Something Completely Different is Good


And now...

When something is not working out or has not yet delivered, we often try harder. Is that your typical approach? Martha Beck, bestselling author of Way of Integrity, says, "Most of my clients, once they've admitted that their lives aren't really working, try to fix the problem by doing everything they've always done, but harder."

I know that when I set a goal, I persistently pursue it. Relentlessly! I buckle down and work harder, longer, and hopefully more creatively. Most times it delivers. But what if it doesn't?

Consider the mantra, "And now for something completely different." It's from Monty Python, the British surreal comedy troupe that created the sketch comedy television show, Monty Python's Flying Circus. What is the 'completely different' for you?

Assess Progress

This is the time to Assess Progress. During this state of the four-phase Pursuit of Passionate Purpose process, you assess how things are going and, depending on the answer, you determine what's next. You may continue pursuing a passionate purpose, with or without mid-course adjustments. Alternatively, you may determine, with or without making the goal, to move on.

My Path

I recall pursuing my first entrepreneurial venture, Radish 1.0. There came a time when our original business model was not delivering big enough or fast enough. We pivoted to a new approach. This allowed us to attract significant partners and eventually set the stage for a good exit.

However, as the co-founder, I began to experience personal challenges in this new environment. I felt I couldn't live true to my own highest convictions anymore. I perceived that my core value of integrity was being compromised. I tried to change the situation, but couldn't. I tried to live with the situation, but couldn't. I finally made the difficult decision to leave my Radish baby and move on. I did not die. Radish did not die. Rather in the end, it opened the opportunity for me to finally get pregnant and deliver on the Baby Plan. It brought our true baby, Annie. Oh joy!

And more recently, since leaving the State of Colorado CIO position, I've been consulting, speaking, helping Radish 2.0, volunteering with US Digital Response, and serving as a Trustee for Western Colorado University — while still being open to other opportunities to contribute. My sense, however, is that now may be time for something completely different. Stay tuned.

Practical Pointers

ASSESS. Use your favorite assessment method to determine how things are going. One of the simple measures is pleasure versus pain. Are you smiling or are you sighing?
APPRECIATE. Once you recognize some progress or a successful step, then appreciate it. Rewards, recognition, and celebration are ways to be grateful. Thank yourself, other people, and spiritual forces that are helping you along the way.
ALLOW. Consider the surrender suggestions from Martha Beck's Way of Integrity, which I realize are so consistent with the Allowing Strategy in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose. Realize that you have no control over anything. Focus on the present. Just be. Try saying these affirmations while you breathe in and out: "I allow everything in the universe to be as it is in this moment. I surrender all resistance to the universe being as it is in this moment."
MOVE ON. Every pursuit has a beginning, middle, and end — just like the cycles of life. Sometimes it's necessary, albeit difficult, to stop, be present, go in-between, or try something completely different. That difference could be just a mid-course correction, an adjustment, or a broader change. It could involve moving on.


When things are not working (or even when they are), stop, be present, breathe, and surrender. Appreciate, adjust, and perhaps move on. It may be time to try something completely different!


Theresa Szczurek copyright 2022.  All rights reserved.  

The Courage to Continue

Winston Churchill

Given the current state of the world with war, climate change, pandemic, and economic turmoil, the courage to continue in these 'worst of times' is paramount for all of us. The movie, Darkest Hour, portrays the extreme challenges faced by Winston Churchill, the newly elected Prime Minister, as Hitler aimed his war machine on England. His personal approach in meeting these challenges was, "Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts."

I believe that to survive and thrive in these times — to find the courage to continue — represents a pursuit of passionate purpose. "The pursuit of passionate purpose, as well as its attainment, and relationships along the way bring the real rewards in life," from my book, Pursuit of Passionate Purpose.

