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What does luck have to do with it?

Posted by Joanne on September 8, 2014 Comments Off

Luck“You are so lucky you can — take time off when you want / work from home.”

I never know what to say when someone says that to me and I have heard this often since I started my HR practice over a decade ago. Being self-employed, I get to work from home and take time off when I want, but does luck have anything to do with it?

I started my HR practice because I wanted to help create happy, healthy and productive workplaces. That is the business reason. The personal reason was to … Read more over at the EOList where I am the final guest blogger for the “Day In the Life” summer series.

Do we need a special day to remind us to be happy?

Posted by Joanne on March 20, 2014 Comments Off

Today is International Day of Happiness, established by the United Nations in 2012 to recognize the relevance of happiness and well-being as a fundamental human goal. It is a great reminder, but do we need a special day to remind us to be happy? It made me think about happiness, what it means to me, and what it takes to create a path of happiness in life and at work.

Do for yourself – Think happy

As a teenager, I remember having an AHA moment when I realized that I had two grandmothers with very different ways of living life. I call it The Tale of Two Grandmas. Both my grandmothers overcame hardship, and yet one was happy and a joy to be around, and the other seemed to drain the joy out of life. I decided I would choose to be happy because I wanted to be like my happy grandmother. I carried this thought into parenting where I often told my children, “You have a choice. You can get up in the morning and be happy, or you can be miserable.” I carried it into my relationship where I recently celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. And I carried it into my business where my mission is helping create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces.

In Habits Of The Most Resilient People, Denise Brosseau talks about a client who referred to the negative self-talk in her head as the “itty bitty shitty committee.” Another described it as two wolves inside her head – one wolf is positive and the other is negative – and the one that she feeds is the one that wins.

I know that life and happiness in not that simple, but I do think that when our minds wander down the path of negative self-talk, we can correct it and train our brains to think happy and be happy.

Do for another – Understand happiness

But sometimes happiness is not as easy as choosing to correct our thoughts. My own mother (and most likely my grandmother) suffered from depression and she once described it as “being in a deep, dark hole, with no glimmer of light, and no way of knowing which way to claw yourself up.” I had a hard time understanding why my mom couldn’t just change the way she was thinking especially when she was surrounded by a family that loved her. I was reminded of her description when I watched Why we choose suicide a talk by Mark Henick at TEDxToronto.” Mark referred to depression as one where the mind focuses on a narrow and limited perception or thought, much like a CD stuck in a rut, playing the same thing over and over again. Only this time it plays thoughts of worthlessness, hopelessness, and sadness. This is when help is needed to pull the individual out of the deep dark hole of limited perception. In this case, telling someone to choose happiness does not work. Understanding that attaining happiness is not as easy as a choice and some people will need help.

In the workplace, educate yourself on watching for the signs of depression or addiction in your team. HR and management should never act as a counsellor. They should facilitate and encourage an individual to seek the help they need through company employee assistance plans, group health plans, and community services.

Do for others – Spread happiness

Happiness is contagious. You can help spread happiness and fill up the happiness tanks of those around you. Use the Losada Line to guide you. Marcial Losada’s research found that it takes 2.9013 positive interactions to counteract one negative interaction, and it takes six positive interactions to every negative interaction for teams to produce their best work. Keep that in mind when trying to motivate your team or an individual.

Do your part in life and in the workplace by stopping disrespectful, bullying or gossiping behaviour. Don’t participate in it and be a leader in modelling behaviour that promotes happiness.

Have some fun. In honour of International Day of Happiness do something fun. Take a break in the workplace and do Ben Aaron’s Time to Dance Walk Baby!

What are you doing to bring happiness into your life and into the workplace? Please share your comments,

Spread your sparkle, Joanne

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

Other blogs on happiness you might be interested in:

Do you suffer from the dreaded tetris effect

A formula for balance and success

It’s okay to be happy at work

What is the happiness quotient at your workplace

Happy holsteins give more milk: Lessons for the workplace

What do you do about Charlie (Sheen) Part 1 of 3

Do you bring your sunshine to work?

Is 2014 the Year to Unplug?

Posted by Joanne on January 2, 2014 Comments (2)

For part of last year, I unplugged. I unplugged from most of social media for the summer. Earlier in the year, I even stopped blogging. Perhaps it had something to do with my last post and deciding to focus on where magic happens. We have only so many minutes in a day and it seemed like social media was taking a larger percentage of my time than it should. It was getting to be a bit much.

