Allow the Gap

I’ve learned over the years that when my calendar looks suspiciously empty, something is up.

The smartest thing I’ve done in awhile was to not try to fill the space myself.  Allow the emptiness.

Let the time fill itself up as it needs to.

This time gap, it turned out, filled itself with the need to create space to be with family.

Both my family of birth and my family of choice.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people that I care enough about to miss when they are gone.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people that I want to be with as we grieve together.

I’m fortunate to have clients who understand and are willing to provide me with some space as I sit with family and friends as the generations transition.

Thank you.


In all of the noise and the quest to be busy and productive – creating space for things to happen may be the most important thing we do.

The quickest way to create space is to not fill up the new found time.

Allow for serendipity.  Allow things to just happen.

Sit for a bit. Enjoy that bit of quiet.

Ultimately, the stuff that needs to get done will get done when it needs to get done.

This past month was a good reminder.

The relationships I have and build are infinitely more important than any deadline or to-do list.

Thoughts on Priorities

Picture of Barbara Rouse

I’m writing this in a hotel room outside Cocoa, Florida.  Mom and I drove 16+ hours (not all at once, thankfully) so we could be with family and mourn my Aunt Barbara’s passing. This was one of the sudden ones and, for me, it wasn’t until the funeral that I realized that she was gone.

She was the most elegant woman I knew and an incredibly welcoming and accepting person – curious about my adventures and encouraging me to be my best self (even if that meant dragging me to the Merle Norman to get my eyebrows waxed).

I am blessed to have the vast majority of my family members as part of my tribe and people I look forward to seeing.

It’s important to me to be able to drop everything and be able to be present (to the best of my ability) for the family.  I’m doing my best to structure my business and my life to allow that level of flex and presence.

This is what the personal “why” is about.

Dropping my work plans was a no-brainer against that metric.

Does it sometimes feel like I “should” be doing something else?  Yup.  There are so many messages telling us we must “grind” and “hustle.”  Sometimes, that all has to stop for more important things.

Like being in the car for Mom as she drives down I-95, somewhat shell-shocked that her elegant, graceful older sister is gone.

Like sitting on the seawall reeling in another catfish from the backyard while letting a cousin talk it out.

Like listening to another cousin as he tries to project manage all the things that need to happen in and amongst shock and grief and unknown resources.

Like catching up with cousins and second-cousins I almost never see – save for weddings, funerals, and important events.

Am I late with newsletters and posts? Yup.

Am I behind on my launches and sales and marketing? Yup.

Will I regret coming down to Florida, spending quality time with my Mother, and adding more memories to the extended family file?  Absolutely not.

Rest in peace, Barbara.  And thank you so much for all of your love.

May I age as gracefully as you and develop even half of your grace and elegance.

So How’s That Working For Ya?

The dreaded question.

Anyone who has spent time with business coaches has heard this one.

It comes out when the coach has identified one of your blind spots.

A pattern of behavior that isn’t working.

And you don’t see it. OR you are holding onto it for dear life because it is familiar.

I hated it when Matt asked me that question.  “So how’s that working for ya?”

Got me. (internal shame spiral because I think I should know better)

Now what?

I think he asked me “So how’s that working for ya?” at least once per session during our coaching engagements together.

As uncomfortable as that question is – “So how’s that working for ya?” is the question that has improved my life the most.

It forces me to think about what I am doing and why I am doing it?

It forces me to find alternatives that will better move me towards my goals.

What’s currently eating your lunch?

How are you dealing with the problem right now?

And…how’s that working for ya?


Matt Cross is an awesome business coach and has been one of my coaches for years. I’m not affiliated, just sharing information 			</div><!-- .entry-content -->
	    
	<footer class=

Being Courageous In The Workplace

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others - Winston Churchill

Lance Secretan states that courage is the foundational ingredient required for leaders.

It takes courage to speak your truth in environments that may not be ready to hear what you say.

It takes courage to admit you don’t know the answers, to apologize, to make mistakes, to be authentic, to take the first steps towards the unknown.

It takes courage to risk rejection, to face criticism, to rise above intimidation.


A recent conversation had me thinking about courage in the workplace.

What is it about the environments that we are in that makes it so scary to be our authentic selves?

Why does it take so much courage, in so many workplaces, to be truthful?

During that conversation, I realized that I have been in something of a privileged position in the workplaces that I have functioned in.

