Archive for February, 2017

Time for a reflection check-up on your personal and professional goals

February 27th, 2017

Reflection Check-up

It is almost March and perhaps you should take some time for a reflective check-up. It is important to regularly reflect upon your goals and check your progress to make changes and keep on your chosen course. First you must ask yourself questions.


Ask yourself

Questions and reflection can help you be better at work- and at home. They help you remember what is important for you.


Here are some questions to ask yourself:


  • What are my goals (yearly and quarterly) and where am I at regarding them right now? What changes need to be made to reach those goals, or do I need to re-work the goals?
  • How am I doing with my work and personal relationships? Where do I need to change here?
  • How am I doing with boundaries? Do I have enough time and energy to get my work done and have healthy relationships?
  • What am I doing daily for me, for my health and well-being?
  • How has my attitude been lately? Do I need an adjustment in attitude? How can that be best achieved?


Let’s look at a few of these activities for the rest of this blog, namely boundaries and “me time”.


Boundaries- at work and with others:

At work:

  • Make sure you are able to work in an environment where your values are honored.
  • Make sure you and all people at work are valued and respected.
  • Make sure you know your physical, mental and emotional limits.
  • Make sure you are able to and (if possible) are expected to communicate your needs.
  • Make sure your environment allows you to express boundary violations.
  • Make sure you have a set of “what ifs and thens” for when boundary violations happen. Be prepared.
  • Make sure the structure at work is clear for all.
  • Write out your boundaries for that specific work place.


Personal life boundaries:

  • Know and name your limits.
  • Know your weaker areas and work on them to grow and gain confidence.
  • Know and be able to visualize your goals.
  • Be your own best counselor (if you cannot, get one).
  • Trust your decisions to be right for you.
  • Remind yourself that no means no.
  • Expect to be respected.
  • Expect to be honored and not “used”.
  • Be able to be authentic and vulnerable at appropriate times.
  • Make sure you have time for you. (more about this below).


You can add to either of these lists with what is best for you. But remember setting boundaries is way of setting up a barrier against “losing yourself”- to others or to the “system”. It keeps your identity intact.

Me time

Finally I have a list of activities you can do for personal “me time”. It doesn’t have to be done alone and in fact some of the items on the list are social, but remember even extroverts need time along, to recharge and think things through.



  • Read what you want.
  • Watch a TV show you have chosen yourself.
  • Exercise, your choice.
  • Take a walk (perhaps with your dog, if you have one).
  • Take a course that interests you.
  • Work on your hobby, including making something.


Much more could be said about these issues. In fact, books have been written. But enough said here- just remember to reflect and ask yourself questions and that this time of year is a perfect time to do it.


Enjoy your week and be productive and healthy!


Patricia Jehle






Energized by Vision Boards

February 20th, 2017

Energized! Visionary!

In just a week I will give a lesson to my students on Vision Boards and how they can help to make and reach goals. This lesson energizes me because it is a positive way to get several things done.

  • First, my students and I will get to know each other


  • Second, my students will have something to help them concretely reach their goals


  • Third, they will have started to get their feet wet regarding their semester communication goals


Vision Boards explained

But what is a vision board, and how can it help you to reach your goals?


  1. We need clarity
  2. We are busy
  3. We need reminding or we forget
  4. Writing it down is powerful


We need to clarify our goals

The process of clarification is done within the making of the vision board. One has to figure out the goals and the values and then the board is “half made”. One of the more common tools used is a wheel of life to help the process along.


We are busy

Because we are often too busy to sit down with our journals and lists, a vision board is a great way of self-reflection that is quick. You can set a time to look at it each day and ask the question: How am I doing?


We need reminding, and usually very often

Because we are busy and every day brings new emails and projects, a vision board helps us to be reminded of what we have chosen to make (and keep) important. Again, regular viewing of the board is the best way to remind ourselves.


