Serena's family at Thanksgiving many years ago

As Thanksgiving rolls around in the United States, we have so much to be thankful for. I thought I would share a story today about my grandmother.

I was very blessed to know my grandmother. She lived for 96 years here on the Earth and I had the pleasure of getting to know her from the perspective of a child and an adult. My aunt, her daughter, passed away when I was a child. Occasionally, Granny would load all of the grandchildren up for a trip to the cemetery. She told me that there is no pain greater than losing a child. Her pain was palpable and even as a child, I can remember feeling her grief. As we all grew older, Granny lost her vision so I would drive her out to the cemetery when she asked to go. Each time we would go, we would follow the same procedure, we stood over the headstone, then walked to where the statue of Jesus was and then sat quietly on the bench.

When we were sitting there, my Granny would tell me a story about how devastated she was about the loss of my aunt and how in the early days she could find no consolation. She said she would come to the cemetery and sit on the bench and just cry. One day, she said, she cried out to God to give her a sign that her daughter was ok. Within a minute, she said she began to hear a mockingbird in the tree beside her sing the most beautiful song. She said it sang and sang and sang. Eventually, she had to leave, but the bird kept singing. She took this as her sign that her daughter was fine. She liked to return to the cemetery to be reminded of that wonderful gift.

Several years ago, my Granny passed away. I guess the body can only hold out so long. I was very sad and even though I understood that she was in a better place, I could not help missing her. She was buried in the same cemetery as my aunt and grandfather. The day after the funeral, I went out to the cemetery. It was very quiet and peaceful. As I followed procedure, I stood over her headstone, walked to the statue of Jesus and then sat quietly on the bench. As I sat there crying, a beautiful bird began to sing in the tree beside me, then it was joined by another. Together they sang and sang. I could not help but wonder if this sound was sent by my Granny and my aunt, who were now together. Half laughing, half crying, I sat and listened to the beautiful song of the birds. I had to go and get my children from school, but I hated to leave. What a sweet blessing.

I have returned occasionally to the cemetery but have not seen or heard the birds again. I think they must have been heaven sent.

As Thanksgiving draws near, it can be hard to celebrate when you are missing family members, but even though my Granny will not be at our table, her sweet potatoes and sweet memories will be. It is a great day for us to celebrate our memories and create new ones. May your Thanksgiving be blessed with much joy, laughter and giving of thanks.

traffic delays

Yesterday I was driving my kids to school and on the other side of the interstate there were two cars who had gotten into a minor accident and were off the road. Behind this small accident there were miles of cars and because of the constant stop and go traffic, two more small accidents. What a mess!!!

All of that trouble was caused by a minor accident. I was thinking about how our actions can affect the business process. A minor accident in the business process can cause a huge delay. Something missed during the spec process, one line of bad code or one missed test case in QA, each can make what was supposed to be an easy morning commute a real pain. EVERYONE hates delays.

We must value our work and recognize that our actions and reactions have an effect not just on us but the whole process. I read that 80% of car crashes are caused by distracted driving. At ByDesign Technologies we work hard at being the best. We want to make sure that we don’t get distracted and can always deliver the best product possible without delays. It is always our goal to keep the traffic flowing as efficiently as possible.

The path to greatness is very long. Many become tired and give up. I encourage you to pursue it! To look to the past and say, “look at how much better we are” is a great blessing.

Our team working together during a Paintball outing!

Last week I talked about strengths and I thought I would follow up on that this week.  As a company we are invested in finding the strengths of our team.  We feel that knowing our team members strengths allows us visibility into what they excel at.  Additionally, we are working with each person to help them understand their individual strengths and how each of those strengths works with others and makes us a strong company.

I was in church last week and the pastor was preaching on 1 Corinthians 12. When he came to the verses I am about to share with you, I thought about how clearly these verses can relate to business and building a great team.

The verses are 1 Corinthians 12:15-20

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say,“Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.  21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.

For some reason, we see what other people have and we want that rather than recognizing the strengths we have.  If we think of the business as a body, we all represent different parts (no jokes about who is the butt please!! LOL).  We need people to perform differently.   We hire people to perform differently.  If we all know what we are good at and how we can work together, we are able to move more efficiently down the path destined for us.

Some people see success as something they do alone.  That is a huge mistake.  If you are really successful, you are never alone.  You either have a team standing with you strong and able or you have a team scattered around you, trampled, used and defeated.

Do you know your strengths? Can you be successful using your strengths alone?? What are your thoughts?

Do you know your strengths?

I do a lot of interviewing for our company and I am shocked by the number of people who come in and don’t have an answer for the common interview questions, “What are your strengths?” and “What are your weaknesses?”.  Knowing our strengths and weaknesses is a key to our personal development.

I have several strengths. One of my strengths is that I am a maximizer which means I love to help people find their strengths.  If I find a shred of excellence in someone, I want to build it until they become something greater than they thought possible.  Good to better is not enough, better to incredible is extremely motivating for me.

I have weaknesses also. I can be quite critical and my directness can be seen as abrasive.  But, I know these things about myself so I try to control them to present a better me!!

If you know your strengths and weaknesses you can begin to build a better you.  If you don’t know them, do me a favor and spend some time figuring them out.  There are many books and online tests to help you if you want to do it independently. If you are brave enough, ask your friends!  Just be prepared for their honesty!!

We can never become great leaders who affect change if we do not recognize our potential.

Find yours today!!