How S.M.A.R.T. are we?

For as many years as I have participated in the IEP, IPP, ISP, IHP development process, goals have been the cornerstone in creating a “good plan” for the person that we were serving.  We have been trained and taught many others in the development of those goals by using the acronym S.M.A.R.T.

We began writing goals for ourselves using the S.M.A.R.T.  model.  It is so simple, just be S.M.A.R.T. and you would develop a pretty decent goal.

Everyone remember;

S . = Specific

M.= Measurable

A.= Achievable

R.= Realistic

T.= Time bound.

Maybe, just maybe, we have been writing goals all wrong!

Recently I was presented the opportunity to listen to personal development trainer, Brendon Burchard, founder of the High Performance Academy  speak about goal setting and why we should consider writing goals from a different perspective.  Burchard contends that we should be D.U.M.B. when writing goals.  Burchard believes that goals written with the S.M.A.R.T.  model are deficit based and we need to be bolder than that. So he challenged us to set some D.U.M.B. goals.  Let me attempt to explain.

D. = Dream big, destiny driven – what would be the ideal, magical thing in life that you want to achieve?

U.= Uplifting, it has to be compelling, attractive, important to you and positive. Phrase it in a way that is so positive that you can’t wait to get started and get there, focus on the gain.

M. = Method friendly.  Method is the map, a set of practices you want to repeat. Consider what practices can be created around the dream that allows it to happen easier.

B. = Behavior driven, what behaviors/actions happen now that can become the trigger for the new behavior/action/ that you want to develop?   You have many established routines, which of those can you attach the new behavior/action to so it is the “trigger” that steps you forward in reaching your dream.

So, dream big, be bold, develop some big hairy audacious D.U.M.B. goals.

By |2016-11-03T10:15:11+00:00August 26th, 2014|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|Tags: |1 Comment


Excellence is a choice. It does not discriminate; it is FREE, available to anyone who chooses it.  It is that simple; make the choice to pursue the challenge of excellence. Living the choice is painful; even so, all great things involve some degree of pain.

In the profession of direct support, excellence in service is a true rarity. There are many dedicated direct support professionals across the country working in organizations that are understaffed, and underfunded, leaving the direct support employee, overworked and underpaid.

 In the pursuit of excellence and quality of service, consider the following twelve tips for those of you who choose to begin your journey toward excellence in direct support.

Choose today.

Know what your customers “vision” is.

                Each person has a dream and a picture of how they want their life to be. As a DSP you need to know and hear that, from each person.  Not just what was captured on paper at a     meeting, but build on that by listening to the person you are serving.

Be a mentor.

                The definition of a mentor is a wise or trusted counselor or teacher. As a DSP teach, coach and guide everyday. 

Spend time getting to know your customer.  

                Discuss with, your customer, what expectations and goals they have set for you as their mentor, teacher coach and guide.

Ask for commitment

                Ask your customer for their commitment to the process as well as establishing yourcommitment level to your customer.

Know what tools and resources you will use together.

                Be prepared.  Find out what you will need, get it, and move on, No excuses here

Prepare, daily, plan for tomorrow

                Set goals for each time you are together. Write them down, be concrete specific and detailed soeach person knows what the expectations are.  Ex. today you accomplished laying out the  pattern and cutting the wood.  Tomorrow we will bolt the shelves together and sand the wood.             

Meet regularly

                Establish a set time that you will be working with your customer. Keep as consistent as possible. We all know there are detours on the road, but don’t get lost here. Get back on the established road, quickly.

Debrief progress

                Once a month devote time to discuss progress that has taken place, what each of you haslearned in this process, what adjustments might need to be made and PLAN.

Invest Yourself.

                As a DSP you need to be “present” when you are side by side with your customer. You have tobe immersed in the process and the purpose for there to be progress.  FOCUS, no distractions.Turn off the cell phone, no water cooler conversations going on while serving your customer.

