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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)

What Steven Covey taught me – We have a choice

Posted by Joanne on August 16, 2012 Comments Off

“The desire to love is not itself love …. Love is an act of will – namely an intention and an action. Will implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. No matter how much we think we are loving, if we are in fact not loving, it is because we have chosen not to love and therefore do not love despite our good intentions. On the other hand, whenever we do actually exert ourselves in the cause of spiritual growth, it is because we have chosen to do so. The choice to love has been made.” ~ M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled, 1978

I love the above quote, which I first read in Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. It is a powerful statement for work and for life. While learned the power of choice and attitude in my teens while working at a local grocery store, I didn’t really realize the reason why I had this ability until I read Covey’s description of our four unique human gifts.

We have four unique human gifts that allow us to make choices!

Stephen Covey notes that human beings are the only living creatures in the universe that can “think” before they act. We can CHOOSE how we are going to respond! We can decide to speak, act and behave in ways that create positive and memorable experiences for ourselves and for others.

Covey explains our four unique human gifts or attributes this way:

  • Self-Awareness – Allows us to step back and observe our own behaviour!
  • Conscience – Let’s us know deep down inside ourselves, whether we are harming or enhancing our relationships by our behaviour, and actions.
  • Imagination – Allows us to visualize another way of acting. It lets us choose a better response, one that will have a longer-term positive effect.
  • Independent Will – Let’s us take action and choose to take a positive road to enhance relationships!

These four unique gifts give us the ability to CHOOSE how we communicate and interact with each other. It gives us the power to build lasting and positive relationships at work and in life.

So what did YOU learn from Stephen Covey? Please share it here.


P.S. During our Leadership Program participants learn more about their style of leadership and communication, and learn about the choices they can make to build positive relationships with their staff, customers, and suppliers. And of course, these lessons can be applied to their own personal relationships as well. Contact us for more information.

Related posts:

What Stephen Covey taught me – The Power Pause

What Stephen Covey taught me – The Circle of Influence

What Stephen Covey taught me – The Circle of Influence

Posted by Joanne on August 3, 2012 Comments (2)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
                        ~Reinhold Niebuhr

As human beings, we have the capacity to be proactive. We can focus on the things that we can actually do something about, or we can add to the stress in our lives by worrying and fretting over the things we have no control over.

Stephen Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, introduces the concept of Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.

The Circle of Concern is the area that we have no control over.

The Circle of Influence is the area that we have control over.

Covey tells us that in life our Circle of Influence is most often smaller than the Circle of Concern.  We can’t control the economy or a company merger. As we react, we tend to focus on the Circle of Concern, which depletes our energy, because we have no control over it. The energy focused on the Circle of Concern is negative. If you focus on the Circle of Concern and neglect the Circle of Influence, eventually the Circle of Influence will get smaller. This will add to feelings of stress and helplessness, because you cannot change anything in the Circle of Concern.

Proactive people focus on the Circle of Influence, which is the area we have control over and we can act upon. When we do this, the Circle of Influence gets bigger. When you act on your Circle of Influence you are able to reduce stress levels and increase happiness, because you can initiate and influence change.  

During my leadership program, participants share experiences of where they are spending wasted energy worrying about things they have no control over and then brainstorm ways in which they move towards proactively influencing and acting upon the things they can change. Consider an employee working for a company that is going through a merger. If that employee spends time worrying about whether he will lose his job, he will be wasting his energy and sink into a negative spiral of helplessness over something he has no control over. However, if he talks to his manager to learn how he might provide value to the new organization, ensure his skills and knowledge (and resume) are up-to-date, and increase his networking, he will be proactively directing his actions towards things he can influence and build positive energy at the same time.

This concept is easy to remember and is a great tool to direct our energy and actions in meaningful ways on things we do have control over. Are you spending your time in the Circle of Concern worrying about things you have no control over? What can you do today to expand the Circle of Influence to build more positive energy in your life and at work?

