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When magic happens – What are you waiting for?

Posted by Joanne on March 25, 2013 Comments (2)

Sometimes you hear a presentation and it stays with you. That happened to me when I heard Bruce Kirkby (that is KirKby, with two K’s) talk about “When Magic Happens” during the early bird session on the last day of the HRPA conference (January 25, 2013). Bruce started by telling us he graduated years ago with an engineering degree from Queen’s University, but he fell into an unconventional path where magic happens. And this guy has had some big adventures. His presentation made an impression on me, and I choked up a bit when listening to him that morning (and now as I write this post).

Bruce told us a story about a sixteen year old girl and an incident when her boyfriend tried to teach her how to drive a car. We can imagine how that ended. The experience was such that she was seriously afraid of driving and had not driven a car since. This young girl was now a married woman (no, she did not marry that boyfriend), and she was a mom with children. She felt very dependent on others to get from place to place and she really wanted to overcome her fear so she could drive her kids to their activities. As part of the TV series he was hosting Bruce Kirkby set her up to conquer her fear of driving. Guess what – after three days of intense driving lessons, she was driving. You might think – big deal. But she was driving a real race car in a real live race. She immediately went home and acquired her beginner’s driver license and finally her driver’s license.

During very real intense real human moments, when you conquer your fear, magic happens. ~ Bruce Kirkby

Overcoming her fear and learning how to drive opened this women up to new experiences like trying skiing, and asking for (and getting) a promotion at work. And it went on from there. This is the magic of overcoming your fear. It has a ripple effect.

We use the word adventure as a metaphor for attaining our dreams. ~ Bruce Kirkby


This is the visual that Bruce used to describe adventure. He said that most of us live in the “small circle” where we are comfortable. But “We deserve to live in the big circle. That is where magic happens.” The big circle is the visual to describe adventure (and personal growth).

And Bruce went on to describe adventure this way “Adventure – how do I put it into words. It isn’t just climbing a mountain. It’s crossing a threshold. Getting out of our comfort zone.” But where does your comfort zone end? What is your fundamental fear?

Fear is a compass.

We think happiness is comfort. We search for comfort, the routine, habit and resist change. ~ Bruce Kirkby

Think about this for a moment, if we are chasing comfort in our lives, what are we missing? Are we pushing away growth? Do we know where the threshold is where fear turns from being a motivating factor to paralyzing us so much that we can’t move forward?

Bruce describe the comfort zone as “Hey diddle diddle. Going down the middle.” We need to be aware that when we experience fear, that is our compass guiding us towards growth. We need to know our threshold of fear. We need enough fear that it moves us forward out of our comfort zone (green) and stretches us towards growth (yellow), and not so much that fear becomes paralyzing (orange) so that we are stuck where we are, never changing, and never growing.

I know how fear can paralyze you. I am deathly afraid of heights, so much so that when I climbed the fire tower in Parry Sound, Ontario with my husband, then boyfriend, I could not look down when climbing up to the top. When I had to go back down down the mesh steps I could not do it. I was literally paralyzed. I had to crawl down the stairway with my eyes closed, with my husband placing each foot one-by-one on the descending steps until we reached a height I could manage. So knowing your fear threshold is important.

Touch the rock.

I was surprized to hear that Bruce Kirkby has (had) a fear of heights as well. And he climbed a mountain. He asked us: Does fear stop you from trying new things? He told us that one time when he was climbing a mountain they arrived at a section where fear nearly paralyzed him so much so that he almost didn’t make it to the top.

Touch the rock. Don’t let your imagination of fear turn you back from experiencing awesome experiences and personal growth. ~ Bruce Kirkby

When my children were young, my husband and I went back to the fire tower in Parry Sound, and I got half way up and I panicked. I went back down because I didn’t want my kids to see me that frightened. But as I reached the bottom of the tower, I knew I would miss their accomplishment of climbing that great big tower and to see their reactions to the magnificent view. I basically sprinted up the tower and got there just in time as they reached the top. Did I have trouble going down? Of course I did, but I walked down keeping my eyes to the horizon, not to the bottom, and I didn’t need help, except for the wee hand that was grasping mine, and a little voice saying “You can do it mommy.” My husband and kids were so cute when they cheered and clapped when I reached the ground. I sure felt like kissing the ground, but I had touched the rock and it felt great.

Start now.

Life is too short, too precious. Just get up and do the things that you yearn to do. ~ Bruce Kirkby

When Bruce was on his first book tour he said people often asked him how he managed to write a book. He told them all, and there were many who asked him the same question, if you want to write a book, “go home and write it.”  Out of all the people that he spoke to, one woman went home that very day and started to write her book. And during his next book tour, there it was sitting right next to his on the book store shelf.

Why do we make things so hard? When we say – Pick up a pen and paper and start writing – it doesn’t sound so hard. But why do so many not do the things they yearn to do? (Hint: it might have something to do with an abundance of “bozosity,” so read on if you are curious).

Second day sucks.

Bruce said that in any adventure, you will come across the little bump that can stop you. But if you can get over it, it gets better. Life certainly throws us curve balls. But if we can get over the hurdles and obstacles, it makes us stronger and we LEARN from that experience. I think that gives us more POWER in our own self, then we had before.

Ignore the bozos.

Sometime when you start out on a new adventure, or new journey to personal growth, people will attempt to prevent you from trying.

