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Reflecting on The Year of Possibilities…How Did You Do?

December 11th, 2017

By: Karen Colligan


Although it seems like just yesterday, way back in January I declared 2017 “The Year of Possibilities.” I challenged you to “Do at least one thing this year that will stretch your being…your thinking…your heart…your soul… Think about it. What will that be?”

I even gave you some tips to get you started:

Just DO IT already – go on that vacation, learn a new language, or do nothing for an entire weekend!

Stop multi-tasking – how can you see possibilities when you’re doing 3 things at once?

Pay attention to what’s around you – open your eyes to see what you miss when you’re on autopilot!

Listen…really listen – what is this wonderful, crazy universe trying to tell you?

Dream BIG – if you don’t dream for yourself, no one else will. Make a “possibility list.”

So…how did you do? What possibilities did you identify? Which of them did you turn into reality? Please share in the comments section below.

I’m happy to share that 2017 has truly been a Year of Possibilities for me – and that by following the above tips (yes, I take my own medicine) I turned a number of possibilities into reality. Here are three of them.

In July I went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. This had been on my bucket list for years, and I decided to just DO IT! Did it stretch my thinking and feed my soul? You bet! It was so inspiring to see and learn about people who truly live their dreams.

By paying attention to what was going on around me, I learned that Bruce Springsteen was going to be performing on Broadway beginning in October. I’ve been going to Bruce’s concerts since 1975, but seeing him on Broadway would be a first. So you better believe I was going to turn THAT possibility into reality. I did and it was beyond my expectations! If you want to be good at your work, you have to take some time to feed your soul.

And by paying attention, really listening, and dreaming big, I embraced an opportunity in early November to stretch myself (and challenge my fear of heights) when a friend invited me to join her on a trip to Peru to see the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu.  We climbed Wayna Picchu (ahem…elevation 8,924 ft.) which rises over Machu Picchu, and offers a magnificent view of the 8th Wonder of the World. And, trust me, I was terrified!  Woo hoo!  I did it!!!

As for eliminating multi-tasking, I’m still working on it, and getting better all the time.

If somehow this Year of Possibilities slipped by you, I hope you’ll take some time over the holidays to think about what you can do next year to stretch your being…your thinking…your heart…your soul…

“Talk about a dream, try to make it real.” – Bruce Springsteen

Till next time,


Bruce springsteen, Life, Possibilities, wellness

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There is not one question in my mind about who is “THE Boss.” I am fresh off my gazillionth Bruce Springsteen concert. This show was in San Jose, at the HP Pavilion on April 24, 2012.

Let’s talk about Leadership, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.

Full disclosure…I am a Jersey Girl…

Bruce Springsteen is an extraordinary leader. What makes an extraordinary leader, you ask? Let me give you the top qualities and explain.

First, some context – Bruce is 62 years old, has 20 albums over a span of 40 years, 21 Grammy Awards, one Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and has sold more than 120 million albums globally. He has been married since 1991 and has 3 children.

There are multiple qualities that make an extraordinary leader. I will look at 5 of those qualities and put them in Bruce-eze.

  1. TRUST – When a fan walks into a Bruce show there is one thing that is absolute – and that is: we know and trust that Bruce will give every ounce he has to the performance. His expectation is that the E-Street Band will do the same…and…the fans will do the same. There is an unbreakable code of trust that we are all in the same place to rock, dance, forget whatever else is going on in our lives, and have a grand ol’ time.

  2. COMMUNICATION – Watching Bruce and the E-Street band on stage is like watching a mime speak. He nods his head and the band all seem to know exactly what he is saying. It is as if they have their own language. It’s amazing to watch. The same communication happens with his fans. Bruce puts out the microphone and we sing. Bruce puts up his hand for silence, and we are quiet. Bruce is not afraid to express his opinion. Just read The Rolling Stone article in the March 2012 issue. He communicates clearly, is very open and heartfelt (especially about losing his band mate and friend Clarence Clemons) and has a backbone. Not everything he says is popular, and he still has the guts to speak his mind.

  3. VISION – Bruce has known since an early age that he wanted to play music and he has never wavered. He has said in interviews that he couldn’t do anything else. His vision incorporates being true to himself, speaking his mind, loving what he does, surrounding himself with a strong community and not compromising.

  4. INSPIRING – The man oozes inspiration. He loves what he does. It is contagious. When you are at a Bruce concert you are in for the treat of a lifetime. It is part rock concert, part community rally, part spiritual awakening…dance-fever, party, sing-along and just a damn happy crowd of people!! I always walk away wanting to be certain I am listening to my “soul” and living my life to the fullest.