Practical Pointers

CLARIFY YOUR PASSIONATE PURPOSE. Passionate purpose is an intention or goal pursued with passion, intense enthusiasm, zeal, fervor, and interest. What is your purpose? Why is attainment of this goal meaningful? The more meaningful the purpose, the more intense is the passion, and the more noteworthy is the impact. In the case of the Darkest Hour, the survival of the U.K. and the free world was at stake. On a personal level, purpose can relate to health, finances, job, relationships, and many other aspects of life.
FIND COURAGE. Once you know the purpose is right, it's time to commit to it wholly. The word courage comes from the French root, corage, which means "having heart". If you are clear on your values and the idea serves your spirit and values, then courage comes. With courage to commit comes more passion, zeal, and fervor. This is the energy essential for successful pursuit. In the case of the Darkest Hour, the British people said they would never, never, never stop fighting against Hitler. We feel that same passion coming from Ukraine now. They have great courage. It is contagious and inspires others to help.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE. Help and serve others. The most effective Passionate Pursuers realize that it's vital to build relationships with and bring along on life's journey the proper people and support network and also lessen the impact of improper ones. Don't do it alone. In helping others, you help yourself. Recently a massive wildfire suddenly engulfed 1000 homes close to where I live and the community rose up to help. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, other natural disasters, and war are impacting our nation and the world, but people are coming forth to help. We must be allies.
PERSIST. Effective Passionate Pursuers use the Persistence Strategy to mindfully persevere with focused determination using a divide-and-conquer tactic and never giving up. The approach is to: (1) commit to a clear purpose, (2) divide the whole purpose into parts, (3) conquer the whole, piece by piece, and persevere with unremitting will to accomplish each part, and (4) seek feedback to assess progress, build confidence, and adjust the action plan.


M. Scott Peck, in his landmark book The Road Less Travelled, reminds us that "Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it."

Use the four Practical Pointers above to find the courage to continue, even in the worst of times. Never give up. It is the pursuit of passionate purpose, as well as its attainment, and relationships along the way that bring the real rewards in life.

copyright @2022 Theresa M. Szczurek.  All rights reserved.  

More on How to Use Innovation as a Success Strategy

In my last e-newsletter (subscribe now) and in my recent blog post, I began to explore "Innovation as a Strategy for Success." Using the four-phase Pursuit of Passionate Purpose framework, we'll continue to examine how to align passion with a meaningful purpose, then pursue it persistently, and assess progress along the way.

Using my former CIO position at the State of Colorado as a case study, I presented the first two Practical Pointers last time. Here are additional Pointers 3-6.




The most important organizational asset is People. As Jim Collins explains, "First get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figure out where to drive it. If you have the right executives on the bus, they will do everything within their power to build a great company, not because of what they will get for it, but because they simply cannot imagine settling for anything less."

At the Governor's Office of Information Technology (OIT), following the top-priority direction of Governor Polis, we worked to get the right people on the bus. Initially, I, as CIO, had eight executives reporting directly to me. After a deeper evaluation of our key challenges, I reorganized, resulting in just five Executive Staff members: the COO (Chief Operations Officer), CISO (Chief Information Security Officer), CCO (Chief Customer Officer), CSO (Chief Strategy Officer), and CTO (Chief Technology Officer). I retained, promoted from within, moved off, and hired new. We moved parts of the organization around under these leaders to improve processes and better serve our customers, who are the cabinet agencies.

A missing OIT organizational component to support an innovation culture is Marketing. Any entrepreneurial venture knows this is essential. That term does not resonate well in government, so it was named Product Management. This new group, placed in the Strategy Office, would determine what products and services we are offering and why, how we're pricing them, how we're placing them in the hands of our customers, and how we're supporting them over time.

The intersection of values and talents describes Passion. At OIT, our values together with the talents and gifts of the realigned organization became something we were passionate about.


Next step is to align your passion with a purpose.

OIT established the wildly important passionate purpose or WIPP as Customer Delight. We worked to meet and exceed customers' expectations and build customer satisfaction. This helped build credibility and trust in OIT among all stakeholders including other executive branch agencies, legislature, vendors, employees, and all Coloradans. Using the Net Promoter Score as the measure to assess progress, we increased the agencies' NPS of OIT by 13 points in six months. Amazing!

OIT and each state agency, following the Governor's Office strategic priorities, established annual WIGs or Wildly Important Goals. To give important information to all stakeholders, we issued the OIT Playbook, a strategic and operational roadmap. As a strategy to achieve these goals, we set up an Innovation Incubator that delivered 10 technological solutions to address agency challenges. For example, after quickly assessing agency needs, we implemented multiple virtual call centers to facilitate COVID-19 communications.


Then pursue the purpose with all your heart and soul persistently until you make progress. The pursuit included establishing a plan, as defined in our Playbook and WIGs, and pursuing it persistently with the right people.

I remember attending the NASCIO 2019 awards ceremony for state IT innovation. The State of Colorado did not receive one award, not even an honorable mention. I then set the goal that by the next year Colorado would win at least one. In 2020, OIT won two, thanks to a big team effort!