Writing down our goals is very powerful

Not all of the vision board has to be pictures. There can be a list of goals on it, too! In fact the process of setting (and writing down) goals are so powerful, that, again, it really helps you to get there.


So, how do you make your vision board:

1) Reflect on your life, values and goals: where are you now and where do you want to be in 1. 3, 5 years — ask yourself:

  • What do you want to learn how to do?
  • What hobbies and other activities do you already do, and want to continue doing or improve on?
  • What are your career goals? What steps will you have to accomplish along the way to be able to eventually land that dream job?
  • What are your relationship goals? You should think more specifically

about what kind of person you want to be with, how you’d like to spend time with your partner…

  • How do you want to be remembered by others at the end of your life?

2) Based on what you have learned, choose a theme for your vision board- it can be single goal oriented, time oriented, he dream, the process to the big dream, etc…

3) Decide upon a format: bulletin board, poster board, a picture frame, a screen saver, a web page, a Pintrest board, whatever best suits your needs and personality. But it should be something that you look at, at least once a day, somehow.

4) Collect inspiring pictures and sayings to go with your theme. Use magazines, newspapers, post cards, and your own photos. Write down your goals, and write them affirmatively. “I will…

5) Put it all together and hang it up or post it for you to see every day. This is very important. Remember to say aloud the most key things you have written there to remind yourself of who you are and where you are going.

6) Reflect and change. Just like all tools, the vision board is just that, a tool to help you. When the goals have changed, you will have to change your board. It is not magic, but it is very helpful.


Of course I will be reviewing and re-doing my own board with my students, too!


Wishing you a very successful week,

Patricia Jehle





Only Human?

February 15th, 2017

A movie and a lot of meetings

Last week I watched Sully and it, along with a few meetings on the “Internet of Things” and “Industry 4.0”, have got me to thinking.


Only Human?

What separates us, not just from the other biological creatures on Earth, but from the computers and smart devices, and robots that we make?

And you?

Do you learn from your failures? Do you have values? Do you change and are you flexible enough for that change?



The movie is based on a true story of a pilot who landed on the Hudson River and saved all lives in the plane. But the issue was that the computer simulations said that he could have safely landed back at the airport. An interesting thought. But the computers had not factored in the Human Element. There was no communication or hesitation for thinking calculated into the situation- if one added a mere 30 seconds of communication to the tower and with the co-pilot the simulations showed that there would have been a deadly crash. Human thought and intuition saved all those lives. We are still very much needed, especially in such situations. But we are still human.


Fear of Failure?

I live in a fear-of-failure culture. It is hard for people around me to make, admit and accept failures. But we must make failures; after all, we are human. But that also is an issue in the young people growing up in my culture. Failure is looked on as almost a tragic thing, instead an opportunity for learning and change.


Perception is everything

It really depends on how we look at things- our perception of the failure is key- Thomas Edison said this of his some 9,000 mistakes before making a light bulb: “I know several thousand things that won’t work!” thus, he kept learning—and kept trying. Look what happened to him.


To err is human

We all make mistakes of several kinds under two main categories, deliberate and inadvertent:


So, what should we do when we make a mistake?


  • We need to get curious about those mistakes
  • We need to (perhaps) be coached regarding our mistakes and how to move on
  • We need to deal with our emotions about the mistakes we make
  • We need to create working and living cultures where mistakes are okay and we can thus learn from them


Maybe starting from the last sentence would be best. I said that I live in a fear-of-failure culture. We have to begin there and remember that that very aspect of making mistakes and feeling something (like remorse) is what makes us human.


Think in Group Think

Perhaps our overly individualistic culture is part of the problem. Centuries ago we would have thought much more in a communal fashion, so much so that an individual could not have “failed” and a family or community would have failed together. If we took more responsibility for each others’ mistakes, we might learn more readily from mistakes.


Feel the Pain

We need to admit the emotions we feel when we fail and reflect on them, work through them, not ignore them or pretend they are not there. We need to let ourselves feel that pain.


