Awesomeness in the World

…and we’re back! (kind of)

I promised back in October that we’d be back in touch come November and with one day left in the month, I want to keep my promise (though I have no idea how on earth it got to be the end of November, but somehow, here we are).

I also promised you updates on new happenings. You may have noticed some of our regular bloggers went a little quiet earlier this year. Melissa has moved on to a new adventure in her career and we wish her all the best. She’s going to be all kinds of crazy successful and we can’t wait to see what happens next. Ashley has also taken on some new job responsibilities and is also focusing on her new dog, Sawyer. It’s possible he may be the cutest dog ever and I don’t blame her for spending more time with him. I’m so grateful to both of them for sharing their wit and honesty with us, and hopefully we can have them back as guest bloggers in the future.

Additionally, I’ve been hard at work on a new project of mine, Good for Her Soul. Not to be confused with the consulting and training offerings here, Good for Her Soul is support and celebration of women at every stage of life. Through the new website, we make it easy to congratulate your friend on her achievement, toast to a new chapter or let her know you’re thinking about her during a difficult time. You’ve got her back, so let us have yours. We’ve brought together everything you need to show her you care — cards, gifts, services and educational resources.

We often want to reach out, but aren’t quite sure what to say or how to say it, and this is where Good for Her Soul can help. You can check out our inspiration wall to get ideas of what’s been helpful to others during times of joy or heartache, or browse ideas and options by type of occasion or event.

While things will be a little quieter on this front for a while, I’ll continue to check back in. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy Good for Her Soul, and I wish you success in all your adventures as well!

Inside My Head


Someone on my Facebook feed recently linked to a Psychology Junkie blog on How Each Myers-Briggs Type Reacts to Stress (and How to Help!). I always find these things fascinating and take them with a grain of salt at the same time. Whenever we generalize based on one thing – geographic location, generation, Myers-Briggs-type – we can set ourselves up to miss important pieces of information and make faulty assumptions. That said, I think we can always learn something or find a different way to think about a behavior.

I tend to bounce between ENFP and ENTJ. I was a solid ENFP in my younger years and while many of those same traits are still prevalent, as I get older, I’ve come out as an ENTJ in more recent assessments. However, as I read the stressors and of an ENTJ, many of those resonated with me, though the second to last line stopped me in my tracks.

“They may feel overwhelmed, out of control, unable to sort out priorities, and thus become inflexible.”

I find planning and routine comforting in times of stress, but I’d never thought about it quite in this way. I can find it hard to go with the flow if I’m feeling particularly stressed and I do get irritated when things change, especially last minute. It’s not that I can’t adjust – it’s just that my brain was prepared for one thing and now that’s not happening and it feels like my rusty gears have trouble shifting as quickly as I’d like.That said, I’d seen my need for control and order during times of stress as a positive – a way to buckle down and get things done, but it hadn’t ever occurred to me that it could (and I’m certain does!) come across as being inflexible.

It never hurts to become a little more acquainted with ourselves and learn more about how our actions might be seen by others. I’ll be over here working on my flexibility if anyone needs me…


Inside My Head


Every summer, I look forward to the slower pace, a little more time on my hands and the opportunity to catch up. And every summer, I am sorely disappointed. The time flies by – at a seemingly faster pace than the year before, if that’s even possible. Things are more hectic with travel, visitors and unexpected projects. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the varied routine, and I especially love the travel and visitors, but I am always taken by surprise at how fast the time goes and how quickly the routine of fall is looming over us.

This summer has been no exception (thus, the reasons we were quite last week on the blog), so you think I’d learn my lesson by now. In anticipation of a little more time, I took on a couple extra projects in the spring for the summer. However, my extra time never quite materialized and now I’m packing just a little more in to an already full schedule. And somehow, it’s already the second week of August. How on earth did that happen?!?

This fast travel through time has me thinking about a recent article I saw about vacation planning. The author was encouraging readers to schedule vacation time before anything else, and I think I may try the approach next year. I think we often figure we’ll find a week or two once the calendar is set and go from there. But as I discover (over and over again), those quiet weeks never come unless we make them a priority.

