Always reach for the stars
Myrna Selzler Park - Nov 23, 2020 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

I imagine myself as Captain James Tiberius Kirk every time I click into a Zoom meeting.

“Beam me down, Scotty,” hovers on my lips as a new world comes into focus.

As I click, I cross my fingers—and toes and eyes—hoping this world, this meeting, this time, will not be as boring as the last and I won’t spend an hour with my elbows on my desk, head in my hand, fighting a yawn, as bored as Mr. Spock on a dating site.

I’m tired of incomplete/talk-over-the-top-of-each-other Zoom room discussions. It is like talking through jail bars.

I’m taking charge of this “let’s get to know each other part.” Maybe there will be a zap of energy and we can have a real conversation.

What have I got to lose? I’ll never see this person again.

I peer into my screen. I squint like Clint Eastwood looking at a bad guy—and resist the urge to make the shape of a cocked gun with my hand.

“Sooo, Bryan, what do you really do?”

My Zoom mate blinks and is knocked back into his standard, black office chair. A bookcase lined with the latest business guru books and equally appropriate but uninspiring ceramic vases and family photos are behind him.

He pauses.

I wait.

“I coach people to do their unimaginable.”

Really? I lean in.

Unimaginable? Bryan does a real-life, “Beam me up, Scotty?”

He takes his clients’ desire to be somewhere else and makes it happen?

My mind leaps to my unimaginable. Like everyone else, I know what it is. I just don’t talk about it, let alone dare to dream about it.

Bryan pauses again. Looks puzzled and shakes his head like a Canada goose shaking its wing after a fight. He looks away and then, finally, meets my gaze.

“I’ve never said that out loud before.” He pauses again, looks away before looking back at the screen, this time with a rueful smile and glittering eyes.

My soul tingles. My eyes sparkle. My ears want to hear what the world has never heard.

I was ready for a Vulcan mind-meld.

Since that initial conversation, Bryan and I Zoom every Monday morning to discuss life, politics, leadership, business proposals, challenging clients, our dogs, Okanagan grapes.

Bryan’s clients are skeptical but open to possibility. And if they express a passion they believe is unachievable, out of reach, he asks them, “What can you do to bring it within your reach?”

The desire to do the “bigger thing” must be stronger than just the intention to do the bigger thing.

I think about a time when I had a desire to do the bigger thing and all I wanted was for Scotty to beam me back home.…

······

It was the first day I had ever facilitated a workshop, a sales course called Organizing for Success. I was a small-town girl in a big city, about to go into a room of 60 people who I was certain were way smarter, way more experienced and came from better backgrounds than me.

Hoping no one knew who I was and hoping no one noticed me, I ducked into the bathroom. With the deepest of sighs, I slid the lock on the cubicle door, put the toilet lid down, but before I could sit, my shaking knees dropped me to the cold, tile floor.

I’d wanted to facilitate groups my whole life. I had a message, a way-of-being to share. This was my “bigger thing.”

But that wasn’t what my mind was saying. Elbows on my knees, I held my head up, took a deep breath, hoping to stop the shaking.

“How did you think this was a good idea? Why could you not just be happy to stay in your own world and do what you know how to do? Who do you think you are? You are not prepared enough … you, you, you …”

The awareness that it must be 8:58 and it is a 9 a.m. start interrupted the nattering voice.

I stood up and shook myself like a wet dog just out of the lake. I left the doubting, negative self-talk words to dry on the cubicle walls.

Show time.

······

Twenty years later, I am teleported into another version of show time.

Bryan is a business coach.

“90% of coaching is helping people put their self-talk in the right place,” he tells me as I scribble notes. I have to remember this. “If someone speaks to you negatively, without compassion, it is of no use to you. It doesn’t matter if the comment is from someone else or your own self-talk.” Bryan learned that from his yoga teacher.

“Wouldn’t it be great that when self-talk kicked in, logic also kicked in? And kicked the crap out of the negative self-talk?”

As Bryan posed questions, I beam myself back to that first workshop. I was back in that cubicle, pushing my knuckles into my temples.

······

Where had my logic gone? I had fibbed … just a bit. I was supposed to have five years’ experience to facilitate this course. I did, if you rounded up. If you went by months, I was five short. Was I an imposter?

I had prepared. I knew that more than content, I had to pay attention to the process. Great process engages learners and locks in the ideas. Too much content zones them out and the learners go to a safe space and plan their trip to the grocery store.

I had stories. Like Aesop, the Greek of fable fame, long after the message is forgotten, I wanted them to recall the story. Then the message, the learning, would once again bubble up into their awareness.

“I can do this. I can do this. It will be fine. And if not, I live five hours away. They’ll forget I even exist.”

······

Another quantum leap back to the present and Bryan’s soothing voice. His compassion made it easier to hear hard things.

“Our ability for imagination is the first ‘kid in the playground’ that your bully self-talk ego picks on,” he describes. “No matter our age or role, we need to control that self-talk or it will suffocate that spark. In listening to the negative self-talk, we miss out on a universe of possibilities.”

Bryan is on high alert for the kind of self-talk his clients reveal. He pays attention to each word, each action he sees and hears on the Zoom screen. He calls me on my stuff.

Bryan tells me about the entrepreneurs he coaches: “I work with leaders who have become cold, dead and grey. They have forgotten their spark. If they can set aside their numbers and remember their initial spark, they rekindle themselves and their business. They realize they are what makes the business tingle. My job is to gently blow on the spark.”

As Zoom-ing into meetings, training, conversations and virtual wine tasting becomes the norm, I am grateful I teleport across the continent and see my new friend. And we both get to go “where no man (or woman) has gone before.”

My spark is rekindled.

Myrna Selzler Park is a lifelong entrepreneur who works with organizations and individuals to turn their passion into impact. As former owner of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, Myrna uses her experience to build value in organizations. She is certified in behaviour and motivation analysis, emotional intelligence, as well as being a growth curve strategist and a certified value builder advisor. As a wannabe athlete, Myrna has run several half-marathons, deadlifted 215 pounds and has now put her mind to becoming proficient in Muay Thai kickboxing. She can be reached at [email protected]

Don’t let COVID break you up
Contributed - Nov 18, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Annette Adkin

In recent months some of us have been working from home and not able to go out to restaurants. We may have had kids at home and couldn’t get to the gym.

