Case Study: Personal Education

(Transcript)

In this case study for the personal change planning model, I wanted to provide a case study for decision around whether or not to join a particular club or any other time-consuming activity. I would also think of this case study in terms of pursue a certification or pursue a new educational opportunity, one that is going to take some time.

What we’re going do is we’re going to do this using all four quadrants The quadrants are defined as – I, or the impact on myself – It, or the impact on someone else. I think that’s really important when we’re looking at personal change. We – any changes that I need to make in terms of how I interact with another person or other people. It’s – which are the systems and resources that might be impacted or that I might need for the change.

When we do this, we’re looking at two passes. First, to help us with our decision making. One is the short term impact across all four quadrants, which are shown here. The second is the longer term impact across all four quadrants. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. Then, once we decide, yes/no – this is worth pursuing, then we’ll take a look at what we have already available to us, which I think is the step that we often forget when we’re initiating a project or initiating change and what we need.

What I’m showing here is the decision that I made a couple of months ago over whether or not to join Toastmasters. Now, for those who aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, they’re an organization that’s been around for a really long time and they started as a group that helped each other become better public speakers; particularly in the format of giving toasts.

An old tradition is a best man, stands up at a wedding and gives a toast to the bride and groom. It was about perfecting that over the years. Particularly, in the last year, they’ve expanded their mission to become not just an opportunity to practice public speaking, get the support to overcome fears of public speaking, and get better at public speaking. They’re also doing a lot more around leadership and leadership skills and coaching skills and feedback skills. That’s what attracted me. When I approached, I already knew a little bit of about what the organization was. I also had an advantage in that my dad was a member of Toastmasters growing up, so I had a passing familiarity with the group.

The center of the model is the choice that we’re making and this is a yes/no choice. In a later example. I’ll go over choosing between options. The choice is do I join Toastmasters? Yes/No. The second part of the center is the why. Getting very clear on my primary reason for joining it. In this case, my why is to get better at public speaking, particularly extemporaneous public speaking. Now I’ve been in front of the classroom and doing online webinars for 20 plus years. I’ve never taken a public speaking class and I know even watching some of my recorded videos that I’ve developed some really annoying verbal ticks that I’m not real happy with. So it was important to me to go back and really work on my public speaking, particularly the extemporaneous public speaking.

That’s the primary reason. Now there are secondary why to this: networking. I am a solopreneur, so networking is always important. Finding community – that is important, but that is secondary to public speaking. Being very clear as to why I’m doing this will help me decide as opportunities present themselves what is most important and whether to say yes or no to it. Having that why there is going to remain very critical.

I’m going to turn on my laser pointer here. The first pass I take is the short term and really these first two passes only took five minutes each. Then what I do is I sleep on it and then I go back to it. So the first question I ask is what’s the short term impact on me and others and my systems and how I relate to people if I do this?

In the I quadrant, a short term impact is one – attending meetings. Going into new groups is always a little scary. The second thing that’s really important in this instance is to make sure I contribute to each one. Any of these is a give and take, I want to establish solid relationships right off the bat with a new group of people. The second one (actually the third) is they have something called Pathways – that’s the learning tracks within the organization. They did a really nice job (on these learning tracks), that’s one of the things that attracted me to this group. One of the things with the pathway that I need to make sure of is that I’m only doing one at a time and one project at a time. So … not getting too far ahead of myself, which is really, really easy to do.

Excuse me, for the dog. The second thing (fourth thing?) is belief. Going into it with a belief that I am interested – which is infinitely more important than the second part of this – and interesting. Mostly what I’ve found is that what I’m interested in others, I become more interesting. The one thing I don’t want to fall into is the, “Hi, I’m grilling you with questions because I’m too nervous to have an actual conversation with you.” That’s something that I’m working on. Maintaining that belief is really important. Then mindset. It’s really important with this change – actually with any change, but with this change in particular – to remind myself that just because I’m not the most inspirational speaker now I can become one with healthy practice and support. The whole idea behind Toastmasters is being able to support each other as we become inspirational speakers and not necessarily inspirational speakers as in, you know, “I’m going to stand up here and pretend to be Tony Robbins.” That’s not what I mean. Inspirational more in terms of I’ve inspired someone else to improve themselves. I think that’s the best way I can explain that. Those are the short term impacts. There needs to be a change in belief in myself and a change in mindset. Also just remembering not to get ahead of myself.