So as the last few weeks of summer get away from me, I’ve looked towards the fall and already have a long weekend or two set aside to make sure I’ve got some time for me. Here’s hoping it’s a skill I will have mastered by the time the summer of 2017 rolls around.

Inside My Head


I’m looking for Someone. Someone has been taking on a lot these days. Someone is very busy, yet not really seeming to get much done. And I’ll be honest – I’m a little frustrated.

Someone seems to get in our way with way too much regularity. Much too often, we look to Someone. Someone should do something about our rowdy neighbor. Someone should tell the boss she’s micromanaging us. Someone should take on that project we’ve been talking about for so long. Someone should organize that trip we keep meaning to take. Someone should do something. And yet, despite everything we keep assigning to Someone, nothing seems to actually get done. Huh.

In defense of Someone, he’s really gotten the short end of the stick. We’re quick to assign tasks to Someone because it’s easier than doing it ourselves. We may not take action for a variety of reasons. We’re scared, we don’t know how to fix it, we don’t have the time, we’re know if will be hard, we might hurt feelings…the reasons are endless. But we know there’s a problem and we want to get credit for pointing it out and then delegating to Someone. As long as we verbalize it and get Someone on it, our hands are clean.

Spoiler alert: Someone doesn’t actually exist, and you don’t actually get anything done by assigning anything to him. It’s up to each of us to pick up the slack that Someone has created by letting things slide. We certainly can’t pick up all the things Someone was supposed to do, but if each one of us can tackle one thing Someone was supposed to do, imagine how much we might actually accomplish. So let’s make an agreement to help Someone out and quit delegating things to him. I’m in!

Awesomeness in the World


Driving home earlier this month, I caught an NPR piece on the Swedish Number and it’s quickly become one of my favorite things EVER. The idea was simple – let the people of Sweden represent the amazingness that is Sweden by connecting them directly with potential tourists. What a brilliant idea to promote tourism within the county. When I got home, I found that in addition to NPR, The New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post and countless others had already been talking about this for a couple months. How had I missed this fantastic story???

What I love so much about this idea is the basis that human connection is the best way to do almost anything. In a world where we live in front of screen after screen, chat for help and order things to be delivered by drones, going back to the basics of the telephone seems quaint. Why not a flashy social media campaign? A catching slogan? A contest? Because in the middle of all this noise, we’ve forgotten how powerful it can be to simply talk with each other. There were apparently no scripts or talking points given – just instructions on how to log into the system and be available for calls and see where the conversation takes you.

It got me thinking – how else could we connect and who else could we dial? Dial a new parent to check in and see how they’re coping and provide some adult conversation? Dial a senior who may not have many visitors? Dial someone who loves cooking when your mid-recipe and need a quick substitution for an ingredient? Dial a local for a great restaurant recommendation while traveling? Where else could we go back to human interaction for a fun twist?

Career Libby

New Kid on the Block

I have started a new job. Technically, I don’t start for a few more months, but I’ve been offered and hired and already sent to a meeting.  It was great, this meeting; it is a terrific way to get the lay of the land. It also made me very aware of my “new kid” status.

I was at my last job for over eleven years so not much was new to me, but now everything is new – it’s slightly disconcerting but it’s also very exciting.