Ignore the bozos. Don’t listen to them. There is a preponderance of bozosity in the world. ~ Bruce Kirkby

(Don’t you just love that term, “bozosity”). He also noted that he is often his own bozo and that we all are often our own bozo. And we have to stop the negative dialogue going on in our own head trying to prevent us from leaving our comfort zone. Sure, we should listen enough to weigh all the pros and cons, but finally at this point, it is like Robert Frost and his two paths as a metaphor: Do we want to stay in our place of comfort or travel the path where magic will happen?


I loved the touch points in Bruce Kirkby’s presentation, “When Magic Happens.”

  • Fear is a compass.
  • Touch the rock.
  • Start now.
  • Second day sucks.
  • Ignore the bozos.

Not only can these concepts be applied to our life but also to our careers and in the workplace. Imagine using these concepts when it comes to creating a new product or service, or heading out in a new career direction.

After this session, I tried my first Google+ Hangout Live Broadcast, and I finally posted my first vlog. Was I scared? Yes. I had major “bozosity” going on – what if I make a mistake, what if this and what if that?Just stop already. Are the videos perfect? Far from it. Did I grow and learn from doing them? Absolutely. And that is what life is all about, isn’t it?

Which path are you travelling? Which path are you going to take? What are you scared of the most? It is never too late.

Please share your comments. And if the comments section is closed, please contact me to share your comments and refer to this post “When magic happens.”


Joanne Royce creates happy, healthy, and productive workplaces through HR, recruiting, and training initiatives for organizations that invest in people to invest in success.

Photo credits: Joanne Royce (photos of slides from Bruce Kirkby’s presentation, “When magic happens.” February 2013, HRPA 2013)

Six tips for success in your first career job (or in any new job)!

Posted by Joanne on March 13, 2013 Comments Off

I created this vlog in May 2012 and never posted it. I guess I was still too “scared” to post it then, but I’m posting now. It’s almost 7 minutes long, so just over 1 minute per tip. Here it is …

Today, I’m doing something that scares me. I’m posting my first vlog on six tips for success in your first career job (or in any new job)! I hope you enjoy it. Doing something new can cause the “fear-factor” to increase and sometimes if we wait for perfection we will never do it.

What are your tips for success in your job, especially a new position? Share in the comments section below. If the comments are closed, you can contact me; just mention the blog title along with your comments.

Joanne Royce creates happy, healthy, and productive workplaces through HR, recruiting, and training initiatives for organizations that invest in people to invest in success.

Recognition, cash, bananas, and the pickle bowl

Posted by Joanne on March 5, 2013 Comments (4)

This post is inspired by a Tweet from @Achievers. “Cash awards end up as groceries. No one works late for an extra banana.”

It made me laugh, but it is so true. It made me think about my pickle bowl. If you are curious about what a pickle bowl has to do with recognition, read on.

Earlier in my career I was responsible for HR and Administration for a medium sized company. The administration part included managing the facilities of the company. We were moving to a new location and anyone who has been involved in the logistics of a move including managing the construction, contractors, suppliers, and the move itself, knows that it is a huge project. Schedules, deadlines, and project management are key. If one date is negatively impacted then it’s a domino effect and dates and schedules come crashing down. I was the project manager working with a small team to make it happen.

I’m happy to say that the relocation and project was an awesome success and on Monday when our people came to work, everything was in place (including a rose and chocolate at each desk), with the phones and computers working. Did it take extra time at work? Yes, there were many late hours and I did them willingly. It was such a challenge and I wanted everything to work out well. In fact, during the move itself, I brought my children on the Saturday, and set them up in my boss’s office with their homework, some movies, and snacks during a small segment of the move until my husband was off work and could pick them up. (They talked happily about that adventure for a long time).

After the move the two owners of the company recognized our contributions by thanking us during a company “Welcome to Our New Office” meeting on the Monday after the move. I also received a nice bonus, and some additional days off. Of course I appreciated the extra cash and time off, but guess what I remember the most. Did you guess?

I remember my pickle bowl.

I LOVE my pickle bowl.

But why do I love my pickle bowl? I love it because my boss took the time to go and pick it out. Now maybe he thought I was old-fashioned. But maybe he knew that I loved antiques, and pretty things that are practical and can be used every day. In any case, I was delighted by the gift. He told me he found it in a small antique store near his home and he thought I would like it. The fact that he took the time to think about what I might like meant a lot to me. Of course the bonus and the time off were appreciated, but I don’t remember how I spent the cash. I probably bought groceries and bananas. The time off might have been used for a day here and there, as time is often needed especially while raising young children.

But the pickle bowl is what I use to this day. In fact, it is a recognition gift that keeps on giving. When I use it, I smile, and I think of that project, and that success, and my boss going into the antique shop looking for the perfect pickle bowl to show me how much my work was appreciated.

So what was so right about my pickle bowl for recognition? Well, recognition should be timely, social, and personalized to have the greatest impact and it does NOT have to be cash.

Timely – given as close to the event as possible.

Social – recognition communicated to everyone not just to the person receiving it.

Personalized – to the person receiving the recognition. One size does not fit all.

Does NOT have to be cash – or cost a lot. Thank you’s are free.

So next time you are thinking of recognizing someone with a bonus, and time off, add in a token of appreciation that shows you have personally thought of that person and his or her contribution. It will be something the person will never forget.

Remember the pickle bowl.


Joanne Royce, Royce & Associates helps create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces by developing HR initiatives that are cost effective and practical, training your people so they excel at their jobs, and providing outsourced HR to organizations that need it. Contact us to help us support your people so you can focus on growing your business.

Photo credit: Joanne Royce

 Joanne Royce

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Use our insider tips on human resources, training, and interpersonal relationships to create your own happy, healthy, and productive workplace. We'll also comment on life in general and share info and highlights from books.

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