Monthly Archives: March 2013

Loosening the knot

“Performance management is loosening the knot between shared intentions on both sides of the plate, for employees and employers,” began Kristen Cummings at a Managing for Peak Performance Seminar, early this week in Blackfoot. With a down to earth and relatable style Cummings shared ideas on how we can lead better or more simply how we can be better with others. Her philosophies were aimed at managers but truly they apply no matter what area of life you consider.

She began with some basic assumptions

  1. That every person would prefer to perform well and give generously of their gifts, ideas and talents.
  2. That every organization is interested in peak performance and full engagement of their staff.
  3. That the average manager is a working manager who may struggle to balance doing with managing and leading.

Cummings suggests that is preferable to be encouraging our people when things are going well and not only correcting when they are not. Peak performance = significance + resources + influence + accountability. “ A leader’s job is always revisiting significance for their team,” she says.

Yet, there will be times when the corrections need to happen.  Don’t avoid these conversations. In just about all cases, everyone else also knows that a line was crossed and is waiting for the manager to do something about it.  Don’t make a broad policy change to deal with one individual. Again, everyone else knows who it is directed at.  Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis of the situation. Don’t judge. Don’t say too much and listen.  Don’t use extreme language. Stay neutral and do the correction when you are calm. Do not own the problem. Ask open ended questions and allow the individual to come up with their own plan for change. Allow for lots of time.

“It is really about connecting people with their purpose,” Cummings emphasizes. “And getting the team back to a standard of excellence.”  Cummings used many analogies and humor to help participants gain insight to  making some of these conversations easier.

– Kelly

“While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, any single conversation can.” Susan Scott

“Not all transformation is pleasant.” Susan Scott

“No matter how far you are down the wrong road, turn back.” Turkish proverb.


Spring. . . . or Not?

It is, really, the first day of spring, the vernal equinox. Can you tell? I went for a walk yesterday and looked for signs of the new season. I did find a few patches of somewhat thawed dirt on the road. The sun was bright, strong and warmish. It was a gorgeous walk. And today we have a winter storm warning.IMG_1762IMG_1770
But alas, I did not see any pussy willows, gophers, or even mud. I know it can’t be far away. The calender says so.
But I guess we will have to keep watching. Winter is still here for a bit yet.

– Kelly

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
― Pablo Neruda


michelle cederberg

Michelle Cederberg

Multi-tasking, once thought of as an attribute has now turned into a curse. With three kids in five years, ours was a busy house. I also was working part – full time in our family business and the dad had a demanding job. So, in the course of a day, as so many others can relate to, there were a lot of balls in the air; juggling meals, chores, laundry, phone calls, accounting, school, after school, cleaning, home work, moving cattle. You get the idea as many of you are doing the same.
So we became skilled at doing many things at once. Talking on the phone, cooking, throwing in a load of laundry, answering questions, and checking e-mails can easily be done at the same time. There is the occasional phenomenon of walking into the living room during one of these episodes and wondering,. . . I came in here for what? So at the end of the day we have got a lot of things done. But now I ponder, yes we are getting a lot done, but how well are we doing these tasks. And do we have the ability to actually focus on one project at a time and complete it. My husband would be quick to answer a no to that one. And certainly men and women deal with these differently.
Michelle Cederberg, work life energy expert from Calgary, says men’s brains are like waffles and women’s like spaghetti. So for men their projects are more compartmentalized and focussed. Whereas, women’s focus can dart all over the place.
She says that on the positive side, “Multi-tasking can certainly help us to get a lot of things done at once and that can be a good thing as long as it does not add to your stress.” She also suggests that it can make us feel good, as if we are accomplishing more with our time.
But on the negative side, “ Having too many ‘undone tasks’ on the go can actually add to your mind-clutter and drain your energy as you try to keep track of what’s what.” Cederberg also says that in actuality our productivity is higher when we focus on one thing at a time.
So what are some ways we can improve our focus and stick-to-it-ness if we found we have become somewhat “scattered”? One of the strategies Cederberg suggests is creating a to do list. She recommends that the list include the tasks you need to get accomplished in the time you have. “Keep the list manageable ( 4 – 7 items) and make sure you allot a reasonable amount of time to each task.” She recommends that you keep the list in site and select the first item and focus on completing it. If your focus wanders to other tasks, revisit the list and remind yourself what task you are on. “Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find your mind wandering to other tasks. Just be aware it is happening and get back on track.” If you don’t get the list all done, celebrate what you did accomplish and move the undone items to another list so your brain is freed up from remembering what you have to do.
Another recommendation of Cederberg’s is to break the big tasks down into smaller steps. One tool to help with this is a timer set for 10 minutes. When that is done you can switch. “We can get an awful lot accomplished in 10 minute efforts, she says.

She also says we can decrease multi-tasking if we have improved systems at home and work. “Take the time to get organized, in 10 minute intervals if you have to, and then when new tasks come your way, tackle them immediately.” She concludes that procrastination today leads to multi-tasking and busyness tomorrow.
Perhaps, avoiding procrastinations should be the next topic.

“Multi-tasking can certainly help us to get a lot of things done at once,” Michelle Cederberg.

