Everyday Black History Makers & Moments

lena horneBlack History Month has rolled back around. Gotta love it! It’s the time of year when we learn, or relearn, about great Black luminaries such as Carter G. Woodson, Madame C.J. Walker, Bayard Rustin or Fannie Lou Hamer. Children get to dress up as Malcolm X or Harriet Tubman for school presentations. For a full 28 days we are free to celebrate our greatness and can use hashtags like #BlackExcellence without receiving virtual side-eyes or comments like “but what about white excellence?” from all but the most blatantly racist folks.  For the most part, folks can freely celebrate Black people and their contributions to society with minimal disruption. Icing on the cake – we got a Lena Horne postage stamp!

As I thought about writing a post for Black History month I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go in. Do I write about my sheroes, like Shirley Chisholm or Eartha Kitt? Do I write about how we can celebrate Black History Month in the workplace? Both good ideas. But for some reason my mind kept going back to my Dad. My Dad and Black history and workplace shenanigans. So here goes.

Deep in a Maryland forest, George Rasberry sits on an upturned pail and peers through a camera with a calibrated lens at the trees above him. He is measuring the leaf coverage present at each level of the forest. Here and there in the wilderness, buckets are placed to catch samples of the leaves. These reveal what species are in the canopy and how much it grows annually. 

So begins the article, “Uncovering the Secrets of Forest Canopies” in the July 1999 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. The article goes on to discuss some more science and forest canopy* stuff that, to be honest, isn’t that interesting to me despite its importance. Scroll, scroll, scroll down to the part that discusses the difficulty of studying a forest canopy because of the difficulty in getting to it. They could use a crane (expensive,) build a tower (can only access one place and skews observations,) OR they could use the balloons. The balloons that were invented by my Dad!

These refrigerator-size helium bags were invented by George Rasberry. They can take light sensors and measuring devices up into the trees and reach all sorts of odd places. They also can be raised gradually to take measurements from the ground up to the top of the canopy. And they are cheap.

canopy (2)

Horrible pic, I know, but it’s the only one I could find.

You may be wondering what this has to do with Black history. He didn’t cure cancer. He didn’t win a celebrated award. But Black history (history in general) is made every day in big, medium and small ways. To my mind, inventing a tool you and other scientists can use to do necessary research is pretty darn historical. I’m grateful to Smithsonian Magazine for acknowledging my Dad’s invention. Especially because he was only credited as a “contributor” in all the scientific journal articles I found about it, while his “colleague” got top billing. Which leads me to the topic of Black folks doing work that white folks later get credit for. But that’s fodder for another post.

Happy Black History Month! Read. Learn. Share. Celebrate!

Don’t forget to acknowledge the everyday Black history makers and moments. There are so many folks who have contributed to society and some how made the world better whose names we don’t hear, whose faces we don’t see and whose sacrifices we don’t know.

 

*The forest canopy is home to a majority of earth’s species. It combs pollutants out of the air, takes energy from the sun and in general controls the exchanges of energy or heat, and material, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor.

The Happiness Advantage (I Just Wanna Be Successful)

All I really want, is to be happy...” 

When the Queen of Hip-hop Soul, Mary J. Blige, sang those words in 1994 (when I was but a wee babe,)  she was referring to a romantic relationship but as it turns out happiness also gives us an advantage when it comes to being successful. And who doesn’t want that? Everybody wants that!

“I just wanna be, I just wanna be successful.. – Drake & Trey Songz, 2009

I recently watched Shawn Achor‘s TEDTalk on the happiness advantage (specifically the connection between happiness and success) in preparation for seeing him at the WorkHuman conference in April. He was super engaging and funny and made me really look forward to his keynote address.  I enjoy when people use humor to provoke thought.

You may not know this about me, but I’m lowkey obsessed with psychology. Why we are how we are. Why we do what we do. Why we think how we think. That type of thing. Mental illness, personality types.. the list goes on. I’ve also suffered from a major depressive disorder for the majority of my life. So, while it sounds good, I’ve never really been a fan of the whole “thinking happy thoughts will make you happy” mantra. However, this talk on positive psychology spoke to me. This piece in particular stood out:

“It’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us but the lens through which your brain views the world shapes your reality. 90% of long term happiness is predicted by the way your brain processes the world.” 

