Category Archives: Motivation

Reciprocity in the Workplace

My first post in the “Owners Blog” section of www.PetWorldLawrence.com.

ReciprocityRecently we’ve been discussing how the link between dedication, loyalty, and success is genuinely reciprocal in thriving companies. The harder employees work, the more employers invest in them, and the more they improve. The better employees get, the happier they become, & the more success they achieve. And when employees succeed, companies succeed, and then find themselves in a position to invest even more back into employees.

And so it goes. Reciprocity at its core.

But it doesn’t stop there. Reciprocity includes customers. In fact, it can’t work without customers. Because successful companies don’t worry about the short-sighted quick sale and take time to improve customers’ lives long term, customers support them. Our company focuses on improving our customers’ lives by improving the lives of their children and their pets. To support our mission, our customers keep their business local. That investment extends to our community outreach which makes a positive difference in Lawrence. This strong, Kansas, community supports us so we can then invest in our employees who then invest in our customers who are the very community that supports us. Everyone wins.
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Over the course of the last year, after realizing Tim and I were answering more questions than asking, we’ve had to consider that perhaps it’s time to accept our roles as mentors in the spirit of reciprocity. We’ve been asked to mass market our staff training program, sell our store, expand Pet World, franchise, hit the public speaking circuit, offer seminars…you name it. Tim coaches, I teach, we both manage, so that all makes sense. But here’s the thing. For us, it’s not about money or popularity or rapid, financial growth. It’s about responsible stewardship. “From he whom much is given, much is expected.” Luke 12:48. Perhaps it’s financially unsound to offer up a quarter century of free entrepreneurial wisdom to anyone with an internet connection. But frankly, we’re not too concerned about the risk. Since 1988 we’ve been trying to do what is right regardless of cost and this philosophy hasn’t failed us yet. I don’t think it will now.

We’ve learned that life isn’t just about money and getting ahead at all cost. It’s about growth, hard work, and active participation. It’s about being part of a team, something bigger than yourself. I’m not sure our society is consistently reinforcing the importance of good work ethic & I’m as concerned as the next guy about young adults subscribing to the fallacy that life is fair & easy. A false sense of entitlement concerns me as much as it concerns you. Bad influence surrounds us. Our young employees see some of their friends under achieving, taking shortcuts to get ahead, trading principles & life skills for short sighted advancement. Plenty of businesses lack ethics and fail to understand the essence and importance of hard work and reciprocity. Shortcuts and scams seem to be the norm now. I get all that. Which is why we’ve decided to choose the high road of reciprocity and even add mentorship into the mix. Our hope is for young people to shape their life paths with big picture focus, understanding that life is as much about the process as it is the end goal. If we help you win, you help someone else win, and they help more people win, and in the end, all who participated win.

Reciprocity is about the trust, loyalty, hard work, & dedication of each person involved. It’s about truly caring enough to improve each other’s lives and our existence as a unit. Improve the parts; improve the whole. That’s how life works. It’s reciprocal. So maybe to some people our blog seems like us giving away the farm. That’s okay. We know reading our free advice and actually implementing our philosophies are two very different things. As for us, we’re just being responsible stewards. We will continue to grow and foster our reciprocal relationships for as long as our customers will let us and offer nothing but support in return. That’s been the Pet World way since day one. And we’re not about to change now.

Exhilarating Winter Trail Run

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Exhilarating. Truly exhilarating. That’s the only way to accurately describe today’s experience. Trail running in the snow? Seriously. What kind of warriors really do this stuff? Not me. I hate exercise. I like being fit but I dislike getting and staying fit. Yet I am not kidding when I say my outdoor exercise experience today was actually fun – more than fun. It was exhilarating!

Almost two weeks ago we returned from our first cruise. A vacation at sea was never on my bucket list but my husband and kids really wanted to go and with Carpe Diem as one of my life mottos I could only stall for so long. Winter cabin fever had already set in so I caved pretty easily. The Caribbean was fabulous – Grand Cayman, Haiti, and Jamaica (my personal favorite). But the gluttony was endless. So much food and alcohol! By day three I understood why so many people get fat; it’s fun! Holy sheep caca the eating and drinking and drinking and eating! Unbelievable. I’m positive “Wall-E” was conceived on a cruise ship. From what I understand, I experienced the cruise ship standard: a weight gain of almost a pound a day. No kidding. They have stats on this stuff. Five pounds in six days. And that on top of an extra ten pounds already from a long winter of laziness. Lord only knows what’s happened with my exponentially increasing body fat. So, yeah, I’m trying to get back in shape. But a trail run in the snow is something for die hard fitness enthusiasts – not this chick.

Here’s the thing. I love all things outdoors, prefer to exercise outside, am self employed with a flexible schedule, own an 80 acre nature reserve with miles of running and hiking trails, and I live in NE Kansas. Our weather here is mild and Midwesterners know not to worry about bad weather because it never lasts long. So I have no excuse for letting myself get out of shape. But, as with most parts of the country, this particular winter has been a little rougher than most. We returned from the cruise on Sunday and I hit the trails on Monday, but, Tuesday brought yet another cold front, Wednesday brought eight inches of snow, and the average temperature has been zero ever since. Until today.

This morning the sun came out and by 2pm we were up to 40 degrees so I cleared my schedule, pulled on my smart wool socks, my best snow boots, squeezed into my ski pants and out I went, excited about the fresh air and sunshine on my face during a walk in the snow. I basically loathe running in general because I am a sprinter by nature. I get a thrill from the short burst of an uphill race on a deer trail in the woods. Obstacle course? I’m there. But the idea of a steady 10k on pavement makes me want to puke. Actually, I’m sure I would puke. Long distances not only bore me, I just can’t do them. My cardio will fail me long before I even feel a burn.

