Book Report: The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias

Rating: 5 out of 5.

At least you get a lot of reading done in bad weather! I zipped through the second of the unconscious bias books I bought to review for work. The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How to Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection, and Create High-Performing Teams, by Pamela Fuller and Mark Murphy with Anne Chow, is from FranklinCovey, the business consulting firm. That turned out not to be a bad thing.

Their format made the book interesting to read, and I was surprised how helpful some of their simple charts and learning aids were. Plus, the authors shared lots of detailed and varied stories about how they experienced unconscious bias, from the giving and receiving sides.

The business focus helped the focus stay on doing concrete things to address these biases and make the workplace better. I enjoyed the examples from different types of businesses, too.

Each short and info-packed chapter is followed by exercises that I didn’t find annoying or stupid. It’s pretty obvious that these folks know how to teach adults and engage them.

I had a few aha moments about areas I can work on. One of those is working with neurodivergent people. I plan to look for more resources to help me find ways for teams and individuals to do their best work with fewer frustrations.

An interesting passage on being careful about cultural fit interview questions

On the other hand, I saw some areas where I feel like I, and my employers, are doing a really good job with hiring and employee inclusion. Of course, we can all do better, but I think it’s a wonderful challenge and I enjoy working with our diversity and inclusion initiatives. It feels like a tangible way to make things better for all of us.

Sometimes I Get Frustrated. I Suck at It.

ACK. Here I am again to share with the world that I am fine just the way I am, and all that, but could still manage to tweak a few things. I think we all have situations or feelings we don’t have to deal with or express often and just get rusty. Expressing frustration/disappointment in groups is one of those things. Ugh. I am getting more practice lately, but darn, I would probably prefer less practice. It makes my eye twitch, and with the way my eyelids are sagging, I don’t need even less eyeball real estate.

Ole twitchy-eye

Generally, when I am frustrated with people, I go take one of my long and rather violent walks, where I physically get the majority of it out of my system, and I plan how to rationally and calmly talk about things. Sometimes, I am told, I am too calm and subtle, and so careful not to hurt people’s feelings, so people can’t tell I am actually trying to get them to do something. That’s one of those things I can’t quite get rid of from how I was brought up, and actually something I like, since I prefer to get feedback and direction in a helpful and calm way.

At least I get to smile when a cow suddenly appears above all my work screens.

It doesn’t help things that I know I come across pretty intense when I finally do try to say something firmly, and that it has cost me friends and upset colleagues. Still, I do get frustrated sometimes. I usually ask myself if telling people about it will do anything to improve the situation or change behavior. If it won’t, it’s back to the violent walks and not causing unnecessary strife.

In the past month or two I’ve received feedback that I need to “stand up for myself” more and let people know very clearly how they haven’t lived up to my expectations, when it’s important. I’ve also been letting some issues in the workplace get under my skin to where I’ve become irritable and I could see that the issues were affecting other colleagues. I really needed to say something and get things back on track, because I was pretty sure that bringing the issues up might actually have a positive effect in the long run, even if people got upset in the short term.

CAW, Says the Texas Fish Crow. Suna rocks! Photo by @eric_urquhart via Twenty20

Since I don’t do this stuff very often, I was not as eloquent as I could have been, and of course, one person thought I was directing it all at them, but at least I made it clear that some things really do need to change.

And I had a good talk with the person who was upset, and came out with some helpful steps to making things better for all. I’m going to give myself a hearty CAW CAW and put this in the Celebrate All Wins category.

All the Venting

I was totally knackered, as they say in places outside the US, after all my meetings and chats yesterday. I was not the only frustrated one, so I engaged in a lot of active listening, reflecting, and venting of my own. Luckily, the venting led to productive ideas, plans for dealing with the various situations, and best of all, some humor. Thank goodness we can all still laugh! I’m also grateful that the colleagues I work most closely with and trust the most have the same goals I do, which is to produce good stuff that helps our customers succeed. Dealing with people who are focused on making themselves look good or getting a promotion would be sooo draining, so I’m glad I engage in a minimum of that.

Even our cats and dogs, who kept visiting our Zoom meetings, laughed. Image by @davidcharouz via Twenty20

Thanks for listening, and thanks to my Master Naturalist and Friends of LLL buddies for bringing some fun into meetings, too!

