Bulletin Board Of Inspired Quotes


Last week I had a moment of inspiration while spending some time in our Resource Centre. Just like you; just like anyone I suppose, that moment came where I thought, “I wonder if other people will think as much of this idea as I do; it has a lot of potential.”

Now ours is a place to go exclusively for those in receipt of Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program social assistance programs. So essentially those who make use of it may be there for a number of reasons. Some look for jobs, housing, attend workshops and seminars or get help finding community services. Others use it as a place to network, socialize, have someone they can trust hear them out, make a phone call or use the fax/copy services. We attract a variety of purposes, even though our centre is at present limited to these two groups.

At the rear of our drop-in Resource Centre are 5 boards we’ve typically used in the past to put up the latest job postings. Observation of these boards has suggested that while some people continue to scan them for employment possibilities, more and more users tend to sit down at one of the 20 computers we have and look for jobs themselves; finding them as they are posted throughout a day.

This has led our team to re-examine the effectiveness of having all 5 of these boards filled with jobs and duplicating what people find themselves. I stood looking at an empty board the other day and thought about what I or we could do with that board other than job opportunities. Then it came to me. I’d search online for motivational quotes and stick them up on the board with the invitation to take whatever a person wanted or needed. But would it work?

I began by turning to the internet and went to Bing. Sorry Google, but I’m a Bing man. I searched, “Quotes with pictures” and clicked on Images which gave me the result of photographs and illustrations with various motivational or insightful quotes overlaid on them. These I scanned, choosing the ones I thought might particularly appeal to the audience they would attract.

Characteristically, the people who would stand before this board might be unemployed, anxious, perhaps lacking career direction, feeling despair, loneliness, isolation, depression, dwindling hope, low self-esteem, medically and mentally fragile and frustrated. On the other hand they may also be resilient, determined to succeed, need support, adaptable, hopeful, open to change and thankful.

When I found a quote I liked and hoped might speak personally to someone in a public space, I saved the photo to the computer I was on and then copied and pasted the photo/quote to a Word document I called, “Quotes with pictures”. Yes, painfully obvious; but that’s what file names are supposed to be right?

Then it was left to me to print several pages of these gather quotes with pictures and make sure they were of various sizes, so they’d appeal more to the eye as a collage and not looking too institutionalized. With 7 or 8 pages of these quotes, I cut them all to size and pinned them to the board, taking care to ensure they were randomly placed by theme, size and image. In the center of the board I placed, “Please Take What You Need”; an invitation to help yourself to anyone looking.

That was just Friday last and yesterday combined. With anything new, you’ve got two choices; direct people who don’t notice to what you’ve done or allow people to discover what’s new on their own. In a place like ours, people can get robotic; come in, do their thing, leave, return, repeat. I opted to let people go the self-discovery way. After all, I didn’t want people to feel they had to compliment me on the board, nor did I want people to feel they should take something just to please me.

I was delighted to later have a fellow come up to me with 7 or 8 of the quotes in his hand and double-check to see if he really could take them with him or if he was expected to photocopy what he took and replace them. When I told him to help himself; that they were there for the taking, he smiled and appeared quite happy. I could have asked why those 7 or 8. I could have looked at them to know which ones to replace. I could have started data collecting to see what speaks to people and then use that information to start conversations with people on whatever they wanted to talk about. I didn’t do any of these things. I replaced the quotes with more.

If you like this idea or some resemblance of it, feel free to duplicate it all or in part and adapt it to your space and your audience. You can also search by topic: leadership, hope, goal setting, courage, team work, strength, wisdom – the list is only as long as your own imagination. There’s other ways of arriving at the same finished products too; you could make your own quotes and insert them as text over your own photos. You could also use a colour printer. Or what about one colour photo in a sea of black and white ones – just to see the impact?

Conversation starter or source of inspiration; my share with you to start August 2017.

A Valuable Workplace Activity


Passing on ideas to each other in the workplace is a pretty easy activity that accelerates learning and does so quickly and at relatively low-cost. The fact that its quick is important because reducing time increases savings, and if others already know information you’d have to hunt down, it can make you more productive in the short as well as long-term.

Over the next week one of my fellow employees and I are co-facilitating a workshop on building a virtual tool box. What’s in the toolbox? Cartoons, quotes, videos, articles, Prezi’s, speeches, lectures and more. Facilitating the process of collaboratively building our toolbox is the method we chose to go about it, and not presuming to be the only experts in the room and sharing only what we know.

By way of example, here is what we’re doing. We’re bringing together hosting 6 groups of about 20 staff each who hold various job titles; seating no more than 5 people at a table. On each table we have a laptop with internet access and MS Word. If you haven’t got access to Word, you don’t need it specifically; but you’ll need some word processing program to copy and paste to that will allow everyone to save their work on.