  • Lingo: All the jargon and lingo for this organization is new to me – it’s a new industry full of new acronyms and terminology. I got lost about ten minutes into the conversation but kept jotting down everything I didn’t know – I’ve got a laundry list but it’ll be fun to cross each one off as I learn!
  • Reputation: I came from an organization where a lot of the staff where actually members – to them, I probably seem like some kind of anomaly in their midst. I am not sure of my reputation. I know that I’m held in high esteem by upper management, my new boss, but I’m not sure about my peers: Did they like my work? Did they learn from me in the past? Was my style collegial or off-putting?
  • Relationships: The staffer running the meeting seemed hesitant to have me there at first – maybe there was concern that I’d try to interfere or insert myself. It all ended up fine in the end: he welcoming, me complimentary.  But it was a reminder of the process that I’m going to have to go through to get to know people and have them get to know me: gaining trust is not an easy road…it takes hard work and a sensitive eye.
  • Work ethic: In my old job, it was (until the end) a situation where everyone knew I would get my work done and do it well. I don’t have that level of trust yet so I think that means I’ve got to work harder than ever before. My position is virtual, and aside from a few meetings, I haven’t been required to physically go in to the office – it’s my choice to go in once a week for staff meetings. I think it’s important to have that face time to build trust and new relationships, observe how I interact with people, understand that the job is important to me and that I’m a team player.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been the new kid on the block, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure they know I’ve got the right stuff.

– Libby Bingham

Inside My Head Karen

Know Your Stressors

Taking inventory of our internal well-being on a regular basis is fundamental to healthy living. When we go through a challenging time, a big change, an unexpected disruption (or a planned one), it’s a good idea to ask ourselves, “Heyyyyy youuuu inside there, how are you doing?

The most important part of stress is this:  
Are you handling it okay?  

When I did this quiz, my stress results were very high. I knew they would be. There’s been a lot of change over the past 12 months. Along with the change, stress. Of course! It comes with the territory.

How we handle stress is what we need to measure.

Ask your closest relationships: Do you think I handle stress well?

For me personally, I’m making life-changing decisions and carving a new path – a path I want to live. The impact these changes are having on me, the inner-person Karen, are monumental. The paradox of this stress and change is that I’ve chosen it. I want the change.

Regardless, change comes with risk, which inevitably induces greater levels of stress.

Although stress is a complex subject, I know what I have to do in order to stay healthy.  I don’t want stress to invoke physical ailments.

Since I’m in a season of high stress (note:  a season), I find myself much more diligent in making sure I’m doing okay. Here are a few of my go-to’s that I find highly valuable and helpful:

  • Find the calm in the chaos.  (I continually say, “All will be well. I’m on the right path.  Keep going.”)
  • Spend time outdoors reflecting and pondering your thoughts.
  • Enjoy solitude and find time to think so you can unpack the clutter in your mind.
  • Give yourself permission to feel your fear, worry or uncertainty. (I used to stuff my feelings. I don’t do that anymore.)
  • Choose gratitude and every day speak out that for which you’re truly thankful.
  • Remind yourself that love is greater than stress. Stay connected with the people that mean the most to you!
  • Every year have a medical check up and blood work done to make sure you’re healthy.
  • Choose to eat healthy and drink lots of water.
  • Love laughing. (I make sure my days are filled with joy.)

Stress is a normal part of life, but it’s not to dominate our lives and it must not be given any controlling power on our circumstances.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on



Boss Blind Spot

There seems to be something in the air. Several of my friends are on the job hunt, and they’re at various places on the spectrum of “seeing what’s out there” to “get me the hell out of here before I gouge my own eyes out.” And while their circumstances are all varied in terms of how long they’ve been there, what their next move might be or whether or not they’ve got families to support, they all have one thing in common. They’ve gotten new bosses within the past year and their work lives have become intolerable.

We’ve long known that people don’t leave jobs, but rather, leave bosses. But knowing that and seeing it in practice across organizations and professions is another matter. And while I don’t know the specific details with every situation, I know several of these bosses have lost people before. I also fully understand that I wouldn’t necessarily know if something was being done – corrective action shouldn’t be public, of course – but it’s hard when high turnover is the only piece of the puzzle people see. Employees know which bosses have high turnover. They see who leaves, how long they lasted and they end up usually watching the whole thing happen again before they know it. One of my friends who just left her job was the third person to leave her team in less than a year. And the team is only 5 people to begin with – including the boss that everyone keeps leaving, who has only been there two years himself.

Sure, there are always reasons people leave other than their boss. And people may often share reasons other than their boss because they’re afraid or don’t want to make trouble. But as leaders within our organizations, it’s critical to look at the common denominators. Other employees certainly will be, and if they’re even perceiving the boss as that main common denominator, it may be time to check your own blind spots.

