Archive for January, 2018

Solutions to our problems

January 29th, 2018

Got problems? We all have, but what’s there to do?

We need to see the big picture and understand the problem before finding a solution

My January has had its ups and downs, especially regarding hearing bad news about family and friends, especially about their health.

But I have to balance that with new clients and new beginnings. Maybe your day, week or month has been like that, too. – full of decisions, full of positives and negatives. Life is usually a balance of good and bad, in the end.


At the end of the day the question is always what am I going to do about what has happened? How am I going to process my morning, my day, my week…? Personally, I do two things: I go through the problem-solving set of steps I have made for myself and then remember my “3-a-day”. I bet you have problems and hard days, too, so maybe my steps will help you!

Wrestling with the problems

What about the hard issues at work, at home, etc?   First ask yourself: Is it really a problem? Do I let the issue go? Do I fix it, or can I find someone else to fix it? Or must I continue working with the problem for a longer time, working on finding an answer or someone who can solve it?

Question one: Is it really a problem? (Evaluate the issue)

First things first, after all. Sometimes our issues are only perceived as problems, but when looked at from another angle, they are actually not problems at all. I had one of those recently. Because I could realize that it wasn’t a problem, I slept well last night. Sometimes it is a little problem, too, and not worth my energy, at least at the time.

Question two: Can I solve it? And how?

Some issues are worth my time (and saving money on a professional); some are not. Some problems are best left to my friends and family to help me solve them.

Some issues are, for the moment, “unsolvable” and then what am I going to do? Steven Covey reminds us to focus on our circle of control. What can I do about it? I may have to let the issue lie, do some research on it, or let it go. Last week I let something go. At least for the time being, it is “not in my radar”, anymore.

There is an upside of not “fixing one problem: because I could let one problem go, I was able to focus on and solve another problem. That solution went on my gratitude list for the day. What a great feeling to have solved a rather complicated issue, and all by myself! I had a great feeling of accomplishment.

Here is a step-by step way of dealing with your problem:

So, if it is a real problem and I have to solve it now, there is a first step of finding out as much as you can about the problem by asking even more questions, for example, the 5 Whys, or using What, Why, How, Where, Who and When:

  • What do I want to achieve, what are the facts, what would happen if no decision were made? Or no solution found? What do I need in order to find the solution?
  • Why do I want to have a solution? Why did the problem happen? Why do I need a solution?
  • How will the situation be different with a solution? How relevant is the information I am gathering? How can I involve others? How can I find out more about the problem and the solution?
  • Where did the problem begin? Where is the impact? IS the “where” important, and if so, why so?
  • Who is involved? Who cares about the situation? Who is affected? Who needs to be informed? Who am I trying to please, if anyone?
  • When did the problem arise? By when does there need to be a solution? When is the deadline for (any) action?
  • The 5 Whys: is a technique to find out the cause – and effect – of a problem. Why is asked 5 times, each time using the answer as the base for the next why. The car isn’t starting: why? The battery is dead: why? The alternator is broken: why? It’s belt has broken: why? It was old and had not been replaced: why? The owner had not followed the schedule for part replacement. (this is the root cause)

Then it’s time to identify solutions. That is a great place to be at, as then you can decide if you do it, do some of it, or delegate it. Then you choose the best solution and break it into manageable steps. Then you try out the solution and evaluate it, refining it. Repeat ad infinitum.

Questions that are well-placed can gain great insights


Keep on Problem-solving, remember FLEXIBILITY and Gratitude!

Keep trying the solutions, and keep working on the questions. Because more than one of my problems is large and on-going, as they are something almost totally out of my control, I work on other problems that are more “solvable”, and then do what I can, waiting until it’s the right time to address the other issues.

Thus, flexibility helps a lot with bigger problems, try this, try that. Wait. Then try again another way. Ad infinitum.

My 3-a-day Gratitude List

The three a day gratitude list is a “to do” I not only do myself, but tell everyone I know to do it, as well: friends, clients, and colleagues alike. So ask yourself: “What am I grateful for today?” Then write it down on paper. Some people even keep a gratitude journal. The writing by hand is important, trust me. This will help you focus on the positive at the end of your day.