Teach someone else,

                We have all heard the saying – you will learn the lesson faster if you teach someone else. When your customer has accomplished one piece of the goal no matter how small, support them toshare their knowledge and skills with other people.

Launch – Soar – Fly

        Evaluate what you have taught,

        Support your customer to do it alone

        Evaluate what you have learned.

Repeat!  You are on your way!

By |2016-11-03T10:15:13+00:00April 16th, 2014|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE –

Saying Goodbye

Today we said our final goodbyes to one of the founding matriarchs of the organization that I have been given the opportunity to lead for the past 15 years. She was a pioneer and a survivor. She had to be. She buried three children as infants, raised five more, told stories of all the antics and laughed about it. She worked hard, told it like she saw it, carried a big stick and above all valued her family more than anything. She reaped the rewards of living that life. Her children, grandchild and great grand children provided testimony to those facts today.
Because of the pioneers like her, 2013 is the 40th year of our organization providing community based residential and vocational supports for adults who experience life with different physical and cognitive abilities than you and I. We exist today; because a group of determined, dedicated parents heard what their children were saying 40 plus years ago. They wanted to remain in the community that they knew, where their friends and their family were.
The quest to keep these services available in small communities continued for those parents, making a commitment to serve on the board, knowing it was a lifetime commitment, serving, because of the love that they have for their children. Wanting for them what they wanted for themselves. Watching the ups and downs of people walking in and out of their children’s lives. Holding on for dear life as the service system changes rolled in.
We will quietly celebrate 40 years and thank those pioneers who had the vision and blazed the trail so their children and many others to come could live a life in a community that they chose.
For those pioneers that continue to blaze new trails, wagons west. There are still people waiting to live a life of their choosing.

By |2013-02-28T03:43:45+00:00February 28th, 2013|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|Tags: |Comments Off on Saying Goodbye

Peek A Boo

Transitioning to transparency strikes fear in the hearts of many providers.  Rightfully so, it is like wearing a Saran Wrap suit to your next board meeting and waiting for the reaction. You have prepped, wrapped, practiced, glued, taped, rolled and rehearsed, yet you are never really sure what is going to happen until it is over. The outcome; Are you being judged on the flaws that are seen, or is this an opportunity to take you shopping at SAKS?

For the past two days, at the Nebraska Therap Regional Conference 2012, we have been shown the possibilities of what the Therap system can do to streamline processes, meet regulatory requirements, and provide better communication between staff, families and the person served.  We all have the opportunity to make a very positive difference in our organizations, and yes it does involve becoming transparent, see thru – both sides.

If we providers and oversight agencies are making our decisions based on the mission, vision and core values statements, of our organizations, then I believe that we all have the best interests of the people that we serve and support at heart.  We have to remember that WE All, at times, wear a Saran Wrap suit and going on a little shopping trip together will benefit all of us.  See you at the mall!

By |2016-11-03T10:15:33+00:00November 8th, 2012|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|Tags: , |Comments Off on Peek A Boo

Step Away


When working around my farmette’ I allow my goats to have a

holiday from their usual pen, hoping that they will eat the weeds in the different

areas.  They so enjoy their new found freedom that the fence is now being climbed for great munchies.

 In my frustration at securing the fence to contain these animals I threw the tie wire onto the ground so

I could get the fence panel moved back to its original location. I got the

panel repositioned, ready to secure and I could no longer see that piece of

wire I needed.

 It was not until I stepped away and looked at things from a different angle that I could see the rays

of the sun making that small piece of wire shine in the middle of a patch of weeds.

So when looking for solutions to challenges, take a step away.

Change direction and look at it from a different angle.

As summer winds to a close, change your routine, allow the rays to shine through, you will

see things you may never have imagined.   Happy August!


By |2012-08-04T04:20:27+00:00August 4th, 2012|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|Tags: |Comments Off on Step Away

Making Headlines

It arrived, in my inbox, a preview edition of the latest Frontline Initiative, the publication of the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) . This edition is devoted to the Code of Ethics.