Well, damn. 90%!

Of course I’ve heard some variation on this theme before but, maybe it was his delivery, maybe I was more receptive because I was sleep deprived, I don’t know but suddenly it felt like a weight had been lifted and a light bulb had been illuminated. This little nugget nearly took me over the edge:

“The absence of disease is not health.”

It was like free therapy!

Achor posits, based on research, that by doing the following every day for 21 days we can create lasting positive change:

  • 3 Gratitudes – new ones each day
  • Journaling – 1 positive thing
  • Exercise – teaches us our behavior matters
  • Meditation – calms down our brains
  • Random (or Conscious) Acts of Kindness – suggests sending a positive email to one person in your network daily

If you follow me on Twitter, and you should, you already know I’m a huge proponent of the WorkHuman conference and movement. I planned  to attend even before the speakers were announced. Knowing there will be speakers of this caliber makes it that much better. If you’re not there, you’ll wish you were and life is too short for regrets.

Join me in Austin, TX this April! I guarantee you’ll leave uplifted and inspired to not only be your best self but to share what you’ve learned at work and with others so they will feel inspired and empowered to be their best, whole selves as well. Registration rates increase February 1 so don’t wait. Use code WH18INF-TRA for $100 off your registration fee. Happiness, success AND money savings – don’t say I never gave you anything. 🙂

#NotAThoughtLeader

*DISCLAIMER: To be clear, I am in no way, shape or form, saying, indicating or otherwise implying that positive thinking “cures” depression or anything of that nature. I only mentioned it for context.

Your Real Job in Life… 

This may seem corny, but my office is covered in motivational sayings and images. I put them up for myself but also for my colleagues. I figure we can all use a little motivation at any given moment. I know I can! People often say to me some variation of “I like coming in your office. It’s always so positive/uplifting/cozy. ” I’m glad.

I was scrolling through Twitter during my commute to work and this quote really spoke to me. I’m going to add it to the collection. We tend to focus so much on the work we’re paid to do and not enough on the work we’re meant to do – unless you’re lucky enough (or have been able to design your life in such a way) that they are one and the same.
I encourage everyone to focus on discovering your life’s purpose. Perhaps more importantly, do not assume that what you are currently doing to pay the bills is it.

 

You Better Recognize! (Giving Thanks)

tgiving quote

Thanksgiving is the time of year when people are given a free pass to overindulge – in the name of gratitude. We sit around the table with family and friends and spend the day eating.* And eating. And more eating. Often before the first bite of food is taken, attendees are asked to take turns saying what they are thankful/grateful for. Responses usually range from “this food” to “my family/friends/health, etc.” It really depends on the family and their culture/traditions as to how “deep” the responses will be, or if the question will be asked at all. It’s the same for organizations. An organization’s culture will determine the extent to which gratitude is valued and practiced. Healthy, positive work environments  will have gratitude and recognition as an integral part of their culture.

We hear a lot about how important it is to have an “attitude of gratitude.” Some people believe being grateful for and recognizing what you have (as opposed to focusing on what you don’t have) leads to you receiving more of the goodness the universe has to offer. Regardless of your belief system, the same holds true in the workplace. Being grateful for and recognizing what we have in our people results in better morale, productivity, engagement, retention, etc. In other words – all the goodness.

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Formal recognition programs and web-based recognition platforms are great to have. They really are. But don’t let the lack of either be an excuse for not recognizing your people and showing them gratitude for sharing their unique talents and skill sets to benefit your organization. A simple, genuine “thank you” goes a long way. Another sometimes overlooked way to show gratitude is by investing in your people. Providing and encouraging professional development opportunities shows that you value and appreciate the people who work for you. This is important for every organization but it is vital in organizations that lack upward mobility/promotion potential. If you can’t recognize a person through a raise or promotion, at the very least, they should have other growth opportunities.

Don’t take people for granted and assume that because they show up every day, all is well. Tell people they’re doing a great job. Tell people you’re happy to have them working for you. Tell people you’re glad they chose your organization to work for. Say “good morning” when you pass people in the hallway. Treat people with respect. Always.