With the Governor's vision, support and legislative funding, we launched the Colorado Digital Service (CDS) as part of OIT. Modeled after the U.S. Digital Service, this small but mighty group is a private / public partnership of sorts that attracts talent from the private sector to do a 'tour of duty' in government. They bring in a user-centric design focus with agile methodologies and the ability to diffuse new team processes.


Through a dedicated team effort, OIT accomplished all of its WIGs in addition to dealing with COVID challenges. For example, OIT supported moving 80% of the state workforce to work remotely, innovated new solutions to expand the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment testing lab, and much more. Guided by the Governor's vision to have the agencies be accountable for their major IT solutions, we also put together an IT transformation plan to move to a reimagined hybrid operating model and set the steps to launch it.

Knowing the foundation had been set and the turn-around working, I assessed good personal progress and then moved on.


Using the Pursuit of Passionate Purpose approach, innovation can be nurtured and implemented. Innovation will positively impact public and private sector organizations and help build a stronger state, nation, and world. Innovation delivers extraordinary results!

What's Next

In the meantime, I'm seeking the right organization to make an even bigger innovative impact through a C-level position and/or board seats in the private or public sector.

Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D.
C-Level Global Executive, Corporate Director, and Colorado CIO of the Year

Copyright 2020 Theresa Szczurek.  All rights reserved.  (please share this blog post)

Innovation as a Strategy for Success

This is a time of great need. It's a time of great innovation. But what is innovation? defines it as something new or different. The act of introducing new things, devices, or methods. Novelty.
Influential scholar Everett Rogers, author of the classic Diffusion of Innovations book, defines innovation as "An idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption."

Why is Innovation Important?

A particular innovation alone is not enough. It needs to solve a problem or provide value. When implemented successfully, the new or novel idea delivers efficiencies, quality of life, productivity, growth, income, and/or other rewards to society and the economy. Organizations, whether they be governments, non-profit organizations, or for-profit corporations, thrive based on innovation.

The best innovation in the world is worthless if it sits on the buyer's shelf unused or, worse yet, if it sits in your garage unsold collecting dust. To make an impact and produce results, your innovations must be successfully introduced and implemented in the workplace, marketplace, and world. How do you do this?

Using the principles from my research and books, here are Practical Pointers for Innovation using my last Chief Information Officer (CIO) position as a case study.


Jim Collins, author of the best selling book Good to Great, believes that "Core values are not something people buy into. People must be predisposed to holding them." In his Mars exercise Collins explains, "One way to identify your organization's authentic core values is to form what I call the Mars group. Imagine you've been asked to recreate the very best attributes of your organization on another planet, but you only have seats on the rocketship for five to seven people. Who would you send?" Answer: a powerful, credible group that does a super job of articulating the core values precisely because they are exemplars of those values.

When I was appointed State of Colorado CIO, I led the executive team through the Mars exercise in order to discern the core values of the Governor's Office of Information Technology. In addition to five previously articulated values OIT had been living (Service, Integrity, Team Work, Respect, and Courage), we discovered that Innovation was another key, shared value. It was always there. It just needed to be articulated and honored.

We defined this value as, "Innovation: We foster new ideas. We challenge the status quo and continuously ask, How can we do this better? Then we take action and make a difference through novel processes and technology."

The intersection of values and gifts (or talents) describes what you are passionate about. Passion, intense enthusiasm, zeal, fervor, and interest determine how effectively you pursue purpose.


At OIT we next ran a strategic planning process. We conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. We did a thorough assessment of what was and was not working. Once the values were clarified, we drafted our Mission ("Together we enhance the lives of all Coloradans") and Vision ("Be the best public service technology organization innovating today for tomorrow").

Stay tuned. We'll continue with additional Practical Pointers for nurturing innovation next time. Using the Pursuit of Passionate Purpose framework, we'll show how to align passion with a meaningful purpose and then pursue it persistently. Innovation as a pursuit of passionate purpose delivers great rewards.


With a clear approach, innovation can be nurtured and implemented. Innovation will positively impact public and private sector organizations and help build a stronger state, nation, and world. Strategy based on innovation delivers extraordinary results.  Establish an innovation culture with the right core values, vision, and mission.

What's Next

In the meantime, I'm seeking the right organization to make an even bigger innovative and meaningful impact through the right C-level position and/or board seats in the private or public sector.

