Simplest Way to Improve Your Life

By John R. Nocero, Jennifer Rawley, Molly Downhour & Patricia Graham

 “What’s The Simplest Way To Improve Your Life?

John: The simplest way to improve your life is to change your perspective and do something different. That’s it. You need to have a willingness to walk away from anything that does not suit you or your terms. That sounds selfish, but it is part defense mechanism, and partly because I don’t ever want to devalue myself. I am old enough where I should work with the best people and roll with the best people, in both my professional and personal life. If you are not the best to me, then you can roll with someone else. People are like seasons. Sometimes they leave and that’s okay – they leave room for something better to come. Sometimes they come back and your relationship is even better than before. That’s fantastic. I see myself as the driver of my own fun bus. If you want to jump on, great, you can ride with me. if not, that’s great too. If I can’t give you love, then I need to move it along. Either way, I still win. This is the absolute simplest way I know to make my life better.

Jen:  For me, improving my life simply was not always simple because I didn’t believe it possible. I had to first learn and implement some fundamental principles and then the floodgates opened for me. Regardless of the situation, expressing gratitude daily and serving others is life changing for me. Doing these two things results in immediate fulfillment like nothing else.  Whenever I feel down or upset about something, I seek out opportunities to find someone to thank, give a compliment, or ask if i can help them with something. Sometimes, when larger scale service opportunities are presented I am inclined to excuse myself as being “too busy”, and sometimes I do turn them down. However, I can honestly say each and every time that I have participated in a service venture, I leave wondering how I could ever have considered not going. I have energy, enthusiasm, and feel genuinely good about myself and the recipients.

“Regardless of the situation, expressing gratitude daily

and serving others is life changing …”

Some of my best memories and life-changing moments happened while providing service. My favorite was after Hurricane Katrina, while I was a pharmacy student in Atlanta, there was an opportunity to serve the thousands of displaced families from the areas hit. I worked with a team to temporarily set up a disaster clinic in a shopping center parking lot. We put hundreds of fold out tables and thousands of chairs all over and provided immediate medical screenings and prescriptions. Not only was it fascinating to see the work of many produce life changing (and even potentially life-saving) help, I was able to practice pharmacy in a way I haven’t since. Declaration of disaster laws allowed pharmacists and other medical professionals to practice at the height of our skill-set and beyond what our licensure typically allows. I learned so much in those few days. I went back and forth from doing patient screenings and prescriptions to running into the Kroger pharmacy and filling them. We provided all the services for free and several businesses, including Kroger who was my employer at the time, helped pay the bill. I also recall Chick-fil-a providing meals for everyone. That’s the great thing about service and thankfulness, they are endless as each prompts the other and can cause a domino effect. My few hours working as a pharmacist intern allowed me to serve others, better learn my craft, receive kindness from others such as the food, and thanks from those I helped. There is no feeling in the world like when I handed a mother of a small child anti-seizure medications they had left without, seeing the relief in her eyes and hearing her tearful heartfelt thanks. It made me feel like I changed her world, and it changed mine. If this isn’t life changing at its best and most simple, I don’t know what is.

Molly:  I love the topic “simplest way to improve your life” (as if it was ever that simple.) We all have responsibilities and basic needs that need to be satisfied for survival. With that in mind, my recommendation to improve your life is to surround yourself with positive people and minimize toxicity. For me, that means working with people that share my passion and support me as a colleague and friend. One of the core values in my company is locking arms to achieve goals together. I love that we are there for each other, even if we’ve never met. Just hearing the heart-filled stories about co-workers showing up for each other in times of need can give me the boost I didn’t know I needed. I look forward to our company newsletters to read and see pictures of my co-workers locking arms with each other and the community over and over again. When you work full time, work culture is everything. To improve your life, do a double check to make sure your work environment is the right fit for you and a positive one.

Trish:    I have an ongoing war with my brain trying to figure out just how to improve my life. I’ve been convinced…for a good while now…that if I can simplify my life, it will be a grand show of blissful happiness. My epiphany occurred several years ago when I was working on writing a thank you note and I trashed several versions because I was trying too hard to convey just the right message. I know we’ve all trashed a few thank you note versions, but I take my gorgeous must-be-monogrammed-stationary seriously and messing up even one piece ticks me off! Okay, so, back to the epiphany. My significant other was watching yet another one of my complicate-all-things-in-life-scenarios and he said, “Trish! Just write something simple-stupid!” With that, I knocked out a simple and effective thank you message and didn’t waste one more piece of my precious stationary! I remembered that “simple-stupid” came from a mentor of my significant other. The mentor said that leaders should approach every easy and difficult situation with simplicity in mind. He called the technique “simple-stupid” to remind himself that it is stupid to approach any situation without simplicity first.