The change of the impact on others. Keeping in mind the impact on my household. My household consists of myself and Ryan who’s my life partner. Any decision or choice or change that I make that has me leaving the house or needing to make time for things, I need to make sure he’s accommodated. I’m very, very fortunate in that I’ve got an incredibly supportive partner, but on my side I need to make sure that everything’s copacetic. Ideally before I just do stuff. That’s just a value I have. That’s the type of relationship I have. It’s not even a permission thing. It’s more of a respectful, “This is what I’m up to, this is what I’m doing, this is where I’m going. You don’t have any plans for me, do you?” It’s a respectful thing like that.

The change in the impact on the We, which is how I relate to him, is just making sure I’m negotiating time for those meetings. I needed to have it up here because the impact on him is that he’s gonna have to cook for himself Monday night. Other impacts include getting to know the individuals in the community I don’t know. That’s kind of the short term impact. I don’t know what further impact this is going to have yet. I’ll talk about that on the next slide. In terms of we with friends and family, one of the things that has a short term impact is just sharing what I’m doing. Everybody’s really supportive. No one’s said “How dare you go out and learn more about public speaking.” This is not a terribly controversial activity.

Short term, this is a bunch of new people to me. I don’t know them very well. I didn’t go in there knowing anybody. What is important is that I show up, present and interested and polite. Trying to be my best self in each of those interactions. Demonstrating respect. I think that’s incredibly important with anybody, not just people we don’t know very well.

I think it’s almost more important that we demonstrate that respect with our closest friends and family. Then being open to feedback. One of the things with Toastmasters that can be a little challenging is that it really is about feedback and that I’m learning. A lot of people, I’ve noticed, find sometimes that feedback is really painful. Part of the lesson is figuring out how to give feedback and how to receive feedback and how to discern, productive feedback. I know the group that I’m with works very hard to make sure that the feedback they provide is productive and is in the right spirit. I know they want you to improve as much as you want them to improve.

In the Its area, short term, blocking time for the meetings and also commuting to the meetings and finding parking for the meetings. I live right outside of Washington DC. It’s not just the amount of time it takes to get from here to there, it’s also finding parking and it’s also the unpredictability of traffic, so I have to schedule that.

There are also projects. I have to block time for the speech writing and the projects, not just for the meetings. I did my icebreaker (first speech) a few weeks ago. It took me (I was super nervous so I took longer than it probably needed to) but that one took me about eight hours to decide what I was going to talk about and structure the speech, run it against the evaluation criteria, restructure the speech, decide to do another speech, repeat process. I don’t quite anticipate the other speeches to take nearly that long, but I do think eight hours is about the right amount of time. Especially since I seem to like tossing stuff and starting over again. I’ll get over that.

One of the short term things I need to do is figure out what the expectations are from the club, and also national. Each of the clubs have a national component. I also need to learn more about the Pathways process. They just changed their tracks. So it’s a learning experience for everybody. That that’s the important part. That’s the short term impact

The long-term impact. When we go into new activities I found oftentimes that we look at the short term, but we don’t necessarily look at how this is going to impact us long-term or operationally. This is true both for personal change and also for projects and organizational change. In long-term, too, I also think in terms of exit strategy as well as knowing when to call it quits.

I think that’s a good thing to ask about in these long-term quadrants. In the I quadrant, the impact on me, I will have to make a decision. This talks to my exit strategy as to whether or not I continue that commitment past my dues – so the end of 2018. That will give me four months to see how things go.I also need to make a decision in regards to what level of participation in volunteering I’m going to provide to the group. It’s good to make that decision early versus being asked, saying yes, and then realizing you have no time for any of the other stuff that you’re trying to do or you’re tired or I start neglecting my family. Being really mindful and remembering what I’m trying to get out of it.

I think making those decisions early now – you can always change them – but having an idea of why you’re making those decisions and what you’re trying to get out of the experience and what you want the experience to be like as you go through the process. I think is really important. That’s the I quadrant.