People have been telling me that their partners are getting on their nerves or the things that they have been avoiding in their relationships can longer be sidestepped.Of course other couples may have already been really distressed before the lockdown happened, and now they are talking about separation. Our current circumstance can cause some distress and conflict, as we have all been under more stress and not able to have our daily routines that help us all stay on track. Since we are in the same boat for a while longer, it might be a good idea to take steps that will keep your relationship on course and possibly make it stronger.

Avoid the ‘Four Horsemen’ that break down relationships!

The first one is criticism. This is defined by a judgment of your partner’s character. This includes a lot of all-or-nothing comments and ways of thinking about issues that include words like “you always” or “you never.” During this time you may be more focused on your partner’s flaws yet avoiding conflict. All the build-up of anger and frustration can lead to resentment, which you may express by criticizing your partner. This can also lead to blowing up and not feeling good about yourself.

The second horseman is stonewalling. This behaviour is about shutting down and avoiding. People who stonewall will often stop communicating with their partner with the exception of making negative comments. They turn away from resolution. This behaviour leaves the other person feeling alone in a relationship, which causes distress and a lack of attachment. If we are already not able to do some of our daily practices and we are more stressed financially and emotionally, stonewalling just fuels the anxiety.

The third horseman is defensiveness, which is often a counterattack for criticism. People use this as a strategy to protect themselves from feeling like a victim. For some people, it activates their story of being unworthy or not good enough, which is often a wound from their childhood. They may not be able to esteem themselves and listen to their partner’s concerns. This behaviour helps a person avoid responsibility for their behaviour, which may be contributing to their difficulties.

Finally, the last horseman is contempt. When we get to this stage, the other three horsemen have been in full swing for a while. This is when we are not respecting or even listening to our partner anymore. This is often a stage when couples are considering separation.

So how do we turn things around?

The therapist who came up with the ‘Four Horsemen’ is named John Gottman, and he has studied relationships for many years. One of the biggest predictors of divorce is these four behaviours that push people away and don’t create safety or security in a relationship. So what do we need to do to turn this crisis into an opportunity?

• A lack of relationship skills includes not being open to finding solutions and not admitting any fault for relationship breakdown. Paying closer attention to how we communicate our feelings, also known as gentle startups, includes being prepared to listen without judgment and dealing with our anger before we sit down to face the issues. We can’t resolve issues when there is too much anger and reactivity.

• Make sure you are having positive interactions with your partner. Aim for 5 to 1 in regards to positive to negative interactions. This might be communicating appreciation, warm hugs, time together or positive conversation.

• Use “I” statements when you communicate your needs and feelings, and start with describing the situation without judgment. If your partner doesn’t validate you, disengage from the conversation and let them know you just wanted them to know your feelings. Yet remember, couples really need to learn to listen and validate their partner’s feelings even if they see things differently. Stay out of judgment.

• Make sure you still take time for self-care during these uncertain times. It is hard to be responsive when we are not taking care of ourselves. If we have trauma in our history, we especially need healthy practices to help with our body systems. I call it “issues in the tissues.” This includes moving our body for at least 20 minutes a day, eating healthy non-processed foods (this impacts anxiety and brain), deep breathing/meditation, being creative and expressing our thoughts verbally (not losing our voice), and journalling to help us understand our feelings and get them on paper.

• During this time we need to create new routines and structures, especially if everyone is at home. We need quality couple time. We also need time apart. Give each other time to work on individual hobbies and take turns looking after kids or other family members in the home.

• Finally, talk about safety. Have conversations about safety during this time and what it means for both of you. Remember that some people have had more unsafe things happen in their life, so we need to be patient and care about our partner’s needs. Come up with a plan to keep yourself and other people in your household safe.

Annette Adkin is the owner of Pure Insights Counselling in Kelowna.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Think twice before you say ‘no’
Myrna Selzler Park - Nov 16, 2020 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

“Can I drive?” my six-year-old, vibrating with possibility, asks as he tugs on his seatbelt and reaches for the steering wheel.

“No! That’s silly. You’re only six.”

“Can I have a cookie?” The ever-optimistic four-year-old looks at me with wide, blue eyes as he tugs on my apron.

“No, you know the rules. You have to eat your dinner first.”

Ewwww. That shut-down feeling. The rejection.

Let’s try that again.

“Can I drive?” my six-year-old asks, vibrating with possibility.

“Yes. When you’re 17.” I always want to give myself some grace. He could get his licence at 16.

“Can I have a cookie?” the ever-optimistic four-year-old looks at me with wide, blue eyes.

“You bet. You can have a cookie as soon as you’ve finished your dinner.”

How often have I gone into organizations and heard the adult version of these same conversations?

I was hired by a manufacturing company to find out why there was such a toxic culture in the production department. The first worker I talked to, a young, enthusiastic shipper, summed up the problem better than any team of experts could:

“They don’t even listen to my ideas. When I make a suggestion, the first response is ‘No’ and I watch them waste time and money. And the next time something comes up, I say nothing and I sit back and watch the path of destruction.”

The primal response of a no versus a yes is profound.

No is dismissive. Yes invites exploration.

No is mechanical. Yes is human.

Yes elicits opportunity. No closes the door on it.

Yes creates value. No destroys it.

Yes invites conversation. No shuts communication down.

Why is this?

Psychologist Guy Winch, who has studied the effects of rejection, found that rejection activates the same areas of the brain as when we experience physical pain.

Back in cave-dwelling days, we needed each other to survive. If we felt pain from the potential of being banished, we changed our behaviour to maintain our place in the group. This creates a negativity bias; our brains are hard-wired to remember the negative experiences and forget the positive ones.

What does this look like in the real world?

The still-eager employee jitter-bugged into the office of the “been around the block too many times” manager.