I think social media can be isolating some how, and this seems to be verified by a study about social media and its impact on loneliness. Sure there are connections online but to have deeper relationships people need to spend time in real life. I spent my “found” time reconnecting with my in real life friends (some, ironically, that I’ve met through my online community), colleagues, and former clients; the people, in addition to my family, whom I cherish and who cherish me. Seems like more people are thinking this way.

On January 1 of this year two people I admire greatly because of their love of life and of a each other announced that they were unplugging from social media for all of 2014. Why? Because they said they seemed to be more attached to their social networks than to each other. And they were going to take the year to experience life and moments together, privately, and in real life. I applaud them.

Another online acquaintance regularly posted that he would be purging his Facebook friends and if people hadn’t interacted with him he would “unfriend” them. When I went to comment on his new profile picture I found that I was “unfriended.” Well, I had been warned. I hadn’t interacted or commented or Liked any of his status updates and he hadn’t interacted with me either, so it was valid to be “unfriended.” But it made me think – this guy is on to something. Why gather “friends” who never interact with you directly? Who never reply to your comments or even acknowledge that you’ve spoken to them online? Social media makes it very easy to ignore someone and, at the same time, my in real life friends would never “unfriend” me because I hadn’t spoken to them in a few months. Real life friends can meet up with each other after a prolonged absence and talk a mile in a minute as if there had never been an absence.

Another colleague said she was cutting back on social media because she was sick of the facade that everyone’s life was totally awesome. Life isn’t sugar coated, she said, and social media lets you filter your life to only the good things. I think she has a valid point. Are we airbrushing our lives online like advertisers who make models perfect and flawless? Does social media somehow make us feel like our life and careers are lacking because everyone else seems to be living a life covered in awesome sauce?

I’m not a psychologist but this is where I think social media becomes isolating. We don’t pour our souls out, our challenges, and our hardships to people who are not our in real life friends. We only do that with people who really know us and with whom we have formed deep relationships; we share the whole picture. So if we are spending more time online we aren’t having those deep conversations that help form the type of intimacy that banishes loneliness. In fact, Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., a research psychologist, and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, wrote in Psychology Today, that “it is important to remember that as far as barometers of friendship go, social media is pretty shallow. It’s unrealistic, and dangerous, to presume you know how someone feels about you based on how they react or respond to you, or don’t, through virtual means, whether that presumption is positive or negative. How people use social media is too new, and too varied. Judging how someone feels about you is what in-the-moment conversations and face-to-face encounters are for. It’s called real life—remember that?”

A good friend of mine many years ago told me that we need to gather more experiences and less things. I think this applies to social media as well. I love my online community, but I should not be spending all my time there. Life is an adventure and life is a choice. Every day we make choices that hopefully enhance relationships and make our life a good one. We need to live more in real life because the most important people in our lives, the ones who know us really well and care about us deeply, are the ones who are right in front of us.

May your 2014 be blessed with happiness, health, meaningful work and deep relationships, Joanne

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.

How not setting new year’s resolutions can help you succeed

Posted by Joanne on January 9, 2013 Comments Off

How can not setting any new year’s resolutions help you succeed?

New year’s resolutions set you up for failure.

Fitness Trainer Claudine De Jong mentions in her blog post “Cut the fad out” that New Year’s resolutions ultimately fail. Setting “short term goals” work much better because they are less intimidating. Slow and steady wins over new year’s resolutions that are hard to sustain over time (i.e. fad diets).

Leo Widrich in “The science of new year’s resolutions: Why 88% fail and how to make them work” explains why our brains fail at new year’s resolutions. It is because “when you set a new year’s resolution, an enormous amount of willpower is required. It’s an amount that your brain simply can’t handle.” The good news is that we can train our brains to succeed, by making less abstract, tiny goals, linked to small and specific behaviours.

Get active. Get in shape.

One goal that I set last year was to become a more physically stronger person (I know, this sounds like a very abstract goal). This was after a ski trip last February, when I sadly and shockingly realized how out of shape I had become. Too much sitting at a desk can make you weak (and can kill you, or so the scientific research tells us so). I certainly had the motivation to want to get in shape and like many people, I have signed up for gym membership in January, started out with a bang, and ended with a fizzle. So this time, I made the best investment in my health that I could. I found myself a fitness trainer (through Twitter), who just happened to be Claudine De Jong. I wanted to learn how to become healthier without relying on a gym to get me there.

Claudine believes that slow and steady sets the pace and prevents injuries. I didn’t start out lifting heavy weights, working out seven days a week and setting myself up for failure. I started out slow by setting a goal to work out once a week. According to the scientific studies, by starting out with a small behaviour change, I was training my brain for goal success.

