Jane Smith
May 2, 2019

An Officer, A Bomb Sniffing Dog and Children (Lots of Children)

I have given more than 100 seminars in the past 5 years about stress management, burnout and positive communication. The agencies, firms and non-profits I’ve supported are always appreciative — and these topics are still top of mind wherever I go.

I’m based in the Washington D.C. region so I serve many people who are working for the long term in jobs that they are proud to fill but that won’t necessarily take them into the ranks of high powered, competitive pay (similar to the private sector) positions. It’s a bit daunting to encourage them when their focus and reality are on doing what they love well without the incentive of fancy trips, country clubs or live-in nannies.

Many federal employees are juggling multiple roles, crazy deadlines and decreasing budgets – finding humor, balance and perspective are critical.

A few hints, because I’m just back from two sessions with 80+ children of federal employees, who spent a day with their parents as part of “Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work” day. Many of these wonderful kids began their day with Department of Homeland Security Officer Cooper, and his bomb sniffing dog “Lola.” Their questions were honest, they showed respect and their laughter was contagious.

These were the ideas that I strived to impart to them through reflection, sharing and group exercises:

  • Brainstorming is often the smartest way to craft solutions that involve the imbued wisdom of the team.
  • Consensus is often the best way to make decisions that are inclusive and encourage buy-in on multiple levels.
  • Having fun lowers tension and disagreements and it can celebrate personal and professional milestones.
  • Creating art can calm, inspire and share a bit of what makes us alive and connected.

I used simpler language, of course. And by George, they “got it.” This diverse group of kids who had never met before, fully participated and thanked me with smiles and claps. I hope they carried the feeling of “this is cool and doable” through the rest of their day (and maybe beyond).

Energy and respect. They fuel each other. And they are contagious. Maybe even…a reminder for the caring and overworked parents who brought them to work, that special day.

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