What you need to know.

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I am a business advisor and strengths coach (with 25+ years of business experience), and I’m using this blog to inspire readers to make simple, powerful changes to boost their performance and joy. Guest writers and I will primarily focus on:

1. Harvesting value from Gallup® strengths knowledge and application

2. Breaking free from imposter syndrome and “faking it” to a more authentic reality

Living authentically AND intentionally aiming your strengths daily is emancipating and powerful! This blog can help you with both.

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Living Through the Messy Middle of Our Life Transition

This is the first of MANY blogs on transitioning where we will share tips, skills, and experiences that helped us move through a very hard stage of life.

Life transitions are hard, whether due to marriage, divorce, retirement, the death of a loved one, relocation, realizing a different calling from God, or any other scenario that has a significant impact on your life.

We’re still working our way through a transition that started several years ago when Patrick retired from the VA after 35 years in the pharmacy industry. While it was exciting for him to join the BONSAI team, stepping away from a 35-year career is significant.

Then, in early 2023, I started feeling a different calling related to the work I do. A few months after I started to feel that calling, we lost my mom and Patrick was hospitalized with a serious illness. Those additional events really made me take stock of how I spend my time and seek greater alignment with what I feel called to do. With those big questions to be answered, our transition continues. Read the Full Article

How God Planted BONSAI

I’ve been asked many times, “How did you know when to start your business? What was that process of hearing from God like?” It was not a one-and-done moment. There were multiple ways God got my attention and helped me through the process — and He can and wants to do the same for you.

Seeking His Direction

It first started with seeking His direction and feeling a sense of passion for coaching that the Holy Spirit placed in me. Quarterly, I would take a weekend to retreat and focus on praying, journaling, reading, and discerning my next steps. I used Brene Brown’s the Gifts of Imperfection to work through personal issues and my Life Application NIV Bible as my guide. Spending time with God in prayer and listening helped me silence the distractions and know His voice.

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The Five C’s of Change: Consistency

This is the final post in our series on the Five C’s of Change, which includes four friends and one foe of change. In the previous installments, we explored Conviction, Courage, and Communication.

Consistency results in credibility for leaders, but more importantly, it results in organizational efficiency and effectiveness for everyone.

Of all the C’s, this one is probably the most difficult. While you need to be sending a consistent message, so do all other leaders. Consistency needs to cut across the organization in every direction. People will look to see if:

  • Leaders are consistent across different areas
  • Each leader is consistent in their area
  • Actions align with words

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The Five C’s of Change: Communication, Part 2

This is the second part of a post on Communication, part of our series on the Five C’s of Change, which includes four friends and one foe of change. In the previous installments, we explored  Conviction and Courage.

As I discussed last time, we must meet both the needs of the organization and the needs of our followers. Below are some action steps to meet these needs.

Action Steps for Better Communication

I find clients appreciate specific action steps when they are uncertain of how to move forward in uncharted territory, so I am including a few suggestions below. Some of these may seem obvious to you but aren’t always obvious to others, so consider sharing them when you see people struggling with a particular area. We are all designed uniquely and will be inclined to do some of these well while others don’t come naturally to us. Read the Full Article

The Five C’s of Change: Communication, Part 1

This is the third post in our series on the Five C’s of Change, which includes four friends and one foe of change. In the previous installments, we explored Conviction and Courage

Communication Sounds Easy, But Isn’t

Communication is an action that appears so simple and obvious, yet it’s almost always what employees and leaders alike most identify as missing or insufficient in organizational assessments. Early in the pandemic, communication seemed to improve dramatically as leaders were keenly aware more interaction was needed when working virtually. Most of our clients increased the frequency of one-on-one touchpoints and both sides said that although these additional meetings took more time, people felt more connected than ever before.
It seems, however, that once people got comfortable with a new way of operating, the pendulum started swinging back the other way. As the workload increased and staffing shortages ensued, the time spent on communication slowly dwindled. Many leaders assumed people had the information they needed, so leaders shifted their focus to other things and those one-on-one touchpoints tapered off in frequency.

While in many organizations the pendulum of communication is back to where it was prior to the pandemic, it doesn’t have to stay there. By understanding the role of communication in meeting the needs of followers and taking specific actions, change champions can improve communication throughout their organization.

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The Five C’s of Change: Courage

This is the second post in our series on the Five C’s of Change, which includes four friends and one foe of change. In the first installment of this series, we explored Conviction which is essential in  a change agent. In this blog, we will explore courage and how this plays out in organizational change.

Courage and Conviction Need Each Other

Courage requires Conviction. It is akin to resiliency — we draw on our sense of purpose for it. It is nearly impossible to be a valiant leader without being girded with strong beliefs or convictions. Knowing something is the right thing to do or knowing we are called for a purpose allows us to boldly move forward despite great risk. Otherwise, when there is resistance (which always accompanies change), those without deep convictions often fail to stand their ground. Read the Full Article

Taking Action to Improve Return on Energy (ROE)

In our previous blog, we talked about the importance of return on energy and how proactively assessing ROE can help us be more intentional with our time. But we must do more than simply assess ROE — we also must take action to remove or shift things that don’t show a return.

Acting on ROE Means Having Hard Conversations

As you prioritize your own energy, you might need to have a difficult conversation with someone who doesn’t care about low ROE and still wants your engagement. This becomes a teachable moment with an opportunity to shift those conversations into something more productive. It’s a good time to talk about desired outcomes, and how best to achieve them. If you can’t shift the conversation in that direction, it may be time to eliminate it altogether. Read the Full Article

What’s Your Return on Energy (ROE)?

Many business leaders are familiar with the term ROI, or return on investment. But have you ever considered return on energy? It’s not a tangible thing you measure in the same way as business expenses or even time spent on a project, but it’s important.

Bottom-line: How well you are assessing and managing your return on personal energy and team energy results in more joy and bearing more fruit. Thinking about ROE helps us be more intentional with our endeavors. Read the Full Article

The Five C’s of Change: One Foe and Four Essential Friends

“You really care about what you do – I’m not a checkbox.” This was a compliment we recently received from a new client, and it felt SO good to hear. A big accomplishment, since I had been working very hard at being intentional with slowing down and enjoying time with clients. Last winter was quite the opposite when we faced some hardships, and I became focused on just checking things off the list and getting through the days.

That “checkbox” approach to living is the enemy of joy and the foe of being a change agent. And yet, isn’t it also a place of comfort? If I can just get through the task list, the agenda, etc., I will feel like I did a good job. But did I really? Only if that checkbox helps us with some of the four essential C’s of being an effective leader of cultural change:

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Coaching Tip: A Countdown Strand for Persevering

In the summer of 2020, my husband Patrick decided to “retire” from the VA and shift into full-time coaching with our business BONSAI. It was the early days of COVID, so you can imagine how difficult working at a hospital was. Even though they had very few cases, the stress was consuming.

As we planned for his retirement date, my friend Liz suggested a countdown chain she had used with her kids. I decided to try it – figuring it would either be awesome or not so good for adults. We found it to be a powerful tool that fueled momentum and increased resiliency and faith. Since that time, we’ve recommended it to multiple clients who have used it with success to count down to big events or milestones. Read the Full Article