I know no one wants to think about work-y type stuff on a holiday. I get it. But when you’re back in the office, after you’ve filled your stomach to capacity, binge watched at least one show on Netflix and thought about what/who you’re grateful for in your personal life, remember that it’s just as important to show gratitude at work.

Be grateful for your work. I’m talking about beyond the basic “I’m just grateful to have a job.” Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been there before too. I’m not talking about that though. I’m talking about the thing that brings you joy that your job allows you to do. I get joy from helping others, so I remind myself to be grateful for the opportunities I have as an HR professional to help people. Whatever YOUR thing is, the thing that brings you joy at work, be grateful for that. Most importantly, show gratitude for the people you work with. To (very loosely) paraphrase Jay-Z, they could be at any job in the world that day, but they’re there with you. Appreciate it. GIVE THANKS. 

BONUS: In case you needed more of a reason. Do it for your health.

Gratitude_Infographic_v3

*Author’s Note: I realize this is not everyone’s Thanksgiving experience. Please don’t take offense if it is not yours. Maybe you don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving. That’s cool too. The rest of the post will still be relevant to you. – TMR

#NotAThoughtLeader

 

Let’s Start with Decency

Lately I have engaged in several conversations (online and IRL) surrounding race, racism, diversity and inclusion, as I’m sure many of you have, given today’s political and social climate. These conversations have been with friends, colleagues and fellow HR professionals. Thankfully I associate with some pretty intelligent, thoughtful, decent individuals who can discuss heated topics without becoming heated (passionate maybe, but not heated) and/or resorting to insults or name-calling. Thankfully. But for many, these types of conversations can often devolve into a free-for-all that becomes focused on the individual rather than on the topic. Or facts.

decency4During these conversations I’ve heard many stories of “true colors” being shown by folks people considered friends or at least decent associates. It seems this past presidential election and the current White House inhabitant have made vile and divisive words and actions against the “other” (race, gender, physical ability, sexuality, you name it) more acceptable and folks are feeling free to let their bigotry flag fly. Nowhere does that flag fly higher than online where folks develop superhero levels of courage from behind the keyboard. What does this say about us as a society? What does it mean for us in the workplace? What does it mean for HR professionals? More pointedly, what impact do these beliefs, when held by HR professionals, have on the rest of us?

If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager who believes black people are intellectually inferior, or that immigrants don’t deserve to be here, or that homosexuality is a sin, or that people with disabilities are somehow less than capable, or that women should stay home barefoot and pregnant, that has to affect your decisions in the workplace, right? How could it not?

If you’re a speaker who speaks on HR topics at conferences, or a consultant, or write an HR blog, how do your views not seep into your work? And if they don’t what type of a psychopath are you? I jest. But, seriously.

This topic is heavy on my mind. Not just because I’m headed to SHRM’s Diversity & Inclusion Conference next week (yay!) But also because I feel this pattern of hateful thoughts, beliefs and discourse will only get worse before it gets better. On a grand scale. However on a smaller scale, on the scale that is within my own little sphere of influence, I commit to do my part to make the world, the HR profession and the workplace a better place to be. For everyone.

I’m far from perfect but I know I’m a good, decent person and I truly believe all of this starts from there. Decency, empathy, and compassion are the building blocks of humanity. The more we infuse those into HR, it will in turn have an impact on our workplaces (WorkHuman, anyone?) which are composed of individuals who are a part of the world community. It’s all connected.

I know this was a bit of a ramble but thank you for making it this far. More to come!

(Posted on SHRM Blog October 23, 2017)

 

Your (HR) Voice Matters

This post is inspired by a Twitter conversation – as so many things are. I have an awesome Twitter tribe of HR professionals (#TwitterHR) that I interact with on a regular basis and many of them also have blogs (#HRBloggers.) Some are seasoned bloggers, others are newbies and others, like myself, fall somewhere in between. I’ve been blogging for YEARS in various iterations on various topics, but this blog is relatively new.