“I’ve been thinking that if we re-jigged the production so we did X first, it might be better,” the enthusiastic employee blurts out as he leans across the desk.

The manager sighs: “No, this is the way we have always done it. We tried it once, and it did not work.”

The communication door slams shut. The employee feels devalued.

How about this approach?

“I’ve been thinking that if we re-jigged the production so we did X first, it might be better,” suggests the employee.

The manager nods. “Yes, that idea has some merit. We thought about that, but we were concerned we’d need much more inventory. How could that work into your idea for change?”

Winch’s research also showed that rejection temporarily lowers our IQ. Rejection in the workplace means greater potential for mistakes and poor decision-making.

Think about the last time you felt not heard, not valued, rejected or how much spinning your mind was doing as it tried to sort out why you were not being accepted.

While you are thinking about the rejection, you are not thinking about the client you need to call back, the piece of equipment you need to repair or the project that is due tomorrow.

Everything takes a back seat to the primal need to belong.

Research suggests that it takes five positive interactions to make up for a single negative interaction in a relationship.

Translated, this means that every time an employee is told “no” it takes five “yeses” or positive interactions to counteract. It seems like it would be a lot easier to learn “Yes, and …”

“Yes and …” is powerful and positive and sets the brain in a creative direction and still allows the opportunity to express a different thought, even to express doubt.

“No” is rejection and it threatens our need to belong. This adds to the emotional pain and can manifest as anger and aggression. “No” will crumble and destroy relationships.

Yes encourages. No discourages.

Yes empowers. No demoralizes.

Yes energizes. No drains.

Next time your first impulse is to say “No,” try “Yes, and what if … ?”

Myrna Selzler Park is a lifelong entrepreneur who works with organizations and individuals to turn their passion into impact. As former owner of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, Myrna uses her experience to build value in organizations. She is certified in behaviour and motivation analysis, emotional intelligence, as well as being a growth curve strategist and a certified value builder advisor. As a wannabe athlete, Myrna has run several half-marathons, deadlifted 215 pounds and has now put her mind to becoming proficient in Muay Thai kickboxing. She can be reached at [email protected]

Take a wine trip back in time
Shannan Schimmelmann - Nov 10, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

2020 is a special year as the BC Wine Institute (BCWI), a volunteer, membership-based, not-for-profit society commemorates the 30-year celebration of the British Columbia Vintner’s Quality Alliance (BCVQA) success. BCWI published a video that captures industry leaders who forged the path, and those who continue to innovate and push boundaries.

B.C. and the Okanagan Valley in particular share a fascinating wine history. This article highlights some little known facts and milestones that shaped the industry we enjoy so much today. The first grape plantings date back to the 1850s. Father Pandosy is considered the grandfather of the B.C. wine industry. In 1859, he planted vines at the Oblate Mission near Kelowna. This is close to Sperling Vineyards, an active winery today. Between 1859 and 1860, the first vineyards planted were labrusca. The labrusca grapes were important in the development of hardy, cultivated grapes. Over the next century the wines were considered to be harsh.

In 1927, Tantalus, formerly Pioneer Vineyards, planted vineyards in East Kelowna, and Calona Wines was founded in 1932. It was the first commercial winery in B.C. and remains the oldest continuously running winery in the province.

Beginning in the 1960s and continuing through the 80s, the first B.C. vineyards were planted with French hybrids and some white vinifera, which is the proper Latin name for grape vines that are native to Europe and Asia. These grapevines are very common and are now grown throughout the world if the climate is favourable. The vinifera planting launched the beginning of the modern B.C. wine industry and the delicious B.C. wine we enjoy today.

In 1972, Calona Vineyards could not source enough high-yielding and hardy labrusca varieties. This meant that B.C. wineries were forced to import grapes. This changed significantly with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States in 1988. With the onset of free trade, the government provided the option for growers to remove their vines and plant a different crop. Prior to 1990, apart from a few industry pioneers, most of the grapes grown in B.C. were hybrids, and the growers’ focus was on quantity rather than quality.

The first of the modern Okanagan wineries, and the year they were established:
• 1980  Sumac Ridge
• 1981  Mission Hill Family Estate
• 1982  Gray Monk Estate Winery
• 1986  CedarCreek Estate Winery
• 1989  Quails’ Gate Estate Winery 

1990 was the year the British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance (BCVQA) was established, the first red vinifera was planted, and the majority of all hybrids were removed. The BC VQA was established to ensure that wines are 100% B.C. grown, and for a focus on quality over quantity.

The growth of B.C. wineries and vineyards has been incredible, and the industry contributes an estimated $3 billion annually to B.C.’s economy. Some might be intrigued to learn that the ratio of B.C. white to red wine production is 49% to 51%.

1992 — 13 wineries and 1200 acres of vines exist in B.C.
2003 — 80 wineries and 5000 acres
2011 — 205 wineries and 9000 acres
2018 — 250+ wineries and 10,000+ acres

The Okanagan wine community has a very bright future and is positioned for continued growth and recognition as a world-renowned wine region. The Wine BC 2030 Plan informs us that long term, despite the constraints of limited production, exporting will become increasingly important. The current strategic advantage is a scarce, quality product.

With COVID-19, our wineries and restaurants are reopening with new practices and new exclusive experiences. There are a multitude of wine clubs and delivery services, and curbside pickup options, and liquor stores are continuing to make it easy and safe to experience Okanagan wine.

By choosing B.C. wines, you are supporting local, our local winemakers, grape growers and an important industry to our economy.

Shannan Schimmelmann first fell in love with B.C. wine and spirits while studying hospitality at Camosun College in Victoria, and she has spent the past two decades exploring more than 100 wineries and distilleries in B.C. and beyond. She is a business leader and consultant skilled at partnership development, export strategy and supply chain management. She has an MBA from Royal Roads University, a wine business management certificate from Sonoma State University, a restaurant management diploma from Camosun College and Canadian Wine Scholar WSET-1 accreditation.