Now I’ve got these italics because I really don’t know. I need to see what the long-term impact is on my partner. I also need to see what the impact is on club members. Part of the evaluation is – is the giving and receiving even? Am I getting what I need out of the experience? Am I reciprocating what they’re providing? So far it’s been an even exchange, but that’s something that I need to keep an eye on. I also need to ask club members as well as I start developing relationships long-term. For Ryan, it’s really maintaining the boundaries and communication around the activities.

I should add this here – having him encourage me to get out of the house. It’s a little too easy, especially when I start hitting evening, for me to go, “Oh yeah, well I’ll skip it.” That’s way too easy. Ineed to ask him to continue to encourage me. “Hey, don’t you need to be somewhere Monday night?” That’s good for me. That’s an external accountability too.

Then with the club members, my goal is really to develop positive and mutually fulfilling relationships. They seem like a really nice group of people.

Then, in terms of systems, I do have to understand that there is a minimum operational commitment of time. I know at minimum I’m looking at two hours every two weeks and then for the Pathways or the work that I’m doing with the club. It’s to learn this public speaking. I’m estimating right now about eight hours per project. This is something I’m going to keep an eye on.

And then there are minimum costs that will come out operationally. There is annual dues. I’m involved with a community dinner club and one of the ways that they’re able to maintain that room in this restaurant is that they encourage us to get dinner. I need to make sure I budget for dinner every two weeks.

I’ve done my short term and I’ve done my long term and even though it took me longer to explain, the process took about five minutes. Typically I’ll sleep on it, and then go back to it and then I decide, yes/no, do I want to do the thing? This is a yes/no decision. In this case, the answer was obviously yes. Onto the next round.

Once I have determined that it’s a yes, the next thing that I need to do is think about what I have, what resources I have to work with already, and then what I need to do and what I need.

Again, these resources are in all four quadrants and I’m going to start in the I quadrant again. This really talks to internal resourcing and me and my mindset. The big thing that is really good in terms of what I’ve already got is that I’m not going in there petrified of public speaking, which is good. I have had stage fright and it’s not a lot of fun. The one thing that is really important is that I do not get complacent. One of the reasons why I’m in there is to improve my public speaking, going in there going, “Oh yeah, I’ve done this for 20 years.”That’s not gonna help. I really need to maintain beginner’s mind.

Another thing that does help me is – if you’ve ever read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, one of them is fundamentally I do what I say what I’m going to do. I’m true to my word. If I tell them that I’m going to serve as grammarian, which is one of the roles that they have in the meeting, then I can trust because I’ve done this for a long time as a practice that I’ve got a 95 percent chance that I’m going to do what I say what I’m going to do, irregardless, unless I’m really sick and contagious or dying. We can argue about how healthy that is. It’s been a mindset that has really helped me over the years more than it hurt me.

In terms of resources I have from others, people with the roles and skills that can help support me, I have a supportive partner who does encourage me to get out more, which I am eternally grateful for. And my dad was actually a former Toastmasters member. When I was a kid he participated for a few years, so he has a little bit of subject matter expertise. Also, he’s been the one who tells me I mumble too much – usually at the dinner table. He’s a really good person to get feedback from.

Then in terms of We – the resources I have. Ryan,again. I just need to make sure that we maintain our lines of communication. And, thankfully, I’ve been involved in some really fantastic online communities and professional communities and some of the speeches that I’m planning to give as part of my toastmasters projects are very much centered around the professional work I’ve been doing over the years. They’re able to provide feedback on content and have offered to. I do intend on taking advantage of their offer because even though these are Toastmasters projects, I think they’re important and I’d like to be able to provide value to them by being as accurate as I can be.

And then in terms of resources, I’ve got so much material for speeches. I am incredibly fortunate that I’ve spent 20 some odd years doing stuff and so I’ve got a pretty good library of topics. I do have video, I’ve been doing online video for a long time. I’ve been doing my speeches as dress rehearsals by filming them first, much like this. I’ve got all the materials for that. Actually that reminds me – part of what I need to ask is whether or not they’re cool with me filming my next speech.

Money. Thankfully I also have enough money to cover costs right now. I do need to keep an eye on this. I do have a community toastmasters group nearby. I have noticed that a lot of the groups in this area tend to be affiliated with organizations. I don’t know what it’s like nationally right now. The fact that there is a community group nearby where their meeting is pretty easily accessible to me, particularly since I’d have to drive around during rush hour around here, is really awesome.

