Reality Check: Important! Read This Immediately!

The envelope looked like something from the government. It was that familiar brown kraft paper that we associate with official mailings. It even had a maple leaf logo printed on it that looked like a flag.
The printing on the outside indicates that this is “Private & Confidential,” “Important,” and to add to the impact, it directed me to “Open Immediately.” I guess that means I have to open it right now. I can’t have my coffee first or let out the cat. Nope. The envelope has spoken. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Go, Team

Are you part of a team? If you play sports or belong to a work team, then the answer is easily, “Yes.” You might belong to a less formal association, like a community group where people come together with a common goal.
Many of us are in groups that we don’t think of as teams. There’s your family, for example, or your circle of friends. Even our community, county, or province could be considered a team.
What actions and attitudes help a team work together? Conversely, what activities undermine team success?
Let’s play devil’s advocate. Pretend you are a secret agent sent by the opposition. Your role is to demoralize the team. What would you do? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Dissatisfied But Not Sure Why?

Do you ever feel out of sorts? When you have a sense that things are not right, but you can’t quite put a finger on exactly what’s wrong?
An explanation that often pops up now is “the virus.” Everything seems connected to it, with a sense that if only we could get back to normal, then we’ll feel better and live happily, like we used to.
A question worth pondering is, “Were you living happily before?” But that’s for another day. For now, let’s stick to potential causes of dissatisfaction. While virus-related actions are certainly disruptive, is there a possibility that they are not the only trouble-maker? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Choosing Your Lens

When we try on different glasses, it’s clear that the lens we use makes a huge difference in what we see. Some lenses make everything clearer; others muddy and distort.
In these troubled times, some are looking through an exclusively negative lens. For example, a young man feels anxious all the time. A middle-aged woman feels resentful because she is not allowed to travel. An older gentleman feels isolated because he can’t attend the social outings he enjoyed so much.
Are these feelings widespread? Or is it just these three people? Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Unexpected Kindness

Asparagus season reminds me of an incident that’s been a helpful example for me over the years.
One spring long ago, when the emerging asparagus was at its peak, I had invited some acquaintances for dinner. Among my guests was Paula, known as a “foodie” because of her organic farm and gourmet knowledge. From my youthful perspective, she was both fascinating and intimidating.
While chatting with me in the kitchen, Paula talked about the joy of asparagus. When it’s perfectly cooked, tender-crisp, there’s nothing else like it.
At that time, multi-tasking was well beyond me, and I certainly couldn’t manage cooking and talking at the same time. When I turned away from our sparkling conversation to take the lid off the asparagus pot, Paula and I simultaneously peered in. What did we see? A soggy, over-cooked mess. Continue reading

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Reality Check: When We Recommend

Have you ever written a letter of recommendation? Some people, especially teachers, managers, or business and community group leaders, are often asked to write recommendations for people they know.
If you are not involved in the world of formal, paid work, recommendation letters may never cross your mind. However, the idea and the activity of writing them can have value anywhere. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Encouragement of Youth

The recent passing of Prince Philip reminded me about the Duke of Edinburgh award, and that it’s important to encourage youth in positive directions.
Encouragement—or a lack of encouragement—can make a significant difference for us, whether we are youthful or seasoned. The information we receive and the influences we have play a significant role in our choices and our lives.
So, what were those positive directions that the award encouraged? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Realistic and Attainable

It’s difficult to travel now, as you well know. So when Anna got the call that her grandfather was nearing the end of his life, it presented a real quandary. Should she pack up and set off to be with him? Or should she stay home? After all, pandemic restrictions provide a legitimate reason for avoiding travel.
She weighed the pros and cons, just as you would. Ultimately, despite the expense and inconvenience, Anna chose to go. In her mind, it was the right thing to do.
Although Anna’s family welcomed her, she was soon reminded of old patterns and perceptions that she is unheard, unappreciated, and uninteresting. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Adding Value

In the world of work, adding value is what you need to do if you want to keep your customers. Whether you are making a product or delivering a service, people only want to pay for value, don’t they? Customers don’t want to pay for wasted time, for mistakes, or for features that they don’t want.
While we usually associate adding value with workplace activities, we can apply the concept to other areas of our lives, too.
If you are feeling bored or uncertain of purpose during difficult times, you might want to try the “adding value” perspective. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Benefit of Mistakes

“Oops! I made a mistake.”
Is there anyone out there who genuinely believes that they’ve never made a mistake? If that’s you, then I guess you can stop reading now. This column is for the rest of us—the mere mortals.
One of the great gifts of life is the freedom to make mistakes. Continue reading

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