  5. LEAVING A LEGACY – I think all of the above sums up Leaving a Legacy clearly. And if that is not enough to substantiate Bruce’s legacy, The University of Southern Indiana is again partnering with Monmouth University and Penn State Altoona to offer the 2012 “Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium ,” devoted to the life, work, and influence of Bruce Springsteen.

What a lesson in extraordinary leadership – be true to who you are, love what you do, build a community of people with similar values, speak your mind and never compromise. It’s time to form our own E-Street Band…

Till next time,


Bruce springsteen, Leadership, New jersey, Professional and team leadership

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I’ve Got a New Aptitude

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

As long as I keep referencing Bruce Springsteen, let me continue with this theme. Bruce and the E Street Band finished their “Working on a Dream” tour on November 22, 2009. Now how is that for a mantra to live by? If they are still working on a dream, then there is hope for all of us, don’t you think? Anyway, they have been playing albums front to back in concert and they closed their tour with the first album – Greetings from Asbury Park. I did not attend their last show in Buffalo, and I am not happy about it; however, that is a different story.

So, what the heck is my point? There really is one – most members of the band play multiple instruments; however, they have one core instrument they bring to the band. Clarence Clemons on saxophone, Garry Tallent on bass, Rob Bittan on piano, Little Steven Van Zandt on guitar, and so on. Each member has made a choice about the core skill he brings to the band. Do they play other instruments? Yes. And, with that said, they all understand the role they play within the E Street Band, depending on the song or the album they will be playing on stage.

We are no different than the E Street Band (except for the fact I can’t sing, nor do I play an instrument). Each of us has to understand the skill(s) we want to use in our work and the skill(s) we would prefer not to use in our work. What is important to think about is: does your current role leverage the best of your skills? Are there things you are really good at but would rather not have to use in your next opportunity? Here’s an idea…Write a list of your skills and organize it by: 1) Skills that you currently use or have used in the past and, 2) Skills you would like to use and, 3) Skills you have absolutely no interest in using.

Let’s continue our work with The Get Real Guide to Your Career and take a walk down memory lane. Really think about those skills you used that gave you energy, made you want to be the best you could be, skills that you really enjoyed. Was it coaching, customer interface, influencing, hiring and staffing, creating, selling products or services, project management, training? Well, you get the idea. Keep the list going and add to it. Once you get the list completed, go back and rank the top 10 skills you would like to use. This list will help you determine what you might be interested in doing next. If there are skills on the list that you need to develop, now could be a good time to start that. An example – you really like project management and want to get more proficient in it. There are classes you can take, or software you can learn. Spend some time gaining proficiency and then you will have one more skill to add to your tool box.

I am a big proponent of being very clear about the skills you want to use and the skills you do not want to use. Be certain the “don’t want to use” are on your list. This doesn’t mean that you absolutely will refuse to use these skills. It just means that they will be on the bottom of your list.

My best example of this is when I was on the board of a non-profit. We were bringing a global conference to San Francisco. I was in charge of all the speakers’ requirements for their presentations – the equipment they would need for their presentation, the room set up, the materials they needed at each seat, what time they needed to show up, how long they had to present, etc., etc. Now, I am a very organized person, which is why they put me in charge of the speakers. I had color-coded spreadsheets, I had cell phones going, I was a detail maniac. I did this for 4 days. At the end of it, I wanted to cry (in fact I am sure I did cry multiple times throughout the conference). The detail was making me completely crazy. Every little thing had to be perfect – the speakers were counting on me and the participants were counting on me. Needless to say, all went very well. Now, is that anything I want to do for a living? Absolutely not. As mentioned, I am organized; however, enough already! If I tell people about this skill, that is the only thing they will hear, and the next thing I know I will be running conferences. I promise you, I do not want to do that even if I do it well. It just doesn’t fulfill me. It completely depletes me, and makes me exhausted. So that is what I mean about the skills you do not want to use and why it is so important to spend time thinking through this exercise.

Remember, this is about using the skills you want to use and the skills that will help you do the best work possible. This exercise is well worth your time. As you are looking for a new work opportunity, you need to be able to articulate – very clearly - your top skills. As always, have some fun with it, and think about who you are today and what you want for tomorrow! Our PeopleThink web site is filled with resources and articles to help guide you in the direction that is best for YOU. peoplethink/resources/

Till the next time…


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Your Journey Begins

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

Say it isn’t so! I actually am going to ask you, the reader, to begin doing some self-reflection. Don’t stop reading, please! Have some fun with it, and look at it as an opportunity to take some time just for you. We all know there is absolutely no time in this 24/7 environment for us to take time for ourselves. There are the kids, the partner, the parents, the work, the friends, the obligations. UGH…just thinking about it makes my head spin! My vote… take some time for YOU. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, at least you know it’s time for you and no one else. Heck, how are you going to determine what might be next for you in your career if you don’t take some time to work on yourself? I promise it will not be painful. Who knows, you might even learn something about yourself. Oh no! Say it isn’t so!!