Finally I’m looking at things I need to be successful. In this case with Toastmasters, I need to really maintain beginner’s mind. I’m going to get in big trouble if I don’t maintain a level of humility about this. I need to improve my public speaking. I need to improve my extemporaneous speaking. I can learn a lot from others who have been practicing and have been actively working on their public speaking. Yes, I’ve done this for a long time, but I also can get better. And I can do so by maintaining beginner’s mind, that’ll do me a world of good.

There’s a belief I need to maintain, mostly about being able to become great public speaker and coach the coaching things new to me. I’ve managed drift for probably too many years by just doing the public speaking and not really working on getting good at it.

Then a mindset of maintaining openness to feedback and realizing that they are looking out for me and want me to improve. Now I know in many environments that’s not always the case, this one it is. If I was going into it new, I know they have free meetings where they invite guests and one of the things that I’ve really looked out for is how supportive are they with each other. It was very important to me that I found a group that was very, very focused on supporting each other. I can trust it that is accurate.

In terms of other people, what I need from my partner is encouragement. I do need to find an accountability partner, a coach, someone in the organization. I’m learning more in terms of what the club members are expecting from me and from each other. It does take time to embed in the community and it takes time to make friends. This is something that I just need to keep an eye on and just ask questions if I don’t understand something and just observe. You can learn a lot by observing the norms in any community.

Then in terms of how I interact with other people. Ryan, I’m going to use for feedback, also encouragement and I just need to ask him for encouragement. The online communities, again, I need to ask and then be open to the response. I’m going to wind up putting myself out there quite a bit over the next year as I go through this particular journey.

These are the resources, like the material resources in the system, resources that I need to put together. One is I just need to sit down and block the schedule. I’ve already done it for the meetings. I have not done it for speeches and I need to determine a cadence for when I intend to do projects. There’s a balance that I need to set. I don’t want to always be going up there speaking. I do want to spend some time in some of the other meeting roles and I’m sure they’d be very tired of hearing from me if every single meeting I went up there and spoke. I do also need to figure out what the formal expectations are. I know some of them, but not all of them.

And make time for that, both learning about it and doing what I need to do to fill those roles. I also need to get a better understanding of the participation structure. I need to get a better understanding of providing feedback and speech writing and what those norms are. After evaluating their materials, it’s pretty apparent to me that they are doing best practices. I just need to get clear on that. Practice it, get good.

This is my case study for joining a group. If you have any questions, comments, feedback about this video, please feel free to leave comments in the video comments or on the blog post where I’m also putting in the transcript for this video. Thank you so much for your time. I hope this helps.


———————–
Change for All Quadrants: Personal Change Planning – is now available for pre-order on Publishizer.
Campaign runs October 1-30, 2018.

Order Now

I’m Writing a Book!

(Two actually….but this one will appear first.)

I’m writing Personal Change Planning – Deciding What to Pursue and Shrinking the Gap Between Desired State and Future State (working title).

Over the next month – I will be sharing case studies and facilitation techniques using the Change Planning Model I am developing.

The book promotion is from October 1 — October 30. My goal is 500 pre-orders.

More details on the book, an outline, progress, and a sample chapter will be available at starting 8am ET October 1, 2018. Check the link below.

https://publishizer.com/change-for-all-quadrants/

Thank you so much for your support.

The First Step to Strengthen Your Foundations

Sleep.

The one thing that we can do to strengthen our foundations.

When I sleep well:

  • I make better food choices
  • I am more inclined to exercise or, if I force myself, I’m less likely to dog my workouts
  • I am better at practicing positive interpersonal skills
  • I have more resilience when things don’t go as planned
  • I have the energy to get things done
  • I feel I make better decisions overall.

I’m not alone.

In case you need the research:

Our culture, however, expects a 24/7 “always on.” attitude.  How many executives, business leaders, and other “successful” people tout how they can function on little sleep?

Sleep deprivation, however, has disastrous consequences:

The one thing that I feel will improve our working lives and make our workplaces more humane is prioritizing our personal sleep health.

And avoiding any manager who claims that they don’t need sleep.

