Daughter of a wealthy industrialist, she married, raised a family, and then chose to enter the field of social work and dedicate her life to serving her community.

Revered by many throughout Houston, Maconda B. O’Connor was born on May 4, 1930 and passed from this life on May 19, 2012.

The Houston Chronicle and others have listed her long list of achievements.  She received over two dozen awards and honorary degrees, served on Houston’s and the nation’s most prestigious boards, and founded or helped start innovative programs dedicated to helping people improve their lives. As Angela Blanchard, president and CEO of Neighborhood Centers Inc., was quoted as saying, “There isn’t a place to go to in this city where you can get help that she didn’t help nurture.”

A colleague introduced us while Maconda was completing her doctoral studies at Smith College. She was looking for a research project for a required internship, and the colleague suggested my grant from the National Science Foundation might meet the requirements. Maconda was immediately interested in my project and, over time, in my work. She provided or helped arrange financial support for my research every year since.

Saying she supported my work, though, doesn’t quite get what she meant to me. We became friends. I loved her – still love her — dearly. We shared a similar fire for helping others improve their lives, and for setting up systems and organizations that would foster people’s growth and development. I see the world differently because of her, approach my own work differently because of her, have a deeper commitment to what I do because of her.

For me and many others, she has been an inspiration and a model of personal achievement and success. Following are some of what we can all learn from her:
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Count me among the millions of people around the country–if not the world–who are gratified that President Barack Obama has come out today in support of marriage equality. I was similarly overjoyed when Don’t ask, Don’t Tell was repealed this past December, as I explained in the post, “With Liberty and Justice for all: DADT and Civil Rights.

While millions of us are cheering, I imagine millions of others are dismayed, believing that their cherished values have been dealt a huge blow.

I was a child when Harry Belafonte (African American) and Joan Fontaine (Caucasian) were the lead actors in the movie Island in the Sun. The film was hugely controversial and they were not allowed to kiss, because an interracial couple kissing would have violated many people’s cherished values about keeping the races separate. Miscegenation (“race-mixing”) was against the law in my state.

So while I recognize some people’s dismay at the President’s stand, my memory of what it feels like to be viewed as less than a full citizen is still too vivid for me to do more than acknowledge that this may feel like a setback to them. For me, though, this is an important victory in the march toward equal rights for all in this country.

“The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time.” — Jackie Robinson

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In the previous post on the Skill of Speaking Up, a Responsible Conflict Resolution Technique, I described a case in which Yolanda, a new Latina staff member, made a suggestion at a staff meeting on how to increase their sales. She noted that she liked to spend time in small talk and relationship building before launching into the sales pitch. Jim, her White male colleague, dismissed her statement by responding, “I disagree completely. People want you to get to the point and not waste their time. All that small talk and personal stuff is so Hispanic.”

Josh, a coworker, spoke up responsibly using the three guidelines provided in the post. Not surprisingly, Jim took offense and countered to Josh, “Are you implying I’m racist?”

Jim graciously accepted Josh’s implicit disclaimer that he meant no harm, albeit acknowledging that he felt confused about what had happened. They all then went back to the meeting agenda.

That was the gist of the post. To read the full post, click here.

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Suppose you were at a meeting where one of your coworkers insults another? This is the stuff that breeds festering conflict in organizations.  What’s needed is a good conflict resolution technique.  Well-meaning people who are unfamiliar with conflict management may try one of these approaches:

  • Stay silent (after all, you are not involved)
  • Stay silent in the moment and talk to the offender privately later (this is consistent with the adage, “praise in public, criticize privately”)
  • Tell the offender in front of everyone that he’s completely out of line and explain why he is wrong
  • Change the topic so that the meeting can move on to more safe topics

If none of these options sounds satisfactory, then you’re right, there are other alternatives. We call it Speaking Up Responsibly.

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What do you do when things don’t go as you planned? 

At the end of last semester, I became swamped. Grading student papers took a full week. My students’ papers were so excellent, my initial plans to just dash through them fell by the wayside as I read their heartfelt summaries of what they had gained during the semester.  The good news is that they inspired me tremendously. During the week or so that I read through their papers, I saw clearly why this work is important, why I do what I do, and how it can foster personal achievement and success.

After grading was finished, I planned a hiatus during the Christmas holidays. I even had the audacity of imagining myself staying in bed all day reading whatever I wanted and getting clear on my goals for 2012.

But…as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.”  Life for me came in the form of computer and cell phone breakdowns, family and personal illnesses and upsets, and my own thwarted determination to dejunk piles of papers that had more nostalgic benefit than current utility.

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Preface: Martin Prouix, President of Pyxis and an organizational coach, posted this article on his blog, Analytical-Mind.com, this past fall. For years, I have asked students, people I coach, and sometimes even myself whether they would rather be right or effective.  Martin poses essentially the same question by asking, “is it better to be right or to be helpful.” His example on what can go wrong when trying to build effective relationships is worth sharing.