  1. Being the “trainer” in IT departments usually means being the least technical (and therefore dumbest) person in the room. Since expectations of my understanding are low, it’s easier for me to ask what appear to be obvious questions.
  2. The environments I’ve worked have rewarded that behavior from me – if not with the usual social awards such as promotions. The reward has been in the conversations after the fact and the relationships built as a result. The one-on-one thank yous for opening up the conversation. The built reputation for being a “truth-teller.” The meetings with new executives whose first sentence is often “they told me to come talk to you.”  And, occasionally, the changes that are made to projects or policy or activities as a result.  I didn’t see this when I was in the environment. Only now, with some distance, am I seeing the rewards for what they truly are.
  3. I was lucky to be in an environment in my most recent job where I wasn’t the only truth-teller.  I have been blessed with colleagues who were masters at taking the air out of the room by exposing the elephant in it.  We had each other’s backs.  That was a blessing.  Not many people have that in their workplace.
  4. My last boss encouraged my truth-telling and helped me find the language so that the message was more palatable.
  5. In my current work, people are paying me to be courageous and tell the truth to them. It’s my job to tell people when things are going off the rails. It’s my job to help them avoid disaster, or show them how the decisions they are making may not lead to the outcomes they expect.
  6. Since I’m also working as an outsider, it’s easier for me to be truthful.  I don’t have promotions or bonuses on the line.
  7. I’ve concluded that it is more important to me to work with people and organizations who are willing to engage openly and authentically than it is to keep a client no matter what.  I am the scarce resource.

I’ve come to recognize that it is easier in some environments to be courageous than in others.

It’s easier to be courageous when you aren’t gunning for promotion and you have people in the environment who have your back.

It’s easier to be courageous when you have immediate managerial support and you are working from a place of inspiration.

The next question – how can we create those environments for others?


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.

'); //]]>

#52books The Spark, The Flame, and The Torch

#52 Books – The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch:Inspire Self. Inspire Others. Inspire the World. (Amazon affiliate link)

Format: Kindle

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it” Ernest Holmes

Lance Secretan argues that we are now seeing in our economy and our workspaces exactly what we have been thinking. And it’s not working.

“Our social and corporate cultures have developed into ones that brilliantly reward the metrics of performance while overlooking the measures of the heart, and this has caused an evaporation of inspiration.”

So what?

People want to be inspired.

Inspiration, Secretan argues, is a result of a leader who is clear about WHY they are here (Destiny), how they will BE while they are here (Character) and what they have been called to DO (Calling).

“There are two givens that we all share:

  • Our passion is drawn to the things that excite us – positively and negatively
  • At our core, we all yearn to serve and improve the world”

Inspiring others means serving others.

Motivating others, as Secretan defines it, means serving self.

Practically everything we talk about in business and education is about “motivating”.

How do I get others to do X?

Secretan wants us to look within first and get clear on your destiny, character, and calling.  Then demonstrate that through your moment-to-moment interactions and consistent action.

He then moves out into the corporate environment and provides a few techniques for developing an inspirational vision for your organization.

For an inspirational vision to work, leaders need to prioritize employees, then customers, then shareholders (think Disney, Southwest Airlines, Nordstroms).  Too many organizations, Secretan noted, focus on shareholders first, then customers, and then (maybe) employees.

Secretan wrote that well before the recent tax law changes. In multiple surveys and summits, the majority of CEOs planned to spend the money for stock buybacks and dividends or mergers and acquisitions. Investing in the company (capital spend) or its workers was not as high a priority.

We’re hitting a point in our economy where having your own company and being a shareholder (no matter how small) is more secure, less soul-sucking, and has a higher probability of financial remuneration than being an employee somewhere.  This includes the risks involved in starting your own business.

The knowledge workers who these organizations need to grow and thrive in today’s environment are coming to that conclusion themselves.  Many of them are pro-actively deciding to go independent.  By 2020, more than 40% of US workers will be independent and that number will grow rapidly.

If you are in a leadership position, Secretan has provided a toolkit to help you staunch the bleeding of your best talent and become the leader that talent needs you to be.

It starts with you.

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.

'); //]]>

#52books Born to Win

#52 Books – Born to Win: Find Your Success

Format: Softcover

Zig Ziglar is your classic, old-school sales trainer.  Get beneath the 70s era salesguy persona and the Southern Baptist preacher delivery and you find that there is a reason why his work remains a classic.

When I was growing up, Mom was a real estate agent, a broker, and telecommunications sales manager (beepers, anyone?). Zig Ziglar, Earl Nightingale, Brian Tracy, and Dale Carnegie were all in heavy rotation in Mom’s cassette deck in the 80s and early 90s.  My younger brother took these involuntary lessons from our rides in the car and ran with them in his adulthood.

My natural state is reclusive academic, so it is only now that I am realizing how useful these teachings are.

Born to Win is Ziglar’s final book. This book distills the teachings from his entire career, with his son’s addition of a business model for entrepreneurs and business leaders.

I started to put together my Meaningful Flow service before I read this book. Seeing Ziglar’s model – plan to win by clarifying your objectives, prepare to win by increasing your skills and developing your map, and expect to win by doing the work and keeping your attitude positive – was incredibly validating.

The fundamentals of Ziglar’s work boils down to

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what THEY want.”

Everything Ziglar presents is to support you in helping others.