Being Fearless in the COVID World

“...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,”
said Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1933 inaugural address. 

These are challenging times in Colorado and around the world with the onset of COVID-19. The degree of uncertainty that exists can understandably breed anxiety, and messages that intend to inform and help can make people more afraid. However, we can and will get through this together! 

In my research study about factors that help and hurt in successfully pursuing a passionate purpose, I asked people what holds them back and what encourages them in their pursuit. One of the biggest hindrances is FEAR. Fear causes self-doubt, anxiety, and anger; fear is a heavy burden. What would your life be like right now if you could cast out that fear?

Sometimes fear can help you to take action and avoid danger. For example during the COVID-19 pandemic that means enacting social distancing, practicing self-isolation, and thoroughly washing your hands. It can stop you from crossing a dangerous road or from getting hurt. However, so often fear is NOT rational. It can turn into obsessiveness - thinking about something over and over until you are immobilized and cannot take needed action. Fear can block effective movement.

Once you are aware of the potential negative impacts of fear, the next step is to take appropriate action. Use the “Pack Strategy" to unpack hindrances and pack energizers for your journey.

Here are some practical pointers:

  1. Lead. Take positive action, be calm, and be strong. Often this means focusing less on yourself and more on helping others. Work on being fearless.
  2. Select. Get in touch with what triggers you and be selective in what and who you listen, watch, surf, invest time in, and talk with.
  3. Use good judgment. Determine whether your fear is rational or irrational. If irrational, force yourself to quiet your mind and focus on positive aspects of life. When there is real danger, your body reflexively mobilizes to avoid it, minimize it, or fight through it.
  4. Be optimistic. Carry a hopeful, upbeat disposition and believe that good prevails. Repeat positive affirmations. Think of the good work being done by so many government employees, medical personnel, public health workers, non-profits, and businesses to proactively address the current challenges and ensure your safety.
  5. Surround. Circle yourself with less fearful people. Surround yourself with people who are not afraid. A recent research study showed that happiness is contagious. If you are around happy people, you will be more happy. If you are around fearful people, you will be more fearful. So find happy, kind, unafraid people with whom to associate.

We human beings are strong and resilient, perhaps stronger than we even know. Unpack fear itself from your life. Strive to appropriate action, be aware of fear triggers, use good judgment, stay positive, and surround yourself with unafraid people.

Crossing the Chasm to Revenue and Profit

Entrepreneurial ventures bring to market and diffuse new products and services.  The end goal, never to be forgotten, is to sell enough at a profit that the firm makes money.  Also  these pursuits of passionate purpose deliver real rewards of meaning and connections. Delivering financial results is difficult. 

The Problem

Everett Rogers developed a theory on how, why, and at what rate new ideas spread.  Diffusion of Innovation explains that diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated over time among the participants in a social system.  Technology makes its way through the population in a bell curve distribution called the Technology Adoption Life Cycle.

The chasm v1

The Innovators, as explained by Geoffrey A. Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm, are Technology Enthusiasts and the first customers for anything that is brand-new.  "They don't have any money.  Only with their endorsement can a discontinuous innovation get a hearing, and so we often "seed" (read "give") products to this community to gain their support."  These techies desire to explore.

The Early Adopters are Visionaries that have an extraordinary influence because they will bring real  money to the table.  Yet each "Visionary demands special modifications that overtax the R&D resources of the fledgling enterprise. "  They desire to exploit the new capability. 

Innovators jump on the product at first, followed by Early Adopters, the Early Majority (Pragmatists) and Late Majority (Conservatives), to finally reach the Laggards (Skeptics).  These various players have different interests.  An entrepreneurial venture needs to go after the Early Market, which represents just 16% of the adoption.  This typically takes a minimum of 10 years.

This summary ( states, "People in the early majority are much more pragmatic. They don’t want big changes and huge innovations, but rather incremental improvements based on using proven products and solutions. The majority wants to buy from established brands, but without having the majority buy your product, you can’t become an established brand.  This dilemma is what Moore calls “The Chasm” and it’s something all companies must overcome, if they ever want to see their product become successful and reach the majority of the population."  How do you cross the chasm?

The Solution

Moore and fourminutebooks summarizes:

  1. The chasm is a gap between Visionary Early Adopters and the Pragmatic Majority.
  2. Crossing the chasm requires securing a specific niche as a beachhead first.
  3. Position yourself as a market leader in your niche by making a strong claim.

