Author Archives: Barb Phillips

You Can, You Should & If You’re Brave, You Will

Posted: October 17th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Recently hiked to the top of House Mountain in Corryton, Tennessee. The climb can be rough in spots, but worth the view. Isn’t it always?

Ahhhhh the bucket list! I’ve been thinking about mine again lately. The 2007 movie inspired many of us with adventurous spirits to do more. So grateful to be living my bucket list adventure today!  Sometimes the best thing you can do for your career development is to do something different.

You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. – Stephen King

If you haven’t made a bucket list, you’re missing an easy opportunity to live a more fulfilled life. A bucket list defines where you want to spend your resources before other non-essential things swallow them up. We all have a limited number of resources (and an expiration date), but few of us live like we do.


How to Create a Bucket List


  1. Choose different types of activities that enhance your primary areas of life. For optimal life balance, we all have six primary areas to attend to: physical wellness, emotional wellness, spirituality, relationships, finances and careers. You might include a few physical challenges, like hiking a mountain trail. Or plan a few adventures with your family or friends, like indoor skydiving (did that, highly recommend!). It might be fun to include a few intellectual and travel items that will enhance your career development. Maybe you’ve even thought about earning extra money by turning a hobby into a business.
  2. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many items to check off. Your list is not set in stone, it can change over time, but always prioritize your list. Start with a “top 10” list. The top items on your list will be more meaningful to you than all of the rest of the list combined. Assuming it will take years to check off all the items, your list will change. You’re changing, so it’s only reasonable to expect your list to change too.
  3. Pick one thing that you can do this weekend. It might be buying tickets to see your favorite musician in concert or signing up for guitar lessons. Give yourself a feeling of accomplishment right off the bat. Some of the best things can be simple and easy. For example, traveling by car for a day trip adventure is easier than traveling to another country. Have bucket list items that range in difficulty from simple to difficult.
  4. Set goals that support items that will be challenging to achieve on your bucket list. If you want to live in Sonoma, California when you retire, you might set some financial goals and sign up for a wine tasting class. An easy first step is just buying a calendar with photos of Sonoma and hanging it by your desk so you can see it every day and keep the dream alive. Remember to review your goals regularly and remind yourself why you’re pursuing them.

Every day you’re writing a page of the story of your life, make it a good one!

Do you have a bucket list? Inspire others by sharing what you’ve checked off!

Choose or (Always) Lose

Posted: September 20th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

The following article was reprinted with permission from the author, Captain George Burk, USAF (Ret), Plane crash, burn survivor, motivational speaker, author, writer. Visit his website at or contact Captain Burk at

There are times when all of us find it difficult to make a decision. I know I have! Sometimes, the best decision is the one we didn’t make and time and outcome(s) showed we were correct. There are legitimate reasons to not make a decision. Some of these reasons have to do with time, resources, lack of adequate information and or our desire and the will to take some type of action.

That said, psychologist Susan Jeffries tells a story that shows the inherent risk involved when people won’t or, choose not to, make a decision.

Once upon a time, she says, there was a donkey that stumbled upon two bales of hay. Both looked good and had a pleasing, pastoral bouquet. The donkey stood before the hay for hours, trying to pick which one the donkey would consume.

In the meantime, the donkey grew hungrier. Afraid he’d miss out on the best pile of greens, he did nothing. Just like the donkey, when people fail to choose, they get stuck.

“The irony of course, is that by not choosing, we are choosing—to starve,” Jeffries said. “We are choosing to deprive ourselves of what makes life a delicious feast.”

Jeffers, author of “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” explains why people find it difficult to make a decision. “Our need to be perfect and our need to control the outcome of events work together to keep us petrified when we think about making a change or attempting a new challenge,” she said. “The inability or unwillingness to make a decision leads to a real or imagined loss of self-esteem and self-worth, a lack of progress and growth and ultimately mediocrity.” So…lead, follow or get the ‘heck’ out of the way.

“Middleness is the very enemy of the bold.”
Charles Krauthammer, writer

To break that paradigm, Jeffers recommends turning away from no-win thinking and changing to a no-lose way of thinking.