Maybe we need coaching

Perhaps a non-involved party can help you work through the mistake and learn from it. When someone from outside of the problem comes along and helps you see the issue for what it is, it becomes smaller and more easily solved or – when completed – not something you need to repeat. After all, that is one of the big goals: to learn so as not to make the same mistake over and over again. Reflection is very important and a coach can help with that.


No denying, instead- be curious

But most of all, we need to become much more curious

In this case, curiosity will not kill the proverbial cat, but will allow you to get on with life and work. When we start to take a serious look at our mistake, we can learn from them and not fall into the trap of repeating the mistakes again.


Patricia Jehle




I stand with Refugees

February 9th, 2017

Where do you stand?


I wrote this blog almost two years ago, but it bears reposting at the moment. I have changed very little but the paragraph at the end is new.

Refugees are human beings with human rights, needs, fears, and a lot of bravery. #Istandwithrefugees


I am in the USA and recently had the opportunity of flying on a very special flight to Chicago.


My Confusion

The Zürich-Chicago flight was half-full and I was tired because of my early rising to be “on time” for arrival at the airport. Hurry up and wait is the motto of flying, especially internationally.


Because I was bleary-eyed, the group Swiss was boarding (they always board groups early) looked to me like a band or choir. Their uniforms were obviously African in dress and their skin tone matched the traditional dress of the women. The men wore more western clothing, but it was all the same. I was rather confused as to why so many small children, also in the same clothing, were flying with the band/choir.



Upon boarding I was pleased to note that I had a free seat next to me and spread out accordingly, getting comfortable, starting to watch “The Theory of Everything” when the African gentleman from the choir across the aisle from me asked what to do with the customs card. I was free, having nothing to do for nine hours ahead of me, so I was happy to help.



After pausing the movie and taking off my headphones, I started to explain the reason for the card and then what was required in each box: name, flight, and passport. When we got to passport part, the young man was a bit concerned. I showed him my passport to illustrate and he shook his head. He had no passport, “just” a bag with him, which he showed me. The bag was printed with something like, “International Migration Services”.


Well, by then I had figured it out. There were about three dozen brave refugees on board, flying to the USA for a new life.


I felt privileged to be able to vicariously experience their arrival in a country where they would not have to live in a war zone. The man, a father with two little boys, was traveling with his wife to Chicago first and then to Florida. In Chicago the group would break up and go on to the places where they had sponsors. I still think often of these people and their bravery.



The family had already experienced many firsts on their journey from Guinea to Tanzania via Nairobi and then from Tanzania to Chicago via Zurich: new clothes (they were all dressed alike because of the IRC -International Refugee Committee- donations and thus I thought they were a musical group), flying on an airplane, so many Caucasians around them, new food, new language, new climate.


The refugees would also be experiencing many more firsts soon, ones not always so positive. I felt for this man, for his wife and kids, for all the others. The list of new challenges they will encounter can go on forever, but their fear of the new was overridden by the fear of what they had left. They had left a war zone. The father said, “Whatever is ahead is better than being killed, seeing your children killed.”


Lessons learned

I can learn from this man; we all can. He has already been able to overcome what seems to me to be insurmountable barriers. He was able to make important, if very hard, decisions, and to continue on his way to a new solution, a new place.


He had few illusions to the difficulties he would face ahead, but he believed that there was opportunity ahead and only death and destruction behind. He knows that his future is in his hands and he has taken the responsibility seriously.


Today, 21 months later

I wish I knew what has happened to this little family of four. Are they still in Florida? Have they been accepted? Are they on some awful list to be deported. Only God knows. It breaks my heart to see the way the refugee stories are playing out at the moment. I hope it breaks yours, too.


May you be able to face the difficult moments and make brave decisions.

My coaching website can be found at

You can write me at

Refugee children at play

Who was your best boss?

February 7th, 2017

Who was your best boss?


My boss, Don B. was not my first boss, but he was, and still is, for me the epitome of what a good boss should be. He was directive when need be, but he trusted us to know our jobs. His office door was usually open for us, and he knew how to motivate and thank people.