So I’m checking the timeline earlier and I see a tweet from Steve Browne asking us to share the HR blogs we’ve been reading. As tends to happen when Steve makes a request, the responses were fast and furious. I’m honored that this blog was mentioned by some along with others I knew about and others I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading. This got me thinking – Wow. There really are A LOT of HR bloggers out there. It’s overwhelming. Then one of my HR tweeps (Twitter peeps) mentioned she wants to write a blog about everyday HR practitioner struggles as opposed to strategic HR and the other typical HR blog fare. I’m of a similar mindset but I often struggle with thinking “who really wants to read this?

sayitWhen I wrote a lifestyle blog there was less pressure to “inform.” I was just sharing my world and it was fun. However, in the realm of “professional blogs” I find myself wondering “Do I really need to add my voice to this? How many HR voices are too many? Nobody has time to read ALL the blogs; why would they read mine? Is it OK to sometimes just talk, not teach?” Yet when my friend said she wanted to write an HR blog just to vent, I told her every blog is different and everyone has a different point of view worth sharing. I realized I was talking to myself as much as I was talking to her.

ginsberg

I have so many posts in draft status because I convince myself that it’s not important enough or timely enough or it’s been written about already, etc. I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself as well as to anyone else who may have the same struggle that it’s fine to just do you. Not everyone is going to be a HUGE blogging star. Not everyone even wants to be (though a lot of people probably do. LOL.) It’s SO easy to get caught up in followers and retweets and building your personal brand and trying to be seen as a “thought leader” or “subject matter expert.” Don’t get me wrong, those things ARE important to a degree. But sometimes you just want/need to get the thoughts out of your head and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, you could keep them to yourself, but what fun is that?

So my message to you (and to myself) is YOUR HR VOICE MATTERS. They say there’s a lid for every pot, so there must also be a reader for every blog too, right? You won’t get every one but you’ll get the right ones i.e. the ones who find something special/interesting/inspiring about your voice and point of view. Let’s do this!

 

#SHRM17 – ALL IN(SPIRED)

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Beignets from Sunday brunch at Blake’s on Poydras. DELICIOUS!

SHRM 2017 ended last week and I’m experiencing withdrawal. The people, the sessions, the music, the BEIGNETS! What’s not to love? If you missed it, you missed something big. Literally. It was the biggest SHRM conference ever! Between the concurrent sessions, the Smart Stage, the Take 10s and the General Sessions, you could soak up a wealth of information without even trying.

 

Many of the sessions I attended shared the common theme of building trust, shifting culture, HR influence and putting people first. This was deliberate as these are topics that really speak to me and that I believe in fully. (Full disclosure: I ended up in Richard Fagerlin’s session because I was tired of walking that behemoth of a convention center. It was a great session though and I’m glad I attended it.)

I have a ton of takeaways from SHRM17. (I concur with Steve Browne’s statement that if you leave a session without any takeaways, it’s YOUR fault, not the speaker’s.) Some of my favorites are below.

TRUST YOUR PEOPLE.

laszloIf you believe people are fundamentally good, you will treat them that way. (Laszlo Bock)

How many times have you encountered designated leaders who don’t trust the people they hire to do their jobs? You know who I’m talking about. The folks who want to micromanage their employees to death. Perhaps you are (gasp!) one of those people. If you are, stop it right now! That’s no way to inspire or motivate folks to be productive.

Another great Bock statement: FREEDOM IS FREE. Meaning, it costs nothing for you to allow your employees the freedom and autonomy to be effective. Let’s face it – if you don’t trust the people you hire, that says way more about you than it says about them.

CULTURE IS THE SUM OF WHAT YOU PERMIT AND WHAT YOU PROMOTE.

culture

Another way to think about culture. Steve Browne said this in his session as well.

Consider the mic dropped.  This comment on culture from Richard Fagerlin’s session, Creating a Culture of High Trust : 10 Things Every Organization Must Do to Experience High Trust was probably my most retweeted tweet from the conference. Obviously it resonates.

 

We’ve all seen it. You have an organization that prides itself on its core values of  <insert  buzzwords of the moment> but in practice it’s a whole different story. They say they believe in diversity & inclusion, but the leadership team looks the same and thinks the same. They say they believe in innovation but new ideas are always shot down. They say harassment won’t be tolerated but a known harasser gets promoted because they are a high performer. They say they believe in work/life balance but pitch a fit if an employee has to leave early. I call shenanigans! Your culture isn’t what you say it is, it’s what it is.