Jeffers suggests to affirm: “I can’t lose—regardless of the outcomes of my decision.” As I’ve said many times before, learn to fill yourself with positive affirmations. Change your internal script from negative thinking to a more positive view— “I can’t” to “I will.” “I’m not a good speaker” to, “I will become a great speaker.” The examples are personal and professional and are endless.

Look at the world as a great place for opportunity and growth, and you will look forward to the opportunities for learning and growing that either path you choose will give you. Think of your glass of life as being half-full, not half-empty.

“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
Helen Keller, writer

Even some of life’s most stressful events and we all have them —job loss, financial challenges, divorce, non-life threatening illness or worse—being burned and severely injured, for instance—have a way of leveling the playing field and giving us plenty of material that can provide us with internal fuel later, when we step-out to accomplish our next dream (vision) and goal. This can occur in the form of more contacts that expand our network or an important personal or business lesson.

“Traditionally, opportunities in life are thought of as relating to money, status and the visible signs of ‘success,’” she said. “Think of opportunities in a completely different light.” Through my personal life experiences, I’ve learned there’s nothing worse than an amputated spirit and without hope, one’s success and survival is significantly diminished if not lost.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss in life is what lies inside us while we live.”
Norman Cousins, writer

Now, after you’ve refined and tweaked your thinking, begin to use the doldrums-busting steps below:

Do your homework. Securing relevant information is an important first step of the decision-making process and can keep you moving forward. “Don’t be afraid to approach the specific people involved relative to the decision to be made,” Jeffers said. Acknowledge what you don’t know. Seek out those who can help you learn. Enhance the positives and make the negatives disappear or at least, less apparent.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santana, philosopher

Set your priorities. Start by learning and focusing on the here and now. The issues that drive you today may well be a different color or originate from a different source than those you had last year. Goals are dynamic and, if developed properly, will change as you make progress. “You have to keep reassessing them,” Jeffers said.

“You only get back what you expect, and if you start low you’ll end low.”
Colin Powell, general and secretary of state

Listen to your gut speak. Quite often, your intuition, your sub-conscious mind provides messages as to what choice is best to make at a specific time. There have been many times in my life when my gut instinct
told me the choice I wanted to make was the right one. But, for any number of reasons, I rationalized that choice away and made another choice. Later, to my dismay, I discovered that my first, intuitive choice would have been the best one for me. What that taught me is to trust my intuition, my “gut” more often and go with my first choice and then not look over my shoulder.

“Don’t look over your shoulder. Someone may be gaining.”
Satchel Paige, professional baseball player

Don’t worry. Be happy. Leave the gnashing of teeth and the wailing about how life’s unfair, the stomping of feet and the verbal and non-verbal “woe is me” to others. Learn to trust in your ability to handle whatever life happens to throw your way. When life gives you a lemon, you have a choice. You can become a sourpuss or you can make lemonade. Self-made lemonade tastes great!!

“It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and money have both failed.”
Kim Hubbard, humorist

Begin to think as if you’re a lifetime student (which we are) at a college or university. Call it the “University of Life,” where every day’s an adventure and every meal’s a banquet. The University of Life is where you eagerly anticipate the new people you’ll meet, the challenges you’ll face and how those challenges will pull you—or drag you—to change into the person you really want and can become. Each experience, whether positive or negative, is a valuable learning tool, each are “Teachable Moments.”

“If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.”
Tom Peters, business coach

The difference between a winner and a whiner is their attitude and a two letters. How well do you ‘spell’? EH?

And the winner is …

Posted: September 19th, 2016 in Contest

The winner of the most recent caption contest is (drum roll please) …

Barry Eichler

with his caption “Cutting Staff for Cost Savings.”

Congratulations Barry!

We had a great time judging this contest and are amazed at how clever you all are.  Check back soon for a new contest!!!

Monday Motivation: The right way to the top

Posted: August 29th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Wisdom Quote

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Regardless of where you work or what your title is, everyone must find ways to meet their individual goals and create a path to get there.  Is it easy to move up at your organization? Or will you need to weave around?  Make it a good and honorable journey, contribute where ever you can, and know when you get to the top, you earned the view.