 

Lessons from the dog pile
Myrna Selzler Park - Nov 09, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

“We will, we will, rock you. Rock you.”

It was Friday night lights, also known as city-wide high school football Friday night.

The throbbing bass from the classic Queen team spirit song splintered the chilly fall air.

My son’s team, like him, was in its inaugural year.

I knew nothing about football. Except. The voice inside the speaker would shout excitedly, “And Carson Park snags the pass.”

Translation. My son was at the bottom of a tangled mess of misplaced football pads, askew helmets and sweaty bodies.

It was his favourite place in the whole world.

Fast forward 10 years. The player becomes the coach.

A jagged mess of curls nodded excitedly as the gangly 17-year-old marvelled about the difference his coach, my son, had made in his life.

“He got me so interested in football, in sports, in fitness. He’d call me and ask if I wanted to work out with him. I was so honoured. He pushed me. I did things I didn’t know I could do.”

His breath caught, and he brushed his eye as he looked away. “He believed in me. That changed everything. I got to feel what it is like to be part of a team because of him.”

He stood straighter, proud and tall, and then looked at me, “Oh, and can you get this gift to the coach?”

The physical gift could not match the gift of the young man’s expansive praise.

It got me thinking about leadership and accountability.

Why was this young coach, my son, able to make such a difference in this teenager’s life?

He had purpose. He was resurrecting a high school football team. The only memory of his former team, from more than 10 years ago, was a room full of well-worn equipment.

He wanted his boys to know what it was to grow physically and mentally; to experience first-hand what a difference determination and commitment to themselves and the team can make.

He wanted them to feel the camaraderie of playing together and working together.

He wanted them to hurt from too many pushups and remind them the next week that they were achieving more.

He wanted them to see that things don’t “just happen;” there needs to be a huddle to create a plan, a strategy.

He wanted them to learn their strengths and learn to acknowledge the strengths of others.

And different people have different roles in getting to the “end game.”

He wanted them one day to see the parallels of work ethic from the field to the workforce.

“If you take out the team in teamwork, it’s just work. Now, who wants that?” — Mathew Woodring Strover

The son-coach has moved on to work in a new environment—one that has several departments, multiple roles and responsibilities.

In his new role, like the “red-shirt” rookie in the football world, he started doing grunt work. His boss wants him to understand all the roles. The boss is building empathy and understanding. The boss is creating an “us” mentality because “we have all been there.”

Even though “we have all been there,” the coach has observed the production department blaming shipping and shipping blaming production when maybe it was just the weather that blocked the smooth flow of product.

I wondered how you get rid of the blame game.

“Production and shipping are like the offence and defence—different roles with clear responsibilities, so it can be easy to blame the other. Each ‘side’ needs a hyper-accountable person,” the rookie/former coach explained.

“In football, if you make a bad throw, you are responsible for the bad throw and the great catch by the opposing team. There was something you could have done to lessen the damage of the bad throw, even it was just yelling at one of your players, hoping for an interception.”

I pictured him drawing plays on a white board as I switched ears and grabbed a pen and notepad.

As he talked, I wrote. My son didn’t know it, but he was coaching me on how to write this week’s column.

“On the offence and defence, like in shipping and production, there need to be a couple of leaders who don’t blame the guy beside them. These leaders model accountability. ‘Hey, man, this one is on us.’

“If you never blame a teammate, it is hard for a teammate to blame you. If you give grace, it allows you to be given grace.”

He stopped talking, but I kept writing. I was running for the touchdown.

I knew, as he did, that it is a downward spiral when separate groups blame each other.

It is an ebb and a flow when there is accountability and grace.

And on the football field or the production floor, leading with accountability and grace will grow gangly teenagers into responsible contributors.

My son is now the gangly newbie in the business world, but I suspect his boss-coach, who lost his curls a long time ago, will be just as excited about the changes in his life and work environment.

Myrna Selzler Park is a lifelong entrepreneur who works with organizations and individuals to turn their passion into impact. As former owner of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, Myrna uses her experience to build value in organizations. She is certified in behaviour and motivation analysis, emotional intelligence, as well as being a growth curve strategist and a certified value builder advisor. As a wannabe athlete, Myrna has run several half-marathons, deadlifted 215 pounds and has now put her mind to becoming proficient in Muay Thai kickboxing. She can be reached at [email protected]

Focus on growth, not taxes
Troy Media - Nov 05, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Niels Veldhuis and Jason Clemens

Much ink has been spilled on the narrative that millennials and other future generations of Canadians may experience lower living standards than preceding generations. A recent study on wealth inequality, however, challenges this narrative.

In reality, from 2010 to 2019, millennials have enjoyed greater increases in wealth than other generations of Canadians. So why does the federal Liberal government (and its governing partner, the NDP) want a wealth tax?

In Does Canada Need a Wealth Tax?, Philip Cross, former chief analyst at Statistics Canada, finds that “wealth inequality” in Canada has diminished over the past decade. The share of wealth—assets minus liabilities—held by lower-income groups has increased while the share held by upper-income groups has decreased.

From 2010 to 2019, among the five Canadian household income groups, wealth increased by 77% for the lowest income group, 89% for the second lowest, 91% for the third lowest, 68% for the second highest and 66% for the highest income group. As a result, the share of wealth held by the lower three income groups has increased from 27% in 2010 to 29.5% in 2019.

Some may argue that because lower-income groups have less wealth, a higher percentage gain isn’t as meaningful. And yes, most of us would rather have more wealth—and a smaller percentage of wealth growth—than low wealth and a high percentage of growth.

But the wealth story doesn’t end here.

Age has a large impact on income and wealth. People in the earlier stages of life and in their careers, like millennials, typically have lower incomes and haven’t yet accumulated significant wealth. Over time, with a robust economy, good job prospects and upward income mobility, that changes.

Between 2010 and 2019, Statistics Canada data shows, the total wealth of the baby boomers increased by 65% to $5.8 trillion compared to 189% to $3.2 trillion for generation Xers and 464% to $1 trillion for millennials.