"When you contrast yourself with a market alternative (the traditional way of doing things) and a product alternative (a competitor, who uses the same technology, but in a different industry), you can easily position yourself as the leader in the new, combined field. This claim will allow you to focus exactly on your initial niche and eventually take the majority of the market share there, so you can then expand and dominate the rest of the market as well."


Fourminutebooks gives this example.  "Dropbox could’ve positioned itself by saying: 'For private PC users, who are sick of carrying files from one PC to the next via USB stick, we offer a hardware-free file syncing solution. Our service makes your files available on any device with an internet connection, just like YouTube does with video, but with any type of file you choose.' ”

Another example is Radish Systems' initial focus on healthcare.  For healthcare businesses which have callers frustrated by cumbersome automated phone systems and dreading interactions with hard-to-understand live clinicians, Radish offers 'voice with visuals' self-service and live assistance.  True Visual IVRs (Interactive Voice Response systems) aka Virtual Nurses offer callers from any phone with access to a browser via the Internet the ability to see, hear,  and store complex information.  This is similar to what conferencing firms do with video, but with any phone call compatible with existing infrastructure while sharing any visual.


Entrepreneurs need to cross the chasm by focusing on a specific niche to become its market leader.  Then expand.

Set Your Own Standard

How do you want to be remembered?  Tandean Rustandy, an inspiring rags-to-riches entrepreneur, is known for setting his own higher standard of contributing to others.  He states, "I believe all can benefit.  Ask what can I give, how can I serve?  When you go into business, determine how you can contribute to others."

Rustandy's Story

Tandean Rustandy was born and raised in a small town on a river in Indonesia from humble beginnings. There was no clean water and no electricity.  His grandfather was a shipper; he died when Rustandy was six years old and that shipping business died too.  Rustandy went on to build a successful, socially responsible, 'green standard' ceramics business which employees over 3000 people in five locations throughout Indonesia.  Having celebrated its 25th anniversary in business, PT Arwana Citramulia Tbk ( is the #1 ceramics firm in Indonesia and #14 in the world.  Rustandy is pursuing his passionate purpose. 

Rustandy's Practical Pointers.

  1. Get Educated. Luckily, his mother supported the concept of education. Rustandy received a good education -- High School in Toronto,  a B.S. in Finance in 1987 from the University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business, and an MBA in 2007 from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.  Rustandy was the first in his family to graduate college.
  2. Build Relationships and Stay In-touch with People. While working on his undergraduate degree and helping to pay his way through college while washing dishes, Rustandy made good friends.  One friend actually lent him money to pay his last semester of tuition.  They are like brothers now.  When Rustandy travels now, he chooses to take the train.  "I can afford to take a limousine, but that cuts me off from people.  It is important to see the real world so you can remember who are serving."
  3. Protect the Environment. After graduating from the CU Leeds Business School (,Rustandy got involved in a timber business in Indonesia.  It made him a multi-millionaire by the age of 25, but it was damaging the environment.  He decided to move on and start a socially responsible business. His current business, Arwana, is an eco-conscious company which has been awarded the Green Industry Award from the Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry for six years in a row from 2011 to 2016. Arwana is also the first company in Indonesia to obtain ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system.
  4. Help the Disadvantaged. Rustandy chose to locate his new business in 1993 where he could help the poor through the creation of jobs in manufacturing tiles.  He now provides jobs, healthcare, and education for his employees.  It has not always been easy; his firm almost went bankrupt during an Asian financial crisis, but he has stayed true to his values. 
  5. Give Back. Rustandy says, "Everyone has responsibility to help the next generation."  A $20 million gift from Tandean Rustandy, supports expanded research and programming in social innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago through the newly named Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation.  He also made a $6 million pledge  to support innovation at CU Boulder.   “Our aim is to elevate our efforts in entrepreneurship, innovation and design in new, refined and disruptive ways in and outside of the classroom, said Sharon Matusik, dean of the Leeds School. “To have Tandean step forward with this meaningful investment to continue our long tradition of entrepreneurship helps further not only our momentum with curriculum advancements, but also our world-class reputation.”


Tandean Rustandy says, "Stay in touch with people, to stay connected to life.  Ask, how can I help?  Especially encourage young people to ask, how can I contribute?  He quotes Helen Keller, "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart."