Celebrating All Wins

Along with Lee and two other business partners, I used to be a part of a real estate organization called FortuneBuilders. While it was an investment, the classes and networking ended up being well worth it. The leaders were a very positive bunch of human beings, and they brought in good motivational speakers and topics (I am a HARSH judge of motivational speakers, so when I say they were good, I’m not kidding).

Sometimes we had fun at those conferences

Anyhow, one of the things the FortuneBuilder folks stressed was that it takes a lot of small successes among even more setbacks and challenges to get ahead in whatever you’re trying to do. They encouraged us to “Celebrate All Wins” no matter how big or small (if you got a response to one of your annoying postcards offering to buy someone’s home, for example). They even gave out shirts emblazoned with CAW to people who shared their wins at conferences (ah, I remember live conferences).

They are also nice and comfy shirts. By the way, my closet is STILL organized and in good shape.

This morning, I was telling Lee about something that was challenging at work that I did a good job handling, and he said we need to make a bigger deal out of these things, like back in the good old CAW days. The idea works for home health agencies, software companies, horsemanship endeavors, fitness goals, and even interpersonal relationships. In other words, it works in all areas of our own lives!

Here’s Russell interacting with one of those motivational speakers

I’m going to take Lee up on it and celebrate my wins for the past day or two!

  • I started my bullet journal
  • I participated in that Bioblitz
  • I figured out a helpful process for working on our documentation at work
  • I reassigned two team members and they each like their new assignment better
  • The friend for whom I knitted the striped shawl received it and loved it
  • I got all but one chicken to sleep in the coop last night, rather than the garage (more on that in another post)
  • I made progress on my stepping off a cliff project. One step closer to flying.

I feel better already, just for writing all those things down! No wonder I have felt perky and chipper all day, even on day 5 of 8 AM meetings!

Just bullet journaling away for two whole days.

A Challenge

Here’s today’s challenge: Share your wins! Celebrate them! I want to know!

Should I Step Off a Cliff?

Of course, I mean a metaphorical cliff. Something’s been mulling around in my brain for the past few weeks. It would entail a change in what I do in my work, but not leaving my job(s) or anything.

Thinking about that metaphorical leap. Photo by @alexrhymethat

They always say to follow your passion, and my passion is not necessarily technical writing. It’s more like enabling people to do their best work possible (which is, indeed, what I do, or try to). I have an idea where I could do more of that in my so-called career.

Inspired by reading so many darned books about envisioning what you want and then making it happen, I’ve actually scheduled to talk about my ideas with someone who could help me out. That’s like jumping off a cliff, for me. I don’t do it often, though the last time I did, it worked, and it led me where I am today.

My gut tells me I only have a few more years left in the standard workplace, and I want to figure out how I can make the most of them. So, I am putting my intention out there and acting on it, as well.

Leap of faith time! Image by @jryoung via Twenty20.

Good thoughts are welcome! Share your success stories, while you’re at it!

Not an Easy Time to Be an Empath

Oh no, not another post where someone, specifically Suna, whines about how horrible the past year’s been on those poor pitiful empaths. Not to worry, I, Suna, am also tired of that, especially when I hear it coming from the mouths of some of the least empathic human beings I know. But, who am I to argue about how others self identify? So, go right ahead and say you’re one. Maybe really most of us ARE empaths after all.

Hey, this jasmine plant is blooming already, even after being severely trimmed. Life WILL return to something better after struggle!

So, I’m not whining. I’m just noticing, like one of those intrusive thoughts that come up in meditation that you notice and then let float away while you enjoy the breath moving in and out, if you can (not all folks can!). I notice that I am not alone in experiencing a greater-than-usual amount of death and loss during the past week or two. I notice that, when you combine that with a LOT of change in areas we can’t control (work, politics, family), stress, anxiety, and worry starts running high. I notice imbalance.

In everyone.

I have not spoken to or texted a single person today who is not at just about their limit of 2021-generated agita. I am one of those people. This makes for an uncomfortable circuit of communication in which people share their issue, I share my issue, they share another issue, I share an issue, and in the end, we realize rather than helping each other, we’ve just ramped each other up into sniveling balls of angst. There has been sniveling and sniffling in my life today, none of it unjustified. I feel their pain, and then, because I’m not exactly at my peak of highest self, send pain back, rather than being a good, supportive listener.