Another good Fagerlin quote: EVERY ORGANIZATION IS PERFECTLY DESIGNED TO GET THE RESULTS IT GETS. Just let that marinate for a minute while thinking about some of your past (maybe present) work experiences. It’s all starting to make sense now, right? #MajorKey

THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE, NOT AUTHORITY.* 

20170626_172813In her session, Influencing Others: 8 Steps to Get Results When You Don’t Have Direct AuthorityValerie Grubb spoke about how to influence others when you don’t have direct authority. Again, this really boiled down to trust. Trust and communication style.

In order to influence someone when you don’t have authority over them i.e. when you can’t say “because I said so,” they have to trust you (see above) and you have to communicate concisely. Speak to the WHY of what you’re trying to accomplish and gain a reputation for getting to the point. This is something I really need to practice. I can get wordy at times. (Don’t say it. LOL. Just keep reading.) WHEN TRYING TO INFLUENCE SOMEONE THEY HAVE TO HEAR YOU FIRST. If they don’t trust you, chances are they aren’t listening.

DON’T KEEP FOLLOWING THE RULES; CHANGE THEM!

20170626_172212You probably guessed this quote came from Steve Browne without me having to say it. He has a bit of a reputation as a rule breaker. In a good way. Make that a GREAT way. Steve is so freakin’ inspirational and his passion for HR and people is contagious.

I attended Steve’s Brand Name HR: Giving Your Function Life & Purpose session. He spoke a lot about pushing boundaries and not letting yourself (and your career) be confined to what HR is “supposed to do” or “should be doing.” We need to challenge the status quo and not be afraid to shake things up for the betterment of the folks we’re here to support.

We can’t be afraid to bring our whole selves to work and we must encourage others to do the same.  We spend too much time at work to have to shut off or hide major parts of ourselves during the workday. For example, I like to change my hair color a lot and I have visible tattoos. Neither of which impacts my ability to do my job. Get over it.

Steve also talked about HR being out and among the people as opposed to always making them come to us. I’m proud to say I do a pretty good job of this. The people are the reason I do what I do. Why would I want to keep my distance from them? I have never been “Ms. Stuffy, Scary, Uncaring HR lady” and I never will be. Let’s not be confined by others’ preconceived notions of HR. IF YOU’RE NOT MAKING PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE YOU’RE NOT DOING YOUR JOB. (Thanks for the reminder, Steve!)

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IRL connection w/ @tgweeded – photobomb courtesy of @cescobar78

This was just a small taste of my #SHRM17 experience. There’s no way I can cover it all in one blog post. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how fabulous and fun it was to make IRL connections with the folks I know from #nextchat. (Not familiar? Get into it! Every Wed. 3pm EST on Twitter.) It was so great to put a human-sized face to a tiny Twitter avatar face and take our conversations offline. That was easily one of the best parts of the conference.

 

So SHRM17 has come and gone. Beignet cravings notwithstanding, I’m excited about sharing and implementing what I learned and continuing to connect with other HR professionals, online and off. I went ALL IN and came out truly INspired. Kudos to the entire SHRM team for a WONDERFUL conference!! I hope to see everyone at #SHRM18 next year. (I wonder if there’s any chance of having a batch of beignets shipped to Chicago.) 

BONUS ROUND: If you attended SHRM17, share your favorite part in the comments and/or reach out to me on Twitter @tmrasberry.

*Ken Blanchard quote

(Posted on SHRM Blog June 28, 2017)

#WorkHuman? How Else Are We Gonna Work?

20170605_014829If you follow me on Twitter (and you should 🙂 ) you know I spent the better part of last week attending the WorkHuman conference in Phoenix, AZ. I expected it to be good but it shattered my expectations. The event was AMAZING and I am very much looking forward to being able to attend WorkHuman 2018.

I chose to attend sessions that focused on communication, authenticity, gratitude, recognition, diversity and inclusion. I took copious notes and tweeted some key takeaways. (See below; I was kind of a big deal. Lol.)

day3wh

I learned too much and gained too much inspiration from WorkHuman to contain it all in one blog post. Consider this compilation of some of my favorite quotes  as part one of a series.

