Practice these things and you’ll change lives for the better.

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Bosses make our lives better or worse with the simplest of inconsequential acts. A “good job” can mean the world. A well-placed critique can change a career for the better. But a thoughtless comment will damage any relationship, never more so than when one person has the ability to terminate the other’s livelihood. Worse, a pattern of ego-driven blindness can turn a leader into an employee’s personal Satan.

Definitions of what equates to a “great” leader differ. Some, like Jeff Bezos build towering empires. Others, like Nelson Mandela, lead nations. …


Five keys to unlocking better relationships and winning at life

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Help. Few words are as loaded with meaning. Many of us think asking for help telegraphs weakness. We fear appearing needy or incompetent in part because we recoil from people who appear to us to be needy or incompetent.

Some think accepting help means we’re obligated to return the favor. Or we define ourselves by our helping behavior; without someone to help, someone we can save or support, we feel lost. We might love to help, hate to help, or find it all depends on who’s asking and what the circumstances are.

Untangling our complicated relationship with help enables us…


Declutter your mental space

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Several years ago, I was assigned to work on an enormous, complicated project. To do my part, I had to spend most workdays in a windowless and cold basement with roaches clustered in the bathroom sinks. I hated being chilled and below ground.

But I couldn’t do a whole lot about it. The work was there, thus that was where I needed to be. Because I had been, I thought, robbed of my power to not be in that basement, I told myself the story of my victimhood over and over again. …


To fight the virus we need both physical distance AND mental togetherness

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Examples of acts of kindness and community are cropping up in my social circle. For instance, a neighbor posted a note using the Nextdoor app to offer help to anyone with errands or groceries during this extraordinary time. A 78-year-old woman responded, saying she was okay for now, but wasn’t sure if she’d need something in the future. It comforted her, she said, to know she could reach out.

Research has repeatedly shown that people with strong social connections experience immunity boosts. Yet, with the need to remain physically distant, we can’t connect the way we used to. Stress build-up…


Some people are born optimists, the rest of us have to work at it.

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When I was 22 and waiting for a friend in a local bar, an acquaintance shattered my ego and I’ve been the better for it ever since. His words, and my reaction to them, invited me on a journey of self-observation where I discovered I could abandon negative thought patterns and embrace new, joyful ones.

The research on positive mindset as a factor in health outcomes, relationships and work performance consistently shows positive people are healthier, have better relationships, and enjoy more success at work both…


In the end, it’s what we choose to believe that counts.

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It began with a question. I sat on my bedroom floor, petting our elderly golden retriever, Ace. Jackson, age nine, perched on a chair nearby, working on a puzzle in the dining room with my husband.

“Mom,” Jackson asked, “Are you moving the elf at night?”

For those of you unfamiliar with the ‘Elf on the Shelf,’ this question may not make any sense. But suffice it to say the elf is masterful marketing magic that came on the Christmas scene in earnest in 2007. The elf moves each night after he or she visits Santa with reports of a…


I scared myself silly climbing a mountain (and I’d do it again).

My companions climbing the mountain. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

We bumped along a rutted dirt road in a rented SUV, parking a quarter mile from the trailhead leading to the summit of Mount Democrat. The four of us hoisted backpacks stuffed with water, food, dry socks, and extra clothes onto our backs. The thin, 38-degree air nipped at exposed hands and faces. Winded by the walk from the car to the trailhead, even my more experienced friends worried that our less than 24 hours at altitude had not been enough time for our sea-level dwelling bodies to adjust. I bean to sweat, and not just from the exertion.

Up

Up…


Avoid these three things and your team will thank you.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Leaders with positional power have broad authority. Broad authority means consequences for bad behavior may be delayed or non-existent. If goals are being met, leaders may not feel the need to change negative behaviors. Even leaders with the best intentions can sometimes fall prey to small abuses of positional power. As the labor market tightens, retaining good employees means giving them abundant reasons to stay. Research on the leadership behaviors that promote higher team performance, increased retention rates, and overall happiness points to the importance of avoiding positional power traps like these.

Pitfall 1: Passing the stress buck

One day, when my son was four, I…


Why we ask and answer the wrong questions

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Questions without easy answers abound. But we humans hate that. Our brains like certainty. Tough, complex problems without clear solutions make us very unhappy indeed. In these situations, particularly where public pressure exists to find a fast and clean answer, we’re susceptible to a type of cognitive bias called substitution. Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, explains it this way, “If a satisfactory answer to a hard question is not found quickly, [our brains] will find a related question that is easier and will answer it.”

Since being sure of something is our preferred condition, our brains tend…


She offered me the world in more ways than one.

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My mother and I, she in her 70's and I in my 40's, recently returned from our first mother/daughter vacation. I grabbed her hand once at a rest stop on the autobahn somewhere outside Nuremberg, Germany. I hadn’t held her hand for at least 30 years. I asked her if it was weird. “A little,” she laughed. Her hand was so soft. I let go before I wanted to. She gave me the gift of this trip together, but in my youth my mom gave me gifts of a different kind. Here’s four of the best.

1. She encouraged my curiosity

As a second-grader, I…

Angela Noel Lawson

On a quest to become a better human, I write about parenting, leadership, and personal development. Currently pursuing a master’s in organizational leadership.

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