Employment Opportunity: Director HSE, Matrix Service

Posted: August 25th, 2016 in Career Development, Job Postings

We just received this job posting for a candidate who is interested in providing leadership and direction of the HSE function for the Matrix Service organization, including U.S. and Canadian locations.  This position will manage the HSE organization through HSE professionals in each operating division.

Learn more or apply on-line here.

Monday Motivation: Failure is Better than “What if”

Posted: August 22nd, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Wisdom Quote

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It’s a funny thing about life. You never know until you try, but to try is to risk failure. If you don’t try. you’re stuck in the “what if” your entire life. Try and know. Even if you fall, you’ll learn some things on the way down to help you rise a better person.

Enter our caption contest!

Posted: August 15th, 2016 in Contest

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From today through September 16 we are running another fun caption contest!

Contest Instructions:
1. Create your caption to the photo above in five words or less. All captions with more than five words will be disqualified.
2. Type your caption in the comments section of this post by September 16.
3. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Tuesday TapRooT® Friends & Experts e-newsletter.  Only eNewsletter subscribers are eligible.
Our  staff will vote on the most clever caption, and the winner will be announced via our e-newsletter and a blog post on September 20.

Have fun!

Monday Motivation: Accomplish the goal!

Posted: August 15th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Wisdom Quote

pablo (24)

If you arrived at work today and was immediately met with a project that you put off last week, and the week before, and the week before … how do you begin? Visualize the desired outcome and how great it will feel to have accomplished the work. Then identify one small step you can take today. Take the step and don’t obsess over whether it was perfect or not. Then the next day, take another. Pretty soon you will have established a rhythm and the momentum will shift toward completion.

Monday Motivation: Choose happiness

Posted: August 8th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Wisdom Quote

pablo (23)

Bonnie Ware, the author of The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, wrote in a Huffington Post blog:

“Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again … life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

Monday Motivation: Confidence

Posted: August 1st, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Wisdom Quote

pablo (22)

If confidence doesn’t come easy to you, here are 3 tips:

  1. Correct your posture. Displaying confident posture will make you look and feel more confident. Roll those shoulders back and elongate the spine.
  2. Determine to do your best, and know that is enough. I promise other people aren’t evaluating every error and misstep you make. (Well, unless they are jealous of your confidence … and in that case, who cares?)
  3. Know your stuff. This is probably the best advice for building confidence. If you are speaking about a topic, do your homework and know the material. If you are meeting with someone, prepare. If you are trying something new, study up.

If you want to achieve success, you must believe you are worthy and go for it!

Monday Motivation: How to win after a fall

Posted: July 25th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Wisdom Quote

pablo (21)

It’s easy to stand up after a win to applause and admiration. It’s not so easy after a knock down. Encountering defeat and becoming defeated are two different things. Standing up after a fall requires deep character, courage, tenacity … it’s how to turn a tough situation into a personal WIN!

How Far Away is Death?

Posted: July 20th, 2016 in How Far Away Is Death?, Video

Don’t threaten a hippo to find out!

Monday Motivation: Choose your heroes wisely

Posted: July 18th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Wisdom Quote

pablo (20)

Our culture celebrates people who make little to no meaningful contributions to others. When we make heroes of people who can act, play a sport, or sing we are placing value on activities they perform well. Do the people you honor have the personal qualities you’d like to emulate in business and life? Think of those who have made a direct impact on your life. These people are likely those you see every week, who have overcome the odds to be successful. They are the people who will walk with you during tough times.  Do one thing to honor your hero today!

Ed Skompski invites you to the Medical Track at the 2016 Global TapRooT® Summit

Posted: July 11th, 2016 in Medical/Healthcare, Summit, Summit Videos, Video Depot

The Global TapRooT® Summit offers multiple focused learning tracks. This video introduces the Medical track for healthcare professionals. Come to the Summit and maximize improvement at your company!

REGISTER for the 2016 Global TapRooT® Summit.

Interested in the Investigation Track? Learn about it here!

Interested in the Asset Optimization Track? Learn about it here!

Interested in the Safety Track? Learn about it here!

Interested in the Quality Track?  Learn about it here!

Monday Motivation: Leadership 101

Posted: July 11th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Wisdom Quote

pablo (19)

“To get it done right, I do it all myself,” said no great leader … ever.  Don’t be a martyr – work smarter.