 

 

Time Management Planning vs Contingent Planning and Why You Need Both

We found that increasing your engagement and productivity at work could be as simple as making a plan for the day. But these positive effects depended on what type of plan employees used and how many interruptions or disruptions they faced in their day-to-day work.

Research Shows a Simple Way to Increase Your Engagement at Work – Harvard Business Review

What they found is that we need to plan for distractions.

They looked at two types of planning:

  • Time Management Planning – which the researchers defined as planning what you are going to get done that day
  • Contingent Planning – or…how you will change your plan if you get interrupted. Which will happen unless you unplug everything and hide in a cave.

Just doing time management planning isn’t enough to stay engaged and productive.

People over-estimate how much they can get done and don’t consider what might hinder them from getting through their to-do lists.

Contingent planning accommodates the interruptions.

For me, this looks like:

  • Here are the 3 things I plan to get done today and when I am going to do it.  (Time Management planning – this shows up as blocks on my calendar)
  • Here’s the ONE thing I will get done today no matter what. (Contingent planning – the first thing I do that day)

The days I plan for interruptions and have contingency plans just in case – I walk away from the day feeling more accomplished.

The days I carefully plan what I am going to accomplish, then get pulled in a million different directions that I didn’t plan to get pulled in, I finish the day tired and frustrated.

The researchers set aside the question of interruptions and how to control the distractions in the first place.  They are assuming that we are not able to control these.

They may be right.

I’d love for us to at least start asking why we are so distracted and what purpose those distractions serve.

Why am I inviting distraction?  How do these distractions help me?

How am I distracting others? What are my motives?

#52books Why Simple Wins

———–
Format: Kindle
We have a culture of “more is more.”
We struggle to let go of things.  The pet processes that we so carefully designed.  Tasks that we have made our own.
If we want to let go of things that no longer work or are outdated or didn’t need to happen in the first place, we hesitate to go through the grief of dealing with all of the people impacted by the change, nevermind our own grief and feelings of loss.
Lisa Bodell provides a compelling argument for simplifying processes, a recognition of the challenge in front of us, and some instructions for how to go about doing it.
For the how-tos, all you need to read is Chapter 8, then use the Appendix of 50 questions.  She has tools throughout the rest of the book, but the last chapter really talks about the process.  Because, when done right, any business process improvement NEEDS to be a process itself.
The rest of the book is also worth your time.
She provides exercises for teams and organizations, as well as structural and hiring strategies.
She describes characteristics of both leaders and staff, as well as supportive behaviors that will help with creating a simplification culture and discourage the development of complexity.
Bodell talks candidly about the struggles she encountered when providing simplification consulting.  What worked and what didn’t.  Where she found the most resistance and why that resistance appeared.  I get the feeling that this continues to be a work in progress. As it should be.

How to Eliminate Noise

Michael Hyatt and his daughter Megan, in a recent Lead to Win podcast on the Cost of Overwork, observed that current technologies have made this an incredibly noisy world.

The whole podcast is worth a listen (or read – I linked to the transcript above).  However, what struck me wasn’t the cost of overwork (high), it was their observations of how we are doing this to ourselves through our technologies.

Social media services like Facebook… This is one of the dark sides of that particular service. We can get such a quick dopamine hit we don’t develop a tolerance for boredom and we don’t stay in these spaces where there aren’t the measurable results. I also think behind all that is fear. It’s like fear of missing out. “If I say no to that opportunity, if I say no to that project, maybe I won’t be promoted. Maybe I won’t advance as quickly as I would like.” Maybe it’s just fear of the unknown.  – Michael Hyatt

Beyond that – they noted that our digital productivity tools feel like we spend more time playing with our digital productivity tools. Our almost unlimited access to information these days makes it harder for us to find and filter what we need.

Worse, our technologies require us to run the gauntlet of distractions, people demanding our attention, and noise.

How many of you have been interrupted while looking for information on a Slack channel?

Have you taken a course that leveraged Facebook for its community participation and found yourself surfing your feed before getting to your group? How much time did THAT take?

What is your experience with Messenger apps? Email?  How much weeding do you need to do before getting to real information or real work?

And this is just desktop. Now let’s add your mobile phone and all of the notifications and the difficulty of shutting off all of the notifications.

We are in a time that requires us to get focused and stick to that focus. Find a north star and walk towards it.