So millennials already have $1 trillion in wealth, equal to roughly 17% of the wealth of boomers.

Of course, most millennials would rather have wealth equal to the boomers, but with a strong economy they will get there. If anything, the data reveals great prospects for millennials. They’re not doomed, like so many falsely claim.

What they need, and what our government should focus on, is the right economic environment—one that leads to higher rates of economic growth. More growth, with more opportunities and higher wages for young Canadians, is the surest way to a more prosperous future. It’s not by penalizing wealth through increased taxes.

As the Cross study spotlights, wealth taxes have many adverse effects, including discouraging savings, investment and entrepreneurship, and therefore stunting long-term economic growth.

Historically, wealth taxes also provide little government revenue. They tend to exclude most taxpayers, and the rate can’t be too high; otherwise, wealthy households simply shift their wealth to other jurisdictions. And wealth taxes are expensive for governments to collect due to plenty of bureaucrats and tax collectors.

Many countries have experimented with taxing wealth, with disappointing results.

“France recently eliminated its wealth tax,” Cross wrote, “after concluding its three-decade experiment had mostly resulted in an exodus of wealthy people from the country.”

In Canada, housing and pension assets comprise the largest sources of household wealth. That’s why it’s so concerning that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a Crown corporation, gave the University of British Columbia $250,000 to “research solutions to housing, wealth and inequality,” including research on a federal home equity tax.

Rather than promoting economic growth, the federal government seems distracted by a false notion of wealth inequality in Canada.

Unfortunately, the government’s mix of higher taxes, more government involvement in the economy and indebtedness hasn’t produced a robust economy (pre-COVID-19) as promised. Gross domestic product and income growth have slowed, business investment has collapsed, and there are worrying signs for entrepreneurship.

Changing course will help create the conditions for a more robust economy that will provide young Canadians with opportunities and higher wages. Do so and they will continue to save and indeed become wealthier.

Niels Veldhuis and Jason Clemens are economists with the Fraser Institute.

Write down your dreams
Contributed - Nov 04, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

By Debra Kelly

Have you put your dreams on hold and stopped dreaming completely? Do you even have a list of dreams—a.k.a. a bucket list? If you need to bring those dreams back to life, there is an easy two-step process to realizing all your dreams—even the biggest dream you have hidden inside you and are afraid to say it out loud.

1. Journaling
2. Affirmations

Write in your journal every single day.

The first page of your journal is where you will create your dream list. Don’t hold back, as every single dream must be written down. Dream big and then dream even bigger. Itemize the list in no particular order. Once your dream list is written out you will get more specific, clearly outlining each dream in detail.

When you write ‘I’ in front of your dream it now becomes your affirmation. Clever, right?

I live at the ocean (Which ocean? For how long? All year long? With whom? Do you want to work there, too?)

I travel first class all over the world (What countries? Learn a language or how to cook? Hiking? Meditation?)

I am an actor and a movie star (Action or comedy? Drama or a musical? Do voiceovers for audio book?)

I drive a race car (Which type of car? What colour? Where? NASCAR or Grand Prix?)

I live on a sailboat and cruise for a year (What size boat? With whom? For a year? What ocean?)

I am a marathon runner and place in the top 10 (When? Where? Length of race?)

Don’t ever worry about ‘how’ your dreams will actualize. The how is the reason you are stuck now with excuses of why your dreams are unattainable. Excuses like:  I don’t have enough money. I have young kids. I can’t quit my job. I don’t even own a home yet. I hate working out. I am too busy. I don’t have the time!

Your journal is also a place for you to write out all your complaints, past hurts, and joys—especially starting or ending each page with your reasons to be grateful.

After you write out your dream list with affirmations, which can be added to and revised all along the way, you will create your personal affirmations, and you will say them out loud every day. Even if you must do this in the bathroom, find a space that is just yours.

Your affirmations, when said daily, are critical for setting the road map for your dreams and also for inviting change into your life. These two simple steps will set up your intentions, which then opens up a crack in the universe, and you will feel and experience success rather quickly.

Affirmations are sometimes exact opposites of what you feel. Here are a few examples:

I deserve greatness. (I am too broken, or I am too lonely)

I believe in me and all possibilities. (I will never have what those people have)

My career allows me the freedom I want to travel when I want. (I hate my job)

I earn an exceptional income that easily supports my family. (My credit cards are maxed)

I love my body and enjoy working out every day knowing. (I have time for fitness)

My health is a priority. (I am too fat and eat crappy foods)

I confidently talk about my dreams and know they are possible. (Dreaming doesn’t work)

I am enough. (I am stretched too far and never have time for me)

Let me share a bit about myself, especially how journaling and affirmations changed my life.

I am a mother of three amazing grown-ups, a local Realtor, and a newly published author of a book called wait a year. It is a funny story, with a dark side, a dash of crazy, heartache, hurricanes and an expat life that all spell disaster.

After my husband of 13 years left us, I moved to Mexico with my three young kids. It was not an easy time arriving to the small fishing village of Cabo San Lucas in the summer of 1993. It was unbearably hot and humid, there were no telephones or TVs, and we didn’t know a word of Spanish. Every day was worse than the day before—being ripped off, fighting cockroaches and scorpions, school dungeons, hurricanes, a burning car and the new singles sex scene.

There were a few months of nearly daily disasters. My four-year-old almost drowned in a pool and got stung by a jellyfish—all on day one of the adventure. Our really old new car that I had just overpaid for, without air conditioning or a speedometer, started on fire in the middle of the desert, stranding us along the highway in a rainstorm (which put the fire out). After a devastating tropical storm destroyed the town, we were almost electrocuted. I started losing my hair from the stress of it all. I was sitting alone at a small restaurant, sobbing out of control and at the end of my rope.

An angel named Annee saw me. She sat down, grabbed my hand and in the sweetest voice said, ‘What’s wrong, honey?’ The whole messy story came tumbling out, and she listened to every word between the tears and said kindly, ‘It will all be OK.’ Over and over. I believed her.

I soon discovered I was much tougher than I thought, finding an inner strength. True grit shows up when you are at your lowest.