Related posts:  What Stephen Covey taught me – The Power Pause

What Stephen Covey taught me – The Power Pause

Posted by Joanne on July 25, 2012 Comments Off

I was sad to hear about Stephen R. Covey’s tragic accident and subsequent death. We never know when our time is up. Stephen Covey touched so many people in his life time and his work will continue to influence people in the future. I never met Stephen Covey but I can imagine what he must have been like, especially after reading a beautiful blog post in the Harvard Business Review by Greg McKeown: “Stephen R. Covey Taught Me Not to Be Like Him.” I like how the author describes Stephen Covey as living his life with intent. We should all strive to do so.

Stephen Covey, in his book “First Things First,” wrote that while wandering through a university library he came across a book with the following powerful idea:

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

He notes that we, as human beings, are the only living creatures in this world that can “think” before we act.

We can CHOOSE how we are going to respond.

We can choose to speak, act and behave in a way that creates positive and memorable WOW experiences for ourselves and for others.

I share this concept in my interpersonal communications and stress management workshops. I ask participants to resist the urge to react and try using the POWER PAUSE by counting to three between the stimulus and response, to ensure a response that builds relationships, reduces stress levels, and creates a positive experience for everyone. This is a simple, yet powerful concept, to build beautiful relationships at work and at home.

Over the next few blog posts, I’ll share a few of my favourite learning moments from Stephen Covey. What is your favourite learning moment from Stephen Covey? Please share your thoughts.

Related posts:  What Stephen Covey taught me – The Circle of Influence

#HRPA2012 Part 9 – Change Leadership

Posted by Joanne on February 23, 2012 Comments Off

During Day 2 of the HRPA 2012 Conference, Robert Harris, author of “Change Leadership – Inform, Involve, Ignite,” spoke about Breakthrough Strategies for Communicating Change.  Robert introduced and explained his model of communicating change to help individuals move from the status quo to the new change status and then we put the model to use during an activity. It was a great presentation with a packed room, and many participants felt it could have been a super-session with an extra hour to learn and practice.

Robert Harris 4 Box Change Model (Used with Permission)People resist change because of emotional and logical thoughts and communication can make or break successful change. We’ve all been involved in change. As HR professionals our role as an organizational strategic HR partner is to help successfully implement change. 

What change process is used to communicate change? 

The majority of us will launch right into the advantages and disadvantages of change first (Box 2). This is natural human behaviour, where we take on the “cheerleading” OR ”pain mongering” role and it is NOT the best strategy. People feel you are trying to “sell” them on the change and they become cynical. If I’m resisting change, I’m in the fear focus. I’m thinking, “How will this impact me?” (Box 2).  And I’m stuck thinking “but I like it this way” (Box 4).  People don’t ask questions about the change because of: fear, the need for more time to process the change, and/or the belief that ”It’s a done deal.”

Robert suggests using his “Strategic Influencing 4-Box Model” of change as follows:

  1. Box 1: When change is imminent it is important to start with a compelling case for “WHY change.” This gets their attention and they will listen. Remember to reflect on the reasons for “WHY change” from the other person’s perspective.
  2. Box 2: Next go to the “cheerleading” or benefits of change and how you’ll get there together but only briefly. You can go back to this later.
  3. Box 3: Then proceed to talking about the impact to them as individuals, and as a team. This is what individuals focus on. Validate and acknowledge emotions. Spend lots of time here and outline how you will support them through the change.
  4. Box 4: Then talk about what stays the same. This helps people celebrate what is being preserved. People like tradition and are comforted by familiarity.

This is the best approach because it feels like the change manager spent time figuring out how it impacts people as individuals. You can go back to describing the benefits again AND how you’ll get there together. With change it is always best to put the elephant in the room to be addressed versus ignoring it. Using the 4-box change model has a calming effect. It lets people see a transition where there are highs and lows, culminating in acceptance. It is the journey you will all take together. 

An added benefit of using Robert Harris’s change model is that it helps determine if change should happen in the first place. And we actually used Robert’s awesome change model in groups, talking through a real life change initiative. As part of our group debrief we noted that the discussions we had using the change model, helped us work through things that we might not have thought about and it promoted healthy open communication.

Robert Harris, author of Change Leadership – Inform, Involve, Ignite, definitely needs a super session the next time he presents at the HRPA conference. It was great to actually get a change to “use” the change model tool during the session, but we needed more time.  