The first thing you should know is that we’re gathering these people together for in our case, an hour and fifteen minutes. While the time could be longer, its sufficient time for people to get into what we’re talking about and then end the session while interest is still peaking. The last thing you’d want I imagine is to drag out an exercise to the point where the audience is bored, ready to move on but the facilitators don’t seem to be in sync and what was fun and new turns into something akin to tooth extraction; painful.

First the two of us introduced the idea of the virtual tool box which one can carry wherever there’s internet access and computer availability. Carry a phone around with you and it could work, but ideally we’re talking laptop, desktop, large fixed monitors or I suppose tablets etc. In other words, large enough a group of people could see a screen without too much straining around a tiny screen.

In our presentation, we shared the idea of what we were doing and that in the end there would be a real tangible benefit for each participant. Each person receives no handouts during the presentation, but will in the end get the total of everything the 6 groups produces. Think of that; in our case we have six groups of 20 people – so 120 people’s collaborative work produced in a unified document and available to all. If 2 heads are better than 1, imagine the impact and value of having 120 people come together! Not bad considering everyone is contributing just over 1 hour of their time.

We begin with inviting each group to think of an audience in their workplace; will it be their colleagues at a team meeting where they are making a presentation, a client group, customers, maybe a management team. Wherever you work, think of those you might come into contact with; don’t neglect to think of yourself too. After all, you can benefit from watching a video, being drawn to a quote, finding meaning and relevance in a speech, being motivated by someone’s story etc. as much as anyone else.

Now once those at the table agreed on a potential audience for this exercise, (giving each group 30 seconds to decide on one), everyone is ready for the next stage; thinking about what you’d like to share with that target. So are you looking to motivate, help them problem solve, dress appropriately, work better together, understand a concept, aspire to consider possibilities etc.?

With your audience and what you want to communicate with in mind, each group is then turned loose on a single laptop on their table to explore the internet and find things having to do with what they want to share with the audience they selected. Maybe they find a TedTalk, an image with a quote, a cartoon or still image that is the inspiration for a conversation; anything that will spark dialogue, start a conversation and help deliver a point.

Now the MS Word document I referred to near the beginning is really for each group to copy and paste the URL’s into; noting the subject of the link as well. At the end of the hour and 15 minutes, each group may have 3 – 10 links which they’ve found, settled on and saved in the document. With 6 groups of people contributing, we could well end up with 18 – 60 links to ultimately share to the collective participants in the coming days after the last group participates.

We are encouraging each person upon receipt of this to spend some time opening up the links to see what’s there. Some will speak directly to them and they’ll find them helpful, while others won’t strike a chord. The ones that are helpful would be good to save in their personal, ‘Favourites’ on the internet. Why? These can then be accessed when wanted and quickly, grouped by topic in folders.

Now they have tools to use for the next team meeting, their own training events, working 1:1 with a client or customer, participant or a management group.

Feel free to copy our example, change it for your own workplace. Shared knowledge is a good thing.

Some Words To Work By


Having worked in the field of Social Services for many years, I can acknowledge quite openly that the way I think and interact with my clients and co-workers has changed over the years. Call it maturity, wisdom, experience, even trial and error, but I like to think it’s a sign of growth and continuous understanding. Many have guided me along.

And so, I would like to pass on some thoughts and advice to anyone interested; whether you are a client, a customer, a seasoned professional or just launching your career, I hope you’d agree that sharing such information might prove a good read and useful. Take what you will, leave the rest, add your own as you choose.

Listen attentively in order to determine exactly where your clients are in this moment.

Don’t assume the goals you’d have in someone else’s place will be theirs.

Be forgiving of those who fall short. Find the positives in what they did and start anew.

Surround yourself with positive people whenever you can; you’ll be happier.

Trust in your Supervisor when you’re asked to. Leave things with them.

Be observant, learn from everyone. Your teacher might be a client with a problem.

Build a personal code of ethics and follow your moral compass. It always points North.

Share what you can with those at any and all levels who are open to learning.

You’re skimming without reflecting. Pause, reflect, consider.

Make sure you only hit, “Reply All” when it’s appropriate.

If you are in a position of influence, do so with the best of others in mind.

Do your best whether you run a corporation or dig ditches. Take pride in your work.

If the job isn’t for you, get out without regret over money or benefits. Save yourself.

Hope is sometimes all people have; you may in their eyes be that Hope. Think on that.

Be consistent with your answers and your actions. That’s your reputation growing.