I had a case of the ‘f— its,’ also known as surrendering, and then I started working on myself. The 12 steps of codependence recovery. Journaling. Affirmations for change. Learning to forgive and set boundaries. Finding my voice. It was then my life started to shift for the better.

I was inspired to write the book wait a year to share that no matter how low you go, there is always a way up. I am now dedicated to bringing people together with a shared vision of how to live big and be free of all that stops you. I want to pay it forward.

I have journaled for nearly 30 years and detailed my darkest days and biggest joys. My lifelong dream to live at the ocean, on a beach, and experience paradise literally saved my life.

Debra Kelly is an author, storyteller and motivator.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Fairhurst helps you evolve, shift
Tom Kernaghan - Oct 28, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

“Have you ever seen a waterfall you didn’t like?”

This question has been swirling around in my mind since I heard Donna Fairhurst pose it in a recent BWB video. It’s an apt metaphor for this “endless student of life on planet Earth” who has been gathering and mastering a vast array of skills and gifts for decades. Like a river, Fairhurst draws from many sources and can go deep to help her clients find their true selves and “know, grow, flow, and glow.”

Fairhurst is a unique life and soul coach, Reiki master, psychic medium, empath, and aura and chakra intuitive who isn’t afraid of to face truths and to surrender to personal change. However, her path to wisdom has been a long and circuitous one. Her diverse history includes banking, tourism, theatre, volunteering and coaching swimming; travelling the world and studying with many teachers, including an Egyptian Coptic priest, a Jesuit priest, an imam, and a Buddhist nun, all while networking with two oil companies and three airlines to create and teach an ocean awareness and crash survival preparedness course—to name just a few experiences.

To Fairhurst, who describes herself as chief evolving officer, these seemingly eclectic experiences all flow into one journey of her “sacred soul self,” an inner sense of being she felt intuitively from a very young age but avoided for most of her life.

Having survived near blindness and polio as a child, three near-death experiences, resistance from those close to her and from within, and many harrowing personal challenges throughout her life, Fairhurst understands that whatever we go through, whoever our egos would have us think we are, we are all souls in motion from the same universal source. We are love. She also knows that each of us is on our own path to find our own expression of what this means.

Today Fairhurst helps professional women “and a few brave men” embrace their unique essence of being human by cultivating the clarity, coherence and calmness to let life flow through them freely. Harnessing the full range of her modalities, abilities and insights, she guides her clients through their most difficult transitions and empowers them to reach their highest levels of self-awareness, purpose, joy and potential.

The power of experience and wisdom is that you can cut through confusion. What are some of the questions you ask a client when they first approach you for a consultation?

Have they ever worked with a coach, Reiki master or intuitive before?

What drew them to me? Where are they stuck?

Do they have a spiritual practice? If so, what is it?

How do they define energy, or source, as it relates to them? How is that working for them?

What ideal outcomes are they hoping to achieve?

What are their dreams and goals?

What troubles them and keeps them awake at night?

What’s their reality? What’s stopping them?

How much self are they prepared to invest in themselves?

These are some of my key questions. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, medical or clinical counsellor. I am an intuitive holistic practitioner with practical, doable tools for realizing optimum results. I guide my clients to understand, use and integrate those tools, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is a complimentary discipline that enhances life, not a replacement for medical science.

What happens next? What do the next steps look like? 

I require a detailed intake form, which we use after the initial consultation to enter into a coaching contract. We are a team, and along the way we connect deeply with their guides and angels. We show up together, and we create the space for success and self-actualization. This is not smoke and mirrors. It is living in the present, here, now.

During the first call, we noodle at least one sticking point or a difficult transition they are currently working on. We find at least one way to move forward positively right then and there. My one-on-one coaching programs run for six or 12 months for a specific number of hours per month. Each program contains many of the same teaching elements; however, each program is individually created for each client. I meet them where they are. No two are exactly the same because no two souls are the same.

It takes time to identify and work through layers and years of this and past lives. I have been described as a tough love coach in a velvet glove. I feel that is pretty accurate. I am always humbled and inspired by how deep my clients are prepared to dive, and by the privilege of working with their spirit guides and angels, as a medium and empath. I incorporate healing Reiki, sound, meditation, and EFT among other things. My coaching is grounded, practical, spiritual, balanced, intuitive and fun.

You certainly have a wonderful variety of tools and modalities. It must be rewarding to find the right mix for an individual. What does the ideal outcome look like as you move through your work together?

The ideal outcome is to create balance, clarity and optimal coherence in their lives. Together we identify and learn how to deal with self-sabotage, negative self-talk and disempowering practices, and then replace them with tools for living and making solid, empowering choices from a place of self-awareness.

It is very gratifying that many of my clients elect to keep working with me in a coaching capacity beyond their contract terms. My practice is very full and fulfilling. I only take on clients who are passionate and prepared to the work on themselves, to create their best reality. A few times I have had to gently fire a client who did not need me anymore, as they were more than ready to step into their own power.

How does the process differ when you work with a group? 

Until now, the only groups I have led have been part of holistic expos and wellness events, where I was speaking and presenting workshop sessions on a single topic: aura and chakra balancing, or the power of intention, et cetera. While that has been a wonderful part of my life and business that I will continue to do on a limited basis, it is about to change rapidly. I cannot keep up with the growing demand for one-on-one coaching. So embracing a group online platform is the next logical step forward to continue my work.

I am very excited to be rebranding and launching a new website, Facebook page and group. And, time allowing, I will offer three monthly online master classes, as well as participate in an extraordinary (soon to be announced) Women’s Spiritual Summit online. The icing on that cake will be launching two six-month, or one 12-month, online Zero 2 Clarity group programs in late fall this year or early 2021. I am still deciding the timeline on that.

Yes, like your clients, you continue to evolve and shift. Let’s talk more about your rebranding and new website. Tell us about your new focus and what differences, and similarities, visitors can expect.