Jean

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Most people I know feel time-pressured and I’m no exception. Because of this, I continuously seek out tips for organizing my work to increase my sense of personal achievement and success. Here it is near the end of the semester – only two more weeks of classes — and I find that yet again, I am spending my time mainly on what’s urgent rather than on what’s most important to me.  It has happened for me this way every November-December for the last umpteen years as the crush of end of the semester school work takes up more and more of my time. Case in point: this is my first blog post in two weeks even though it’s important to me and I enjoy it.

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Preface: In an earlier post, I continued the series on Napoleon Hill’s application of the Law of Attraction as explained in his 1928 book, Law of Success. This post is Part 2 on “the habit of doing more than paid for,” one of Hill’s principles for personal achievement and success. For Part 1, click here:

Hill describes two important periods that people who wish to be successful must go through. The first is learning and organizing knowledge about our field of work. This in itself requires tremendous effort.

The second is the period in which we must convince others that we can do the work. During this second period especially, Hill advises that every time we give our services, we gain another opportunity to prove to others what we can do. This is where the habit of doing more than is paid for becomes especially useful. As Hill explains:

“Instead of saying to the world, ‘Show me the color of your money and I will show you what I can do, reverse the rule and say, ‘Let me show you the color of my service so that I may take a look at the color of your money if you like my service’” (p.695).

Once we do more than is paid for, what Hill calls the Law of Increasing Returns kicks in to deliver our benefit.

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Farewell to an Authentic Leader: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was one of my heroes. Clad in his trademark black shirt and blue jeans while presenting the latest Apple product, he gave the impression of being an authentic leader, quintessentially himself without subterfuge.

His death saddened me tremendously, even though I suspected it was eminent. As one of the millions in mourning because of his transition, I was drawn to a recent article entitled, “Why Is Everyone So Upset by Steve Jobs’ Death?

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Preface: Does it make sense to do more than we are paid for? Napoleon Hill says yes, that the habit of doing more than we are paid for is key to our personal achievement and success.

This post continues the series on Napoleon Hill’s application of the Law of Attraction as explained in his 1928 book, Law of Success. The book provides fundamentals for achieving success for those who enact them. Hill developed his compendium of traits (with the help of Andrew Carnegie) based on interviews with over 500 successful men and women of the time.  In these posts, I discuss how Hill’s theory – and the Law of Attraction – is supported by behavioral science theories. For prior posts in this series, click here and here.

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Preface: A participant in one of my workshops on Reframing Change sent the essay below to the other participants and me. It comes from the web site of John H. Lienhard who hosts the highly acclaimed PBS radio show, Engines of our Ingenuity. As the participant explained in her e-mail to us, “[The essay] puts together many of the things we’ve learned as a group in ‘Reframing Change’.”

Her cover e-mail emphasized several phrases which I have bolded below because I agree with her emphasis.

I am reproducing the essay with permission of the author, Megan Cole, and John Lienhard as radio host. After the essay, I add a few comments.

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Preface: Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. In the previous post, “How to Deal with Stress at Work When People Let You Down,”Vicki screams at Saul for not getting a draft document to her at the time he had promised.

She collapses nearly in tears, wondering whether she was the only one in the company who cares. Saul apologized and then secretly fumed, “Why didn’t someone do something about Vicky?” The case is discussed by Dr. Jo Bowens Lewis, a certified teaching and supervising transactional analyst, and a Leading Consciously practitioner.

We continue with Jo’s case analysis.

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant.  The scenario below was written by Eillen Bui, our research associate.  Jo Bowens Lewis, a licensed psychologist, organizational consultant, and Leading Consciously practitioner will respond.

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Preface: The previous post described how I came to view “the law of attraction”as a voluntary behavioral modification technique. Recently popularized in the book, The Secret, the law of attraction holds that our thoughts determine what we attract into our lives. I decided to blog about this after reading the beginning of Napoleon Hill’s (1928) The Law of Success.

To continue from the previous post…..

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For most of my adult life, I have believed in “the law of attraction” as a voluntary behavioral modification technique. The law of attraction holds that what we think about determines what we attract into our lives. It may be encapsulated in the phrase, “thinking makes it so.” Or, a common catch phrase is “as you believe, so you will receive.”

A few years ago, the “law of attraction” caught fire when the movie, The Secret, came out and was featured on the Oprah Winfrey and Larry King’s shows.  Both talk show hosts asked those who had appeared in the movie variations of these questions: “Can you really think your way to financial riches and success? What about people who have serious health issues? Can they really think them away? Are they to blame for their illnesses just because they aren’t positive enough?”

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