I’d like to stop that, now.

  • One choice I have is to remain comfortably numb. If I stop typing, researching, creating, etc., I just stare forward, like I was this morning, with a thick buzzing in my brain, like I’m still asleep. This doesn’t sound like the picture of good mental health, to me.
  • Another thing I tried was to go learn something. That always helps me. So, today, because I was asked to, I did a whole bunch of research on bullet journals and the full focus journals that Lee uses. The women’s group at work is interested in journaling methods for improving their work efficiency. And I made a PowerPoint NOT with the corporate template. That was a treat that perked me up for at least twenty minutes.
  • My best choice I can come up with right now is to talk to someone who doesn’t feel like I do, so I can vent and not have to receive jittery vibes back. Oh good, I’m home, and Anita’s doing fine. I’ll try that.
Read my socks, 2021.

So, if you’re having one of those days where empaths are trying to be empathetic to empaths, go find someone who will just listen and say, “Tut tut, there there, that’s a LOT on your plate, my friend.” And then go read, knit, color in your coloring book, or find another creative outlet. Feel free to ignore the news unless it’s something like transgender rights to serve in the military or getting rid of private prisons (those pleased me yesterday).

I hope to soon notice more of a balance between positive and negative life events, if this works.

If it doesn’t work, what ideas do you have for dragging on through more of the unending negativity and working back toward a more balanced life?

So Much Annoyance, You Just Gotta Laugh

Geez, folks, this week I’m being tested for something. Perhaps it’s, “Can Suna find humor in everything?” “Is there a reason to smile hiding in any annoyance?” I hope I pass the exam, because I’m really trying to find humor and beauty, but today has, basically, sucked.

Nature’s always there to rescue me and remind me there’s good out there. So, here ya go, it’s the bloom off my mother-in-law’s tongue plant. How delicate and wondrous that is. Getting a houseplant to bloom has to make you smile (for pictures of it when it was budding, check out my very long houseplant post).

And, my daily commute (yay, I have the all-clear to go to the office) started and ended with one of my favorite sounds, cedar waxwings in large flocks. They flew over, but none were close enough to to photograph. I just love those whistles they make.

In between the commutes was a very frustrating work day, in which all my hardware components decided they were tired of functioning normally. My monitors did a devlish dance that was hard for me to believe. The really nice IT dude drove over (most people work from home) to try to help, which resulted in one monitor ceasing to let itself be found, my new keyboard and mouse stopped working, and my dock gave up the ghost. Well, shoot. I have not yet found the humor in that situation…it just happens when you rely on technology for your job!

Look, there’s a second bloom stalk hiding back there!

So, I ended up having to do delicate meetings on the phone. I started pacing, which apparently made everyone else on the call nauseated. It did give my boss something to laugh about, so there, a good thing came out of it. We were doing meetings that were not fun for us, so there was more than the usual amount of gentle ribbing, photos of dogs, and other distractions. See, not all bad. And I was pivoting, like a good Agile worker.

I got home and was reminded of the other thing that had me annoyed, from yesterday. I left my dang knitting project over at the Hermits’ Rest house. Having gone through a bunch of minor annoyances yesterday, I really wanted to knit, so I ran all over the Bobcat Lair house until I found a yarn I’d bought years ago back when I had knitting friends and went to the Kid ‘n Ewe festival.

Who needs a pattern when the yarn is so lovely, right<

I decided to just start out with a plain triangular shawl, with a classy tabbed start. I’m going to throw in some simple lace later, now that I realize that the blues and purples aren’t too distracting. The yarn is hand dyed from a Texas dyer that’s no longer in business, but I like how it has a matte thread and a shiny thread plied together. So, that’s one more annoyance I was able to laugh at.


Hey, thanks for the nice words and comments on my previous post. I have some really great readers. And by the way, you can always go read blogs on WordPress if you want to cheer up. There’s so much beauty, and at least a river isn’t flooding my back yard (garden) like poor @knittingjane of Woolly Wednesday. Go read a blog! And take care!

