Own Your Dash

I recently heard about “Own The Dash”.  Dakota Meyer is an American Veteran who’s spearheading this mission. The concept is simple, though it may have somewhat of a morbid undertone. When you die, your tombstone will read DOB-DOD. The two dates listed next to your name are the only ones you live with less than 24 hours in them. The days that contain a full 24 hours are the ones summarized by a single dash. What are you going to do with your dash? What will you do to leave an impact on people? In order to have a positive impact on others, you need to have a positive impact on yourself. What do you need to do to be your best self? How can you make the most of this day? Or month, or year? Extend that to your whole life. It might be something simple like drink more water. Eat the cake. Or DON’T eat the cake (again). Maybe take an art class, join a gym, bake something (and share it), or read a book. Maybe get your ass out of bed and in those runners!

We should also think about how we treat ourselves through external environments. How can we filter external influences in a way that best serve us and in turn those we love. Evaluate how you spend your time. We all know social media has a huge impact on our mental health, so filtering or limiting this is a good first step. If you scroll through negative tweets all day – quit. Both our physical and mental health requires a diet, so make sure it’s a healthy one. How and with who you spend your time affects your dash. Be with those who deserve you company. Spend time with people who make you better and happier.

Now the 2nd part of this is how do you leave a positive impact on people around you? I’m talking about your spouse, kids, family, friends, co-workers, and community. I’m also talking about people you meet one time. The kid you see at school drop off who is always by themselves. The person next to you in line for coffee. The new guy at the office. The person you see at Church once a year. What will you do for those people? How will you make them feel? I encourage you to be kind to them. Give them a smile. Ask for their opinions during meetings. Invite them to your kid’s birthday party. Take an extra snack to share. Tell them a classic Dad-joke or about your favorite episode of The Office. Lend them a book or buy their coffee. Join a volunteer group (or SYL *cough*). Hug people you love an extra second longer.

We need to be thankful for our dash. Look around; what are you grateful for? Not just one time, do this every day.

Your dash can make a difference.


Pamela Anderson, CPA, CGA

12 Days of Thought Leadership

A Time to Reflect

Understanding Personality Styles

Recently at our yearly retreat, we heard from Jolene Watson. She led a great discussion on personality tests and stress management – eye opener! One of the key points that she touched on referenced learning the personality styles of the people you work most closely with. While this seems like common sense, it’s not something that I had really considered up until this point. Why – I have no idea – because it’s pure gold.

There are a few reasons why I think her idea of knowing the personality style of your closest colleagues is one to follow. First of all, these are the people that you spend day in and day out with. Arguably, they spend more time with you than your own family. If you have no idea how or why they make decisions, the potential for conflict is always going to be greater. Now I don’t know about you, but doing things to create a conflict-free environment for my workdays sounds like a pretty good thought!

Second, almost anything can be brought down to your personality style. Your sense of humor, how you recharge, and how you like to be rewarded are just a few. While sense of humor and how you choose to recharge at the end of the day are important to understanding a person as a whole, how they prefer to be rewarded is a large part of creating a unified and cohesive team. Ultimately, you will work better together if you understand that they like to be quietly thanked rather than a large, CU-wide email going out detailing their accomplishment.

Last but not least, the work you produce as a team is bound to soar to new heights. Knowing that your close colleague is a thinker, rather than a feeler, is going to help you allot the right amount of time for those large projects that always seem to pop up. This should create a more contented team at the end of the day, as the timeline set would match their learning and personality styles.

While knowing the personality style of your team is not going to solve all the problems you may have, it would be a large leap towards understanding the people you’re with the most. This is something that I think would come in handy with not just my immediate team, but my larger work unit as a whole and I know that they’re just as stoked as I am to learn their personality style!

To discover your MBTI Personality Profile, there are tons of online tests that can be found. Or for a truly wonderful experience, you can contact Jolene Watson here.


– Larrisa Wesnoski

Learning to Fail and Failing to Learn

Come With Me, Not At Me

My biggest struggle in trying to come up with something to write about wasn’t so much a topic but the way in which I go about it.  I constantly struggled with the right tone.  Anyone who knows me, can probably agree that I’m not a fluffy person, not touchy-feely, no BS.  With that being said I didn’t want to write about a huge, grandiose idea on a really heavy topic that was so serious it would be taken as just verbal diarrhea…and I didn’t want to write something so unimportant for the sake of not being serious…and didn’t want to get too personal for fear of being unprofessional.


In the last 2 years, part of my role has taken me on the road to different locations.  I drive about 700 kilometers, Monday to Friday.  A lot of time in the car makes for a lot of time to fill….*insert selected podcast/audiobook*.  Honestly, I hadn’t given either much thought until being involved with SYL and hearing what all the cool kids were doing.  One of my favorite podcasts is ‘Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard’.  An interesting character who is honest about his own personal struggles with addiction, childhood trauma, fear and anxiety, toxic masculinity, fame and money.  I find that he is able to talk about himself and his guests without seeming too out of touch with his listeners.  He’s had a number of episodes called ‘Experts on Expert’,  featuring guests such as Dr. Phil, Gwyneth Paltrow, various psychologists and other ‘expert-in-their-field’ guests.  The last two Expert Guests that he had on, I found incredibly engaging and intriguing, John Kim (The Angry Therapist) and Johann Hari (author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections), a researcher in the areas of addiction and mental health.