Still got problems? Me, too!

But don’t worry, if your problem is to be fixed, it will be. By me? By you? By friends, colleagues family? By another? Be assured it will be fixed, one day. Then you can put the answer on your 3-a-day list.

Enjoy the rest of your week, despite your issues!

Patricia Jehle

Grateful for Expertise

January 23rd, 2018

Experts are needed and we should be grateful for them!

I am very grateful for the experts in our world, as googling can only get us a very short way in life. Personally, my life has been saved by medical experts and I am taught by experts how to be a better educator, a better writer, a better coach, and so on.


I have been very thankful for competent ER staff

Recently I have been grateful for these specific experts:

I am so thankful for the Emergency Rescue experts that saved my friend’s daughter after a terrible bicycle accident last week. She broke the sixth disc in her neck, but luckily the spinal cord and the nerves were not damaged. That emergency crew was able to get this young teen safely to the ER, where the expert medical crew treated her, grafting bone from her hip and recreating this disc. AMAZING!

I am thankful for the expert teaching of Sebastian Walzik last weekend regarding case studies and how to write them. It is always a pleasure to sit under great teaching.

I am thankful for the expert furnace repairman who fixed our furnace this afternoon. We are warm again, and that is really something to be grateful for!

I am also very thankful for the expert radiant heat oven builder (a kind of high level brick layer extraordinaire) because while the furnace was not working this oven kept us relatively warm.

Next time you go poo-pooing experts, remember, we can only be experts in one (possible two) things in our lives, and to be a REAL expert takes time to study and practice.

The world-famous Swiss tightrope walker, Freddy Nock, said at last week’s Wirschaftssymposium Aargau that he started to work on the tightrope at age four, and he practices (still) up to nine hours a day. To be a real expert, it takes lots more than a two-day course, or skimming a book. It takes the hard work of really getting it right. Think of Freddy as he gets ready for his next daring walk. He over-prepares. Most experts do, somehow, because they really are “know it all”s.

Right now I am also very grateful for the medical experts caring for several friends, and for three family members who are ill —these days, we can trust the doctors around us, as they try their best in a world where diseases mutate and spread in alarming manners. I have been in the place of needing those kind of experts more than once, and I am thankful they were there for me, as they are for my loved ones, right now.

So, are you an expert? At what? I am able to call myself an expert at teaching business communication, I am beginning to be an expert coach, and I am working on becoming a supervisor and a writer.

What experts are you thankful for?

Be grateful for the experts in the world

Patricia Jehle



2018 Word for the Year

January 16th, 2018

Good team and other relationships are key for success

What’s your word for 2018?

I usually choose a word like hope or presence for the year to remind me what’s important and to keep me on track. Do you do that?

My word for 2018 is RELATIONSHIP

This is a word I can apply to all my life: work, family, church, friends, and “free-time,” and when it comes to decision-making, it will be a filter I use to make my choices.

When it comes to family and friends, I will attempt to choose for relationship and not activity. What helps our relationship? What helps others and their relationships? Activity for activitiy’s sake is going be a red flag for me this year. I hope it will be for you, too. The “Why?” question will be asked by me a lot. Why am I doing this? What benefit does it offer others and our relationships?

When it comes to work, I will continue to teach in as relational manner as the system allows. I will continue to work on building good rapport will colleagues and team members. I will be a team member in the best sense. These are my work goals.

In some ways, relational coaching is just a given. But I will continue to make the coaching relationship a must for my business. I will ask myself how I am doing with my client relationships and what can I do better. I will do what I encourage my clients to do: reflect.

As I continue in my further education as a coach and lecturer, I will make relationship as much a goal as possible. This weekend I will be trained to write and teach case studies, and the weekend is a team learning effort so I look forward to learning together with a talented and diverse group. As I look to becoming a supervisor, I also am thrilled to be working with a group of diverse coaches who are moving forward.