The Big Sausage Fest

I love writing stories about sausage making. 

If you were privy to all of the silent jokes cracking in my head right now, you would know that the rumors are true, and I have never actually grown up.  The fact that I cannot participate in wiener roasts or sausage making without making the occasional off-color comment just keeps the conversation lively.  This year however, I am very proud of myself.  I kept it under control.  Maybe maturity is slowly making its way into my brain. 

I really hope not.

This year marks the 4th annual….or maybe it’s the 5th, (we weren’t paying attention), Weaverdoryk Sausage Fest.  Some might just call it a sausage making day, but I get more of a giggle out of calling it a sausage fest. 

Tressa is watching over the boys at the grinder to make sure there's no fooling around!

Tressa is watching over the boys at the grinder to make sure there’s no fooling around!

And let me tell you, this is one BIG sausage fest!  This year we started at approximately 9 AM and the final sausage was coiled and bagged by approximately 11PM.  As you can imagine, by 11:00 at night a lot of the enthusiasm towards our sausage festing has begun to wither and shrivel.  It’s ‘gone soft’ you might say.

However, we are very proud of what we have accomplished, and we know that we will not be lacking in the sausage department for another year.

Vacuum packing.

Vacuum packing.

Our sausages are healthy.  They are natural and free of artificial color or flavor…except liquid smoke.  That’s probably artificial. 

We make them from pork trim, venison, and new this year – moose.  We were fortunate to have our friends Toni, Darren and Jackson join in the festing this year, and they brought along two moose quarters that were ground and mixed into our sausage meat.

Everyone has a job.

Everyone has a job.

There’s a lot of math involved in sausage making.  All day long, you will hear discussions over how many pounds of pork it will take to make a batch of sausage be 1/3 pork, or 2/3 venison.  It seems that there are multiple answers to this question, and that may be some of the reason that we lose track of exactly how many pounds of meat we handle in a day. 

We know that this year we made over 450 lbs of sausage.  We made recipes such as Ukrainian Garlic, Polish, Farmer Sausage, Bratwurst and Oktoberfest to name a few.

We try a few of our own concoctions as well.  Mike enjoys mixing spices and we all get to taste test and give feedback.  Some will be asking for more salt, and Kelly likes to say ‘Go easy with the pepper Big Guy’ – input that I think Mike really appreciates. 

We enjoy naming these home-made recipes with names that are romantic and reflect the mood they were created in.  Names like ‘Mike’s mystery meat’, or ‘I forgot what I put in this’.  Later in the evening the names become a bit more racy….names that I can’t fully repeat, but you’ll get the picture if I just say that one was named ‘this is the last ……. sausage I am making this year’.  All of the recipes are meticulously recorded by Kelly in the ‘recipe book’ which is promptly lost after sausage making is complete. 

By the end of the evening, as we are bagging the last recipes and we are looking at the kitchen floor, walls and ceiling all needing a bit of a scrub, we feel like maybe next year we won’t need to hunt quite so many animals in the fall. 

However, 450 lbs of sausage doesn’t last long in households like ours, and we know that next year we will be sausage festing again.   Kind of makes me think that I never want to look at another wiener again as long as I live.

….and I don’t want to make any more sausage either….

Checkout caution #2.  We've come a long way baby!

Checkout caution #2. We’ve come a long way baby!

I’m only joking.  I would hate to miss Sausage Fest.  We have a lot of fun, and we feel very privileged to spend the time together sharing hunting stories and recipes.  Our kids are learning another very valuable skill about where their food comes from, and how this sausage is different because they can see every ingredient as it goes in.  They know that their food comes from good lean cuts of meat, and real spices that are grown from plants and are not created in labs. 

It’s a special feeling to know that we have learned the skills required to be self-sufficient and knowledgeable in our food choices.  It’s easier and often less expensive to run to the supermarket and fill your cart, we all do it.  However, when you plant a seed and watch it grow into the vegetables on your table, or when you hunt an animal and process it into food that you are proud to share with your family and friends, you feel great about what you are eating because you have seen it through from start to finish.

“I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.”


The Slow Fix


The subtitle for this book by Carl Honore, is to solve problems, work smarter and live better in a fast world. The premise, which we are hearing more and more now, is we need to take the time to slow down and do things at the right speed. “We live in a carousel of quick fixes,” said author Honore, on a recent Steven and Chris show. “Our addiction to superficial short term fixes is backfiring badly in many ways,” says Honore. We need to think about how do we bring real quality to the issues at hand, whether they be complex work problems or smaller daily rituals. He refers our current state to a rushaholic lifestyle and offers the following tips:

  • Breathe. Simply taking a deep, cleansing breath automatically lowers our heart rate.
  • Speedometer. Ask yourself if you are doing this at the right speed or too fast.
  • Downsize. We have become neurotic about filling our schedules. Pick one activity that is not so important and drop it.
  • Unplug. Remember all the electronics come with a button that says off and use it. Get a more balance relationship with your gadgets.
  • Find a slow ritual. Whether it be gardening, cooking, yoga or whatever ritual that innoculates you against the virus of hurry.

The book is described as a problem solving manual but also a philosophy for life.


“We end up putting urgent ahead of important,” Carl Honore.