What change are you implementing now or in the future?  Try using the tool. It works.  

Posted by Joanne Royce

Photo Credit: Robert Harris, Strategic Influencing 4-Box Model (Used with permission)

#HRPA2012 Part 8 Rediscovering Play

Posted by Joanne on February 21, 2012 Comments Off

On Day 2 of the HRPA 2012 Conference the Luncheon Key Note Speaker was Kevin Carroll speaking to a packed audience of HR professionals about Rediscovering Play, Bringing Fun and Passion to Your Work and Life.

Kevin Carroll

Kevin told us the heart wrenching story of his early childhood. His father left when he was a toddler. One day, his mother, who suffered with addiction issues, picked up Kevin and his older brother from school, and along with his youngest brother, drove out of town. Kevin was only 6 years old. After driving a very long time, she leaves the three boys in a trailer telling them to stay there. Finally after a few days and no mom, the boys get enough courage to leave the trailer to ask someone for help. Luckily, their grandfather made sure they memorized his phone number. 

“I just want to play.”

His grandpa tells Kevin and his brothers that they would have shelter, food, and love, but would have to “raise” themselves. Kevin, always being big on questions asked, “What does “raise yourself” mean?” After learning the meaning of that statement, Kevin said, “But grandpa, I just want to play.”

Kevin overcame adversity as a child through play.

Kevin goes to a neighbourhood park and finds a red rubber ball. He is all alone so he makes up a game. He kicks the ball as hard as he can, and then runs furiously after the ball. It was his way of coping (and I’m sure, a way of getting all that anger and hurt out of his system). Soon the neighbourhood children notice him and ask, “What are you doing with that ball?” Next thing you know, they are all playing ball, and little Kevin feels a sense of connection and of belonging. He had discovered the power of play.

A small red rubber ball saved him.

His passion for play and asking questions help Kevin build a successful and diverse series of careers that take him all over the world. In fact, Nike hires Kevin, without having a defined position for him, because of his passion and creativity, and he becomes a Nike “Katalyst.” The 2001 award winning Nike “Tag” commercial (filmed in Toronto, Ontario) was created during his time at Nike and illustrates his passion for “play.”


Highlights from Kevin’s presentations include:

  • Questions are good. Courage to ASK is a big life – work lesson. ASK!
  • Courage is shown in acts and dares to do what is right.
  • Hire for passion & creativity. The rest will fall into place.
  • Kids see opportunity not an obstacle. A box becomes a ship or fort. We all speak “ball” as in play.
  • Play is a great business tool for collaboration and creativity.
  • Play initiatives are using play to make the world a better place. (Initiative – Kick a ball and turn on a light).
  • As HR professionals we need to keep our shine on. We need energy to problem solve.
  • Technology is here to amplify YOU. Not control you. It should not trump face-to-face connection.
  • Keep your eyes up. You need to look around to connect with others.
  • Keep your shine on. Keep your passion and energy.
  • Try random act of kindness to connect with others.
  • Haters are just confused admirers. Don’t let them take your “shine” away.
  • We all have the capacity to do amazing things with passion, purpose and intention.

Kevin challenges us to find our own little red rubber ball and find our passion at work and life.

So what’s your red rubber ball? What keeps your “shine” on?

(P.S. Kevin’s books sold out after the presentation and he stayed for hours signing books and talking to his new Canadian HR fans!)

Posted by Joanne Royce
Photo credit: @kckatalyst

#HRPA2012 Part 6 – The Search for AWESOME Leadership

Posted by Joanne on February 16, 2012 Comments Off

Day 2 at the HRPA 2012 Conference started out in AWESOME fashion. Despite the 7:00 a.m. start time, the room was packed to hear Neil Pasricha talk about The Search for AWESOME Leadership.  Neil shared his story of success.

His story started out not so well. One year his best friend committed suicide and his marriage fell apart. Neil was feeling pretty low. He was in a dark place. But he got the idea to start a blog looking for 1000 AWESOME things in life, to help him get out of his funk. He started blogging every day. At first only his mom read his blog, then his dad, then friends, and it grew from there. The number of readers multiplied and he got a call from someone in New York telling him he had won an award for his blog!  He travelled to New York to pick up his award, and when he got home he had phone calls from several literacy agents who were interested in a potential book.  Three books (and  a calendar product and mobile app) later Neil is still blogging about AWESOME. Success happens in the strangest ways. Neil shared his concepts and philosophy with us and it was an AWESOME way to start Day 2 of the HRPA 2012 Conference!