All that Change Embracing Gets Tedious

This is a time of upheaval, and I’m really glad I spent my whole life up to now preparing for lots of stress and lots of change. I think if the past year had happened with my coping skills back when I was 20-something, I’d be curled up in a ball every single day. So, if you are that way now, don’t beat yourself up over it.

Such a happy gal

This week I have three meetings for three different organization, and of course I’m the secretary of all but one (that means I have to pay attention). Plus, there have been lots of shakeups and changes at my Austin job. Hard ones, some of them. But, I was doing well today, having finally gotten the temperature in my office under control, my webcam set right, and a fine ambiance. I even took a cheerful photo of myself to use on some PowerPoint for a work project.

Suddenly, I got a message that I have to be out of the office for two weeks, to be sure we’re all safe and following instructions from the state. I was like, “Right now?” Yep. Thank goodness I could finish the meeting I was in! So, I untangled all my cords and wires and brought all the things I needed over to my office at the Hermits’ Rest, which I’d been avoiding using for work, due to barking dogs and such.

I appear to be frazzled at the ole home office. And I appear to have developed a lazy eye in my old age.

Lee brought my office chair, so I don’t have to sit in a dining chair! Once you get things all set up for a modern “work from home” situation, you don’t realize how much stuff is involved. I had to move my fancy work headphones, my HD webcam, my ergonomic mouse, and my cute keyboard. Oh yes, and all the power cords and USB attachments for all of them. Good thing I have a lot of USB plugs. We did have to go back and get things I forgot, but now I’m set.

That’s my view. I guess it will make me concentrate more on work.

I got everything plugged in and working, though it’s not pretty. The desk is pretty (solid labradorite), but it’s pretty much all cords.

Well, I have no choice but to embrace this change and find the good parts.

  • Working in my office/den will encourage me to clean up some clutter that’s showed up here (I did clean up the air bed leftover from our last guest).
  • I have a really nice bathroom with birds all over it.
  • I have usually well behaved dogs lying around and sighing.
  • I brought all my pens, so I can write in color!
  • I get to look out a window and see birds and trees.
  • I can go feed my horses this afternoon with plenty of time to come back for my evening meeting, rather than having to drive back and forth to the office.

Um, and the commute is shorter! I will welcome more snow!

Oh, really, this is just a little glitch, and it will all be just fine. I’ll deal with it, I’ll deal with whatever comes up at work, I’ll deal with challenges my friends are facing, and I’ll do my best to remain positive about how next week will go, government-wise.

I know I’m supposed to embrace change! Honest! But, we are allowed to get a little annoyed, for a little while, before moving on and getting things done, doing the needful, etc. Keep me in your thoughts, and I promise to do the same!

A Dark Time. Is Light Coming?

This week, all I’ve heard is that it’s the darkest time for the country where I live, at least since 9/11. I’m not doubting that. It’s probably not been a great idea, but I’ve been reading a lot about how to help people who’ve been deceived by repeated lies, help cult members move on, etc. The best article I read is this one, “Can members of the Trump cult be deprogrammed after the leader falls?,” from Steve Hassan in 2019, and I wanted to share it, in case it’s helpful for any readers.

Perhaps the beauty of this guinea fowl feather will help us keep breathing.

I have been doing a fairly good job of keeping good spirits until last week, when I saw how many people whom I’ve been extending the benefit of the doubt, supporting their right to their beliefs, etc., are willing to try to bring down the government and the precious Constitution they kept braying about for so many years. Beating police officers, whose lives I thought mattered to them, with American flags, which I thought they held sacred, etc., all brought out my worst fears.

Knowing me, and I sorta do, it’s clear that I can handle one or two crises at a time pretty well. By the time yesterday came along, the crisis count went over my limit. There are a couple of things that I can’t talk about but weigh heavy on my mind. Plus way too many horrible illnesses in my extended circle. Then stuff happened at my job over the past week or so went over my limit for calmly dealing with the barrage of change that comes with an Agile organization owned by a new set of venture capitalists.

Feathers and some nice grounding quartz. Ahh.