Don't Wait: Live the Life You Want


The stories of living life interest me. That's why I interviewed 80 people from all walks of life for my book, Pursuit of Passionate Purpose. That's also why I read the Obituaries and go to Memorial Services.
At a holiday party my friend Alice shared about her travels to Patagonia in South America. In explaining her adventure goals for 2018 she advised, "Don't wait! Do what you want to do now. You never know what life may bring."

Mary Anderson's Life

To cement this important message, I read in Sunday's paper about the life of Dr. Mary Anderson (not her real name). She was an Emergency Room physician and health administrator with 30 years of compassionate and wise leadership at a local hospital. She entered health care to make a meaningful difference.

She was fearless. She skied off 14,000-ft mountains, jumped off towering cliffs in a hang glider, surfed the ocean's biggest waves, and fished the farthest reaches of British Columbia — all with a bold passion. She possessed a venturesome spirit, a keen and inquisitive mind, unbounded energy, a natural athleticism, a spiritual connection to the environment, a love of animals, and a deep devotion to family. For 20 years, she and her husband trained and ran marathons together from Athens, Greece to Santiago, Chile.

In the end, she died of a heart attack — just weeks before retirement and commencing the next phase of her life where she planned to drive her Sprinter van to the southern tip of Argentina. I didn't know Mary personally, but it seems like she lived a great, albeit short, life. She did not wait.

It's a Wonderful Life

Especially at this time of the year, I think of the classic movie, It's a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. In the movie, Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey who lives in Bedford Falls and runs the Bailey Building and Loan Association. He has a bucket list of his own, but he never gets to check anything off. He didn't travel the world as he envisioned; he gave up college so his younger brother could attend instead; he skipped his honeymoon to save the Building and Loan; he didn't own a trophy home or have a high-paying job. Through all of his trials and tribulations, however, he was able to help his family and the people of Bedford Falls in important ways. At the end, he was heralded as the "richest man in town" and the person who indeed had the wonderful life.

Tips to Live the Life You Want

Regardless of the path you're on and your goals for the future, there are many ways to achieve your own wonderful life. The key is to lead an authentic life now — the life you were born to live.

SET THE INTENTION to live life to the fullest. Make it a meaningful year and life.
PLAN. Dream big. What do you want to do with your one precious personal and professional life?
SIMPLIFY. Get rid of the clutter, financial constraints, and emotional baggage that may be holding you back. Resolve what needs to be resolved. Allow yourself to be free.
DON'T WAIT. Take action. What will you do today to bring your dreams into reality? Start now!


As George Bernard Shaw said, "Don't wait for the right opportunity. Create it!" Set the intention, form a plan, simplify your life, and start now to live your life to the fullest. Don't wait.  Resolve and start fresh. 

Saving the World One Bottle at a Time: a Pursuit of Passionate Purpose

How many plastic bottles do you use and throw away each year? How big does that number get if you consider the actions of your friends, family, and business colleagues? It's a BIG and growing number. The consequences are HUGE.

Molly McPherson, a Girl Scout in my troop, just earned her Gold Award with a project called Saving the World One Bottle at a Time. 39292372-B2BF-46DF-8D4F-E1DF99BC526A
According to research by Molly, "Though the world faces many political, economical, and social issues, undoubtedly one of the biggest problems we face today is the decay of the environment. There are now millions of pieces of harmful plastic that destroy the oceans, lakes, and rivers in which they float. Using these disposable plastics might seem easy and convenient, but their effect on the environment and contribution to pollution are too high in costs to justify a continuation of this destructive behavior."

The Numbers

In fact, Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, our country's recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means that 38 billion water bottles — more than $1 billion worth of plastic — are wasted each year. Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38. Making bottles to meet America's demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes." Learn more.

The Health Effects

Molly explains, "Not only are plastic water bottles adding to our current pollution epidemic, there are also many health risks that they pose. Whether you recycle a bottle or not, you're still contributing and supporting the production of making plastic bottles. Millions of people use them around the world, but would they use them as much if they knew all the terrible effects they have toward the environment and health?"

Negative Impacts of Using Plastic Water Bottles

  • Use energy and resources to produce and recycle plastic bottles.
  • Add to pollution of oceans. Plastics that get littered will eventually end up in oceans. Learn about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
  • Risk people's health. The throw-away plastic bottle is poison. It has a limited life and then starts leaching harmful chemicals into the water which you drink.