But trail running? That’s different. The soft, ever changing earth beneath my feet, the scenery, the tranquility – I actually like trail running. I’ve run in the mud, through creeks, over rocks, tall weeds, short grass, sticker bushes, and even on light, shallow snow before, enjoying the crisp air and the crunch. Today, however, was my first venture into deep snow. I’m only accustomed to maneuvering through deep snow on skis, not on foot. The trails were hidden three to ten inches deep surrounded by so much snow I sometimes veered off the paths without noticing. Running, by definition, was not possible today. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t exercise – quite the opposite.

I was prepared for a brisk walk while enjoying the scenery. Normally I walk with increasing speed to warm up then I stretch before taking off. Today I don’t know what came over me. I wasn’t ten steps in when I found myself grinning from ear to ear, high stepping through the twinkling snow, overwhelmed with the urge to run and play. Vast, white, fluffy glitter surrounded me, untouched by humans, and in moments I reverted to my five year old self, completely thrilled to romp in the snow, smitten with the scene of sparkling snowflakes. It was like that moment when you realize you’re the first kid outside on a snow day and your entire yard has yet to be touched. At one point I wiped out and laughed myself silly making a snow angel. Even in perfect weather, never before have I maneuvered two miles of trails with a smile that never left my face.

With every step each foot disappeared. Lifting my feet back up through ankle deep snow taxed my muscles like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Although I tried, sprinting up my favorite hill was impossible but even the slow climb blew out my calves and quads. My heart rate shot up and my legs were on fire. Labored steps that should have frustrated me encouraged me instead. The exercise was intense yet delightful. Compared to normal, I covered half as much ground but had twice the workout! My favorite part was considering how silly I would have looked simultaneously giggling and grunting had anyone else seen me but not a soul was in sight. The only human footprints I encountered today were mine.  I was alone – just me, my Creator, and His creation – yet instead of isolation I felt completely connected to the entire world. I let myself fully absorb the experience, taking it all in, marveling at my mere existence in such a mystical, wonderful place, grateful for the wisdom that guided all the choices which led to that moment. Immersed in the scene I searched for adequate words to describe what I felt.

Exhilaration. That’s it. Nothing else captures it.

So here I sit, exhausted, aching muscles from my unconventional workout, and yet all I can think about is doing this all over again tomorrow. Not because I need to shed these holiday pounds – true as that may be – but because the experience itself was so incredible. I’m pushing fifty yet today I was five again. The sun, the sparkling snow, the sights and sounds, the silliness of it all, left me humbled and inspired. Left me…exhilarated. And come on now. Seriously. How often can a person use that word and really mean it?

All About the Words

“You should write that down.”

Why do I hear that so often? Why do I say that so often? My love affair with the written word clearly needs an outlet. Some people think in pictures. I swear, I think in print. I often see my thoughts as words on a page. How weird is that?

I’ve journaled since I could write – even before I could write. My early childhood diaries looked like comic strips with tiny hieroglyphics and symbols I obviously believed were words. Every time I go back to take yet another college course it’s always something language related. I chat and text more than my teenage daughter. And my weekly staff memos read more like magazine articles than emails.

Let’s face it – I’m into words. They’re my thing.

I played around with publishing and that was fun. Successfully publishing two of my first three attempts should have ignited a fire but it kind of didn’t. Sure, I got to create this cool little pseudonym and brag and even got paid but, honestly, the experience left me a little flat. Like many new writers, I ran to every local book store to see my work in print and take pictures for my scrapbook but it wasn’t as rewarding as I expected. I still have several copies of each book but it’s not like I ever open them.

I think I’ve realized that for me it’s not about the paper; it’s about the words.Liberating

As a child of the ’70s and product of the ’80s I battle the ingrained notion that if it’s not edited, peer-reviewed, and published by Pearson then it doesn’t count; hence, my previous motivation to publish and nagging hesitance to blog. Many writers share the fear that the digital age and electronic media will be the end of the written word as we know it. With the exception of tabloids, being published used to mean something more than merely typing and posting. If words were in print, on paper, they were trusted and meaningful. Now everyone with Internet access is suddenly an author and many of them can’t even spell. Some don’t know to use you‘re instead of your and were absent the day students learned the difference between their, there, and they’re. Further verses farther isn’t even on their writing radar. But I have discovered the web-provided-all-access-publisher-pass is not necessarily a bad thing.

Eliminating the need to alter one’s words or follow conventional rules in order to please a publisher is liberating. I am the first to admit that electronic media has altered my writing style completely. Sometimes grammar goes right out the window for the sake of voice.

I. So. Get. That.

Grammatical disasters aside, there’s some serious expression happening on this World Wide Web.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been encouraged to write if for no other reason than because it brings me such joy. If my love affair is truly about the words then why not share them? If my motivation is not about paper, then why not self publish electronically? Truth is, I don’t write for reader validation; I write for me.

“For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

My heart is full of contemplation from my life’s experiences and my head is full of words. I need to get them out. If people find my words useful or entertaining then I’m glad I put this blog out there. If not, I hope they find something better to read; there is so much available! And if my words never get read at all, well, what difference does that really make to me?

This blog is not about money, status, attention, or making a statement. It’s just about my words. I have something to say and, because life is short, I’m going to say it.

Thanks for reading.