Have the courage to speak softly.Susan Cain, Author & Lecturer

We all want the same things in life, to be seen and appreciated for who we are.Chaz Bono, Actor & Advocate (The title of this post also references a Chaz Bono quote.)20170605_014136

In a culture where people can only bring solutions, you won’t hear about the biggest problems. – Adam Grant, Author & Professor

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Have people stay in their lanes if that’s where they show excellence.  –  John Baldino, President, Humareso

At the end of the day we’re all humans. Treat everyone as individuals and the workplace will benefit.Dan Schawbel,  Workplace Expert

At the end of the day people want to have pride in what they do.Chinwe Onyeagoro, President, Great Place to Work

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More WorkHuman goodness to come!

Life Lesson: Gratitude

happiness-via-gratitude-quote_daily-inspirationI have a wall hanging next to my bed that reads “Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart.” I placed this next to my bed so that I couldn’t help but see it every morning. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day drama of work, family and other responsibilities that we might forget to be grateful for our life experiences, relationships, lessons learned, skills & talents, etc.

At the WorkHuman conference I attended last week, they had an area called the ‘Gratitude Bar.’ The purpose of this was to recognize other people who were in some way helpful to you during the conference. There were four categories in which you could recognize someone: Happiness, Enlightenment, Inclusion and Authenticity. The idea was to show gratitude by recognizing someone in the moment. This concept was designed to replicate social recognition in the workplace.

How often do you take the time show gratitude in either your personal or professional life? It’s important for our own well-being to BE grateful but it’s equally important for our interactions and relationships with others to SHOW gratitude.

In the workplace, employee recognition has a significant impact on employee engagement and happiness as well as retention.  One of the WorkHuman sessions I attended was titled “Isn’t Thank You Enough?” The answer is no. A thank you is better than no thank you but after a while a thank you alone is meaningless.

By implementing gratitude into company culture, employees are more willing to spread their positive feelings with others, whether it’s helping out with a project or taking time to notice and recognizing those that have gone the extra mile. Employee recognition and appreciation can also create unique company culture and strengthen employee relationships.- The Psychological Effects of Workplace Appreciation & Gratitude, O.C. Tanner

Your assignment today folks, is to practice an attitude of gratitude in both word and deed. Let me know how it goes.

Life Lesson: Affirm Yourself

abundance

I chose this affirmation to post because every day we have the opportunity to share our gifts at work. You may not consider being a great listener, being an effective communicator, having a good sense of humor, or being able to empathize etc. as gifts but they are. Affirm yourself.

If you’ve ever taken a ride in an Uber or Lyft you know that each ride is different. The driver can be a chatterbox or let you ride in peace & quiet. The radio can be tuned to anything from r&b to 80s rock to news radio. The car can be clean & comfortable or quite questionable. It runs the gamut. I’ve certainly met my fair share of characters on these rides and had some interesting experiences. This morning was a good one though. My driver happened to be a certified life coach. As in that was her actual job, not just something she called herself. She told me I was her last ride before she went to work – to be a life coach. As we got to talking, I realized I was in her car for a reason.

Long story short, we got to talking about the universe and energy and affirmations. I know you want to roll your eyes here, but listen. She shared examples with me of clients who had begun using positive affirmations to manifest their destinies and had experienced real change. This resonated with me because I have a habit of focusing on what I don’t have instead of what I have. This is a bad habit to have because as the Law of Attraction teaches us, you attract what you put out. When I got to work a colleague told me she has made the decision to pursue her dreams of helping others live authentically. I felt like the universe was not just sending me a sign but hitting me over the head with it.

I say all this to say, in a world where things often seem out of our control – work stuff, family stuff, state of the country/world stuff – we have to remember to affirm ourselves and speak abundance into our lives. We have to speak as though we already have everything we need. I know this may sound strange to some folks and I have trouble with it myself at times. But honestly, it has worked for everyone I know who does it.

So your mission today folks, is to affirm yourself. Whatever it is you want/need – more money, a different job, better relationships, etc. – create an affirmation for it (you can Google examples if you find it hard to come up with something.) Speak these affirmations daily. And if you really want to do something great, affirm someone else while you’re at it. Show your appreciation for something a friend, co-worker, family member has done for you or that helped you in some way. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it, but even if they don’t, feel good about it anyway.