Work productively when no one is watching and a lesser you could get away with it.

Be a person of integrity; you’ll come to admire the person you see in the mirror.

Humour can lighten many a stressful situation.

Smiles cost nothing to give and often have the power to appear on others when given.

Be a Superhero and discover your super power.

Offer to help a co-worker when you can, learn to ask for help when you should.

If you’re lowest on the hierarchy, you influence the people who matter the most.

Dress yourself not for your current job, but for the job you eventually want.

Be kindest to the people who are most affected by the quality of your work.

Even when you are at the top of an organization, you needn’t look down at people.

Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.

Being asked for help is acknowledgement of your ability to provide it.

Do what’s right; always.

Be punctual at all times which respects the time of others.

Apologize when you make a mistake. It takes two words; “I’m sorry.” Done.

When you say, “Good morning”, mean it.

If you ask someone, “How are you today?” wait for the answer.

No matter how much you know, you’ll never know it all; keep learning anyhow.

Every now and then, stretch yourself and try something challenging.

Get out into the sun and clear your head. Breathe in some good air. Repeat.

Every so often, “No” is the word you are looking for.

There’s always a way to say, “Yes”. “Is there the will?” is the question.

Re-read your job description at least once a year. Surprise yourself.

Thank the person with a note who cleans your office. Surprise them.

Be considerate of others who share your workspace.

Others have to find their way just as you did. Let them make small mistakes.

People are counting on you; don’t let yourself down.

Be proud of the scars. You survived whatever assaulted you.

Get help before things completely fall apart. Know your limit.

Kind words build good working relationships.

Be someone to look up to even when you’re at the bottom.

Market yourself, promote your skills and abilities.

Your next job interview has already begun. Someone is always watching.

Get over yourself; others can replace you and maybe do things better.

On your very first day, think what they’ll say about you when you retire.

Know when it’s time to move on and have the courage to leap.

Even in bad times, see the bigger picture.

Every so often, get up and watch the day break over you.

There is usually at least one other solution than the one that you know.

People are entitled to hold their own opinion.

As you age, realize things aren’t black and white, right and wrong.

You can make a difference, and it always starts between the ears.

I certainly don’t mean to come across as a philosopher or a preacher. The ideas and thoughts above are just this mornings thoughts passed on for you to take in, think about, possibly act on or share.

You I’m sure have your own intelligence, wisdom, advice and suggestions which are also valuable. And so, I would encourage you to pass that on to your clients, your peers and me. There is much to be said for learning things on your own, trial and error etc., but advice offered is a valued gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Do With All Those Quotes?


You see them everywhere; on posters attached to beautiful images, in hallways in offices, all over the internet, and in some publications – quotes.

Some people have a quote or two that are special to them for the inspiration or perspective they provide. One of my own pesonal favourites is an Italian proverb that goes, “At the end of the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.” To me, it’s just a quick reminder that no matter how important I become, or how important the people I interact with are, we all eventually come to the same end. As much of the work I do is with financially disadvantaged people, it helps keep me grounded.

But my question to you is what do you DO with all those quotes in your workplace? Quotes give some people cause for reflection and for others, they read them and give it next to no thought whatsoever. The posters that adorn some workplaces that have quotes on them are routinely passed in the halls by staff all day long without anyone pausing to think about the words printed there. So of what value are they? There is even a website called Despair.com dedicated to this idea. On this website there are wondferful images matched with sayings that are actually demotivational. It was established in response to the belief that many people just look at the pictures and don’t really read the print message.

If you facilitate workshops as I do, perhaps you integrate quotes and sayings into your lesson plans. What is the response of the people you share them with? Do quotes have a lasting value? Do you yourself try to live and work with some kind of quote that captures your personal belief or philosophy? If so, what is it, and why does that hold such meaning for you that you try to live by that saying?

Sometimes when I’m leading a workshop, I’ll put enough quotes on the board for the number of participants, and after the lunch hour, I’ll ask each person to explain the quote that they have chosen prior to the break. This gets people thinking, and creates some discussion. It also gives me an idea of participants ability to interpret correctly the meaning behind the words. I may discover literacy issues, expanded vocabularies, new meanings I hadn’t thought of myself, and generally provides the group with an interactive learning opportunity. If I have 15 people in a room, I’ll either ask them to choose the quote they want to address on a first chosen first assigned basis (which gets people shooting their hands up quickly) or I’ll just ask people to pick a number from 1 to 15 when they have no idea why they are picking a number, and then reveal the connection with  the corresponding quotes. Number 1 gets quote 1 on the board etc. to number 15.

So what do YOU DO with all those quotes? Let me know, I’m interested.