Even the books I read and the fun things I do with friends and family I hope to use to enhance relationships this year. I have just bought another Henry Cloud book; this one is Boundaries for Leaders. I am looking forward to this read very much!

Again, what is your word for 2018?

Relationally yours,

Patricia Jehle  

working together gives us better solutions

Healthy, sustainable Eating

January 13th, 2018

A double pyramid to help you eat healthily and sustainably

An Eco-Friendly Diet that’s healthy? What’s that?

After this week’s earlier blog on good decisions and the placebo effect, especially regarding healthy food choices ( ) I started thinking about meat (and other protein) eating and I started researching on the ecological sustainability of high-protein diets and the recommendations of the UN and medical associations.

While doing my little research, I came across the “double pyramid”, which shows the effects of what we eat (diet) on the environment and comparing it to the updated suggested dietary pyramid used by the UN and medical authorities.

I assume we all want to be healthy and for the world to be a better place, and one of the ways we can help these goals is to care about what we buy in general, and specifically, what we eat. I personally think we need to eat a more sustainable, but yet a healthy diet, and it’s a viable choice, both environmentally and financially.

So, here’s what our eating footprints look like, depending on our general diet: Vegans (though I could never claim to be one) have the lowest carbon and water footprints. Just saying. This is followed by vegetarians and then omnivores. I am an omnivore, but I readily will give up eating meat or other animal/fish proteins for days on end. This excludes our own home-grown eggs from our (free range, very happy) chickens, and Swiss milk products. I do live in Switzerland and come from Minnesota, after all.

Having said that meat eaters have the highest carbon and water footprints, it can also be said that most dietary recommendation pyramids now say we should not eat so much meat, especially red meat, anyway. And if you cut your meat eating down to twice a week, you already halve your footprint levels. That’s not too bad, considering it is healthier, anyway.

I did note that coffee and chocolate are not listed on the pyramids, and find that not so helpful for my personal lifestyle.

Coffee and Chocolate

After a quick google, I found that black (UGH!) coffee has 21g carbon footprint per cup and the latte (MMMmmm!) 340g- gasp and sigh. The water footprint is high, one article said 20 049 m3 per ton of harvested coffee just for the growth, and that does not include roasting containers and any other preparation. But maybe we should be buying at least a FairTrade version.

Deforestation aids to adding to chocolate’s carbon footprint, so we should really only buy sustainable fair trade brands. In Switzerland, the UTZ seal is important (for both chocolate and coffee). Regarding chocolate, one article says “Cadbury estimates that 169g (6 ounces) of carbon dioxide equivalent are emitted into the atmosphere for each 49g (1.7 ounce) Dairy Milk chocolate bar. This calculation includes emissions from the production of raw ingredients such as cocoa, cocoa butter, milk and sugar, and from packaging and distribution, but not from land-use change.”

Maybe a diet after Christmas would be in order for me, but first we have to eat all the chocolate in our house, and there is quite a bit left. Anybody want to come help?

A sustainable Diet

Now, let’s go back to the suggestions. Here’s the low-down on my interpretation of the double pyramids:

What to eat a lot of:

Local and seasonal fruit (and dried version) and vegetables, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, legumes, olive oil (- which for me is local), nuts, and milk products and eggs. For those who don’t have good olive oil, try something else that’s local and healthy.

What to eat a little bit of:

Fish and seafood (see the wwf list for what is healthy and not over-fished), local chicken and other poultry. They put cookies here, interestingly enough, too. I like cookies.

What to eat once or twice a week, maximum (SORRY!)- and the list is rather the same, surprisingly:

Sweets, “bad” fats, and red meat

That’s it! Al we have to do is the good old rice, vegetables and beans thing, which I have known and done since college days. I bet we all know this. Luckily I bought a new (to me) Moosewood cookbook recently to jazz up my vegetarian cooking.

Tonight we will be eating chili and rice. What about you? So, let’s eat healthily and sustainably for a better world and a better life!