By the time my final meeting ended last night, at 7 pm, I’d had it. The darkness enveloped me, literally and figuratively, as I made my way back to the ranch, and I just couldn’t take another thing. I want to help people, I want to talk to folks who need to talk to me, and I want to get things done that I’ve committed to do. But wow, I’m only human.

You know what, all of you are only human, too. It is important to know when you’ve hit a limit and do something about it.

My Zoom background decorations. Perhaps over the top.

I am not someone who feels better by just ignoring current events, but I CAN find good things to balance them. That’s my hope for all of you, too, that you keep listening to the advice I repeatedly give to turn to nature and find its timeless beauty. Breathe. Take a walk. Surround yourself with what makes you happy (like all my silly Valentine’s Day decorations in the office). Talk to a friend. Maybe talk to a friend who is NOT overwhelmed like me!

My view from the desk tries to tell me love wins.

I will now sign off and follow my own advice. Love to all, and I mean ALL.

Wake-Up Weather

Happy back to work day, for those of us who are working. I had a lovely morning, even though I didn’t sleep much last night. When I looked out the window, I saw an amazing sunrise, plus very low fog. You can’t help but be cheered up by two early-morning Nature gifts, right?

The yellow part here was actually gleaming gold. Check out that fog right above the horizon

I got a couple photos looking in each direction before heading off to Austin.

My drive in was in and out of fog, with a lot of interesting vistas, but you get no photos, since I was keeping my eye out for deer or other road hazards. It’s pleasant when fog is pretty and not so thick that you can’t see.

I’m actually looking forward to getting back to work this week. I miss my coworkers. My poor work plants missed me, and one is looking pretty sad. But, at least one coffee machine is working, and Zoom seems functional, so off I go.

I’m also hoping to get my car tire back. I drove the giant white car this week, which has such a big trunk (boot) that there is no issue with putting an entire wheel in it.

I hope you’re getting back into whatever passes for “normal” in 2021!

Okay, Let’s Spread Some Cheer

One of the things I like about the way Hearts, Homes and Hands does its business is that they do lots of nice things for the clients and staff. Every year, goodie bags and flowers show up out of thin air to give out to everyone.

Just kidding. Many hours are spent making those goodies. Last night, after a long day of work, Kathleen, Meghan, and CC showed up at the Hermits’ Rest to go into goody overdrive. I got to help, and even Lee measured some cocoa for fudge! (I picked and shelled a small bunch of pecans from the tree outside our office, but Lee ate most of them.)

Ready to make treats.

Meghan and I made many, many pretzels dipped in almond bark and sprinkled with sugar. We got better as we went along. Everyone laughed at how I wanted to be sure every treat bag had the same number of treats. Well, MAYBE I enjoy divvying them up! (Hey, I spelled divvying right the first time!)

The pretzels are hiding in here.

The other half of the crew made Kathleen’s special fudge recipe, which contains cheese product (you’d never guess). The microwave was going nonstop between melting fudge ingredients and almond bark. Good thing we have a big kitchen.

Fudge, not solidifying.

After the fudge was done, Kathleen made “trash,” which is her version of Chex Mix. It’s spicy! That’s mostly for the caregivers, since we don’t want to shock the systems of the clients.

Trash. And remnants of the pretzel operation.

We had so much fun making a mess, enjoying adult beverages (some of us), and telling stories to each other. I’d say the management team put a LOT of love into our gifts.

This morning, they discovered our fridge wasn’t quite cold enough, and the fudge hadn’t solidified. It got re-melted and put in the freezer for a while. Our poor saucepan was traumatized, but everything worked out, and after a good soak, that saucepan can cook Christmas foods.

Ready to deliver the goodies.

Eventually, everything was all packed up and ready to be delivered by Kathleen and Meghan at some point today.

Personal Note

I’m really proud of them. They work SO danged hard, taking phone calls at all hours, filling out paperwork, supervising…trying to help team members better themselves…etc.

A personal assistance service is not an easy business to be in, since you tend to be surrounded by sick people, hurting people, grumpy people (and FUN people, too, don’t get me wrong) and doing your best to make their lives easier. Luckily, the great people on our team and the truly wonderful and appreciative clients make up for it. I’ve always felt that work that helps others is the best, and I think the Hearts, Homes and Hands team will agree.