I had a teacher in elementary school, Mrs. Paton, my music teacher.  She and I did NOT get along…even though I loved her class, one of my favorites.  Until one day (after sending me out in the hallway and then to the principal’s office, for something I can’t even remember now!) she said to me; “Christine, it’s not what you say…it’s how you say it.”  Mind you it took a while for that to really sink in and to internalize it so that it was my first thought when communicating, not an afterthought.  Soon after this interaction with her, our teacher/student relationship was much better.  I have never forgotten this lesson, but John Kim said in his interview regarding his own interactions, “Come with me, not at me”, and I immediately returned to that childhood memory.

Come with me, not at me.  This statement, for me, works on so many levels.  How do I talk to my husband?  My kids?  My coworkers and peers?  My boss?  Friends?  How do I use this to provide solutions instead of just looking to others to provide answers?  I think of my daily interactions (with my kids…getting them out of the house!)  How does their behavior and attitude change when I work with them (sometimes more time consuming) instead of demanding they get ready?  How does a conversation flow in a coaching session, if I come prepared with possible solutions, instead of ‘there is a problem, how is it going to be fixed?’  Working together and speaking together to create a feeling of ease, inclusion, and value, goes a long way in building trust and respect…important in every relationship.

The Value of Purpose

I normally consider myself a go-getter. I like to stay busy both in my personal and professional life, accomplishing as many goals and getting as much done as I can. But certain tasks – whether it be outside my comfort zone, time consuming, or just plain boring will go to the back of my list, rarely to be addressed. I work most effectively with a deadline but without, it tends to go to the back of the list. Jeph Maystruck read Parkinson’s Law, “work expands so as to fill the time available for completion”, at our annual retreat this summer as my to-do list started piling up, so it hit home at the time. There were many things that I had been putting off that ran through my head, all of which had loose deadlines. I needed to adjust my way of thinking about these tasks instead of procrastinating as they were starting to build up and so was the overwhelming feeling that came along with it. I knew I had to find a way to take the first step, even though I wasn’t sure what that step was, nor did I really feel like it.

So I decided to brush up on my time management skills by reading books, watching TED talks, and listening to various speakers. All of which had useful information on time management and productivity. But I quickly realized it wasn’t my time management skills that needed improvement, it’s that I was only focused on one thing – crossing the task off my to-do list. Sure there are certain times in the day where I’m most productive, having my phone on silent helps me avoid distractions (let’s be honest my phone is permanently on silent), and taking small breaks helps improve productivity, but being productive is only so useful if there’s no purpose.

When I get really busy life tends to turn into more of a task list and my main focus is generally moving from one task to the next. But when I take a step back and think about it, what’s the point if I’m not enjoying the process? Sometimes, when our task list piles up it’s hard to see the big picture around the why, instead we’re focused on deadlines and stressing until all the tasks are complete. It’s important that when I feel overwhelmed with all my ‘to do’s’ that I take a step back and ask myself ‘does this work contribute to my end goal?’, ‘will I be closer to accomplishing my goals after I complete this task list?’ and, ‘do these tasks align to my core values?’. Once I take the time to ask myself these things I feel less stressed and it becomes clearer to me which items on my list are important. I think we all fall victim to saying yes more than we should, we all inherently want to do our best and the most we can to help others. However, sometimes this comes at the cost of burning ourselves out. This past summer I committed to running my first half marathon. Initially I thought my biggest challenge would be the physical aspects of training. To my surprise it was prioritization – I no longer had time to do it all, which took a big toll on me. It takes some work, but once you are clear on your personal core values, you can let this guide your decision-making process. This helps me to determine if the things I say yes to really align with where I want to be and if they are in alignment with my values. How do you let your values guide your actions?

Positively Productive

I recently watched a Ted Talk by Shawn Achor (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLJsdqxnZb0) about how happiness can lead to not only better mental and physical health, but also more productive workplaces. Shawn argues that happiness in any given situation is a choice, and that by making that simple choice, we are setting ourselves up for success. Happy employees are healthier, easier to coach and even more productive.

The happiness argument has been made by many a public speaker. But often I’m left wondering – if the choice to be happy is so easy, why is it so hard to follow through? One might argue that it’s because complaining is so engrained into our lifestyle. Misery loves company, and we have trained our behavior to match that sentiment. So in this month’s blog, I want to share some of my tips and tricks for making workplace happiness the norm around the CU water cooler.


Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is something so easy that makes a huge difference in your outlook. Whether you call it focusing on the positive, being thankful, or looking on the bright side, gratitude is an easy way to train your behavior towards happiness. Recently my family has taken to actually filling out a white board with the things that we are grateful for. Putting what you are grateful for in writing is a very powerful tool, and reading what others are grateful for is often an eye opener.


Help Someone

It comes as no surprise that helping someone else just feels good. Its why many of us decided to start a career in the Credit Union system, where volunteerism is a key value. Make sure that you are taking advantage of volunteer activities promoted through your work, and truly enjoy that good feeling when you’re done. Helping someone can be done on a small scale too. Lend a hand to a coworker struggling with a project, take a minute to help a neighbor carry their groceries, even paying for the person in line behind you at the drive thru can leave you feeling cheery all afternoon.


Get Enough Sleep

As Andrea Phippen mentioned at our SYL retreat this summer, it is very hard to practice emotional intelligence when your physical needs are not being met. Being well rested helps you to have patience, maintain your engagement in tasks, and yes – be happier. Don’t worry about making big changes overnight, just try and adjust your sleep window by 5-10 minutes at a time. Little changes make big differences.

As we go into this busy season following summer holidays, make sure to take the time to focus on the positive. Little steps towards happiness can bring down our stress, make us more productive and even… happy 🙂


Shout out to the BCYoungLeaders for sharing the Achor Ted Talk with their community. Connect with them on Twitter @BCYL or online at www.bcyoungleaders.com