It’s another positive step forward for me in my own evolution as a coach and teacher. Same Donna, same modalities and principles, just more of me, for more of you, in more places. We are launching DonnaFairhurst.com in the next few weeks—a brand new name, look, and some exciting new and expanded programs.

I am not divorcing myself of Soul Full Solutions. I am incorporating it as a direct result of using the methods, principles, programs and tools I have developed in my powerful Zero 2 Clarity coaching programs. Soul Full Solutions will be the measurable results achieved from working with me and the tools I provide as I guide my clients and groups through the programs. So DonnaFairhurst.com will be a melding of both. There will be period of overlapping sites as we integrate to ensure no one gets left out in the cold.

Given our water theme, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask the same question about your time as a swim coach.

Water of any kind is restorative and sacred, whether it is a glass of water, a bath, a shower, a swimming pool, river, lake, pond, puddle, great ocean—yes, a waterfall—or in our bodies. Water sustains us and all life on the planet. It heals us, floats us, teaches us. We travel on it, clean with it, drink it, and play with and in it. Water is the juice of life. Teaching children from the cradle to adulthood to see, feel, respect, honour and love water has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I have always said and taught, “Where water goes energy flows.”

Tell us some fun stuff about yourself.

I am absolutely nuts, pardon the pun, about crunchy peanut butter on Manchester loaf with thinly sliced Gala apples, Earl Grey tea and nice bit of fine dark chocolate to finish. I trekked nearly 10,000 kilometres exploring and studying the ancient Mayan, Aztec, Inca, and Toltec sites of Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Belize over a period of four months, and I have an extensive bucket list which includes skydiving and hot air ballooning.

Donna Fairhurst is the owner of Soul Full Solutions in Penticton.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

Leaders come in different shapes
Myrna Selzler Park - Oct 26, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash

A frustrated sigh whooshed from my frozen lungs.

My older son raced up the snow pile to push his brother down the hill. Jumping up and down, he beat on his chest, “I’m the boss.”

“No, I get to be boss,” my youngest yelled as he tackled his prancing brother.

The chatter of children arguing that they are best suited to be leader rattles in my brain.

As a consultant, I hear this rant when I go into organizations. Adults are a little more sophisticated than kids, but they limit their thinking to believing they are best suited to being a leader.

DISC behavioural psychology describes four distinct behavioural styles, each with strengths and weaknesses.

Red is a big picture thinker.

Yellow is most concerned about people and emotions.

Green wants to ensure there is a logical plan to get results.

Blue pays close attention to the detail.

Each style—red, yellow, green and blue—has the potential to be a leader. Different leadership styles are best suited to different stages of business development.

Red (Dominance)

The red leader is focused on results. Big picture and bottom line. Red leaders are direct and encourage confrontation, being unaware of conflict. They’re future-oriented, striding toward the next big idea.

Red leaders are well-suited to direct startups, getting stuff done, ensuring there is enough money to breathe into the next month.

The red leader’s weakness is bulldozing over people, leaving a path of unfulfilled employees, carelessly acquired assets, and wasted stops and starts.

Routine does not jive with the reds, and they often glance over the steps needed to get to the finish line. They thrive and are happiest in a changing environment with new challenges—not problems—to keep them entertained.

Yellow (Influence)

The yellow leader is charismatic, building people up and resolving conflict with ease. They thrive with human interaction and the opportunity to focus on making a difference.

In the lifespan of an organization, yellow leaders are best suited to the stage of growth where people are needed. They are butterflies in a garden, and the flowers love them.

The yellow leader’s weakness is their lack of attention to detail and their need to be liked by everyone. Ignoring the details will drive the detail-oriented people (the blues and greens) crazy.

Accountability is not on the radar of yellow leaders; they want everyone to like them and if the work doesn’t get done, “Well, at least we’re having fun.”

Green (Steadiness)

The green leader is great at managing the middle line, taking care of the process. They love co-operation and harmony. The status quo is their friend.

Green leaders embrace the how of an organization. They thrive when the business has rhythm and the dramatic ups and downs of a startup are over.

Greens struggle with conflict, avoiding it at all costs. With any group of people, there is always some conflict. Unaddressed conflict leaves employees feeling unheard and not valued.

It will take lots of convincing for green leaders to be open to change. Without change, even slow change, a company will be a failed dream.

Blue (Compliance)

No detail escapes the blue leader. They are hawk-eyed about details and numbers. They feel most secure with the brain-numbing detail of spreadsheet analysis. They fine-tune the organization, creating a smooth-running machine.

The blue leaders are best suited at the quality control phase of the business. They thrive on maintaining high standards and ensuring that everything is done by the book.

Analysis paralysis is the disease that limits their success. Gathering more and more information to ensure no mistake is made can kill the enthusiasm and forward motion of the rest of the team.

Since they are detail-oriented thinkers, they are hard to convince without facts and can get stuck “in the box.” Their objectivity can make them come off as cold and can make networking a challenge.

What happens when a leader moves on and a new leader takes on an existing team?

When a new leader takes over, the team assumes since the new person is in the lead role they must be the same as the previous leader.

When the new leader behaves differently, the team doesn’t understand and often does not accept the difference.

A red leader had spent the past five years building a solid base of clients for a new accounting firm. The thrill of the build had evaporated and the thought of developing strategies to solidify and maintain the team and their clients exhausted him.

He wanted and needed a new adventure.

A green leader was hired as a replacement. No early introductions to the team. No acknowledgement of the growth stage of the business. Just plop—here is your new leader.

The team expected the green leader to behave like the red leader—quick decisions, plowing ahead with new ideas, results and the quick fierce frown when things didn’t go as he thought they should.

The team knew what to expect from their red leader.

By contrast, the green leader was thoughtful and purposeful. He asked for feedback before implementing change. He would take a few days to get back to a team member if there was something he disagreed with. He was quiet and methodical.

The challenge was the team was used to the behaviour of a red leader and when the green behaved exactly the opposite, they grumbled and complained. The leadership style had changed, and they did not have the language or the understanding to accept it. But they knew they didn’t like it.