Before we begin our journey through The Get Real Guide to Your Career, let’s get something clear up front. As I coach people who are looking for new work, I often hear them say, “I want to find my passion,” or, “I want to absolutely love my work,” or, “I want to wake up in the morning and jump out of bed because I can’t wait to get to my work.” Now, this may come as a surprise to most; however, my response is, Why? Don’t get me wrong…if people can find their passion like Bruce Springsteen and others have, I am all for it. That’s a gift, and very difficult to get. Only a very small segment of the population can claim absolute love and devotion to their work. So why set yourself up for failure right from the beginning?

What’s wrong with truly liking your work AND liking your entire, full life? If Oprah heard me say this I am sure she would not be very happy with me. She has been very fortunate to find her passion and to create her entire life around that passion, and to do wonderful things along the way. Good for her!!! With that said… I get tired of hearing: find your passion and the money will come or, once you find your passion, your life will be complete or, live your passion and success will follow. Are ya kidding me?

How about finding work that is very satisfying, and uses the skills and natural talents you have and want to use? I am proposing that you can actually look at your work as only one aspect of your life. Don’t forget about the other parts – your relationship with family and friends – your health and fitness – your fun time – your spiritual self – your ‘you’ time – your volunteer time – your hobby time – your whatever-you-want time. Let’s face it, there are more things in life than our work. My guess is that when you are ready for the final roundup, you won’t be wishing you’d spent more time at work. My hope is that you can allow yourself to have a full life with a rewarding career that enhances your life and doesn’t detract from it.

Let the journey begin…

As we begin our walk through The Get Real Guide, keep in mind that we want you to do these exercises from the perspective of where you are today. Think of it as starting from a fresh place. Many of you will have done some of this work in the past and may think, why should I do it again? The reason is…because you are at a different point in your life now. As you go through these exercises, think about your future, and the possibilities that lie ahead. Don’t get stuck in what you’ve done, or what has happened in the past. Look at this as a new adventure – one that will provide you something new in your life. Have some fun with it, and please don’t stop reading…

Okey…dokey…first things first…your values. Feeling fulfilled and happy in your work has a lot to do with whether that work aligns with your values. What are values? Your core beliefs. The things you must have in order to be your best. Some examples – trust, harmony, excellence, innovation, fun, risk-taking, collaboration, connection. Take a moment and list your top five values.

What are those things about which you will absolutely not compromise? Yes, it is hard. And yes, it is worth it. If it is tough to list just five, list as many as you can and then review and evaluate them. Then narrow your list down to your five core values.
Why is it so important to define your values when looking for new work? As you meet with new people and consider new organizations, it is imperative that you are able to determine whether your values are in sync. Think about it, have you ever worked for an organization where your values and the values of that organization were no longer aligned? What happened for you? Eventually, the realization is so clear that it is difficult to come to work and do your job in the best way possible. This is exactly what happened to me, and why I hold so strongly to this belief of mapping values.

I worked for a large organization for 13 years and probably stayed 2 years too long. When I joined, my values and the organization’s values were completely aligned. It was about doing whatever it takes to get the job done. It was about feeling connected with my colleagues and challenged to always do the best possible job. People truly were the number one asset for this company and they were treated as such. It wasn’t just a cliché. As the organization grew, the values became diluted. It was still a good organization, I just kept wondering, why am I not as excited to come to work each day? I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t imagine what was going on for me. Of course, I attempted to ignore it, thinking it might go away and that I was reading something into the situation. Isn’t it fun to do that? Well…eventually it was obvious. I was so sad, too. I left an organization where I thought I would spend my entire career. I didn’t want to believe it. And, as I said, I probably stayed 2 years too long. So, pay attention to your values.

Be certain that your values are a key factor in your decision to accept an opportunity and join an organization. Or you can do what I did…and just start your own business. Now if my values don’t map to the values of PeopleThink, I am in deep trouble!! Tee-hee…tee-hee…

I’d say this is enough for one sitting. I’ll see you soon, when we look at the skills you want to use…and the natural talents you must use.

By the way, I would love to hear from you on the passion topic. Do you believe people have to find their passion in their work to have a successful life?

Till the next time…Don’t Stop Believing!



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