Awesomeness in the World

Facts vs. Stories

Last week, I talked about the Crucial Conversations training I recently attended and promised (threatened?) I’d be sharing more about it. There was just so much good stuff! In addition to stealing the term human engineering, one of the biggest lessons for me was the idea of fact vs. story. The premise is that facts themselves don’t get our emotions going – it’s the stories we tell ourselves about those facts that really affect us. For instance, if I get a card in the mail from a friend, that’s the fact. Getting the card itself doesn’t make me happy or sad. However, the story I tell myself about why she sent me the card is what makes me happy – my friend took time out of her day to get a card, write a kind message and then mail it to me because I’m a priority in her life. That’s the story. But wait, you say! Couldn’t it be a fact that I’m a priority in her life? Nope. It can be a true story, but it’s not a fact. A fact is something that actually happened. Facts can’t be argued. A story is something I tell myself based on my experience and observations – the context of our relationship, the nice message she wrote inside, that she knew I was having a rough week.

Here’s why this is so powerful to me – it’s so easy to go right to the negative stories. He didn’t return my email because he doesn’t care about my project. I didn’t get invited to the party because I’m not fun. She blew off the meeting because she’s scatter-brained and can’t keep her calendar straight. These are all the negative stories that we tell ourselves and they’re upsetting. To be fair to us poor humans, we’re wired this way – it’s not our fault. Telling stories is how we’ve evolved and how we make sense of the world. Fact: There is a growling sound and a rustling in the bush. Story: Last time I heard this sound and saw a rustling, my caveman friend got eaten by a large cat – I’m getting out of here. Stories keep us safe.

Stories, however, can also be our own downfall. We can easily cast ourselves in stories as the helpless victim and make someone else the villain. This happens in the blink of an eye. But mostly (and I do mean mostly – there are obviously exceptions), people are good and aren’t out to get you. He didn’t return my email because he’s traveling and his phone isn’t syncing with the email server. I didn’t get invited to the large party because the host knows I prefer more intimate dinner parties and she didn’t want me to feel obligated to come. She blew off the meeting because her boss came in with an emergency and she knew we could catch up later.

There are any number of stories we can tell ourselves about one small fact. That’s a helpful reminder to me when I feel attacked, forgotten or frustrated. I can get out of my negativity and ask the other person what’s going on. And that’s really the key – recognize the story you’re telling yourself and then check it out. You’ll stop yourself from getting into a downward spiral of negativity and you’ll get more parts to the story to form to a better understanding of what’s going on. And if there’s a problem and the story isn’t what you want it to be, that’s good news, too. You have the power to rewrite any story you’re involved in.

Libby On the Job


Our department is under renovation – not the fun, pick out paint and wallpaper type. It’s the stressful, difficult reorganizational type.

We have a couple holes where staff have recently left. Getting all the work done is hard, especially alongside lots of new projects and endeavors. But our boss has been very strategic in her approach to filling spots and identifying ways to make the most of things.

It’s exciting but also nerve-wracking – I agree with her approach and think it is a smart way to align what we’re doing with the rest of the organization. But we haven’t been involved with the decision making, and people are thinking, “Where do I fit in?” “Which box is mine?” Additionally, there is the added wrench of one opportunity for a little bit of professional growth. The internal candidates are small in number – more than one vying for one spot. Let the hunger games begin!

I joke, but I do feel like there’s potential for discomfort – what happens after the decision is made? How do the people who don’t get a promotion move forward? How might the overall team dynamic change? Will it be helpful or harmful? How can we ensure a shift like this will be a positive experience for the team? How will this change be managed, and can discomfort be mitigated?

There is a team dynamic at play that could make or break us as a department – I only hope we’re resilient, supportive and flexible enough to embrace the change and make it work for everyone. And while I obviously have lots of questions, I also have lots of hope. I’m looking forward to being a part of these changes and doing what I can to ensure my voice is heard.

– Libby Bingham