To successfully help others, Ziglar argues, you need to build a personally strong foundation of values and purpose. The values he recommends: honesty, character, faith, integrity, love, and loyalty.  If you read across the spectrum of leadership literature – you will see variations on this theme.  Fundamentally, it helps to be strong and clear internally before one can truly make an impact on his or her environment.

Knowing my values and why I am doing something helps me make decisions. It helps me evaluate and reflect on my interactions.  Being able to ask – “Can I help them get what THEY want?  Did I succeed in doing so?” – provides a good metric for my performance with clients.

Underneath that question, “Can I help them get what THEY want?” is an evaluation of whether the client and I are a match.

– Do I understand what they want?

– Do we share values and purpose within that understanding?

– Do I have the skills to help them?

If all 3 are a resounding “yes” – then we are in for a great relationship.

If one is a “no” – the best thing I can do is try to point them in the right direction and see if I can find someone in my network who is a better fit.

Growing up, I saw Ziglar as the consummate salesman, teacher of closing techniques, and the type of guy to avoid like the plague. Ask my former co-workers about my reputation for terrorizing vendor reps.

After reading Born to Win, I’ve finally realized that there was more depth to Ziglar’s message than I ever gave him credit for.


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.

'); //]]>

My Why

This is the original TED talk for Start with Why.  If you have not seen this before, it is worth 20 minutes of your time.


Before I left my last job, I watched many highly skilled employees drop out.

These are the types of folks that employers say they want – intrinsically motivated, hard-working, intelligent, and creative.

These are people that have in-demand skills and knowledge.

The people that employers say they can’t find and there aren’t enough of.

These employees dropped out to pursue other interests in things not having to do with computers.

These employees dropped out because they were tired of the politics and the pushing and the treadmill.

Some went into real estate, or started their own business, or joined up with friends.

And if they didn’t drop-out physically, many dropped out mentally. Burned out.


Gallup’s most recent State of the Global Workplace found that 85% of workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged in their jobs.  That means that only 15% of workers are engaged at all!

And who can blame them?  A 2016 Korn Ferry study of 800 CEOs discovered

Two-Thirds of CEOs Believe Technology Will Be Their Firm’s Greatest Competitive Advantage–Nearly Half Say Robotics, Automation and AI Will Make People ‘Largely Irrelevant’

Is it any wonder that many of our workplaces have become inhumane?  We have leadership who don’t want us there.

Furthermore, many organizational cultures purposefully attract and feed on the insecurity of over-achievers.

Does anyone else see anything wrong?


When I started my business, I discovered very quickly that my ideal customer looks a lot like my friends.

These folks are middle-aged, in middle-management or are senior individual contributors, and have been around the block a few times with a few different organizations.

They aren’t success-driven, political, ladder-climbers.

They want to create cool things, serve their clients and customers well, and keep their head above water.

They are overwhelmed with conflicting and competing demands that make no sense.

They are frustrated by tasks that never end and new tasks that keep piling up along with the expectation that they continue to do all of the old stuff too.

They are concerned about the lack of opportunities for professional development and being left behind because they are too busy doing their jobs.

 

My friends deserve better.  The vast majority of the knowledge workforce deserves better.

And I am going to openly admit that I am losing patience with executive complaints that they “can’t find people.”

Chances are, what you want is under your nose and desires to become that person.

Are you going to give them the time, space, focus, and opportunities to become the people you claim you are looking for?

Are you valuing what you already have?


My personal “why” (in the format: To ___ so that____)

To use my personal experience so that I can support others and help them find personal success in whatever environment they find themselves in.

And if that means helping them flee, I’m cool with that.


Do you want to reduce your current level of overwhelm?

Subscribe to the newsletter and I will send you a free PDF to help you with personal prioritization.

I hope you can join me on this journey! 

 

 

#52books Find Your Why

#52books Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team

Format: Kindle

This book is the “how-to” for Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.

Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Docker give incredibly detailed instructions for facilitating what they call “Why Discovery” and provide instructions for finding a personal “why” and finding a team/organizational “why.”

They talk in detail about potential pitfalls and failure points, particularly when trying to do this yourself (not recommended) or if you are working within an organization that is so dysfunctional that it is hard to have a civil conversation.

They also noted that directly asking for “why” may trigger emotional resistance.  Instead, it’s best to come at it sideways – asking more “what” and “how” questions.  Asking “why” tends to trigger an emotional, occasionally defensive, response.  I’ve seen that in my own practice, so it was nice to have that impression validated.

I’m impressed that they were willing to provide the entire how-to guide for their team workshop, including time codes facilitation tips, exercises, and question pools.

If you haven’t read or purchased Start With Why, I would recommend watching Sinek’s original TED talk, then purchase Find Your Why instead.  This book is the result of almost 10 years of practice in this space and provides everything you need for you and your team to determine your “why.”


Let me help you find your why!

Subscribe to the newsletter and I will send you a free PDF to help you with personal prioritization.

I hope you can join me on this journey!