Nan S. Russell
Author & Speaker
[ If you’re interested in a particular theme or topic I write about,
quickly find it in the blog by subject archives.]

road-aheadWhen faced with catching a fly ball, Lucy missed again. “The past got in my eyes,” she told Charlie Brown, “I thought I had it, but suddenly I remembered all the others I’d missed.”

I’ve known hundreds of workplace Lucys. People who let their past get in the way of their future; who self-determine what they’re going to do, can do, or might be able to do by what they didn’t do, haven’t done, or even failed at. They stay aligned to their past like a Peanuts comic strip philosophy.

Past-focused people sabotage themselves with yesterday’s mantras that become today’s expectations: “Yeah, we tried that before and it didn’t work;” “I got rejected once already so I’m not going to make that mistake again;” or “No one listens to my ideas.”

What they miss is this: that may have been true yesterday, but (continue reading →)

Winning at Working 

20160730_143030_resized-360x640-2-copy-copy“We’ll help you through it,” my 9-year-old granddaughter offered, followed by her 7-year-old sister’s “Don’t worry, Nana, I’ll hold your hand.” And so it was that I watched The Wizard of Oz, making it through a movie for the first time that delivered frequent nightmares to me as a child, and for six decades pushed me from any room where it was playing.

Thinking it funny that I feared The Wizard of Oz, years ago my son at 12 or 13, gave me a Wicked-Witch-of-the-West figurine as a joke. I keep it in my office as a reminder to embrace the popular philosophy: “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” But I never did that with The Wizard of Oz. When my granddaughters spied that green-faced-witch on the credenza of my new office, they asked why I had it. It was that day I told them more then (continue reading →)

In the Scheme of Things 

As a colleague of Nan’s I regularly post here. I look forward to sharing real-world insights, tips and practices about work or thoughtful reflections on life; like this one.

It’s been 15 years this month since the New York skyline was permanently altered and the lives of thousands were sadly forever changed. flagLike many of you, it’s the day I could no longer say to my son and daughter they were safe with certainty. The first time we traveled across the Verrazano Bridge from New Jersey to New York to visit family;  (continue reading →)



As a colleague of Nan’s I regularly post to Current Musings. I look forward to sharing real-world insights, tips and practices about work, life and the constant blending of the two. This one has particular significance for me.

My mom would be 97 years old this month if she were still living.  I’ve been hearing her in my head a lot lately. Most parents have their favorite phrases, specific expressions and caring ways of guiding their children. I had a bit of an attitude as a youngster. A sarcastic quip earned me a seat on the kitchen chair. Or, I knew I was in trouble when I heard my full name, Elizabeth Regina Bryan, being called. And, this frequent instruction,  “It’s not what you’re saying, it is how you are saying it, that bothers me.” Although I didn’t understand that statement then I do now. Often the success of what you’re doing and what you’re saying hinges on the how. You may be thinking, huh?

How You Do What You Do Matters

Think about colleagues and bosses in your career, some use bullying tactics, intimidation and obnoxious styles to manage their workload and teams. They are smart, (continue reading →)

Tips, Today's Workplace 

ProgressIn the late 17th-century, Lord Chesterfield, an English writer and politician, wrote to his son, “Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.” Over three hundred years later, we still heed this advice from the fourth Earl of Chesterfield. Yet, doing something well doesn’t mean doing it perfectly. The 21st-century workplace requires more than doing something well.

Today’s adage should be: “Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing.” That’s the secret people who are winning at working know. It’s action, not inaction, practice not theory, and progress not perfection that builds success, achieves results, and actualizes dreams.

After hearing me speak at a conference, a young woman sought me out. She was struggling with this concept of progress over perfection and asked for advice. “How do you do it?” she asked. “How do you accept something as finished when you know it could be better?” She explained she was (continue reading →)

Winning at Working 

They said she was the “winning-est coach” ever with 38 winning seasons, and more NCAA college basketball games won than any coach, man or woman. Pat Summit, former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach, died recently at 64 having been diagnosed five years ago with early onset dementia, the Alzheimer’s type.

I’ve always admired her career achievements and ground breaking contributions to women’s sports equality. But, it’s her interview with Robin Roberts after that diagnosis that stays with me. Asked by Roberts about the diagnosis, Pat responded, “It may not be the best thing, but you just gotta make it what it is and keep living your life.”

That is the choice. It is the choice for us, too, even though (continue reading →)

In the Scheme of Things, Life 

truthIt was his perception that caused the outburst. “Why aren’t there any managers in these sessions? Why aren’t they required to attend, too?” he challenged.

Hired to provide workshops on building trust in a workplace lacking it, I answered his question to the extent I could during that first session, “It’s my understanding that everyone is attending,” I offered. “But let me find out for sure and get back to you.”

Confirming at the break that indeed, everyone on staff would be attending one of nine scheduled sessions, he balked. “Yeah, that’s what they’ll tell you,” his anger perceptible through his tone, “but I haven’t ever seen it.”

By the end of the week, he was not the only staff member posing the question. If a direct supervisor (continue reading →)

Winning at Working 

Candle_flame_(1)I’m a colleague of Nan’s. And, I often post on Current Musings about work, life and the intersection of the two. Like many people the past few weeks seem full of unanswerable questions, confusion and sadness. In my search for some perspective, I typed – kindness – into google. Here are several of my findings:

According to Merriam Webster, kindness is defined as having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others.

A refrain in a popular song, Hands by Jewel – “In the end only kindness matters, In the end only kindness matters.”

And, several insights from experts and thought leaders:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

“No matter how hard the past, (continue reading →)


chameleon2With an unusual ability to change the color of its skin, the chameleon is a lizard-family celebrity. Brown. Green. Blue. Yellow. Red. Black. White. This anomaly for changing colors provides the lizard camouflage, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not done as a camouflaging response. Rather, skin change reflects the chameleon’s reaction to temperature, light, and mood. Its color change communicates responses to stress, excitement, temperature, lighting, other chameleons and environmental influences.

We react to our moods and environments, too. People, pressure, or stress can cause us to respond in a way to fit in, be recognized or go-along to get-along. Sometimes our responses appear to others like color changes. Our decisions or actions seem out-of-character. I know I’ve had a few of these in my life. In fact, when I think of the choices I’m least proud of, (continue reading →)

In the Scheme of Things, Life 

two pathsReading in the airport while waiting for a flight, a housekeeper was tidying around me when approached by another facilities employee. After a few minutes of easily overheard chit-chat, she received coaching from her now apparent supervisor.

“You know,” he said “I’d like you to pace yourself.” Intrigued by his words, I stopped reading to eavesdrop and heard as he told her, “You’re doing too good a job. You don’t need to work this hard.”

“I like my area clean and looking good for everyone,” she said, confused by his direction. “Anyway, I get all my work done.”

When they parted several minutes later, her body language was not one of relief, but despair. Clearly a person taking pride in her work, the boss’s unfolding message was not about (continue reading →)

Winning at Working