As “simple-stupid” as this sounds, I find it hard to remind myself to approach daily life with simplicity. Instead of working hard to remind myself, I made a metallic gold sign that says, “Keep Life Simple” and hung it in my kitchen. I look at this sign daily and it helps remind me that I am not alone in my quest to improve my life and we all struggle with over complicating things. From writing thank you notes, having discussions with poor-performing subordinates, making sure the kids have everything they need for school, to finding time in your own schedule to just breathe for a moment, we must find ways to remind ourselves daily to simplify. Hmmm. Maybe I should ditch the fancy monogrammed stationary for a cute pack of dollar store thank you notes. It’s the simple and meaningful message that counts, right?


Love is a Verb

By John R. Nocero, Jennifer RawleyMolly Downhour & Patricia Graham

John: I saw a post here on LinkedIn that resonated with me. It was posted by Tiffany Beverlin, CEO and founder of Dreams Recycled. She titled it “Love Is A Verb,” meaning that love could be termed an action, such as setting and respecting your boundaries, knowing what you want and going after it, and not letting anything stand in your way. It doesn’t mean ramrodding over other people to get what you want, but it is okay if you stand up for yourself and what you want, and walking away from things you don’t. As Corey Wayne says, “any relationship is about giving. It is not about what you get. This goes for professional and personal relationships. By not only accepting and understanding this, your goal should be to be in a relationship with someone that you absolutely love, treasure, and adore. And that person can help you to understand how you can be the type of person that you are totally capable of being, and then even become that person. If the relationship reaches a point where it is no longer an opportunity for both people to continue growing together, then it’s time to move on.”

Indeed, love takes action, doing, it is indeed a verb. Question for my three friends, is love a noun or a verb and can you love at work? Not love like falling in love, though you could, but loving what you do?

Jen: By the rules of English grammar, love is a noun because it’s a “thing,” but arguably it requires action to maintain existence. Love without action will turn into something else, or fade away altogether. Can you love at work? Yes and you definitely should if you want to find enjoyment or fulfillment from work. Some people do fall in love with their profession, those they serve (as customers or employees) or fall in love with the joy the gain from the work they do. Psychology Today describes seven individual types of love, namely; eros (physical/passionate love), philia (friendship), storge (familial), agape (universal love, for nature, earth, etc), ludus (playful/noncommittal love), pragma (practical love), and philautia (self-love both healthy and unhealthy). You can read more here. Work related love can fall into several of these categories. Personally, I hit on three of them regularly – philia, agape and philautia. For instance, I create many friendships at work and within my professional network, thus philia. Agape is a major area, especially in healthcare where many of us are altruistic and very much concerned with the well-being of our fellow man. There is certainly an undeniable ‘euphoric high’ as the article describes, when I am able to truly help someone thru my work. Finally, there is a great deal of healthy self-love experienced, especially related to increased self-confidence as I/we grow in our professional paths. The best examples of love at work are when all three of these combine into a single outcome- when we work as friends towards improving the health or healing of our patients and experience the positive energy and self-love that comes from the experience.

Molly: I find that my initial gut reaction to questions like these are the most genuine. Off the cuff, my answer is that for me love at work is a verb and can be achieved. Like all relationships, the one with your work is complicated with many forces outside your influence and control. There are times we take roles that are less than ideal and only later do we realize the value it provided in shaping your career. My advice is to keep an open mind, develop relationships, and never burn a bridge. Also know your boundaries and when to move on. I’m intrigued by the articles on professional millennials, reporting they will leave a job and personal relationships when it is no longer “working for them.” I admire the millennial approach of knowing your boundaries and sticking to them, yet am sad that they may be missing opportunities to develop themselves. I fear millennials could be bailing early rather than getting involved and solving problems (an important skill that enhances our lives). Love takes work and warrants the effort even when the situation isn’t perfect. We spend a significant percent of our time at work. I choose to love it.

Trish: When I hear the words “Love is a verb,” I immediately think of how I was taught in elementary Language Arts class what a verb was: an action, work, movement, to do something, to put forth effort. I believe that in order to have meaningful and healthy love in our lives, we have to take action and work at love daily. To me, this applies at home and in the workplace. In his graduation speech to the Stanford University Class of 2005, Steve Jobs said these very important words about love, “You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” These words resonate with me. In both my personal and professional life, I’ve sought to find great love and keep it by showing appreciation and nurturing that love. We often forget what it was like when we first started working in a job we loved or started dating that amazing partner. We were inspired and passionate and put forth great effort. We felt and gave love. Keeping the same level and inspiration and passion takes even more effort. Love a noun? A person, place, or thing? No way! Love is definitely a verb!