Say “no” regularly and brutally cull anything that doesn’t apply to our direction and destination.

Our individual and collective sanity may depend on it.

#52books The 12 Week Year

#52 Books – The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Format: Hardcover

Brian Moran and Michael Lennington’s main argument is that we need to think in terms of quarters vs annually when it comes to evaluation and goal-setting.

It’s not the argument that is most compelling – any project manager or manager familiar with Agile, Scrum, and Sprints can tell you the power of thinking in small, achievable chunks.

What I find compelling in this book are Brian Moran and Michael Lennington’s choice of definition of accountability and their emphasis on the importance of aligning one’s business/career vision to their personal vision (and NOT the other way around – which is what most of us do), and their steps for creating a plan one can actually use.

  • Accountability – Moran and Lennington take their definition of accountability straight from Peter Kosterbaum and Peter Block’s Freedom and Accountability at Work: Applying Philosophic Insight to the Real World (Amazon affiliate link). Accountability = ownership.  Accountability = personal sovereignty.  Accountability, according to this definition, is NOT something someone else does to you or can do for you.  Your managers claim to “hold you accountable.” What they are doing is trying to motivate you to do something for them that you may or may not have taken ownership of.  This alternate definition forces one to look in the mirror and take responsibility for one’s choices.  I don’t know which is scarier.
  • The importance of aligning your business/career to your LIFE – If you are being externally motivated to do things, how close is the alignment of your job to how you want your life to look. If the business/career goal doesn’t align with your life vision, how inspired are you to work towards the goal?  How quickly are you going to give up, or do something else, or find another distraction?
  • Creating an actionable plan you have a fighting chance of following – As with many of the authors I’ve encountered of late, they insist on vision, focus, measurement, and getting VERY honest with yourself if you are not following the plan you laid out.

The first part of the book is theoretical.  The second part of the book is the step-by-step.

In the second part, they divide the practical application into individual and team considerations. For each, they include pitfalls and tips.  It’s obvious these two know what they are talking about from their troubleshooting tips.

This book nicely bridges the gap between The Perfect Day Formula, which is focused on defining the perfect day and week for individual execution, and The 4 Disciplines of Execution, which is more focused on team applications and longer-term execution.

Values at Work

I’ve been reading a lot of leadership literature recently. A theme keeps appearing.

Values.

Personal values.

Define the values you want to live by. Use them as the foundation for your career and leadership style.

Typically, they will define the values you should follow for you.

And some will focus on how to get others to share those values.

Interestingly, I haven’t been in too many workplaces where values are deeply discussed – beyond “You really ought to have these values.”

  1. I don’t know how many people have deeply thought about the values they hold.  There’s not much in our society that encourages this.
  2. If they have thought about values, it’s more because someone has told them they should hold these values vs. questioning why they hold these values and whether the values they are holding (that they may have gotten from elsewhere) still work for them. Again, there is not much encouragement in our society for this level of reflection.
  3. If they are confident in the values they hold, their workplace is not a safe place to discuss these values.  Especially if the values they hold contradict either the stated values or the behavioral values.

I’m thinking that helping to cultivate a safe environment for deeply reflecting on, then sharing, personal values is key.

If I’m going to try and create this space for someone else, this looks like questioning, staying curious, and being open to the answer.

Most importantly, not trying to shift someone else’s values to look like mine.

I’m thinking more 1-1 time, being clear and open about the values I hold, and doing my best to deeply listen is part of it too.

What are the values you hold?

Why do you hold them?

What does a safe space for discussing values look like to you?


Want more time to focus on the things that are most important to you?

Join the Flowbox – a subscription service containing short videos, tools, and templates to help you overcome overwhelm, reduce meaningless busywork, and find flow in your work and your life.

Use the coupon betatestmonthly for 20% off the first 6 months of your subscription.

10% of all subscription fees received through December 31, 2018, will go to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

'); //]]>

Missing Deadlines

I am coming clean.

I missed my deadline for releasing my new service – Meaningful Flow.

I meant to release it in January and the newsletter the first week in February.

Both are out now, and I’ll provide all of the information at the bottom of this post. It’s all out later than I intended.

I have a visceral reaction when I miss deadlines or I’m late. Hate. It.  It’s even worse when others are waiting.