Today I found my old boss on linkedin and asked to connect. I hope he does, but it could be that he is a passive LI member. After all, he was getting ready to retire 25 years ago when I took off for Switzerland and new adventures; he had positive plans for himself. But that is a subject for another blog. Here I want to say what Don did right in leading and how that made me work and feel.




In Daniel Goleman’s recent blog[1] he says, “For leaders, having the trust of their subordinates and open lines of communication are crucial.”


Don trusted me to know what I was doing. I was a rookie ESL teacher and the school was starting its first program. I had to teach, liaise between teachers and students, between teachers and the over-reaching ESL administration, I had to sensitize teachers to the students’ (refugees, all of them) needs… the list goes on. Don trusted me and allowed me to do my work and when I left the program was really gearing up. He trusted me enough to ask for student teachers to come and be trained by me. I felt very honored.




Don could lead. He was never heavy-handed and did a lot of leadership with a dry sense of humor. When something had to be done, it was done, and well. He made sure. He also made sure we took care of ourselves. On more than one occasion he told me to go home at the end of the day and that the correcting and planning could “wait until tomorrow”. He even allowed for the teachers to use the gym after school for a fitness class to keep us healthy. He was directive when it needed to be done, but he was not a power-hungry leader.


I think part of this has to do with the fact that Don was secure in himself enough to lead but also to let go and let others do what they were best at. Don realized that he couldn’t do everything and that his team had the skills, knowledge, and experience to do their jobs.


Recently I spoke with a friend who has a boss who is 15 or so years younger than she is. My friend is an experienced analyst in a pharmaceutical company. She knows her stuff, but now the “new boss” is asking for my friend to have all her writing and emails checked by the boss before sending, like she is an apprentice or new on the job. Scary. But it happens so very often. Why? My guess is that the new boss is insecure and has to control. That’s what happens when, as Daniel Goleman says, the emotional intelligence level is low. Brené Brown would say that this boss is not able to be authentic. Both are correct. But good leadership needs this kind of soft skill set.




We teachers could walk in when Don’s door was open and just talk. I don’t remember very many conversations with him, but one in particular sticks in my mind: the one where I told him I was going to work in the mountains of Switzerland and teach English there for a year. He smiled and said something like, “Good for you! Congratulations! I bet you won’t be coming back at the end of the year.” He was so encouraging and positive; and he was correct in his prognostication. That was about 25 years ago and I have been living and working in Switzerland ever since. Thank you, Don.


Bosses who have an open door policy communicate a couple of very positive messages to their employees: the employees are valuable enough to allow them to interrupt (when the door is open), and that communication is important for the team/company. Both the value the employees feel and the emphasis on open communication are powerful for the success of a team and of a company.




It is hard on a shoe-string budget to motivate people, but Don did it by words and by recognition and by parties (when the inner-city school could afford it). I was often aghast at hearing how other teachers were treated in other schools in the school district and state. It is hard to work in an inner city setting where the odds are stacked against you and the many of the kids come from pretty rough homes. But Don was as positive as he could be. He used his words to lift us up and move us forward, not drag us down.


Don said thank you. Often, and personally. He showed his respect and honor in more than one way, often in teacher meetings, but also in small conversations in the hallways and classrooms.




Because Don was secure he was able to help me feel secure in my new position and in myself as a person. Thus I was pretty effective in my work, even if I do say so myself. I felt comfortable, motivated, happy to be there – even on cold snowy winter days with bus duty ahead of me. Because I felt secure in what I did I was able to apply for a dream position (and get it) in snowy Switzerland.


As it is and cold in Minnesota at this moment, I think Don may be ice fishing. I hope, whatever he is up to, that it is pleasant and uplifting, as I remember him to be.


Who was your best boss and why? Write me your answers.

May you lead with authenticity and emotional intelligence this week!


Patricia Jehle

Jehle Coaching