Enough complaints to head office, without any understanding or language besides “He just doesn’t fit in,” meant the green leader uprooted his family again and returned to his previous role.

The unchallenged red moved back into leadership, and the turbulence continued.

When organizations thoughtfully move people into existing roles, the change can bring success to the new leader, the organization and the team.

Anyone from any style can say “I get to be boss.” If the needs of the business, based on its stage, and the motivation of the potential leader align, there is great opportunity for success in guiding the business and its people.

As the business evolves, there will be an opportunity for another colour to become the leader and stand at the top of the snow pile.

Myrna Selzler Park is a lifelong entrepreneur who works with organizations and individuals to turn their passion into impact. As former owner of Century 21 Assurance in Kelowna, Myrna uses her experience to build value in organizations. She is certified in behaviour and motivation analysis, emotional intelligence, as well as being a growth curve strategist and a certified value builder advisor. As a wannabe athlete, Myrna has run several half-marathons, deadlifted 215 pounds and has now put her mind to becoming proficient in Muay Thai kickboxing. She can be reached at [email protected]

You’re staying for how long?
Contributed - Oct 21, 2020 - Columnists

Photo: Contributed

This COVID thing has brought on several questions and old memories.

When I was growing up many families on our block, right in town, did not have indoor plumbing. Instead they had an old fashioned out-house, with a moon cut into the door for light, at the back of the lot.

In one of my humour books, I went to some length explaining that there was no toilet paper in most of these out houses, but rather old Sears and Eaton’s, newsprint catalogs. In the spring they were a little ratty after spending the winter as shin guards for young hockey players but then they went right back to the outhouses. This was recycling at its finest.

These catalogs were in most out houses until both companies went out of business and Canadian Tire took over but provided high gloss flyers, which was not a good replacement in the back house.

I went on to explain in my book that my short humour story books had been referred to as good bathroom readers, not just for the entertainment value but to provide extra quality paper for wrapping things up if nothing else was available.

Today we are all spoiled requiring three ply, ultra-soft, quilted, snow white paper to do the job. Where has this luxury brought us?

During the first couple of months in 2020 everyone came to line up at Costco waiting for new shipments of toilet paper because of the shortage caused by people panicking that they may run out. No one thought of any other option.

The good news is, if it happens again, I still have lots of books still for sale.

When I moved to the Okanagan (an old native word meaning “a great place to retire”), one of the things I most looked forward to welcoming company from back home. My new neighbour, Fred, could not understand my enthusiasm for visitors. He warned me that anyone I had ever nodded at or said hello to back on the Prairies would turn up at our door looking for a free Okanagan holiday and if I didn’t nip it in the bud I would have very busy summers.

“Don’t encourage them,” he cautioned, “or you’ll be running a hotel.” He said that people from Saskatchewan (another native word, which means “you cannot jump to your death here”) make especially bad visitors. “If the flatlanders make it through the twisting mountain roads to the valley, they are often too frightened to return, so they stay—some forever.”

I laughed, but Fred was serious. “Do the math,” he said. “There are more retired people from Weyburn, Rosetown, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw living in the Okanagan than the entire population of all three places put together.”

Wanting to be helpful, Fred offered a few suggestions to curb the flow of prairie traffic to our home. “First, keep two suitcases in the closet beside the front door,” he said. “When someone shows up and there is any indication they may be planning to stay, pretend you’re just getting ready to go out of town for a few days. You’d better have a good plan, too.”

Apparently, Fred felt thought his message wasn’t sinking in, so he told me. “One time, some people showed up whom I hardly knew, so I pulled the suitcase trick. Instead of leaving, they asked if they could use the house anyway. We ended up staying at a motel for the weekend. Now we keep clothes and a toothbrush in the suitcase.”

The topic of out-of-town visitors continued to pop up, and I learned of several new tricks—one of which is leaving only one roll of toilet paper in the guest bathroom and no copies of my book. The idea is that after you continually promise to replenish the empty roll (but never do), the unwanted guests will find accommodation somewhere else, rather than embarrass you by reminding you yet again. Occasionally they may just buy their own toilet paper, but few are willing to spend the money. After all, that is why they are at your home.

Another helpful neighbour suggested we register our home as a bed and breakfast and post a sign on the back door: Rooms for rent: $150 per night. Sometimes that alone will make uninvited guests feel guilty, and they will depart. If that doesn’t work, you still have the option of saying, “We’d love to have you stay, but unfortunately, all of the rooms are booked after Wednesday.”

I suspect the neighbours thought I was crazy for being pleased at the idea of getting company. I visited a local furniture store to buy a fold-out couch for extra sleeping quarters. The salesperson asked if I wanted the one-night bed, the weekender, or the full-week bed. The confused look on my face prompted an explanation.

“Sofa beds are available in three different models,” the salesman explained. “The one-nighter is a bed fitted with a bar that runs across the lumbar position, making for a very uncomfortable sleep. Stiffness is guaranteed after only one night, prompting guests to leave the following day.” He smiled and continued.

“The weekender has the same bar but a thicker mattress and additional padding, so aches and stiffness don’t show up for two or three nights. It is only moderately uncomfortable, designed for those you want to visit but not to overstay their welcome.” He paused for effect.

“The full-week bed is for close family or friends whom you want to come for a short stay, but not move in. It features the same construction, but the bar drops in the middle of the bed and it has even more padding. It has no negative effect but is uncomfortable enough to keep guests from enjoying a full good night’s sleep. After several nights, they, too, will decide to move on.

“The beds may not have been designed with those particular purposes in mind,” the salesperson explained, “but here in the valley, that’s how we rate them. It’s the only way to keep control over your home.”

After some discussion, I decided against buying a fold-up bed and purchased a futon instead.

I still welcome my prairie friends, but should you find me at the front door with suitcases in hand, you will know I have finally reached my quota of vacationing visitors.

On the other hand, if you buy a few copies of my books for reading or otherwise, I could be convinced to open up a room for a night or two.

Layton Park runs a humour website called Back Road Scholar.

This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.

All Columnists Stories