Healthcare: Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

Posted: July 5th, 2016 in Medical/Healthcare, Root Cause Analysis Tips


My grandmother (with whom I spent many of my childhood weekends) would say to us grandkids, “You can’t see the forest for the trees!” That usually came right after something bad happened or we did something that was not considered “right” by the adults. I always wondered what that meant, I have thought about it for years and I believe from an adult perspective I finally get it… Granny Lillie, if you can hear this, “I FINALLY GET IT!” (I hear her saying, “It is about time……sheesh.”)

As I have worked with healthcare organizations over the past 20 years working to improve performance and improve their systems we always talked about examining failures and finding the causes. Finding the “Whys” is the step necessary for you to fix issues that existed. Those issues that underlie our systems and turn into incidents, accidents and breed adverse behaviors have to be removed following a problem so that we can prevent reoccurrence. This is preached, taught, and required by all organizations in today’s business world. But why do we wait, why do we have to fail to learn? That question has always concerned me. This is where my grandmother fits in…

When as kids we would go out, make decisions to do things that had adverse outcomes, she would always say to us “you can’t see the forest for the trees” and we would just nod our heads and say “ok” then continue on our merry way. Not only would we not learn from our mistakes but we could not see the mistakes and incidents they happened. The correlation in today’s adult world from an organizational perspective relates to making decisions without considering the consequences. The “Trees” from the statement above is the change you are going to make. If you focus on the “Trees” in front of you and do not consider the future beyond that “the Forest” you are taking unnecessary risk and possibly creating problems. Do you “get it”?

What got me thinking about this today came from an article  I read which dealt with an investigation by the State’s Office of Inspector General at a Louisville, KY hospital. This along with the TJC visit which found many problems at the facility prompted concerns. The investigation was prompted by complaints by staff (that survived the downsizing) regarding health and safety issues due to the decreased staffing. After reading the article I immediately began thinking about our Proactive Flow within the TapRooT® process.

Proactive Flow
We talk about being Proactive in place of reactive and one thing I always mention in my classes is using the TapRooT® process to look at the process before a change or implementation and after that implementation to see where there may be gaps or issues that are identified. This proactive approach may raise questions before you commit to change.

Notice that when we get to step 3 in the Proactive flow we take the observed issues or problems and ask the simple question, “What could result from this?” We would pose this question against our view of the future system. Let’s suppose that they had recognized these future conditions:

  1. A reduction in staffing would create a significantly higher workload for existing staff
  2. Hospital maintained customer/patient throughput with reduced staffing
  3. Using traveling nurses with little or no facility or system related training to supplement staffing levels
  4. Reduced staffing could cause difficulty in maintaining the Quality Control standards due to pressure based on census

We can now take this information and use that “What could result from this?” and we could have had this conclusion:

Now notice that the Significant Issue identified has a dotted line around it meaning it is an assumption, but the possible outcome that could have been recognized (which later became a reality) could have been taken through the Root Cause Tree® and analyzed before it became a reality. And you would have likely come to several areas on the back of the Root Cause Tree®:

a) Training – No Training – Decided not to Train
b) Management System – Standards, Policies and Administrative Controls NI – Not Strict Enough
c) Work Direction – Preparation – Scheduling NI
d) Work Direction – Selection of Worker – Not Qualified

And there certainly could have been others. At this point you have the ability to re-evaluate the changes you are about to make and ensure that the programs put in place following this down-sizing remove these potential problems. This allows you to evaluate the “Forest” behind those “Trees” and ensure the safety of your future patients and staff while working through the “Forest.” If this one hospital had performed this analysis the outcome and where they are today could have been significantly different.

By using this thought process and by being Proactive we can all create safer systems, create a more effective and acceptable working environment, and protect those around us that depend on us… just as Granny Lillie tried to do for us kids so many years ago. Sometimes the simplest, most practical viewpoint is the best. If you have any questions about the TapRooT® process for Proactive assessments please contact me directly at

Monday Motivation: A Powerful Lesson on Leadership

Posted: July 4th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Wisdom Quote

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True leaders don’t inspire work by giving orders. They inspire action by creating a compelling vision to word toward.  What seed can you plant in another person today to inspire his or her personal growth?

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