major-issue-for-corporations/

The response to my article was far greater than I expected and the conversations that ensued locally, globally, across all genders, ages, stages and walks of life was surprising. I typically write about issues that impact me directly and I hope there is a broader circle who can relate and/or find the topic relevant – this one clearly struck a very large and loud chord.

The catalyst for the article was a couple of ageist situations at work that I witnessed first hand. Almost simultaneously, I was in attendance at the annual SXSW conference in Austin where I listened to panels of business experts and professionals discuss the opportunities and challenges that the various “ages” are facing. Comforted (?) I realized I was not alone in noticing the increased conversations around ageism and I was not alone in feeling the mounting tensions between the young and old(er) on the age spectrum.

When I was young I discounted “ageist” remarks pointed in my direction – “you are too young” – because, afterall, I was young, bold and the world was my oyster! As I have gotten older, ageism feels as though it is something that I cannot escape. You can gain years and fix the prejudice at the young end of the spectrum but at the older end – there is no fix. It is what it is. It is beyond our control. The tug of war between those at opposing ends of the spectrum is real however on one end there is somewhat of a natural remedy. As a result, there needs to be acceptance and tolerance – far easier said than done.

Truth is, ageism is a universal prejudice that impacts everyone. However, research has proven that the impact is the greatest for the those over the age of 50. And yet, now that I and many others are in our fifties, we actually feel like we are in our prime. We have acquired degrees of financial comfort, raised our children, seen economic highs and lows and for the most part we have settled into ourselves. While we cannot rest on our laurels we have certainly been there done. All of these life experiences and years of living have unbelievable value.

Upon further exploration, I also uncovered that older folks stick around (stick it out?!) longer. According to study by monster.ca younger workers have higher turnover rates – workers 45-54 stay on the job twice as long as those 25-34.  This certainly raises questions of loyalty, focused expertise, the value of long term relationships. I also wonder if this age tug of war mimics home/familial relationships. We joke about having a work-wife and/or a work husband but perhaps there is also a work-parent and a work child relationship which may not be the best model for success.

I don’t have the answers but I do know the struggle is real and I do know the two ends of the spectrum need each other. I also know, and I can say this with complete credibility,  that the younger end does not fully appreciate the older end of the spectrum. I don’t believe one should unilaterally respect their elders simply because they are “elder” but I do believe that all elders bring some every valuable wisdom from having been there, done that to the party.

I also have to admit that 50 is not the “fifty” it once was, nor is it the new 30. Research has also proven we are more vital now than we have ever been. When I am at work, spending time with family and friends,…living my life,… I am still 25. My mind is spinning with ideas, my energy is boundless, my spirit indomitable and my body ready to climb any mountain. It is not until I look in a mirror, pass a reflective glass or discuss the ages of my children that I realize I am older – physically and mentally. At 52, I am well past my 25 year old self sense. To be clear I don’t have an issue with being 52. In my 52 years I have done a lot – but the thing is I have so much more I want to do and so given my youthful internal persona I am not holding back. And therein lies the issue – “I” am not holding back/stopping. I have LOTS I want to do. However, I am now often the oldest person in the room and it is very interesting at times to see the respect by some and disrespect/discounting of my opinion by others.  While there may be many reasons why disrespect/discounting arises, I have noticed a strong correlation when there are conversations on new technologies, social platforms,… Admittedly, the younger generation has an advantage – they were born with tech in their hands while older generations have adopted the tech and adjusted along the way. But is slower adoption necessarily a fault or weakness or is it an opportunity to evaluate best adoption practices and build the best business models?

Bottomline, the age spectrum is long and all ages along the spectrum have value to add. This conversation is far from over – in fact, its ageless!!!