Over the past 2-3 years, events have been life and system changing, for many organizations and states., We have all made the headline news regarding the quality of care and support that people with disabilities receive, whether in large state run facilities or  small community based organizations, no one is immune.

Those headlines were reporting on a decision that someone had made, the decision on how to act, what path to take, what to do or not to do in this given situation.

As a direct support professional how are you making headlines?

As you pursue excellence, in the profession of direct support, here are some action points to consider:

1. Work with  passion; move forward each day with a plan and intended outcome?

2. Make each action intentional;. go with focus and purpose, based on the dreams and desires of the person(s) that you support.

3. Have the RIGHT tools that you need to come to the RIGHT decision?

You have the power to make a difference in people’s lives

Make it a positive difference

For more information about NADSP and The Code of Ethics, log on at, join us, then go out and make some headlines.


By |2016-11-03T10:15:40+00:00June 5th, 2012|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|1 Comment

Listen Only Mode

It has been suggested that I have been far too long quiet from
the CT blog.

For those people who know me well, they will never buy the
story that I am ever quiet.

However, there are times that I do prefer to be in the mode
of listen only, to learn from everyone else around me.

Allison’s role in keeping the certified trainers (official smarty
pants) on track, trained, and talking must be something akin to herding cats. If
you have never herded cats – check out the Cat Herder Video on You Tube and
have a good laugh.  Might be something else you want to try!

Allison – thanks for all you do. Keep after us, (okay so maybe just me) and we will
get the hang of this.

By |2016-11-03T10:15:42+00:00May 8th, 2012|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|1 Comment

Celebrate Community

March has many reasons to celebrate; one being St. Patrick’s Day, March also often brings us new life, whether it be plant or animal.

One of the least publicized celebrations for the month is Developmental Disability Awareness Month. The themes this year all seem to be
built around community, and the awareness of how important it is in each person’s life, no matter what your societal status. In the 2010 Gallup Press  publication, Well Being, The Five Essential Elements, community wellbeing is number five. Without that sense of community, feeling safe and secure, all other areas of well being are compromised.

Quite possibly the most important piece in creating community and wellbeing, is the direct support professional that stands with a person who experiences life with a disability. The direct support professional adheres to the Code of Ethics when making day to day decisions. One of the nine ethics is integrity and responsibility. The National Alliance for DSP’s make it easy to understand what is meant with the definition. As a DSP. I will support the  mission and vitality of my profession to assist people in leading SELF directed lives, fostering a spirit of partnerships with the people I support, other professionals and the community. (Emphasis is mine).

Easy to understand even tougher to pull off.

Act with integrity when no one is looking because someone is
always watching, learning and modeling your integrity.

Being responsible!  If it is within your realm of ability, skills and talent,  Nike
said it best – JUST DO IT!

When we, guide, lead,  build, expect, demand,  a workforce of Direct Support Professionals, who commit to the Code of Ethics, then we will have a much larger community to celebrate.   What will you be celebrating in March 2013?





By |2016-11-03T10:15:44+00:00March 14th, 2012|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|Tags: |1 Comment

Give Thanks

As families gather for food, fun and fellowship may our list of what we are thankful for be long.

Happy Thanksgiving

By |2011-11-24T04:41:52+00:00November 24th, 2011|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|Comments Off on Give Thanks

The Power of One

We have all heard the story of 212 the extra difference written by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson.

Water at 212t boils and boiling water produces steam – enough steam to power machines. One degree less and no power.

The pilot who charts his 1500 mile course and is off by one degree. They never make it to their destination. One degree and that pilot is in a different country.
How far off course do you travel before you stop and adjust?

When people are lost, you are instructed to stay exactely where you were when seperated. Why? Humans wander in circles when lost. We think we are headed out of the woods but we are really just retracing our steps. Going places where we have gone before.

Where do we stop, sit and wait for the rescue team?

By |2011-10-05T02:39:56+00:00October 5th, 2011|Categories: Mary Lawson's Posts|Comments Off on The Power of One
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