The 4 A’s required to create AWESOME leadership for an AWESOME workplace include:  

  • Attitude – AWESOME starts with attitude. If you have an attitude of AWESOME it will spread beyond you.
  • Awareness - If you are on the look out for AWESOME you will find it.  It is the little things that often illicit the biggest response.
  • Alignment - Know your own (and the organizations) core values / priniciples. Alignment gets people in sync with you as a leader, and the organization.
  • Authenticity - Spread AWESOME and positivity but be true to your self.  Be genuine. People won’t respond if you aren’t your authentic self.

In addition to AWESOME leadership to create an AWESOME workplace, organizations need to embrace the 4 S’s: 

  • Social - Create a sense of community at work which provides a sense of belonging.
  • Structure - Have some structure in place (but not rigid policing or monitoring structure).
  • Stimulation - Provide stimulating work.
  • Salary - Give a salary good enough to make it a non-issue.

We can all bring AWESOME into this world and into our workplace by living in the present, looking forward to the future, and not dwelling on past wrongs or slights. My philosophy of AWESOME is to always look for the good in people. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I’m going to work to be miserable and do a bad job.” People want to succeed and be AWESOME.

As HR professionals, managers, and leaders, what are you doing to make the workplace happy, healthy, and productive and downright AWESOME?  As an individual, what are you going to do today to be AWESOME at work and at life? Perhaps the tips provided by Neil Pasricha outlined here will help you get started. If you need more help, contact us. AWESOME leadership can be learned!

Posted by Joanne Royce

#HRPA2012 Part 5 – The Wealthy Barber Returns

Posted by Joanne on February 15, 2012 Comments Off

On Day 1 of the HRPA 2012 Conference, I attended the afternoon supersession with David Chilton.  David talked about his journey to success with his first book - ”The Wealthy Barber,” and introduced his new book, “The Wealthy Barber Returns.” David spent two hours speaking to a full audience without the help of visuals or PowerPoint. He is an amazing story teller and the audience was engaged throughout the session. 

David_Chilton_The_Wealthy_Barber_Returns Photo Credit: Joanne Royce

I loved his sense of family and that his sister, father, and mother were involved and supporting him through his journey to get his first book published.  He was originally going to call his book “The Wealthy Bartender” which was inspired by the television show “Cheers.” I liked that he didn’t listen to the financial and banking experts who told him the concept for the book would not work.  Instead he asked his beer drinking hockey buddies (the every day person) to review what he had written so far. They loved it and they asked questions which helped him clarify and improve the book.

He told us about the story of Greta and Janet Podleski, authors of the highly successful cookbook series (and products) Looneyspoons.  Through their energy, perseverence, courage, and by taking a train (not flying) to meet with David in Ottawa, they won him over.  That, and the fact that David’s mother tested some of the recipes and told him – “Publish that cookbook…”  I loved that through the power of Twitter, Greta Podleski, replied back. 

Finally, David talked about financial statistics and products, and that the world is carrying too much debt. He told the story of a homeowner who apologized to him for not having ”granite countertops” and a big house, to which he replied, ”Who needs granite countertops and I live in a 1300 s.f. bungalow.”  David noted that people have too much stuff and that gets them into money and debt trouble.  Granite countertops and too much stuff are not worth going into debt for.  While David didn’t mention this, the video called The Story of Stuff also highlights how our need for so much STUFF negatively impacts the world in which we live.  I think we might have our “wants” mixed up with our “needs” and this contributes to living beyond our means. 

In any case, it was two hours well spent. Lots of insight into how to get a book published with the the power of perservance, courage, and support of family and friends and the benefits of not living beyond our means. You can read my actual tweets during David Chilton’s session – The Wealthy Barber Returns – through Storify below. 

Posted by Joanne Royce

Timeline of my tweets through Storify:

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 Joanne Royce

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