Originally published on LinkedIN September 6th, 2018 by the “Four Friends”

No Negativity- Negative Trash

Originally published on LinkedIN on September 10, 2018 by the “Four Friends”

By John R. Nocero, Jennifer RawleyMolly Downhour and Patricia Graham

This week’s Topic: Negative Trash

John: Hating your work or your relationship doesn’t mean you suck. Everyone has positive and negative aspects to their day. This is normal. It just means that you have not found the right job or the right girlfriend (or boyfriend). It’s likely that you are the one holding yourself back. Sorry, yes, it’s true. When you change yourself, the right person will come into your life and those that are not meant to be there, will leave. When you want to change jobs, you focus on the jobs you want and the right job will be there when it is time. But don’t assume that all this is happening because you are an awful person. Yes, sometimes, we make poor choices, either getting into a relationship that is not good for us or making mistakes in our spending or working for the wrong employer, and it is painful, now we have to deal with the consequences. Emotions are very tricky like that. And what also makes it worse is that you don’t even know you have gotten in your own way. You are your own roadblock.

Question for my three friends and this may sting a bit but someone may be wondering this, so here goes: What do you do when your head is full of negative trash?

Jen:  When my head is swimming with negativity, trash or otherwise, I first try to slow down or stop digging the hole of self-pity any deeper. Once I gather myself, I will allocate a reasonable amount of time to continue worrying (aka stressing, explaining, dissecting, figuring out why…et al.). Once the time has passed, I force myself to snap out of it. It’s much easier said than done, but the alternative is to continue on in negative thoughts that are not going to improve my situation. I agree with John, for the most part we are a product of our own actions and living the consequences of our own decisions. In the professional world, this is very true in many aspects, especially in the US where we have freedom to move from or to any job as we please. We may think we lack this freedom, but that is our own minds working against us. For example, who doesn’t know someone that abhors their job? Yet they continue working at it with no obvious plans to make a change. They complain about their lot, but will cite any number of excuses to quit such as finances, location, schedules and more. It’s much easier to find an excuse or way out of doing something difficult than it is to strategize around the barriers. Herein lies the roadblock John mentions- we literally do it to ourselves.

For argument’s sake, I’m not lumping everyone into this category. I understand fully there are people struggling to get by, choosing to pay power bills over buying food or in similar situations where changing a job could be detrimental due to a lapse in pay. Rather, I’m speaking of the types of professionals I work with every day, that incorrectly lump themselves into that category. They theoretically could make it a month or two without pay if they had to, if the sacrifice of doing so could give them a better opportunity. I’m also not advocating for knee-jerk decisions or pulling a movie-worthy walkout. It’s okay to plan it out or strategize, in fact that’s the smartest thing to do, but you must have plans in place to take eventual action. Like so many other things, this comes down to self-control- if you cannot control your own thoughts or actions then the world will control them for you.

Molly: Negative trash is an evil villain that requires a variety of superheroes to conquer. Picture the Justice League or the Avengers. My group of superheroes include my husband, family, work friends, girlfriends, and mom friends. These superheroes provide honest feedback, perspective, advice, time to vent, and/or solutions to attack the evil perils of negative mind trash. Having a variety of superheroes in your village is key in order to customize the counter attack. For example, after a terrible work meeting I informed a colleague of how bad the meeting went and it was even worse since I was missing my youngest’s kindergarten holiday performance at school. My negative trash was telling me that not only was I bad at my job, but I was bad at my job and a bad mom. In true superhero fashion she simply asked what time was the performance. When I said in 15 minutes, she said you can make it. Just go. And I did. Not only did I get to watch my baby perform something resembling a festive tune (mostly adorably waving at me), I also got the needed distance from the stressful work meeting consuming way too much brain matter. The time traveling to and from the school was enough to give me the perspective on what I could have done differently and whether or not I owned the problem (which I did not). I came back to work with pictures/videos and a clear head to take on the next challenge. Negative mind trash is a worthy opponent looking to take and keep you down, but my superheroes have my back and I have theirs.

Trish:  What is negative trash? To me, negative trash is the many bad, evil, ugly, undesirable, harmful, destructive, and nasty things that we encounter on a daily basis. As I sift through the negative trash that I encounter each day, I recognize that there is some trash I choose to address and make better, and some I just leave in the trash bin and ignore. One important item on the daily negative trash list that seems to do the most damage is a negative thought that intrudes my thinking, planning and creative processes. Out of alllllllll the negative trash out there that we sift through in our daily lives, we can only control our own negative trash, right? So, what do I do to handle my negative thoughts? For one, I try to take a deep breath, consider the negative thought and quickly figure a way to minimize or narrow it down. I then move to looking at the possibilities of what can be done with the issue. How can I solve it quickly? What are my alternatives? I also take some time to reconsider the negativity. If I create a solution, was it as negative as I initially thought? I may even try to move toward putting a better spin on my issue or negativity. Maybe my issue would be solved if I worked with someone else to solve it. Maybe I would gain experience by working with someone that I haven’t worked with in the past. Sometimes, I even take a moment to consider what the people I most respect would think or how they would handle my negative trash issue. Ultimately, I ask myself am I holding myself to an insanely high standard and is that why I am allowing negative trash to intrude my thinking, planning and creative process? I am working to free myself of trying to achieve perfection by recognizing that my successes and positivity have come from my willingness to mess up, learn, and move on.