I raise my carrot to you and to our better health!

Patricia Jehle




Placebo effect and decisions

January 11th, 2018

Mind over Matter

Get out of Your Own Way and make sure you are making good decisions

I recently read an article that said that January is the month where you and I would most likely spend (waste) money on bogus health products, so watch out! This is the season of getting our lives in order, of losing those extra Christmas and New Year holiday pounds, of starting new self-improvement programs, and the like.

When I put cynicism aside over our overzealous resolutions to improve, is there some truth to these efforts and ideas that we can indeed change, or is it really the placebo effect at work.


Is there a Placebo at Work?

My medical-student daughter says that the placebo effect is real and very helpful in a lot of cases. This means if you decide to spend a lot of money on a bogus home remedy of sorts and you believe it’s going to work, it probably will. This means of you follow x diet for so many weeks, it is likely to work if you believe in it.

So, what do you believe in? What’s your go-to remedy for x, y, or z?

My nephew is a convinced user of mega-vitamin supplements with zinc, etc. to enhance his immune system. I have got to admit that I use something similar when I travel or feel a cold coming on.

The real question is what is at work, the vitamins and mineral, or a placebo? The other question is if it matters or not.

And does the placebo effect continue to diets and such?

My next thoughts lead to eating habits and diets, as this is the season of shedding our extra pounds, or at least attempting to do this. I have to admit I really don’t believe in diets, as I have seen friends and family do the diet yoyo – and I, myself, have been rather stable in weight for the past several years, even during chemotherapy. As and aside, I had hoped to shed a few pounds during therapy, but alas, it was not to be, sigh.

So, at least for a time, does the placebo effect work for diets? And what is healthy, anyway? Are carbs all that bad, and is sugar a “drug”? Now, here is my layperson, non-expert opinion:

Diets don’t work, instead we should eat, move and live healthily.

According to Mayo Clinic this is hwat you should be eating for a normal 2,000 calorie eating plan:

  • A variety of vegetables — dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt and cheese, and fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds and soy products
  • Oils, including those from plants, and those that occur naturally in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives and avocados


Vegetables 2 1/2 cups a day
Dark green 1 1/2 cups a week
Red and orange 5 1/2 cups a week
Legumes (beans and peas) 1 1/2 cups a week
Starchy 5 cups a week
Other 4 cups a week
Fruits 2 cups a day
Grains 6 ounces a day
Whole grains ≥ 3 ounces a day
Refined grains ≤ 3 ounces a day
Dairy 3 cups a day
Protein foods 5 1/2 ounces a day
Seafood 8 ounces a week
Meats, poultry, eggs 26 ounces a week
Nuts, seeds, soy products 4 ounces a week
Oils 27 grams a day
Limit on calories from added sugars, solid fats, added refined starches 270 calories a day (14% of total calories)

Thus, I would have you note that grains and starch foods are BIG on this list, and I find it interesting that so many people I know are scared of those foods. It’s not those foods, but the processed versions that are really bad. Another aside, for those who know what they are, Twinkies still exist. I saw some last week in a Target store in Seattle. I know that many of you are off all sugar, but unless you are diabetic, this could be a bit extreme. A little sugar is not going to hurt you, unless you are addicted to it, as I am to coffee and salty foods. BUT, so you know, the Mayo Clinic only allows a normal snickers bar worth of sugar a day. That’s all. Luckily, I don’t like many sweets and can forego this, but many friends have sweet-tooths.

One other thought on bias

Our biases are rampant and the goal is to become aware of them (and our assumptions) and take them into consideration when we make decisions. When we make un-considered biased decisions or decisions based from fears we are most likely to make poor decisions and mistakes. So, we need to ask ourselves, or better get the help of others to ask, what are our biases, our assumptions, our fears. We must move beyond t these to find the solution and make the best decisions.

Which decisions and why?

Whether it’s diet, activity, health, or future, let us make good sustainable decisions based on truth and not a placebo effect. 

Have a healthy rest of the week and weekend!

Patricia Jehle