What You Can and Should Do

  1. BE AWARE. Become aware of the amount of plastics you use. These can be bottles, bags, and other plastics. Stop to think of the consequences.
  2. EDUCATE AND SPREAD THE WORD. Learn more about the problem. Help others understand and take action.
  3. REDUCE. Making an effort to not use as much plastic. Reduce the amount of plastics you use. I wash plastic bags and reuse them. Can you?
  4. RECYCLE. This is better than throwing the bottle in the trash, but it costs time, money, and resources to recycle and may still end up polluting.
  5. FIND ALTERNATIVES. Own a quality reusable water bottle. Stainless steel, glass, or BPA-free plastic water bottles are the best options. If your business uses or sells plastic water bottles, why not sell or give away reusable water bottles with your company name and logo? That's a way to promote your good name and make a difference.
  6. USE IT. Take your reusable water bottle with you, including business meetings and school. Usually when I go to a meeting at another business, the first question I'm asked is, "Can we get you some water?" This means they will almost always bring out a plastic water bottle. I say, "No thanks. I have my own."
  7. REFILL. Be an example Use the water refilling stations that are popping up at airports, schools, malls, and other public places.


"Here is my advice to others. Be passionate. Stay motivated. Thinking positively. You can be the change." Molly McPherson, Gold Award Recipient, Girl Scouts of Colorado. Schedule a presentation.

Theresa Szczurek (,,

all rights reserved. copyright 2017.

Overcoming Fear: Take Action to Defend Core Values

In challenging times, take steps to overcome fear.  The famous opening sentence of the Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale of Two Cities, begins, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..."

According to, "It tells about the time of chaos, conflicts, time of despair as well as happiness. It in fact tells us about the time of extreme opposites without any in-betweens." There are polarities that exist in all of life, including ourselves. Learn more at Polarity Management by Johnson, Pursuit of Passionate Purpose, Chapter 7 by Szczurek, and Go with the Flow by Szczurek.

Although published in 1859 about the French Revolution, this Dickens message also represents TODAY in a divided country and world. Such challenges can trigger FEAR.


Fear is a strong, unpleasant emotion associated with anxiety and fright. The known and the unknown — such as uncertainty — can trigger fear. There are at least two kinds of fear: irrational fright that you make up in your head and rational panic that comes from true danger. Both feel real. There is a time and a place for working through fear with persistence and another for getting out of the situation. Wisdom is knowing when to appropriately use each one of these.

Practical Pointers to Handle Fear

Eileen Joseph, philanthropic consultant, states, "We all face challenges. It is what we do with those challenges that make us the people we are."

  • KNOW YOUR VALUES. In these turbulent times, it is extremely important to know thyself. What are your values? What do you stand for? Values define what is meaningful to you. They are an essential element in defining your passion.
  • FACE AND NAME. Become aware of the discouraging forces, such as fear, that burden you. Identify and name them so it's easier for you to overcome. The way to work with obstacles is to admit them, not repress them.
  • CULTIVATE. Develop the opposite quality. Intentionally nurture and build the opposing positive force. What is the opposite of fear? It is love! How can you cultivate more love in your life and in the world?
  • SURROUND. Encircle yourself with supportive and loving people. Work together. Determine a strategy and plan of action.
  • COMMUNICATE. Strengthen your non-violent, compassionate communications skills. See, for example, Do You Really Hear Me?
  • LIMIT. In times where fake news and painful real news propagate, it's best to limit your intake. Yes, you want to be informed so you can take action, but overindulging in social media, broadcast news and cable can drive fear. Do a quick scan of headlines in print media and choose to read further or not.
  • DEFEND YOUR VALUES AND ACT. Once you know what you value, you can protect, guard, and take action to ensure you live true to your highest convictions. Just do it!


Once while kayaking in turbulent whitewater, I found myself upside down in the water and unable to roll. It was more than I could handle and I experienced rational fear as part of an innate survival instinct. After unsuccessfully trying for years to improve my kayaking skills, I finally moved to river rafting so I could more easily work together with supportive and skilled paddlers while still living true to my outdoor adventure values.


As Eleanor Roosevelt advises, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." 

Overcome fear, cultivate love.  Stand strong with your highest convictions.  Know what you stand for.  Take action to defend core values.


Theresa M. Szczurek (;;

copyright 2017, all rights reserved.