This kinder and gentler approach, with small changes in behaviour, made things happen. I noticed changes in my body. I was no longer huffing and puffing up the stairs. My energy increased. I was more conscious about what I was eating and cut back on the “white” stuff (white sugar, rice, pasta, milk, flour) and red meat. I increased my intake of water, whole grains and lentils. I liked how my clothes were fitting. I liked that I no longer felt “stuffed” after eating. I started getting out and going for walks on the weekend with my husband. The slow and steady, one small behaviour change at a time, had a snow ball effect, resulting in a stronger and healthier me.

So this year, instead of setting a New Year’s resolution, set smaller, short-term goals, and be specific about the behaviours that will get you there. This process works whether setting personal or workplace goals. And if being a stronger you is one of your goals, contact Claudine De Jong to help you get there or get you started.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and productive 2013.

Joanne Royce, Royce & Associates provides Outsourced HR, recruiting, and training solutions to organizations wishing to create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. Give us a call.

Related blog posts:

Tips for successful goal setting

A goal without a plan is only an illusion

Phil the Guitar Guy – A story of success

Photo credit: My hubby (And in case you are wondering - No, I’m not getting ready for the ski-tuck racing position – as one of my colleagues jokingly suggested!)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas

Posted by Joanne on December 24, 2012 Comments Off

Tis the season for sharing the valuable commodity of TIME with loved ones. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas surrounded by the most important people in your life. Disconnect and be in the moment. That is what Christmas is all about.


Wishing you lots of love and laughter, Joanne

Tips for Finding Your Passion

Posted by Joanne on December 21, 2012 Comments Off

Last week’s blog was about following your passion, but following your passion is a journey and it isn’t always easy. First you have to find it. And it can be a long and winding journey with ups and downs.

Tips for finding your passion

  1. Reflect on what you enjoyed doing when you were a child. As a child did you enjoy building towers and bridges, and taking apart radios to “see what’s inside?” If you did you might find your passion as an engineer, or mechanic. If you liked drawing and art, plus building structures, then you might find your passion as an architect.
  2. Listen to the commonality in the words used to describe you or the nicknames given to you. “S/he would be a great lawyer.” And most especially why? “S/he is a great debater who has a well thought out approach about an issue and knows how to argue her case.” If you were called “The Harmony Builder” or “Ann Landers” as a teenager because you were a good listener and looked at both sides of an issue and your peers sought you out to help solve relationship issues, you might well find your passion in social work, counselling, or another one of the helping professions, including Human Resources.
  3. Contemplate on the courses you enjoyed the most at school. If you loved writing poetry, and English classes, including grammar, you might find your passion in writing travel articles while travelling the world. If you enjoyed Math because it involved a system, formula, and process to obtain the correct answer, you might enjoy work that is more absolute and process-driven like an financial analyst or programming.
  4. Think about the jobs you enjoyed the most. If you had a job at a grocery store, did you enjoy interacting with customers while on cash, or would you rather have been behind the scenes wrapping chickens? This will indicate whether you are more task-oriented or people-oriented and will help you find your passion at work. If you were in sales and loved it, but then accepted a position as a Sales Manager and hated it, you know where to find your passion.
  5. Use assessment tools like Myers-Briggs, to increase your own self-awareness. Are you an extravert who gets energy from active involvement in a variety of activities and gets excited around people or are you an introvert who gets energy from ideas, pictures, and reactions inside your own head, who prefers doing things alone or with one or two people? If you are an introvert and a supervisor in a manufacturing plant dealing with people issues all day, you will likely come home drained and you might find your passion in a more task-oriented role like an analyst or an electrician.
  6. Think about your current job. What are the tasks you enjoy the most and the least? If you enjoy a specific task, talk to your manager to find out how you can increase the scope of that responsibility in your career plan. What type of work environments do you thrive in? One that is more structured or one that is ambiguous and free flowing. This will help you find your passion.
  7. Volunteer if you can’t find your passion at work. If you can’t find your passion at work, and changing jobs is not an option, seek out a place when you can volunteer in an area that you enjoy. Maybe it’s volunteering with a crisis support centre or building homes with Habitat for Humanity.
  8. Look at the hobbies that bring you passion. Do you love photography or cooking? Continue to do that until you can leverage your skill and passion into full-time work.


Will mistakes be made? Yes.    Will finding your passion take time? Yes.

Finding your passion involves time, energy, and self-awareness. Very rarely does it just happen.

Find and follow your passion. But remember that the journey is it.

How did you find your passion? What obstacles are you encountering in your journey to find your passion?


Royce and Associates offers career coaching, workshops and assessments to help individuals find their passion. Contact us for more info.

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 Joanne Royce

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