Right now, I want to provide a public apology for not doing what I said I was going to do when I said I was going to do it and share some lessons learned from this experience.


Lesson #1 – Minimum Viable Product, define what that looks like early.

I fell into the trap of trying to make this big, huge, monster of a thing and get all the pieces perfect. All at once.

You know – the thing I tell others NOT to do. Don’t try to do all the things all at once.  Yeah. That.

It happens.

So many great ideas.  The muse is beckoning.  Then the inner perfectionist gremlin begins to chime in. And it becomes one very loud, unfocused, unproductive party in my head. Paralysis sets in.

Best thing I did in this process – stopped as I started getting overwhelmed by all the things and defined a minimum viable product.

The benefit to this – I now have space to let clients and customers shape this so that it is more useful to THEM.

That’s a win for everyone.


Lesson #2 – Create a clear vision … and keep your eye on it

It is so easy to get into the weeds and lose sight of the vision.

I got distracted from my vision with a bunch of other stuff.  The things I thought I “should” do.

This is where having objective outsiders with a fresh eye to talk to are invaluable.

I had a key one-hour conversation with Julia, a marketing consultant out of the UK.

We had never talked before.  She reminded me of my vision, then helped me take all of the random pieces I had been working on and restructure them into something that better reflected that vision.

Was there rework?  Absolutely!

Am I happier and more confident in how I am developing Meaningful Flow?  Absolutely!


Lesson #3 – Sometimes clarity takes a few drafts

I don’t know about you, but I learn a lot as I create things.

Here’s the difference between agile and running in circles – I still have a decent idea of my objective and WHY I am doing it.

I still want to help make the workplace more humane.

I still believe that to get there will be about supporting individuals.

The specifics surfaced as I worked, received feedback, and talked to people.

And it will continue to do so.


Lesson #4 – Delays can be positive

In late January, after 3 iterations of my marketing architecture, including 2 attempts at webinar software, 2 attempts at email campaign software, and a complete re-design of my marketing funnel – a new product came out in beta that has been solving most of my earlier issues.

I had a choice – launch with what I have or transition everything to the new system.

I decided to transition everything to the new system.

3 weeks later and I feel it was time well spent. I know I am happier.  Hopefully, you will like it too. Feedback welcome.


Overwhelmed by busywork?

Want more time to focus on the things that are most important to you?

Join the Flowbox – a subscription service containing short videos, tools, and templates to help you overcome overwhelm, reduce meaningless busywork, and find flow in your work and your life.

Use the coupon betatestmonthly for 20% off the first 6 months of your subscription.

10% of all subscription fees received through December 31, 2018, will go to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

'); //]]>

Types of Work

The authors of The Phoenix Project identified four types of work that appear in IT departments:

  • Business projects – the temporary activities that create something new with an eye towards creating a return on investment for the business.
  • Internal projects – the temporary activities that help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of internal business operations
  • Changes – work that needs to happen to accommodate a desired adjustment to an operational system (either a technology configuration or a business process). Often a result of projects.
  • Unplanned work – activities we didn’t see coming, but we have to do anyway. Often a result of projects, changes, and life.

I would argue that these types of work appear in all departments, not just IT.

These 4 types of work essentially define the whirlwind.

Too many projects.

Too much work in progress.

Maintaining broken systems and the unplanned work that results.

Saying “yes” to activities that, on the surface, don’t look like much.   “It will be quick.”

A death by a thousand cuts.


I think we are guilty of planning projects and activities in isolation.

Never accommodating ALL of the pieces of the whirlwind.

Never looking at what work is in progress right now, or lying around unfinished, or waiting for someone to have some bandwidth to finish the work.

I think we are also guilty of never pausing and asking whether the good idea is a good idea for US.

Never analyzing whether that good idea will move us towards our greater vision – or if it is just a distraction from the path.

Why are we not OK with letting that great idea go to someone else with the resources and bandwidth to execute?

Why the fear that good ideas will never appear again?

Or that we are “missing something” if we don’t do something with the idea.

We have so much inspiration, influences, and opportunity!

Where has chasing all of the things led you?

————————-
Let me help you with your goals this year.

Send me your name and email and I will send you a Personal Prioritization exercise and a weekly one-page newsletter!